Critters (Long one, sorry!)

American RoachI was delighted to find Gabriel Cohen‘s article “Night of the Cockroach” on Shambhala Sun‘s website.  It appeared in the July 2009 issue, but as magazines are a luxury purchase at the moment, I only stumbled upon it a few days ago.  It’s a quick read, and I recommend it.  If you want to read it with “ambiance” – read, cockroach photos all over the page – check out Cohen’s .pdf of the original article on his website.

Cockroaches and other small critters have definitely played their part in the daily Practice of my life, and it’s good to bump into other people thinking about the potential struggle they provide.

Let me tell you a little bit about my house, and I’ll explain what I mean. Continue reading



One of the deep honors of being a parent is the opportunity to be present when another human being reaches a new understanding of the world. Sometimes these moments are cotton candy sweet, happy affairs. Sometimes they’re not. In either case the blessing witnessing – or perhaps even occasionally midwifing – these moments remains the same.

The other evening one of these moments happened for my youngest, and all I could do was just wrap my arms around him and let him mourn.

See, we have a two diet family. My eldest so and I are vegan, my husband and younger two have not been. We coexist, and Warren and I very frank about where food comes from. Both of us believe its important to really understand the origins of what’s on our plate. It’s so easy in our society to divorce ourselves from this knowledge, and both the meat-eating husband and I believe that’s an ethical slippery-slope. (I’m giving my other half a hard time, but he honestly doesn’t eat a lot of animal products anymore, which I appreciate.)

So the other night my little guy didn’t understand what the optional meat for his bean burrito was all about. When I finally got through to him that it was ground up cow meat that my husband had cooked to add to his, and not vegan he was absolutely horrified. He finally understood, and he was absolutely wracked with grief for all butchered animals. Watching him extend his new knowledge into a growing sense of compassion was so wonderful. Holding him while he cried for them in empathy was painful, but beautiful, too. I’m grateful I was allowed to be there.

Interesting Thought

“If you don’t heed the cries of a dog on a chain, how do you expect God to heed your cries?” — Kerouac

Lizard Sitting

Last night I stayed up late with a lizard.

I found him (?!?) behind the door in our bathroom, tired and injured. My guess is that he found his way in, and then my cats found him. I can’t imagine what that was like.

Anyway, he was so tired and weak, it was easy to get him into a “Tupperware” container to take outside. As I did so, however, he climbed out of the container and up on to my wrist.

For a moment we looked at each other while we each decided what we would do. I decided to do nothing, and let the lizard decide what was most important to him. He watched me, wide-eyed – half-afraid I was going to eat him, I suppose. When he realized I intended him no harm he relaxed, and let the warmth of my body provide him with strength and healing.

He let me carry him through the house that way, and after a brief conversation with my husband, I decided to sit with the injured lizard and allow him the chance to rest. What an amazing thing that was. Every little while he would feel warmed up enough to move up my arm and on to the table next to me, but each time he realized that he was still injured and too tired to get back to his life yet. So he allowed me to lift him back to my skin each time, where he’d watch me for a little while and then close his eyes and rest. I also tried a couple of times to find him a warm and safe place outside to rest, but each time he crawled further up my body and looked at me, as if to say, please let me stay a while. So I did.

We sat together for quite a while, but eventually other responsibilities called me – if nothing else it was well past when I should have gone to sleep. So we reached a compromise. After a little coaxing from me he found that he could warm himself on the top rim of the lampshade on the little table next to us, so he made himself comfortable and went back to sleep. He was still there (and alive) this morning when I came back into the room, but eventually I found that he had moved on. Hopefully he went out the nearby door (open to the warm spring weather) into the sunshine.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to sit with this lizard and be mindful of my experience. I am grateful that I was able to share a little love and warmth with him. I wish him the best.

Om Mani Padme Hum….