Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Dears-It's my 69th birthday.

And guidance is interesting. In my working life, I've been a guide for families as they welcome their newest members. It's so hard being a parent! Nothing can prepare us for the rigors, the anxiety, the fierce love that is pulled, sometimes wrenched from us. And the long arc of parenthood falling into grandparenthood for some of us. The leaning back into received wisdom, the eye to what is and what isn't important after all. Love and acceptance, showing up, telling the truth to the next generation. I have spoken to my grandson in ways I would never have to my children. I am less attached to being liked by him. I am interested in being an anchor, if he needs one, because I am trustworthy and I love him, no matter what.

But today, as I consider my own mortality and the mortality of all I love, including everything, I am reminded of the 5 Remembrances: Old age, sickness, death, ceaseless change and the fact that all we 'own' are our actions. How do we conduct ourselves in old age. What does it mean to be old. This old face and body, the encoded reason for the death of this body, these cells. Unknowable right now but there, the dark angel awaits us all.

A brilliant morning in Seattle, clear blue sky with sun and birds. A bit of Mozart. Tea. The dog always game for whatever comes along. I think a walk in Discovery Park, a huge waterfront park with lighthouse and numerous trails. We can easily spend a few hours there.

I am listening for the voices of my dead parents, some guidance for old age. I remember my mother sitting on the couch knitting a yellow sweater which I never saw her wear. I remember thinking she might be making it for me (no). Each time I saw her, she looked smaller and older. It was always a shock. When you see someone occasionally, the changes are dramatic. I think that was the generation that never talked about real things: menstruation, sex, childbirth, aging, menopause. I learned it on my own. And decided to talk to my children about all of it.

What does it mean to be old, to get old? My desk holds a few photos of dear ones who have died. Gone before...I have time I haven't had before. Just being off call now is amazing. I just...noticed that I was no longer on the call schedule. What a relief. And is there some diminishment there? Some feeling that I'm no longer needed as I was. How egotistical. I've alway maintained that we midwives are interchangeable although our families remember just who was there and give that person special attention. We want to be special to someone.

I know I'm rambling here. Still putting it down and it is mysterious to me. We are exhorted to rest and relax, go on vacations, put our feet up, etc when we are old. But why? If our bodies and brains still work, why go into that kind of slumber? I sit and watch the young midwifery students conduct prenatal visits and they have heads chock full of facts and figures. I step in where there is a problem; a mother is depressed or angry, a family is in distress for some reason. I am less interested in the check list and more interested in the interplay, the mystery of connection and love.

And maybe that is a gift of the old. It's what we learn and study throughout our lives. A distillation of the ten thousand joys and sorrows. The deepest kind of compassion and equanimity.

Where there is love, there is life.
                                                   - Gandhi

Friday, February 22, 2019


Finally, this has happened. Organized religion, no matter what flavor, can cause tremendous harm. If you wanna read all this, please do. It's been a long time coming.... X Beth

February 20, 2019 Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Ethics and Reconciliation Council Statement Regarding Noah Levine 

Noah Levine was authorized in 2006 by Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Jack Kornfield as a fully empowered Theravada Buddhist teacher “to teach the Dharma of Liberation, in the Lineage of the Elders.” Although Noah Levine has never been on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, Mr. Levine has taught at Spirit Rock and Jack Kornfield led Mr. Levine’s teacher training and is his authorizing teacher. Today, we, Spirit Rock’s Ethics and Reconciliation (EAR) Council, in consultation with other Senior Teachers and the Guiding Teachers Committee (GTC), have unanimously, indefinitely withdrawn Noah Levine’s authorization to teach. Separately, Dr. Kornfield has withdrawn his authorization for Mr. Levine to teach, and, following the Buddhist tradition of Sanghadisesa, will allow this to be revisited in years ahead, should Mr. Levine demonstrate a significant transformation.

In March 2018, we learned of allegations of rape, sexual harassment and other misconduct against Mr. Levine. Although he had not been scheduled to teach at Spirit Rock, we indefinitely suspended Mr. Levine from any potential teaching at Spirit Rock, pending an investigation by Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society (ATS), the organization founded by Mr. Levine and on whose Board he sat. On August 25, 2018, ATS publicly reported on the outcome of their investigation, finding that the preponderance of evidence showed Mr. Levine likely violated the Third Precept, ‘to avoid creating harm through sexuality.’ Based on these and other findings, the ATS Board, its Grievance Council, and its Teachers Council announced that Mr. Levine was permanently removed from teaching under the auspices of ATS. In addition, the ATS Board announced that ATS would close and cease to exist as an organization. The Spirit Rock EAR Council thereafter conducted its own investigation, a long and careful process of collecting information from numerous sources in order to determine Mr. Levine’s fitness for teaching. The sources of information included meetings with Mr. Levine, interviews of witnesses and a review of extensive documents. We interviewed several women who have alleged harm, staff members of ATS and another organization Mr. Levine founded, Refuge Recovery (RR). We watched Mr. Levine’s public talks and read his statements. The EAR Council also reviewed the federal court lawsuit by the Board of RR against Mr. Levine and the responsive lawsuit filed by Mr. Levine. The EAR Council shared the information gathered with the Guiding Teachers Committee, the President of Spirit Rock’s Board, and Dr. Kornfield. The interviews and extensive reports we reviewed are gravely disturbing, detailed, and similar in nature. They show a pattern of behavior that raise critical concerns regarding Mr. Levine’s adherence to the Spirit Rock Teacher Code of Ethics. The EAR Council investigation revealed repeated breaches of the precepts of nonharming by Mr. Levine; delusion about the accumulation of harms caused; a lack of willingness to accept responsibility for his actions; confusion regarding the ways his actions reflect cultural and systemic conditioning; and a failure to honor the explicit instructions of his respected mentors. Mr. Levine’s misapprehensions and delusion have led him away from the wisdom and compassion necessary to be a teacher of the Dharma. It is important to note that the EAR Council followed the EAR Council Grievance process (outlined here), including meeting directly with Mr. Levine twice to provide him with a full opportunity to offer information to dispute the allegations. The second meeting convened the GTC, Dr. Kornfield, and the EAR Council to provide Mr. Levine an opportunity to be heard and respond to questions from a group of senior Spirit Rock teachers. The meetings furthered our view that Mr. Levine could not perceive the harm he has caused or was purposely deceptive. Either possibility is deeply troubling and led us to conclude that Mr. Levine cannot be trusted to uphold the minimal requirement of a Dharma teacher – to do no harm. Even in the absence of the initial allegations of sexual assault, Mr. Levine’s behavior has otherwise been so troubling that we would have reached this same conclusion. It is the unanimous view of the EAR Council, Senior Teachers, and the GTC that Mr. Levine is no longer part of the Spirit Rock teaching lineage, no longer enjoys the support of its teachers, and may no longer claim any association or connection with Spirit Rock or Dr. Kornfield. We further recommend that Mr. Levine cease all Buddhist or meditation teaching and dedicate his energy to the rehabilitation of his own heart.

Mr. Levine’s repetitive and continued behavior, outlined by multiple sources, would be completely inappropriate for anyone, let alone an individual privileged to be an authorized Spirit Rock teacher. The EAR Council was established precisely to interrupt and prevent Spirit Rock teachers from causing such harm. These findings coexist with our knowledge that Mr. Levine has been of substantial benefit to tens of thousands of students, particularly those recovering from addiction. Many practitioners have only experienced benefit from Mr. Levine’s teaching, and we know a deep sense of dissonance can arise given the force of our conclusions. For some, valuing what they have received from Mr. Levine may lead them to dismiss the concerns enumerated here. We certainly do not wish to erase the benefit that many have received, and indeed, the value of the Dharma endures beyond individual personality—but that benefit cannot blind us to the fact that Mr. Levine has become deeply alienated from bedrock values of the Buddhist path: self-reflection, accountability, compassion, and wisdom. Spirit Rock remains committed to serving the larger addiction recovery community, and helping all those impacted by Mr. Levine, positively and negatively, to find refuge in the teachings of the Buddha and at Spirit Rock. If after a period of years in which Mr. Levine demonstrates a profound spiritual and psychological transformation – and a clear commitment to humility and non-harming in all spheres of life – we might consider revisiting this decision. The Buddha offered the possibility of radical transformation to all who practice his teachings, without exceptions. This radical transformation, however, depends on wise view, wise action and a clear recognition that the forces of greed, hatred and delusion have been transmuted. May Mr. Levine find his way towards this transformation…. We acknowledge the pain, suffering, and profound impact for all directly and indirectly involved. We offer our deepest care to everyone whom Mr. Levine has harmed. Spirit Rock’s withdrawal of Mr. Levine’s teaching authorization expresses our concern and sorrow at the widespread harm that has been created. Should you have any information you wish to share with Spirit Rock's Ethics and Reconciliation Council, please contact us at For general questions, please contact

May the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha remain our refuge.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Baby Callan is safely here and home with his parents.

Such relief.

I'm still in my bathrobe and it's 2PM. We had clinic all day on Saturday and it was crowded with mommas and babies until 8PM. Dang, I was tired at the end of the night.

Snow is melting finally. Last night I made almond flour cookies and hosted a meditation circle in my living room as I do every Sunday night. Sweet.

I must go outside and see the winter sun, watery though it is.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
-- David Wagoner

Friday, February 15, 2019

For Ali's baby boy

May you be safe and protected from all harm and danger.
May you be happy, just as you are.
May you be healthy. May your body and your mind be well.
May you live with ease and comfort. May you be surrounded by love and compassion.
May you be free from your suffering.

Love always,


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I drove (!) to my friend's house today to drop off the baby quilt. She didn't want to see me, too many feelings on the eve of meeting her son on Friday after losing her daughter in 2017. Oh, my heart aches.

On Friday I'll light candles and send wishes for safe passage to her and her babe. And her husband.

Tonight I'm attending a writer's gathering at the library sponsored by Hugo House (named after Richard Hugo, a local poet).

I've written here before about this loss. The mother's grief, the father's grief is incomprehensible. What to do with our grief, those of us who cared for them, the midwives and doctors and nurses? I have come to that terrible shore on my knees, willing the pain to pass through. It will never go away. It gets easier to hold it and care for it.

The thousands of stitches and hours I spent on the quilt was a way through. I once read about a pioneer woman who said that her hopes and pain were all stitched into a quilt. As she said "what that quilt knows about me..." And women back then made quilts from clothing of the dead. Lordy. A way to put grief to use.

The snow is melting, revealing broken plants and ruts in the earth.

Healing and broken, all of us. Healing and broken.

Monday, February 11, 2019

She's waiting for me in the morning to put the feeder out. I bring it in after dark so it doesn't freeze. We must have 18-20 inches out there.

I walked with some neighbors, helped folks out of snowbanks, righted garbage cans and threw snowballs for Felix.

Every driver (WTF) was a guy, fishtailing up and down the hills. What's so important you gotta  drive your Hyundai without snow tires AND STOP at the stop sign? People who grew up in snow don't drive in this sh*t. The only woman we saw was the mail carrier and she had chains. Duh!

I feel like I've been in the house for eleventy thousand hours. And I didn't even watch the Grammys. Sheesh.

I'm reading and writing instead. Reading Tommy Orange's book, There, There. It's so good. And listening to Mozart.

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I've done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden: and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

                                                     -William Stafford

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Dears, It's deeper and deeper. And quiet. No traffic. No planes.

Felix ran after snow balls yesterday. He would bark, leap in the air and then wonder what happened to his ball when it hit the ground. Silly dog.

The humming birds are ok, I think. I bring in their feeder at night so it won't freeze and hang it out again in the morning.

It is still snowing.

Between being sick and the weather, I will complete a quilt I've been working on for my friend who lost her baby in 2017. She's due in a week or so. Hand stitching is what I do. It's a meditation.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

We're supposed to get another foot of snow so we better get dog/cat food and people food for the duration. And freezing weather. The poor hummingbirds. Their feeder keeps freezing.

A kindly neighbor left me some instant hand warmers on my windshield.

Speaking of windshield, there was ice on the INSIDE of the window after I got all the ice off the outside of the car.


At least I'm at work. The topic here is the situation of someone who goes into labor during the, uh, armageddon storm. I have chains but scary hills to traverse and a wee light car. As someone who grew up in deep upstate New York winters, I have a healthy respect for bad weather, which most of my fellow citizens don't understand. It's nothing to fuck with.

I've spun on ice, I've been overturned on highways and I've front ended trees. Ice is not even for walking really. And I'm a good careful driver. Folks around here don't get the hills, the cold and what their cars are able to do realistically.

Therefore, we are praying to the birth goddess that she don't stir any pots until we're out of the weather, literally. Otherwise, we're sending ladies to the hospital in an ambulance (at least they have chains).

And it will give me another week to cough in the privacy of my living room and establish that I have exhausted all Netflix and Amazon Prime that was even slightly decent and I'm down to watching questionable series or listening to Dharma talks I've already heard.

Oh, and the cat pooped in the shower. I have been so neglectful in my illness.

This is how it begins. Lordy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Saturday, February 02, 2019

You know you're really sick when:

You can't tell if it's 7 in the morning or 7 at night.
Food is tasteless, no matter how much you usually enjoy it.
You call the naturopath in your office and ask her to check on you periodically to be sure you haven't died.
You wish you had died.
You think you might still.
You step on a pile of dog shit in your bare feet while coming into the kitchen. It wasn't his fault. He hadn't been let out due to the aforementioned time confusion.
Um, and that was COLD dog shit.
You toss kleenex on the floor and by morning, there is quite a pile.
Your counters are clogged with Vitamin C, lemon juice, Nyquil, immune tincture, etc etc.
Your optimism has disappeared that 'this time' you weren't going to get really sick and it would just blow over after a few days. HA!
Your intercostals ache from coughing.
You get in the hot tub DURING THE DAY and who the hell cares who sees you.
You are streaming all the Harry Potter movies, and that's about 19 hours, folks.

I will probably live this time. I tell you, it was touch and go last night. You know, that dark night of the soul when you wake up to heave yourself out of bed to pee and cough and you think that one of these times, you'll just give it up. Let Jayzus take me in his everlovin' arms. I'm still here and on to the 4th installment of HP.

I'm sure this has nothing to do with visiting my lawyer to get my will and advanced directives re-written. Nothing at all.