Saturday, June 29, 2019

after long silence

Politeness fades,

a small anchovy gleam
leaving the upturned pot in the dish rack
after the moon has wandered out the window.

One of the late freedoms, there is the dark.
The leftover soup put away as well.

Distinctions matter.  Whether a goat's
quiet face should be called noble
or indifferent.  The difference between a right rigor and pride.

The untranslatable thought must be the most precise.

Yet words are not the end of thought, they are where it begins.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from After

Friday, June 28, 2019

what we call presence

There is a lovely, disconcerting moment between sleep and awakening.  
You have only half emerged from sleep, and for a few seconds
 you do not know where you are, who you are, or what you are.  
You are lost between worlds.  Then your mind settles, and you recognize
 the room and you take up your place again in your own life.  
And you realize that both you and the world have survived the crossing
 from night to reality.  It is a new day, and the world is faithfully there again, 
offering itself to your longing and imagination, stretching out beyond your room
 to mountains, seas, the countenances behind which other lives hide. 
 We take our world totally for granted.  It is only when we experience the momentary
 disturbance of being marooned in such an interim that we grasp what a surprise
 it is to be here and to have the wild companionship of this world.  
Such disturbances awaken us to the mystery of thereness that we call presence.
  Often, the first exposure to the one you will love or to a great work of art
 produces a similar disconcerting confusion.

Presence is alive.  You sense and feel presence; it comes towards you
 and engages you.  Landscape has a vast depth and subtlety of presence. 
 The more attentive you are, and the longer you remain in a landscape,
 the more you will be embraced by its presence.  Though you may be
 completely alone there, you know that you are not on your own. 
 In our relentless quest for human contact, we have forgotten the solace
 and friendship of Nature.  It is interesting in the Irish language
 how the word for the elements and the word for desire is the same word:
 duil. As the term for creation, its accent is on the elemental nature of creation.   
Duil suggests a vital elemental-ism.  It also means longing. 
 "Duil a chur I gceol" means "to get a longing for music." 
 Duil also holds the sense of expectation and hope..
 Could it be that duil originally suggested that human longing 
was an echo of the elemental vitality of Nature?

You feel the presence in Nature sometimes in great trees that stand 
like ancient totem spirits night and day, watching over a landscape
 for hundreds of years.  Water also has a soothing and seductive presence
 that draws us towards it.  John Montague writes: "Part order, part wilderness 
/ Water creates its cadenced illusion."  Each shape of water - the well, stream, 
lake, river and ocean - has a distinctive rhythm of presence.  
Stone, too, has a powerful presence.  Michelangelo used to say 
that sculpture is the art of liberating the shape hidden and submerged in the rock. 
 I went one morning to visit a sculptor friend.  He showed me a stone 
and asked if I saw any hidden form in it.  I could not.  Then he pointed out 
the implicit shape of a bird.  He said, "For ten years I have been passing that stone 
on the shore and only this morning did I notice the secret shape of the bird." 
 Whereas human presence is immediate, the presences in landscape are mediate; 
 they are often silent and indirect.

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

the mind's desire


Thought is the form of the mind's desire.  It is in our thinking that the depth of our longing comes to expression.  This longing can never be fulfilled by any one person, project, or thing.  The secret immensity of the soul is the longing for the divine.  This is not simply a haunted desire for an absent, distant divine presence that is totally different from us.  Our longing is passionate and endless because the divine calls us home to presence.  Our longing is an echo of the divine longing for us.  Our longing is the living imprint of divine desire.  This desire lives in each of us in that ineffable space in the heart where nothing else can satisfy or still us.  This is what gives us that vital gift we have called "the sense of life." 

The wonder of presence is the majesty of what it so subtly conceals.  Real presence is eternity become radiant.   This is why the "sense of life" in us has such power and vitality.  Our deepest longing is like a restless artist who tirelessly seeks to make our presence real in order that the mystery we harbour may become known to us.  The glory of human presence is the divine longing fully alive.

~ John O'Donohue
 from Eternal Echoes

peace in presence

~ Rupert Spira



My father could hear a little animal step,
or a moth in the dark against the screen,
and every far sound pulled the listening out
into places the rest of us had never been.

More spoke to him from the soft wild night
than came to our porch for the family on the wind;
we watched him listen, and his face go keen,
till the walls of the world flared, widened.

My father brought in so much that we still stand
inviting the quiet by turning the face,
waiting for the time when the soft wild night
will reach to us here, from that other place.

~ William Stafford 
from West of your City

Thursday, June 27, 2019

first lesson about man

Man begins in zoology
He is the saddest animal
He drives a big red car
Called anxiety
He dreams at night
Of riding all the elevators
Lost in the halls
He never finds the right door

Man is the saddest animal
A flake-eater in the morning
A milk drinker
He fills his skin with coffee
And loses patience
With the rest of the species

He draws his sin on the wall
On all the ads in all the subways
He draws mustaches on all the women
Because he cannot find his joy
Except in zoology

Whenever he goes to the phone
To call joy
He gets the wrong number

Therefore he likes weapons
He knows all guns
By their right names
He droves a big black Cadillac
Called death

Now he is putting anxiety
Into space
He flies his worries
All around Venus
But it does him no good

In space where for a long time
There was only emptiness 
He drives a big white globe
Called death

Now dear children you have learned
The first lesson about man
Answer your test

"Man is the saddest animal
He begins in zoology
And gets lost
In his own bad news."

~ Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
art by Picasso

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

the one who is at home

Each day I long so much to see
The true teacher. And each time
At dusk when I open the cabin
Door and empty the teapot,
I think I know where he is:
West of us in the forest.

Or perhaps I am the one
Who is out in the night,
The forest sand wet under
My feet, moonlight shining
On the sides of the birch trees,
The sea far off gleaming.

And he is the one who is 
At home. He sits in my chair
Calmly; he reads and prays
All night. He loves to feel
His own body around him;
He does not leave the house.

–Francisco Albanez
Robert Bly translation
art by Van Gogh




Earth ....
a love song, 

Where could my home be? 
My home is small, goes from place to place, 
It take's my heart away with it, 
Gives me grief, gives me rest; 
My home you are!

~ Hermann Hesse

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Geronimo, was born on this day in 1829 near the present day town of Clifton, in southeastern Arizona.  He was the fourth of eight children, four boys and four girls, and was named Goyathlay — "one who yawns." He was received into the Council of Warriors when he was 17, which meant he was now allowed to marry, which he did, and the young couple had three children, by and by. His life seemed headed down a peaceful, uneventful path.

In 1858, Goyathlay and his family traveled with the rest of their tribe down to Old Mexico, where they set up a temporary camp. The women and children stayed behind in the camp while the men — with the exception of a few guards — left to hunt and trade. On the men's return, they discovered that Mexican troops had attacked the camp, stealing their horses, weapons, and supplies and killing not only the guards but also many of the women and children as well. Goyathlay lost his mother, his wife, and all of his children in the attack. He also left behind his peaceful life and became a fierce warrior, conducting numerous raids in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. He was so fearless in his attacks that the Mexican soldiers cried out to their patron, St. Jerome, for aid: "Cuidado! Geronimo!" It became a battle cry for Apaches, and Goyathlay's new name.

Why did he fight?

Geronimo was a member of the Chiricahua Apache tribe whose homelands in the deserts of New Mexico were annexed first by Mexico and later by the United States during its expansion into the south-west during the 19th century. His insurgency was part of a wider rebellion by Native Indians against their treatment by white settlers, who carried out what in modern terms might be called ethnic cleansing: removing tribes from ancestral territories and (in some cases) placing a bounty on their scalps. Geronimo's success was down to old-fashioned derring-do, and sheer good luck. Because of repeated close shaves with mortality, many followers believed he was resistant to bullets. His men were adept at using their opponents' technology – including rifles and pistols – against them.

How was he captured?

After more than 30 years the US General Nelson Miles tracked Geronimo to Arizona. The rebels were exhausted after decades on the run, and their number had dwindled to just 36 men, many of whom (including their leader) had taken to heavy drinking. In the autumn of 1886, Geronimo negotiated a tactical surrender, agreeing to lay down his arms on condition that his followers would be allowed to disband and return home to their families. But the US reneged on its promises, and promptly took Geronimo and his troops into custody. They spent seven years in prison in Alabama before being transferred to Fort Sill, where they lived out the rest of their days in a form of open prison.

Monday, June 24, 2019

from the deeper source

When you pray,try to stay beneath your thoughts, neither fighting them nor thinking them.  Everything that comes also goes, so don't take any of it too seriously. Hold yourself at a more profound level, perhaps in your chest, solar plexus, or deep breath, but stay in your body-self somehow.  Do not rise to the mind, because the mind is endlessly repetitive commentary. Just rest in what I call your animal contentment.  You will feel exactly like nothing, like emptiness. Stay crouched there, at the cellular level, without shame or fear, long enough for the Deeper Source to reveal itself.  Universal love flows through you from that Deeper Source as a vital energy much more than an idea.

Because most people still think of God as an object separate from themselves, they naturally try to please God or inform God or even use God.  You cannot "think" God.  God is never an object, like any other object of consciousness.  In fact, God refuses to be objectified, which is why there are so many atheists and agnostics, who basically try too hard.

God is always and forever the subject, knowing in you, through you, with you, and, yes, as you!

You can only know God subject to subject and center to center, and the initiative is always from God's side. There is no other why to know God or to be known by God!

 ~ Richard Rohr
from just this : prompts and practices for contemplation 
art by  Noha Nayel

be ahead of all parting

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice - more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be - and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The Sonnets to Orpheus, II,13
from The Enlightened Heart
an anthology of sacred poetry
edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell

Rough Rock Demonstration School

Rough Rock Demonstration School:

There were many success stories-some large and many small-that came out of the Indian War on Poverty. One of these involved education on the Navajo Reservation. Traditionally, Indian education on reservations had been controlled by non-Indians who had insisted that they knew what was best for Indian children. Ignoring any possibility that parents and tribal parents might have an interest in educating Indian children, these non-Indian educators, usually BIA employees, designed programs with the goal of making Indian children into monolingual English-speaking Christians trained to be laborers.

Since the formation of the Navajo Reservation in the nineteenth century, there had been basically three kinds of schools. First, there were the schools run by the BIA which the Navajo call “Wa’a’shin-doon bi ‘olt’a,” or “Washington’s school.” Then there were the public schools which the Navajo call “Bilaga’ana Yazzie bi ‘olt’a” or “little whiteman’s school.” Finally, there were the mission schools which the Navajo call “Eeneishoodi bi ‘olt’a” or the school of “those who drag their clothes,” a name stemming from the first Catholic priests in long robes who came to the reservation.

What Navajo parents wanted was a school which would give their children an education which both respected and integrated Navajo culture while preparing them for the modern world. With funding from the War on Poverty, the Navajo organized the Rough Rock Demonstration School. This was to be a three year demonstration project. The school was run by the Navajo and became the first wholly Indian-controlled school in the twentieth century.

The Rough Rock Demonstration school is called “Dine’ bi ‘olt’a,” or the “Navaho’s school.” These words express the Navajo pride in the school and this was the only school on the reservation given this designation. It was not that the Navajo people were consulted about this school, but more importantly they were directly and actively involved in its operation.

The educational philosophy that guided the school was based on the idea that the creation of successful programs lies with the community, not education professionals. Policies were established by an elected seven-member, all Navajo school board. Thus the policies and programs were the result of action initiated by the Navajo people. Control of school policy, including handling the budget, was placed in the hands of the Navajo parents, most of whom were without formal education. School board meetings, which often lasted all day, were attended by many community members.

The school taught English as a second language rather than requiring students to know English in order to learn. What would later be known as bilingual/bicultural education began at Rough Rock two years prior to the passage of the Bilingual Education Act which enabled other schools to establish similar programs.

Unlike the earlier BIA schools, both reading and writing in Navajo were taught to all students. Furthermore, the students were encouraged to use the Navajo language in the dormitories, the playground, the dining hall, and in the classroom.

Non-Indian staff members received in-service training to familiarize them with Navajo culture. The school also began programs to teach pottery and basket weaving.

Because the Navajo Nation is large and rural the school operated in part as a boarding school. Unlike the old BIA and mission boarding schools, however, parents from the community worked in the dormitories on a rotating basis. The parents acted as foster parents and as counselors for the students. Community elders visited the dormitories to tell stories and teach the youngsters about Navajo traditions, legends, and history.

In the old boarding schools, students were not allowed to go home during the school year. At Rough Rock, the students were encouraged to go home for weekend visits as often as possible. Transportation was provided to those who needed it. The basic policy of the school was that the children belonged to the parents and not the school.

The Rough Rock Demonstration School clearly demonstrated what is possible when Indian people, with limited or no formal education, were given an opportunity to direct and control their own education system. Rough Rock demonstrated that Indians were ready to exercise leadership in affairs affecting them if they were given the chance.

National Council on Indian Opportunity

Today Rough Rock Community School is alive and well 

visit our website here:


Founded in 1966, we are into 53 years of being an educational institution; the creators of Rough Rock Demonstration School, saw the challenges faced and overcame. Dine Culture/Language and contemporary Education has been the foundation of our grandparents’ vision, and this is where we want Rough Rock Community School to be reputable. We take pride in preparing our students to take education by the horn-with knowledge, courage and an understanding of Diné values, traditions and teachings.

Our Philosophy
Our students are at the core of everything we do, therefore we value:

Respect for self and others;

Resiliency and reliability;

Dine history, culture and language;

Continuous improvement;

The school believes that each student will obtain the SI’AHNAAGEI BIK’EH HOZHOON WAY of life as they graduate from Rough Rock Community School, Inc. By nurturing the unique talents of each student and promoting social responsibility of following the Navajo KE” of life, students will be able to utilize the knowledge, skills, and social conscious to be successful in the Navajo and global society.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

many shapes

You come and go. The doors swing closed 
ever more gently, almost without a shudder. 
Of all those who move through the quiet houses, 
you are the quietest. 

We become so accustomed to you, 
we no longer look up 
when your shadow falls over the book we are reading 
and makes it glow. For all things 
sing you: at times 
we just hear them more clearly. 

Often when I imagine you 
your wholeness cascades into many shapes. 
You run like a herd of luminous deer 
and I am dark, I am forest. 

You are a wheel at which I stand, 
whose dark spokes sometimes catch me up, 
revolve me nearer to the center. 
Then all the work I put my hand to 
widens from turn to turn. 

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Love Poems to God, 
The Book of Monastic Life

in transition

for WCW

I wish I understood the beauty
in leaves falling. To whom
are we beautiful
as we go?

I lie in the field
still, absorbing the stars
and silently throwing off
their presence. Silently
I breathe and die
by turns.

He was ripe
and fell to the ground
from a bough
out where the wind
is free
of the branches 

~ David Ignatow (1914-1997)
from Against the Evidence: selected poems 


Attempting To Answer David Ignatow’s Question

I wish I understood the beauty
in leaves falling. To whom
are we beautiful
as we go?

We are beautiful to the Mother as we go.
There are mysterious roads in jade that
Old men follow,
Routes that migratory birds walk on,
The circle dances
Iron filings do,
The things we cannot say.
Salmon find their way to old beds;
Sleeping bodies are not alone.

~ Robert Bly 
 from Holes That Crickets Have Eaten in Blankets
photo by Eliot Porter

Friday, June 21, 2019

a world full of noise

Silence is essential. We need silence just as much as we need air,
 just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded
 with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.

Our need to be filled with one thing after another 
and another all the time is a collective disease 
of all human beings; let’s work to cure it.

Nonstop thinking plagues us.
 People do not seem to be able to live without the “Sound Track.” 
As soon as they’re alone or even with their coworkers
 or their loved ones right in front of them
—they try to fill up the tiniest bit of open mind space right away.

When confronted with suffering we must:
Recognize → Embrace→ Transform
Reminiscent of a type of cognitive reappraisal, 
our suffering must be identified, accepted and modified. 
When modified, we either, eliminate, 
change, or accept the suffering.

If we NEVER suffer, there is no basis or impetus 
for developing understanding and compassion. 
Suffering is very important. We have to learn to recognize
 and even embrace suffering as our awareness of it helps us grow
—the experience is imperative.

Goals are great. We can have wishes, hopes, and aim
—none of this is counter to the Buddha’s teaching. 
But we shouldn’t allow it to become something that prevents 
us from living happily right here, right now.

Find your quiet space. Your first priority should be to find your own
quiet space inside so you can learn more about yourself; 
broaden the understanding of your suffering.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
excerpts from Silence : the power of quiet in a world full of noise

Thursday, June 20, 2019


There are many going afar to marvel at the heights of mountains, 
the mighty waves of the sea, the long courses of great rivers, 
the vastness of the ocean, the movements of the stars, 
yet they leave themselves unnoticed! 

~ Saint Augustine

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

the force of friendship

A sea-cow, a dugong, finds a special pearl
and brings it up on land at night. By the light it gives off
the dugong can graze on hyacinths and lilies.

The excrement of the dugong is precious ambergris
because it eats such beauty.  Anyone who feeds on Majesty
becomes eloquent.  The bee, from mystic inspiration,
fills the rooms with honey.

So the dugong grazes at night in the pearl-glow.
Presently, a merchant comes and drops black loam 
over the pearl, then hides behind a tree to watch.

The dugong surges about the meadow like a blind bull.
Twenty times it rushes at nothing, passing the mound
where the pearl is.

So Satan couldn't see
the spirit inside Adam.

God says, Descend,
and a huge pearl from Aden gets buried under dirt. 
The merchant knows,
but the dugong doesn't.

Every clay-pile with a pearl inside
loves to be near any other clay-pile with a pearl,
but those without pearls cannot stand to be near
the hidden companionship.

Remember the mouse on the riverbank?
There's a love-string stretching into the water
hoping for the frog.

Suddenly a raven grips the mouse
and flies off, The frog too, from the riverbottom,

with one foot tangled in invisible string,
follows, suspended in the air.

Amazed faces ask,
When did a raven ever go underwater
and catch a frog?

The frog answers,
"This is the force of Friendship."

What draws Friends together 
does not conform to Laws of Nature. 
Form doesn't know about spiritual closeness.
If a grain of barley approaches a grain of wheat,
an ant must be carrying it.  A black ant on black felt.
You can't see it, but if grains go toward each other,
it's there.

A hand shifts our birdcages around.
Some are brought closer, Some move apart.
Do not try to reason it out, Be conscious
of who draws you and who not.

Gabriel was always there with Jesus, lifting him
above the dark-blue vault, the night-fortress world,
just as the raven of longing carries the flying frog.

~ Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks
found here in The Soul is here for its own Joy:
Sacred Poems from Many Cultures
edited by Robert Bly


frontiers of language

But before we come to that which is unspeakable and unthinkable, 
the spirit hovers on the frontiers of language, 
wondering whether or not to stay on its own side of the border, 
in order to have something to bring back to other men. 
This is the test of those who wish to cross the frontier. 
If they are not ready to leave their own ideas 
and their own words behind them, 
they cannot travel further. 

~ Thomas Merton
from No Man is an Island

what language can't reach

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can’t reach.
With my sense, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

~  Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Robert Bly

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Four frogs sat upon a log that lay floating on the edge of a river. 
 Suddenly the log was caught by the current and swept slowly down the stream.  
The frogs were delighted and absorbed, for never before had they sailed.

At length the first frog spoke, and said, "This is indeed 
a most marvelous log.  It moves as if alive.  
No such log was ever known before."

Then the second frog spoke, and said, "Nay, my friend, 
the log is like other logs, and does not move. 
 It is the river, that is walking to the sea, and carries us and the log with it."

And the third frog spoke, and said, " It is neither the log 
nor the river that moves.  The moving is in our thinking.  
For without thought nothing moves."

And the three frogs began to wrangle about what was really moving.  
The quarrel grew hotter and louder, but they could not agree.

Then they turned to the fourth frog, who up to this time had been listening 
attentively but holding his peace, and they asked his opinion.

And the fourth frog said, "Each of you is right, and none of you is wrong.  
The moving is in the log and the water and our thinking also."

And the three frogs became very angry, for none of them 
was willing to admit that his was not the whole truth,
 and that the other two were not wholly wrong.

Then the strange thing happened.  The three frogs got together 
and pushed the fourth frog off the log into the river.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from Poems, Parables and Drawings

the single, wholly mutual core

Happy are those who know
behind all words, the Unsayable stands,
and from that source, the Infinite
crosses over to gladness, and us.

Free of those bridges we raise
with constructed distinctions;
so that always, in each separate joy,
we gaze at the single, wholly mutual core.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
art by Megan Duncanson

a human can

be light.

as minerals in the ground rise inside trees
and become tree,
as plant faces an animal
and enters the animal,

so a human
can put down the heavy
body baggage and be light.

~ Rumi
Coleman Barks version

the self we share

Thirst is angry with water. Hunger bitter
with bread.The cave wants nothing to do

with the sun. This is dumb, the self-
defeating way we've been. A gold mine is

calling us into its temple. Instead, we
bend and keep picking up rocks from the

ground. Every thing has a shine like gold,
but we should turn to the source! The

origin is what we truly are. I add a little
vinegar to the honey I give. The bite of

scolding makes ecstasy more familiar. But
look, fish, you're already in the ocean:

just swimming there makes you friends with
glory. What are these grudges about? You

are Benjamin. Joseph has put a gold cup
in your grain sack and accused you of being

a thief. Now he draws you aside and says,
"You are my brother. I am a prayer. You're

the amen." We move in eternal regions, yet
worry about property here. This is the

prayer of each: You are the source of my
life. You separate essence from mud. You

honor my soul. You bring rivers from the
mountain springs. You brighten my eyes. The

wine you offer takes me out of myself into
the self we share. Doing that is religion.

~ Rumi
from The Glance
by Coleman Barks