Thursday, December 24, 2015

nothing I can give you which you have not





Most Noble Contessina:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not. 
But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. 
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. 
Take heaven! 

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. 
Take peace! 

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. 
Take Joy! 

There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.
 And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, 
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, 
and you will find beneath it a living splendor, 
woven of love by wisdom, with power. 

Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. 
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, 
that angel's hand is there.

The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. 
Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. 
They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, 
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. 
Courage then to claim it; that is all! 
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, 
wending through unknown country home.


And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, 
but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, 
now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.


your servant,
 Fra Giovanni


~ Ernest Temple Hargrove

The name of a certain "16th century monk" is familiar now to millions of people but, he never lived; he was created by an English barrister, Ernest Temple Hargrove.  With the arrival of Christmas season each year, the monk, Fra Giovanni, becomes better known, and his creator drifts farther into obscurity.  This is the way Mr. Hargrove wanted it.  Hargrove was born into a distinguished English family, came to the United States as a young man and spent many years in religious endeavors, particularly in the field of writing.

Before his death in 1939 Hargrove composed a Christmas greeting to a friend, writing in literary style that gave a medieval  flavor to his message.  The greeting took the form of a letter from a monk to an Italian countess.  According to a close friend, G.M.W. Kobbe of New York, Hargrove secured no copyright, feeling that if his greeting carried a real message there should be no impediment to it's circulation. With the passage of years, the letter is now thought of as the perfect Christmas card by a great host of appreciative readers, many of whom believe Fra Giovanni was a real person.

The monk is imaginary but the letter and the message are real.

~ Max L. Christensen - 1997

Ernest Temple Hargrove, of England, married to Amy Virginia Tehula Neresheimer, the daughter of Emil August Neresheimer, NYC diamond broker, on Tuesday, January 18, 1899, Church of the Holy Apostles, NYC.They had at least two children, William A, born in about 1902, and a daughter Joan, born about 1905.Hargrove was a prominent figure in the NY Theosophical Society, and later in life was known to have resided as a caretaker of the Chapel of the Comforter, located at 10 Horation St. in NYC.he eventually died in 1939.


Monday, December 14, 2015

no words







People come a long way to reach Parrot Lake
anxious to ask about practice
this old monk tells them the truth
the gatha that frees you has no words


~ Stonehouse
from The Zen Works of Stonehouse
Poems and Talks of a 14th Century Chinese Hermit
translated by Red Pine


Sunday, December 13, 2015

behind the word consciousness








~ Mauro Bergonzi

companion of my heart








You are the companion of my heart
Though my body I offer to those who desire it.

My body is friendly to guests

But you the companion of my heart
Are the guest of my soul.


~ Rabia

(712 - 801)
After a life of hardship, she spontaneously achieved a state of self-realization. 
When asked by Shaikh Hasan al-Basri how she discovered the secret, she responded by stating:

"You know of the how, but I know of the how-less."


a blessing






Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, 
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. 
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies 
Darken with kindness. 
They have come gladly out of the willows 
To welcome my friend and me. 
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture 
Where they have been grazing all day, alone. 
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness 
That we have come. 
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. 
There is no loneliness like theirs. 
At home once more, 
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. 
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, 
For she has walked over to me 
And nuzzled my left hand. 
She is black and white, 
Her mane falls wild on her forehead, 
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear 
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist. 
Suddenly I realize 
That if I stepped out of my body I would break 
Into blossom.



~ James Wright
from Above the River







Monday, December 7, 2015

the present has abated its urgencies






For people who live in the country there is a charming freedom in such days. One is free of obligations to the ground.  There is no outside work that one ought to do, simply because, with the ground frozen deep and covered with snow, no such work is possible.  Growth has stopped; there is plenty of hay and grain in the barn; the present has abated its urgencies.  The mind may again turn freely to the past and look back on the way it has come.

This morning has been bearing down out of the future toward this bit of riverbank forever. And for perhaps as long, in a sense, my life has been approaching from the opposite direction. The approach of a man's life out of the past is history, and the approach of time out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?




- Wendell Berry
from The Long-Legged House
photo by Harry Callahan
with thanks to whiskey river


Saturday, December 5, 2015

be foolishly in love.







A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.
Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.

There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.
If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.

True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.
Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.

Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.
How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.

Anything born in spring dies in the fall,
but love is not seasonal.
With wine pressed from grapes,
expect a hangover.
But this love path has no expectations.

You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount. Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.
Be clear like a mirror
reflecting nothing.

Be clean of pictures and the worry
that comes with images.
Gaze into what is not ashamed
or afraid of any truth.
Contain all human faces in your own
without any judgment of them.

Be pure emptiness.
What is inside that? you ask.
Silence is all I can say.
Lovers have some secrets
That they keep.





~ Rumi
art by van gogh




Friday, December 4, 2015

a star on the horizon of my heart







Ever in my life have I sought thee with my songs. 
It was they who led me from door to door, 
and with them have I felt about me, 
searching and touching my world.

It was my songs that taught me all the lessons I ever learnt; 
they showed me secret paths, 
they brought before my sight many a star on the horizon of my heart.

They guided me all the day long to the mysteries of the country of pleasure and pain, 
and, at last, 
to what palace gate have they brought me in the evening at the end of my journey?




~ Rabindranath Tagore
art by van gogh