Author: <span class="vcard">Gudrun</span>

This morning I harvested rosemary. The attention and care it took for this project gave me a good feeling of place.

BldgFrontSmallI remember one of the first times I had this feeling of connection to the land. I was sixteen, staying with my maternal grandparents at the Bodensee, the lake that creates 3 borders, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. As part of the research for From Ashes into Light, my daughter and I traveled to Europe, and I very much looked forward to seeing the Bodensee again.

From New York, we landed at the Czechoslovakian airport to the sight of heavily armed soldiers. Memories were triggered. I struggled to regain a sense of balance.My daughter’s confidence, curiosity and competence broadcast practical needs of the moment, reminding me to let go of the past. I experienced a strong connection to several places in Prague–especially the synagogue, as well as the Jewish cemetery. After more than 3 decades, I had come to the continent of my birth with mixed feelings of fear and release, which surprised me. The humility and sincerity of the people we met reminded me of cultural differences I had forgotten. There were tastes, smells and sounds that triggered many visceral memories.GudrunAustriaSmall

In Prague, we attended a transpersonal conference where we spent a number of days listening to speakers in a building that looked like it doubled as a Renaissance style, ornate opera house. Towards the end of the conference, we danced with Olantunde on the streets. The music had a powerful trance-like rhythm. The night was clear and temperate. Even though there were more than a hundred people who joined the dance, I experienced a sense of close-knit community that transcended historical adversity.

We took the train from Czechoslovakia to the former East Germany. The fare was so inexpensive, I decided to go first class. It seemed as if there was no one else on the train but the two of us and several porters who frequently wanted to know if we needed anything. It was a long, pleasant ride dedicated to watching country landscapes along the Elbe River.

I remember practicing my German with a gentleman who was traveling to buy a new car and bring it home. He was retired and very relaxed about it, at ease with himself. His benefits were secure, and the knowledge of this seemed to permeate his being.

GudrunUrsulaSmallWe came to visit my Aunt, and my mother’s closest sister in age. She welcomed us so warmly, I felt I had truly come home. She lived very close to one of the last Russian internment camps our family had endured.

We next visited one of my mother’s brothers, the chiropractor, who hired a chauffeur to pick us up at the station. I had last seen him when he was newly engaged, and now his daughter was grown up just as mine was.

Eventually, we came to the Bodensee, where I had spent 2 summers during my teenage years with my maternal grandparents, my mother and her youngest sister with her first-born son. Those summers I learned to appreciate the healing power of nature. Along the lake, in the woods and the community gardens, I sought solitude, healing and transformation.

However, my return to the Bodensee was different than what I had held dear in my memory. My grandparents were no longer alive. There was a hole in the fabric of the family.

ambodenseeSmallMy aunt and uncle took us on many excursions along the Bodensee, which were welcome diversions–from old cobblestone harbor towns to craggy heights of the Alps. There were moments when these places impacted me with a healing sense of finding my roots–a deep familiarity that had been nearly forgotten.

 

 

Forthcoming Work

 

		Adversity Series


1.

	During the night, a branch crashed;
	the wound looks
	rough, bruised, cracked.

	The broken branch invaded
	fruit trees and picnic table;
	I contain
	reaction

	to create something
	beyond confusion.

2.

	One way to go beyond 
	the wall, observe;

	along the perimeters
	are movements
	light.

	The wall dissolves.
	Everything is possible.


3.

	Listening to Ralph Nader
	on Labor Day, pain has me hard at work
	since 3:00 am;

	Let me be grateful
	to understand

	why.
	Let us not inflict
	cruel greed
	from the top.


 

A Poem

 

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The publisher has unveiled the cover to my upcoming novel, From Ashes into Light. To be released Fall 2015.

Forthcoming Work

underpetalsWhen I finished the last chapter of the novel draft I’ve been working on, I took a walk on a trail I used to know very well. Things have changed. I pushed through sage, oak and manzanita, whose leaves, branches, and even roots have made the path nearly invisible, but I didn’t mind. Loving the smell of native plants close to my face, I thought, perhaps, it’s best the trail is now so overgrown. I stopped at a point where I have sometimes gotten lost in the past. Wilderness still exists, and this gives me hope.

I returned home to read the last paragraphs of the novel once again. Will these words survive another draft, if there is one? At the time I wrote the ending, I find myself, unexpectedly, crying. If emotions are transient movements, then, does that create the best exit for the book?

That night, I woke up before 5:00 am with a word on my lips from the novel manuscript, and I knew from which chapter the word came. The word came to me, because the word was the wrong word. I was acutely aware, in that moment, why I had been writing and editing so intensely. I wanted to hold the novel inside my being like a poem. Each word in a poem carries water. With the novel such an endeavor has not been totally successful, but the intention to do so was there, nevertheless.

A Novel Excerpt:

             I do not talk about the part of last night’s vision that appeared to foretell a meeting with phoenix. I don’t feel the need to try to explain….Instead, other words come out. ‘Thank you everyone for coming. I had a dream last night. In the dream, there was a part where I saw nothing but light, and the light seemed to chant: I am coyote singing. I am the lion, the vulture, I am all that endures, all that roars, all that is strong, and, most of all, I am grateful to be alive.’ As I repeat these words, light shines around all the walls in the room, along the ceiling and along the shapes of the celebrants. I see myself standing inside the light.

Forthcoming Work The Process of Writing

photoblogI have been contemplating a problem with one of the characters towards the end of the novel. Eventually, I realized that the troublesome character faces similar challenges that I recognize from my youth. When I look back in my life, I see that self-knowledge has been hard won. The ability to self-reflect is a skill that has developed over time, and I am still working on it.

In examining this particular character’s evolution in the book, I am able to see my own life more clearly–areas of weakness, areas of strength and the constant need to keep learning. To see one’s own shortcomings is the first step. Insight cannot come when there is denial or a lack of effort to keep growing.

Now, I look forward to making necessary changes. My approach to working on the final draft of the novel has changed. New ideas have emerged. I celebrate that creative doors open the more I let go of tendencies to contract, to defend, or to be overwhelmed.

While I wait for the rest of the line edited copy of the manuscript, I have ordered my life as much as I can: Bills paid. Social needs and commitments met and enjoyed. I bought extra copy paper and a new gel ink pen. I returned the publisher’s contract.

Once the line edited pages arrived, reality sets in: many long days, the house cluttered with books and stacks of paper on every table surface. Still, I am excited to see improvement. I am happy to note evolution in clarity and purpose. And now I have three days to finish reworking the final chapters, and this draft will be done if the forces of spirit and grace choose to help me do so.

Forthcoming Work The Process of Writing

July 16, 2014

 

palacio            On one of the PBS globe trotting shows, the hostess is in Barcelona. I am seeing locations known by Salvador Dali and Picasso. I am intrigued. I am also reminded of a comment recently made by one of my blog readers. My writing style reminds her more of Latin American and European writers than those of North America. It is not the first time I have heard this, and I was tempted to say, but I’ve never been published in Europe or Latin America. Instead, I listen and consider. Yes, I do love Pablo Neruda, Kafka, Elizabeth Borchers. I have also immersed myself in Kabir and Rumi.

 

I am equally fond of Thomas Merton, Emily Dickinson, Theodore Roethke, Sylvia Plath, Leonard Cohen and others. Though labels sometimes get in the way, what cannot be denied is that we love what we love.

 

On today’s walk, picking up deadwood in the forest area of the land under our care, I felt a sweet peace. I was wearing the toe shoes my daughter bought me after I broke my foot and felt well balanced in my stride. I could detect varying textures of earth underneath my feet, which somehow gave me a strong sense of belonging, after so many years of displacement and disruption in my life. This way of walking, that sensation of connection to earth, has a name given by the indigenous people of Borneo, I was told by someone born there—one is said to have “jungle feet.”

junglefeet

July, 17, 2014

 

We had a guest today, a long-time friend, who moved away, leaving a hole in our lives. There wasn’t much time, just enough for a cup of tea and conversation that felt unfinished at the end.

 

How difficult goodbyes can be, bringing to the foreground the direct experience of life’s constant movement. Yesterday, the day seemed solid and steadfast; today, I am faced with a stark sense of impermanence. And yet, there is something more.
The Presence of Absence

Between your departure and absence
my longing to have said what I didn’t
expands through space like a sound
that can’t be heard.
When you drove far away
consciousness extended until the currents
are as subtle
and powerful
as silence.

And between two points of separation
lies a vibrant electromagnetic field..

Can you see the light from my body
surge faster than your car?
Will you know me when I wait to greet you
at your destination?

 

© Gudrun Mouw

A Poem Personal Updates