Apprenticeship to Love, Chapter 198, July 8, 2024

  • Today’s questions: How strangely does love make itself felt in your life? What happens when you hold this strangeness gently, and welcome it in?
  • Today's suggested practice: to sit with your own resistance to learning what you already know & receive as love... (see my "Short Practice,” below)
  • My practice today: 6am, Green Tara Mantra meditation.


To only feel this —all of it— and not be drawn into the illusion that there is anything for me to do. Only this: to let myself be carried away by these feelings, as a dragon that flies. And only to feel it all, the feelings and the flying and the terror and the beauty of it.


We celebrated and mourned this man two days ago.

I am broken open with the feeling of it. Not pushing it away. Allowing this to be my nourishment. What a strange thing. And this is what he helped me to understand: that I am enough of a man to feel all of this and be made larger, stronger, more able to love.


I am a fortunte man. To have such a friend. To have him as one of the angels of my life, helping me to recognize that I am surrounded by angels. That I deserve nothing. That I need nothing. Only to recognize and bow to the grace of recognition.


We remembered him in this large hall. It was, and is again, one of the temples in which he worshipped what was the religion of dance and joy and being together in movement. A scene of so much revelry and reverence, full of those who wanted to remember.


There are others who, remembering him, are afraid to grieve this deeply, or at least this publicly. Perhaps also afraid to face the emptiness of days and years without him. I am sorry for that. There is something in being together in grief, and in remembering the joy we shared.


I am a fortunate man. I allowed myself to be taught by this man, taught how to ride the dragon of unruly feelings. Taught how to allow it to take me into and through my discomforts, how to allow it to reveal my heart, and to school me in the ways of being deeper and more trustworthy and more safe for others to be with themselves and their own discomforts in this life.

I am a fortunate man. I have this man as my friend, my guide, as one fo the angels helping me to understand the terrifying beauty and richness and the overwhelming ocean of love that is my life. Terrifying because it seemed (and still, sometimes, seems) too much. More than I can hold, I sometimes think.


When I started the remembrance service I touiched first on one of the lessons of a teacher from this man's 20s. Fritz Perls.

Anxiety is excitement without the breath, Perls said. Or words to that effect. And this man's practice of joy was about feeling the body of this life and allowing it to speak and sing and dance.

I invited this full hall of rememberers through a simple exercise:

  • breathe, deeply into the belly, through the nostrils;
  • hold the breath a moment, then exhale fully and slowly;
  • and again, inhale, hold, exhale slowly;
  • and finally, a third round: inhale, hold, exhale slowly.

Take a moment, I said.

Now, look around at this hall. What was and is again a temple of dance. The religion that this man practiced from his youth when older sisters initiated him into the joys of swing dancing, to only a few days before his death, again, swing dancing.

Consider, I said, all of these people around you, in motion. Now, close your eyes and imagine: It's one of the semi annual gala events we were gifted by one of our committed dance teachers. Perhaps the Christmas Dance, or the Spring Gala. The men are all handsome. Dressed for the occasion. This man in a suit, or often, in a tuxedo with tails.

The women are beautiful. Sparkling. In their dresses, in their jewels. Shining.

Everyone is smiling, alive to the joy of dancing. And none more so than this man, and we were and are all and forever graced by his radiant smile and eyes alive with laughter and joy.

That, my dear readers, is how I remember this wise and beautiful and deep man. To share the dance floor with him, a holy experience. To share his joy in dance. I have only gratitude.


I was asked by his widow to officiate this remembrance, and to say some words. So hard to keep it to a few words, when there were so many ohters —the widow, my friends children— with so many things to say. But these two I offered:

  • That the garden, his and mine, became places for our work and our joy, and a place to experience grace. And here I quote the hymn we sang in his remembrance:
    • He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own.
  • A second thing: the necessity of grieving the inevitable changes of life, and of love, in my life.

It was a few days after my friend's death. I'd left a family visit in the city to return to my refuge, this garden. I was sitting here. Still somewhat stunned. Confused in my feelings. We had walked and talked and worked a lot in our respective gardens. I could feel that. And I felt grateful. But I hadn't yet felt grief moving. Still too numb, or just confused.


I talked with this man a lot about what I am writing, what I've been teaching. He always gave me more to consider. My chapters often turned to him, explicitly or indirectly, wondering.

Some time ago I read that the extent of our grief is related to our feelings of love.

Sitting there, in the garden, I realized that part of the numbness I was feeling was my unwillingness to feel how much I love this man. And that this grief I was resisting was just another form or expression of love. It's not one I'm too happy about feeling. I have little skill in this feeling of grief. But it feels true, that this is love.

And, I wondered, what would happen if I just accepted that I love this man more than I want to feel sometimes? And maybe that's how it is in our marriages? In our families and with our parents and children? So much love, and I am not used to feeling that much love, and so find ways to distract or hide or otherwise make a problem of this beautiful if difficult experience.

Again, this hymn about the garden. And the line, "He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own."

It was 10-12 years ago that my wise friend suggested something practical and profound: we should do a weekly chore date. This would be a time to tackle jobs in our gardens and homes that we didn't really want to do. Certainly not on our own. And so it began, an almost-weekly chore date. Our Mondays a practical coming together that became a spiritual coming-together.

We did chores. We got coffee at Love Bug Cafe. We drove to building supply stores and hardware stores. We did chores for members of the extended families we are part of. Pruning. Firewood. Snowshovelling.

And we talked. About family. About marriage. Sex. Being a man. Teaching and counselling. About meditation and yoga.

Sometimes we had lunch with my mother. Then we'd talk about God and meditation and sometimes we'd sing hymns.

Thinking on this as I sat there in my garden, still a little numb over my friend's death and this love I have for him and the discomfort of feeling it as grief I began to sing. I remembered the walking and talking. And I remembered the feeling, of "being his own." Because with him I came to know myself, and to reveal myself, as I never have before. And how he revelled in seeing me becoming more of myself. And what a joy it is, to see someone take pleasure in watching me become more of myself.

I miss our walks, and our talks. But this feeling remains. And the awareness that I have the capacity to do this for myself —to hold myself as my own. And, importantly, I have the capacity to offer that to others.


🌀The memory of my wise friend. In my garden. In his garden. On the dance floor. With me, in the forest. Alive to life. Aware of his proximity to death. Unafraid to live fully.

🌀The Conscious Warrior makes death an ally, using it to sharpen his present actions, future plans, and current state of being. (John Wineland , Precept 11)


This month's practice, to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine:
Please read through first, then ...

  • Set two alarms, for times of the day when you have a five-10 minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day.
  • When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few moments and:
    • Ask yourself: How strangely does love make itself felt in your life? What happens when you hold this strangeness gently, and welcome it in?
    • Then, follow the short practice here:
      • Stand, or sit, or lay yourself down, and bring your attention to your body.
      • Feel the ground beneath you. Allow the earth to hold you with gravity. Feel how dense and heavy you are. Feel also how lightly you sit or stand or lay on the earth. Feel yourself between the pull of earth's gravity and the subtle but persistent pull of the sun, the stars.
      • Slow your breathing so that it is long and deep into your belly. Slow the inhale to a count of four or six. Slow your exhale to a count of six or eight or ten. Repeat three to five cycles of breathing, going a little slower with each cycle. Continuing to notice yourself held by the earth, raised by the sun and stars and sky above. Feel the subtle tension and pressure and friction and stress that allows you to be and rest and move in this body.
  • When you’re done, take another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, Do I feel right? Am I in alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
  • Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
  • Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.