Christin's Words from Sunshine Hill

If it is to be music
you must be present to it, must offer to it
a profound self-remembering.
-from Altar Music

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Blue Shawl

Sometimes a story weaves in and out of a writer's life for many years and is rewritten time and again as new insights and realizations come to light. Each re-write develops a different thread of the weave, adds dimension, emphasizes certain colors over others, gives complexity to the pattern. But in the end, only one story can survive to be told.

In my files seven manuscripts, precursors of this novel, The Blue Shawl, rest. They are tied with string and will never be published, never even read again. Have you ever imagined what your own life might have been like if, at a crucial moment, you had made a different choice? Or if circumstances had conspired to place a different person in your path than the one who turned out to become your spouse? Parallel lives. The intriguing might-have-been.

During over twenty years I never lost my fascination with the woman, Milda Schatz. What was her secret? And even after I knew her secret, how could I reach deeply enough into her soul to find words for her fears, betrayals, desires, determination, passion -- the intensity of a life so different on the outside from what it was within?

The Blue Shawl is my third narrative of strong women across three generations who are faced with choices that will lead them to either integrity or despair. (Altar Music, Gypsy Bones, The Blue Shawl). This is the story that initiated my search, that took the longest to write, that is most layered with meaning and dear to my heart.

The Blue Shawl  will be available at
for purchase in either paperback or ebook format by November. 

Monday, July 21, 2014


This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance
               -T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”

The land thirsts.
The earth cracks open like old skin
Like hands of the farmer, bleeding
As he digs through stones that surface
From the hardened clay.
The sky has turned to flame.
Lungs ache breathing the triple digit air.
Attempts to bring water up from deep aquifers
Deplete the natural wells.
Star thistle, goat’s weed, and poison oak
Flourish in aridity;
The wilderness will not become a garden this year.
Green is a luxury earth cannot afford.

Here in the dark container of night I sit in artificial light, working out a plan for sprinkling systems although at this point in the devastation what power or intelligence do I have? Nature will not submit to being fixed. Earth will not be moved. The man-made pipes crack and break in the farmer’s bleeding hands. He sits in the rocks and hits at the stony ground. I watch him, a man from the caves wielding the tool of inadequacy. Neither he nor the world can weep.

Here among these rocks in the darkness of my soul I sit remembering. Others have visited this place where gardens become desert and life’s bones lie scattered. They have heard the locusts’ song.

Who can surrender to this?
Who can surrender?
Because it won’t be worked.
Our strength is puny here.
Mind fails.
Heart slows or beats too fast, and neither matter
because nothing can be done.
It is the end of doing.
Surrender is a must. But who can?

How much must be lost before we let it go?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Life According To Dreams

You haven't seen me here in quite a while. It isn't that I haven't written anything. I have. But journals tend to be private documents, and dreams are keys to the soul for those who have a knack for interpretation. Since I last wrote here my dreams have taken up all my writing time. When the flood of dreams began it lifted me on a surge of images right out of my bed to my computer where I wrote for hours. Do you dream like that? Passionate dreaming. Integral dreaming. Dreams that intuition declares must mean something, must be doing something to you, changing you somehow that you don't yet comprehend.

Sri Aurbindo--a King's College (Cambridge) educated Indian man born in Calcutta who became an activist, a philosopher, a Yogi, and a saint (1872-1950)--placed dreams within a universal context of being. "In sleep we leave the physical body, only a subconscient residue remaining, and enter all planes and all sorts of worlds. In each we see scenes, meet beings, share in happenings, come across formations, influences, suggestions which belong to these planes...Planes of supraphysical existence, worlds of  larger life, mind or psyche which are there behind and whose influences come to us without our knowledge. Occasionally we get a dream from these planes, something more than a dream, -- a dream experience which is a record direct or symbolic of what happens to us or around us here." [from Integral Yoga]. 

Meanwhile Carl Gustav Jung, exploring his own psychological experiences, was reaching a similar awareness. His dreams tapped into something so vast and beyond his individual consciousness that he found himself in a timeless experience of the blood bath in Europe that hadn't yet happened, but that he would recognize later as the First World War.

Neither of these giants of the human soul were the first to engage in this exploration. It's been going on since what we call the Dream Times in most ancient and not so ancient cultures. It's just that they both spent their lives studying consciousness, and they wrote about their findings in a language that strikes us as more scientific than the language of the mystic. This is not to say they didn't also use poetic and mythic language. They did. Read Aurobindo's Savitri. Read Jung's Red Book.

 Many writers begin with dream. A poet, a novelist, a writer of memoir, the musical theorist, the philosopher of art. Those are obvious. But who is not telling us where they begin? The cosmologist? The theoretical physicist? The historian?  Go deep enough into reality and eventually one passes through the realm of dreams. Its language is one everyone would do well to learn.

If I learn this language will it change my life? Even this old life? Dreams may be constellations in the sky of the soul. If I travel through the dark, should I not pay attention to their light and the map it provides?

I chart my being by the stars
By constellations
In the skies and in the cells
In whorls of ancient trees
Along the pathways of the soul
The heights and deeps
Fire and emptiness
A new leaf emerging from the stem. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Delicate Balance

Just look at this exquisite photograph by Sandy Rubini. I'm amazed by her eye. Just imagine to have captured this image in the moment of its delicate balance. Not only is she talented; she is gracious. When I proposed that we might collaborate once more (her photography also graces the cover of my novel, Gypsy Bones), she agreed. It had been my intention to publish a fourth novel, then titled Small Hands, but as I have been revising it, I've become unsure. At first I felt unsure only about the title. For a while I started thinking of the story as expressed by the water drops, the rain, the tears, and turned to a different phrase from the poem by e.e. cummings that gave me Small Hands. So for a month or so the book was called Not Even the Rain. 

Sandy's photograph was drawing me into a project I'd not yet been able to imagine.

And I began calling the novel A Delicate Balance, the same as the title that graces the photograph. At that moment it ceased being a novel at all, and became an imagination of something in my life I have hesitated to capture in words: marriage to three very different men and surviving the death of two of them.

The process of writing any book is a delicate balance between what we know and what we have not yet dared to know. The excitement of beginning can trick us into entering what seems simply a cave in which we might find gems. But soon the cave reveals itself to be a labyrinth along the paths of which are secret rooms, amazing turns, dead ends, darkness--all of this before arriving at the center. The center is the core of earth. The womb of being. The balance of opposites. the perfect sphere. (I'm trying not to mix my metaphor, though I fear that is what is taking place) The word, the phrase, the story in which a life makes sense.

Creating anything takes daring (as you can see from the jumble I made of that metaphor) because an artist, whether photographer or writer must in the doing of it face the truth and then present it with a balance that is beautiful.

Shall I undertake it? Shall I follow the call of Sandy Rubini's photograph? Can I? Does it matter if I fail? Maybe I need to ask that question of those husband spirits that surround me every moment I remain alive. I know I have in me an image of their love like a drop of rain at the tip of a leaf. I'm inside it. The perfect sphere reflects the perfectly coordinated rainbow light of the spirits of my three beloveds. But what else do I see and am not yet aware that I see? And will they show me?

So shall I write?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Misty Morning Communique: Do We Understand One Another?

It's been raining--a true gift for us here in southern Oregon where the drought gave us only nine inches of rainfall the entire 2013. Not that it is raining torrents, at least not up here on Sunshine Hill. No, it is something between a mist and actual rain. If you were to visit, you would find me in my writing room looking at the mountains to the southwest--towards California and the ocean. You'd notice I was quiet; I like the rain. Also, though, I'm thinking about communication. The word suggests that the act of communication is related to communion, an intimate act. But what actually happens when we speak a word or offer a work of art or dance on shining blades?

I pause here and stare at the monitor. Last week my reading of Sri Aurobindo impressed me the idea that we understand a communication in accord with the frequency of vibration we experience when we take it in. So this meant to me that we could read the same words (or contemplate a work of art) again and again and each time experience them at least somewhat differently. Father Roman, one of my novitiate teachers, used to say that we could spend our entire lives with one verse of the Scriptures and never exhaust its meaning or its beauty because the Divine Word is infinite. And St. Clare used to teach contemplation on the crucifixion of the Christ as a mirror into which we could gaze eternally and never reach the fullness of that gaze because Divine Love is infinite. Probably Aurobindo would suggest that "my" vibrational frequency would need to correspond to the divine vibration for full communication to take place. And I wonder: is that everlasting Life?

This is how my mind occupies itself, with such thoughts as these. Sometimes even my dear friends seem to be looking as me as though I've (what's the cliche?) gone off the deep end. You've seen Tarot's Fool, right? Dancing mindless on the edge of the world's precipice.

Then yesterday a friend sent me a link to an astrological site providing insight into what it can mean if Mercury is retrograde. (Such is the present situation.) Basically: communication will be scrambled, dead-ended, misunderstood, out of sync. (The vibrations between us won't match. Maybe you are feeling that way as you read ;) I know almost nothing about astrology, but I'll try to listen to wisdom from any tradition. Also, I did have my birth chart done back in the 80's, so I know that Mercury is in my sun sign of Scorpio--the only planet there, in fact--which if I understand correctly,  impels me towards communication. Writing. Teaching. You get the idea. Maybe I should be out in the mist today, scattering wild flowers in the bare round area above the septic tank rather than here in the chair by the window attempting to defy retrograde Mercury!

Here, though, is the thought that has made music when vibrating in me: When the word leaves my fingers, when I click SEND, or publish a book; or when I share a thought with an individual or a group and the word is received by another it is always a combination of what I think I said with what the other person has received. The word passes through the vibrational pattern of the other person's mind, soul, history, experience and is understood accordingly. The communion of our thought and experience is a new thing, no longer totally "mine," but created by and belonging to the two of us together until we share with yet another and the belonging and the letting go increases exponentially.

The backdrop to all of this turns out to be unspeakable--the synthesis of all words and every communication, and the transcendence of that synthesis through the Eternal Word into the Infinite Silence. We dare not speak, cannot define this Silence because it is limitless. In that Limitlessness all is One.

Today the nearest I can approach is through the mist, because as you must realize if you persevered to the end of this twisting, turning mind trip, attempts to put such things in human words don't work as well as mist on eyelashes and a drop of rain upon the tongue.