Featured

‘Waking Up’ in Istanbul

 

IMG_0616
Waking up in Istanbul ©photo westcoastwoman

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost,
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

-William Stafford, “THE WAY IT IS”

 

WAKING UP IN ISTANBUL

I am ‘Waking Up’ in Istanbul, the early morning call to prayer just ended. Mixed in with the usual haunting singing and chanting that echoes five times a day, this morning I  clearly heard in English, “Wake Up” as each round was sung.  Lying in bed in the Turkoman Hotel a four story walk up in the heart of the old city, the sounds of others also ‘waking up’ can be heard.

The Blue Mosque is visible from my window so there is little chance of  sleeping through the ‘Morning Call’ that is projected through microphones on strategically placed minarets.  My entire visit has been contained within the month of Ramadan.

This is my first time travelling in a Muslim majority country.  The warmth and respect I experienced from the men and women who practice the Muslim faith will follow me back home.  I personally claim no affiliation to any organized Religion, my beliefs are at this point ineffable, they probably embrace what is at the core of most religious philosophy but I  chafe at dogma or man made rules.

IMG_0026
Turkoman Hotel, Istanbul © photo westcoastwoman

This is the last day of my stay, a visit that started as a suggestion on the steps of a yurt on a remote island in British Columbia the previous summer.  I was attending a Dance workshop and as we sat on those steps, someone suggested we all continue our dance together the next year at an annual Spring gathering in a small Turkish town.  That was a  journey that seemed like a remote possibility at the time. It has been an interesting road both emotionally and physically from those steps to my arrival in this ancient city.

The Call to Prayer punctuated my days, both in Istanbul and in the smaller
village of Gokcedere.  The Calls are heard five times a day and are determined by the position of the sun, starting just before sunrise and ending after sunset.  In Istanbul the Mosques are scattered fairly closely throughout the city and when one prayer is being called the caller at another Mosque waits and it becomes a call and response.  It is mystical and reverent giving everyone no matter what your beliefs, time during the day to stop and really be present to the moment.

The group of thirty women from all over the world that had gathered were housed in a very luxurious hotel built on thermal springs in the valley village of Gokcedere.  I was awakened one night at 2:00 a.m by loud drumming and chanting, a sound that made its way from quite a distance up the hill to our residence. The whole village was no doubt roused from their sleep.  It continued, getting  louder and then the lone drummer and singer was joined by another.  They started playing to each other (and their captive audience), one would call, the other respond. The warm Spring night was filled with the sounds of  drumming and singing when I heard another call join in.  I was not sure at first what the sound was…..a child crying?  I slowly realized it was the howling of a dog.  He was joined by another, then another and we now had a symphony of drum and chant and howl that echoed up and down the valley.  Turkey has many wild dogs that live in the towns and cities and they are taken care of by people in the area.  It was fitting that they also should give voice to this impromptu concert.

No one was getting any sleep tonight.  I lay in bed listening to this musical celebration and thought of the sleepy island town I call home.  At home, people would have contacted the police over this early morning wake up call.   I realized as I lay there that I liked having my peace disturbed in this way.  It was part of a moment in time that would never be repeated and as I drifted in and out of sleep the human/canine jam session continued on into the early morning light.  I was brought out of my sleepy trance by the 4:00 a.m. ‘Call to Prayer’ that followed this rare ‘opening act’.

So many stories to tell, the betrayed carpet salesman (that played out over days), the wild taxi ride through the narrow back streets of Istanbul, learning proper and respectful scarf etiquette, lost at night in the maze of cobbled streets… but the one I tell most often besides the ‘Turkish Bath‘ is this one, because it was a constant…a constant reminder of whatever you want it to be.

The Call to Prayer.

IMG_0039
inside the Blue Mosque © photo westcoastwoman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Treading Water

DSC_1943
photo credit © westcoastwoman

If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.

Pablo Neruda
***

Treading Water

The tide is coming in. A long, hot summer day is coming to an end when I hear my neighbours voice.  “Come on girl, get out here”.  She stands waist deep in the cool water of the incoming tide and I lose no time in joining her.  We take the plunge together, the one I usually resist until the last moment– letting go and going completely under.

Swimming out over our heads we start treading water and talking, a talk that soon turns to a version of one that is reverberating all over the planet.  We speak of the human condition, the planetary condition, the white privilege that has allowed us to live and tread water under a rising moon on a beautiful island off the West Coast of North America.  We speak of this and more as we slowly drift from shore.

I am facing out to sea and by the time I look back, the shore appears to be distant and I am starting to lose strength.  The conversation continues as I change the movement of my arms and we both slowly move back towards a place where we will ‘touch ground’ again.  I reach intermittently with my toe, longing to feel the safety of the sea bed. There are two conversations going on, one with my companion the other within myself.

I am a strong swimmer and could have easily floated on my back if I felt too tired to swim or tread but each time my foot reaches for security and doesn’t find it there is a slight feeling of panic and then palpable relief when my toe finally does find bottom.  I am surprised by the intensity of both feelings.

Sitting on the deck later that night I realized how long I’ve had the feeling I was treading water–we have been treading water as a world community.  There is a collective need for our toes to touch the sea bed and feel the familiar security and comfort of solid ground.

As we head back towards shore perhaps we are being called to dive;  dive deep within ourselves and return with our particular part of the puzzle.  No one gets to sit this one out.  There is no ‘us and them’. There is only us.

A Call to Arms.  Arms to reach out, arms to hold, arms raised with clenched fists in resistance and arms spread in surrender.

We are over our heads.
We are treading water.
The call is out.

© westcoastwoman

747cc3f83c8e5c9d121603a679363626
photo credit Marc Riboud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome

DSC_2267
photo of painting westcoastwoman.  artist unknown

“Ring the bell that still can ring
  forget your perfect offering
  there is a crack in everything
  that how the light gets in.”
  Leonard Cohen


Welcome

Broken open, breaking light
stripped of illusion
naked, alone
Strength arrives
dressed not in resistance
but surrender
give in, not up.

Welcome.

Open wide,
this dying to be born
burning to be forged
watch with new eyes
the Light
move towards the
“crack in everything”.

©westcoastwoman

 

Featured

“the Parade of our Mutual Life”

IMG_0459

It was a year ago today that I set up this site (as I was reminded by a Congratulatory! email) a year since my finger hovered over the pink ‘publish’ button and I somehow got the courage to touch it.

A year that started by reading the words of Others ….. that being the great gift.  Stumbling upon writer after writer whose words spoke so deeply and honestly I felt ‘broken open’ and that opening allowing more of my inner world to be exposed.

One site led to another, it felt like climbing on a large web of linked consciousness, each writer working in their own corners writing words that only they could release .
I started to hear this as the ‘collective human howl’.

Joy, pain, darkness and light all being expressed individually and in perfect unison. A virtual worldwide Salon of sorts where the doors are always open and swinging both ways, all ways. Everyone welcome….so grateful I stepped through the threshold.

” it is important that awake people be awake” William Stafford

DSC_2328 2
©westcoast woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without Despair

 IMG_0077                        IMG_0069
photo credit westcoastwoman “Rock formations Newcastle Island”

Write a little everyday, without hope, without despair“* Isak Dinesen

Without Despair

Rough, yet ever so gently
Water on Stone
washes in, out
softening edges of
Body and Breath
Slow inhale
Surrender
Audible sigh
Release

Water on Stone
Stone to Surrender
Surrender to Release,
Sweet longing, caressing
our lives carved open as
“without hope, without despair”*
we float, we whirl,
a single leaf riding
a wandering stream.

©westcoastwoman 2019

 

Unknown-4
unknown photographer
Sculpture “Break through from your Mold” Zenos Frudakis
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

 

Fully Loaded

DSC_0239photo credit westcoastwoman

“We drag expensive ghosts through memory’s unmade bed”    Paul Hoover

Fully Loaded

Coming, ‘fully loaded’
sporting this years options,
last years designs
illusions, gimmicks, tricks…
all previous short cuts
eviscerated, overhauled, upgraded.

New thoughts, emotions,
technologies implanted and borne
on hands and knees moving
forward in darkness,
trusting, begging, opening,
blessing, praying for release.

Duality blends into
hope of wholeness,
Reuniting shards of
repressed memories,
rolling out the newest model
of one’s unlived lives.

No cherry picking of
options that appeal.
Movement forward to
one truth, this roll out
is all or nothing
large deposit, no refunds

or prerequisites.
Operation best suited
to those experienced
with similar models.
Not for beginners,
a ride you will never forget.