Wednesday, April 8, 2020

no life is single





.
When the garden of your unchosen lives has enough space to breathe beneath
 your chosen path, your life enjoys a vitality and sense of creative tension. 
 Rilke refers to this as "the repository of unlived things."

*
No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little pleasures,
we come of age as masks.

Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

excerpted from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

*
You know that you have not compromised the immensity that you carry,
 and in which you participate.  You have not avoided the call of commitment; 
 yet you hold your loyalty to your chosen path in such a way as to be true
 to the blessings and dangers in life's passionate sacramentality. 

 No life is single. Around and beneath each life is the living presence
 of these adjacencies.... to keep the borders of choice porous demands 
critical vigilance and affective hospitality.  To live in such a way invites risk
 and engages complexity.   Yet the integrity of growth demands such courage
 and vulnerability from us; otherwise the tissues of our sensibility atrophy
 and we become trapped behind the same predictable mask of behavior. 


.
~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

.


who am I










~ Jack Kornfield



 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

still



.



I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
found
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:
.
at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!




~ A. R. Ammons

.

milkweed


.


While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house.

White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At the touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.

.
~ James Wright

.

expands His being







All beings
are words of God,
His music, His
art.

Sacred books we are, for the infinite camps
in our
souls.

Every act reveals God and expands His Being.
I know that may be hard
to comprehend.

All creatures are doing their best
to help God in His birth
of Himself.

Enough talk for the night
He is laboring in me;

I need to be silent
for a while,

worlds are forming
in my
heart.


~ Meister Eckhart
from Love Poems from God
translation by Daniel Ladinsky



Monday, April 6, 2020

emptiness










~ Jack Kornfield


 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

a hundred roots silently drinking






I have many brothers in the South
who move, handsome in their vestments,
through cloister gardens.
The Madonnas they make are so human,
and I dream often of their Titians,
where God becomes an ardent flame.

But when I lean over the chasm of myself -
it seems
my God is dark
and like a web: a hundred roots
silently drinking.

This is the ferment I grow out of.

More I don't know, because my branches
rest in deep silence, stirred only by the wind.



~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Book of Monastic Life, I,3

.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Hokusai says









Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive—
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
 
 
 
~ Roger Keyes

Thursday, April 2, 2020

patience










~ Jack Kornfield


 

song in the year of catastrophe







I began to be followed by a voice saying:
"It can't last.  It can't last.
Harden yourself.  Harden yourself.
Be ready.  Be ready."

"Go look under the leaves,"
it said, "for what is living there
is dead in your tongue."
And it said, "Put your hands
into the earth.  Live close
to the ground. Learn the darkness.
Gather round you all
the things that you love, name
their names, prepare
to lose them,  It will be
as if all you know were turned
around within your body."

And I went and put my hands 
into the ground, and they took root
and grew into a season's harvest.
I looked behind the veil
of the leaves, and heard voices
that I knew had been dead
in my tongue years before my birth.
I learned the dark.

And still the voice stayed with me. 
Waking in the early mornings,
I could hear it, like a bird
bemused among the leaves,
a mockingbird idly singing
in the autumn of catastrophe:
"Be ready.   Be ready.
Harden yourself.  Harden yourself."

And I heard the sound 
of a great engine pounding
in the air, and a voice asking:
"Change or slavery?
Hardship or slavery?"
and the voices answering:
"Slavery!  Slavery!"
And I was afraid, loving 
what I know would be lost.

Then the voice following me said:
"you have not yet come close enough.
Come nearer the ground.  Learn
from the woodcock in the woods
whose feathering is a ritual
of the fallen leaves,
and from the nesting quail
whose speckling makes her hard to see
in the long grass.
Study the coat of the mole.
For the farmer shall wear
the greenery and the furrows
of his fields, and bear
the long standing of the woods."

And I asked: "you mean a death, then?"
"yes," the voice said.  "Die
into what the earth requires of you."
Then let go all holds, and sank
like a hopeless swimmer into the earth,
and at last came fully into the ease
and the joy of that place,
all my lost ones returning.





~ Wendell Berry
from Farming Poems
art by Roderick Maclver



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

still a mystery




How something is made flesh
no one can say. The buffalo soup
becomes a woman
who sings every day to her horses
or summons another to her private body
saying, come, touch, this is how
it begins, the path of a newly born
who, salvaged from other lives and worlds,
will grow to become a woman, a man,
with a heart that never rests,
and the gathered berries,
the wild grapes
enter the body,
human wine
which can love,
where nothing created is wasted;
the swallowed grain takes you through the dreams
of another night,
the deer meat becomes hands
strong enough to work.

But I love most
the white-haired creature
eating green leaves;
the sun shines there
swallowed, showing in her face
taking in all the light,

and in the end
when the shadow from the ground
enters the body and remains,
in the end, you might say,
This is myself,
still unknown, still a mystery.




–Linda Hogan
from Rounding the Human Corners




as we think, so we become






.
The thought manifests as the word,
The word manifests as the deed,
The deed develops into a habit,
And habit hardens in character,
.
So watch the thought and it's ways with care,
And let it spring from love,
Born out of concern for all beings...
.
As the shadow follows the body,
As we think so we become. 



~ Buddha, from the Dhammapada


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Sky: An Assay




A hawk flies though it, carrying
a still-twisting snake twice the length of its body.

Radiation, smoke, mosquitoes, the music of Mahler fly through it.

The sky makes room, adjusting its airy shoulders.

Sky doesn't age or remember,
carries neither grudges nor hope.
Every morning is new as the last one, uncreased
as the not quite imaginable first.

From the fate of thunderstorms, hailstorms, fog,
sky learns no lesson,
leaping through any window as soon as it's raised.

In speech, furious or tender,
it's still of passing sky the words are formed.
Whatever sky proposes is out in the open.

Clear even when not,
sky offers no model, no mirror - cloudy or bright -
to the ordinary heart: which is secretive,
rackety, domestic, harboring a wild uninterest in sky's disinterest.

And so we look right past sky, by it, through it,
to what also is moody and alters -
erosive mountains, eclipsable moons, stars distant but death-bound.




~ Jane Hirshfield



Monday, March 30, 2020

expioring the shadow









~ Jack and Trudy Kornfield



 

between the shadow and the soul








I do not love you as if you were the salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way 


than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.



~ Pablo Neruda 
 art by Odilon Redon, Golden Cell