Tuesday, October 19, 2021

optimism and enduring patience

 
 
 

 
 

American Indians continue to suffer from the effects of conquest by European immigrants
 over the past five centuries—an ongoing and pervasive sense of community-wide
 post-traumatic stress disorder. We live with the ongoing stigma of defeated peoples
 who have endured genocide, the intentional dismantling of cultural values, 
forced confinement on less desirable lands called “reservations,” 
intentionally nurtured dependency on the federal government, 
and conversion by missionaries who imposed a new culture on us 
as readily as they preached the gospel. . . .

[Indian peoples] suspect that the greed that motivated the displacement
 of all indigenous peoples from their lands of spiritual rootedness is the same greed
 that threatens the destruction of the earth and the continued oppression of so many
 peoples and ultimately the destruction of our White relatives. 
 
Whether it is the stories the settlers tell or the theologies they develop to interpret those stories,
 something seems wrong to Indian people. But not only do Indians continue to tell the stories,
 sing the songs, speak the prayers, and perform the ceremonies that root themselves
 deeply in Mother Earth; they are actually audacious enough to think that their stories
 and their ways of reverencing creation will some day win over our White settler
 relatives and transform them. Optimism and enduring patience seem to run 
in the life blood of Native American peoples.
 
May justice, followed by genuine peace,
 flow out of our concern for one another and all creation. 
 
 
 
~ George Tinker
from  American Indian Liberation
 
 
 

Friday, October 15, 2021

thank you

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

malaika

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

honour song

 

 




 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

heartbreak, loss, and letting go

 
 
 

 


Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colours and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in love relationship, in a life's work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete's quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we hope we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

Our hope to circumvent heartbreak in adulthood is beautifully and ironically child-like; heartbreak is as inescapable and inevitable as breathing, a part and parcel of every path, asking its due in every sincere course an individual takes, it may be that there may be not only no real life without the raw revelation of heartbreak, but no single path we can take within a life that will allow us to escape without having that imaginative organ we call the heart broken by what it holds and then has to let go.

In a sobering physical sense, every heart does eventually break, as the precipitating reason for death or because the rest of the body has given up before it and can no longer sustain its steady beat, but hearts also break in an imaginative and psychological sense: there is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak. A marriage, a committed vow to another, even in the most settled, loving relationship, will always break our hearts at one time or another; a successful marriage has often had its heart broken many times just in order for the couple to stay together; parenthood, no matter the sincerity of our love for a child, will always break the mold of our motherly or fatherly hopes, a good work seriously taken, will often take everything we have and still leave us wanting; and finally even the most self compassionate, self examination should, if we are sincere, lead eventually to existential disappointment.

Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose. It is the hidden DNA of our relationship with life, outlining outer forms even when we do not feel it by the intimate physical experience generated by it absence; it can also ground us truly in whatever grief we are experiencing, set us to planting a seed with what we have left or appreciate what we have built even as we stand in its ruins.

If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, and even, its own reward. Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.





David Whyte
from Consolations: The Solace, 
Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
 
 
 


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

not lose myself

 
 
 


 
 
 When I am not present to myself, 
then I am only aware of that half of me, 
that mode of my being which turns outward to created things.

And then it is possible for me to lose myself among them. 
Then I no longer feel the deep secret pull of the gravitation of love
 which draws my inward self toward God.

My will and my intelligence lose their command of the other faculties. 
My senses, my imagination, my emotions, scatter to pursue
 their various quarries all over the face of the earth.

Recollection brings them home. It brings the outward self into line 
with the inward spirit, and makes my whole being answer the deep
 pull of love that reaches down into the mystery of God.
 
 In order to be recollected in action, 
I must not lose myself in action.
In order to keep acting,
I must not lose myself in recollection.
 
 
 
 
~ Thomas Merton
 from No Man is an Island
 with thanks to Love is a Place


 

the hidden music

 
 
 

 
 
 My heart, sit only with those
who know and understand you.

Sit only under a tree
that is full of blossoms.

In the bazaar of herbs and potions
don't wander aimlessly,
find the shop with a potion that is sweet.

If you don't have a measure
people will rob you in no time.

You will take counterfeit coins
thinking they are real.

Don't fill your bowl with food from
every boiling pot you see.

Not every joke is humorous, so don't search
for meaning where there isn't one.

Not every eye can see,
not every sea is full of pearls.

My heart, sing the song of longing,
like nightingale.

The sound of your voice casts a spell
on every stone, on every thorn.

First, lay down your head,
then one by one
let go of all distractions.

Embrace the light and let it guide you
beyond the winds of desire.

There you will find a spring and
nourished by its sweet waters
like a tree you will bear fruit forever.
 
 
 
 
 ~ Rumi
translation by Maryam Mafi 
and Azima Melita Kolin
art by Tovit Basirtman




 
 

support

 
 
 

 
 
 
Lionesses baby-sit for one another just as house cats sometimes do. . . . 
Elephants appear to make allowances for other members of their herd. 
One African herd always traveled slowly because one of its members 
had never fully recovered from a broken leg suffered as a calf. 
 
A park warden reported coming across a herd with a female 
carrying a small calf several days dead, which she placed on the ground
 whenever she ate or drank: she traveled very slowly and 
the rest of the elephants waited for her. . . . 
 
There appears to be so little survival value in the behavior of this herd,
 that perhaps one has to believe that they behaved this way 
just because they loved their grieving friend who loved her dead baby, 
and wanted to support her.
 
 
 
 
 
~ Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy
from When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals
 
 

 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

it’s their nature

 
 
 
 
Death of the Historic Buddha, Japan. 14th century, ink and gold on silk. 
Metropolitan Museum of Art
 
 
 
Now you too must learn to be satisfied with the many years
 you’ve already depended on your body. You should feel that it’s enough.

You can compare it to household utensils that you’ve had for a long time—
your cups, saucers, plates and so on. When you first had them 
they were clean and shining, but now after using them for so long,
 they’re starting to wear out. Some are already broken, some have disappeared, 
and those that are left are deteriorating: they have no stable form,
 and it’s their nature to be like that. Your body is the same way. 
It has been continually changing right from the day you were born, 
through childhood and youth, until now it has reached old age. 

Allow the mind to let go of its attachments. The time is ripe.

Even if your house is flooded or burnt to the ground, 
whatever the danger that threatens it,
 let it concern only the house. 
If there’s a flood, don’t let it flood your mind. 
If there’s a fire, don’t let it burn your heart.
 Let it be merely the house, that which is external to you, 
that is flooded and burned. Allow the mind to let go of its attachments.
 The time is ripe.

It is the same with your wealth, your possessions, and your family—
they are all yours only in name; they don’t really belong to you, 
they belong to nature.

It’s like the water of a river. It naturally flows down the gradient; 
it never flows against it, and that is its nature. If a person were to go
 and stand on a river bank and, seeing the water flowing swiftly 
down its course, foolishly want it to flow back up the gradient, 
he would suffer. Whatever he was doing, his wrong thinking 
would allow him no peace of mind. He would be unhappy
 because of his wrong view, thinking against the stream.


Find your real home
 
 
~  Ajahn Chah
excerpt from:
 First published on January 1, 1994 by permission of the Abbot, 
Wat Pah Nanachat, Thailand
found in Lions Roar
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, September 6, 2021

one light






‘I’ and ‘you’ are but the lattices,
in the niches of a lamp,
through which the One Light shines.
‘I’ and ‘you’ are the veil
between heaven and earth;
lift this veil and you will see
no longer the bonds of sects and creeds.
When ‘I’ and ‘you’ do not exist,
what is mosque, what is synagogue?
What is the Temple of Fire?



~ Mahmud Shabistari




Mahmud Shabistari was one of Sufi’s greatest poets of the 14th Century. Like Rumi, Shabistari lived in turbulent times. This period was often fraught with dangers, in particular the Mongol invasions brought much devastation. However Shabistari was able to write much poetry and synthesise much of the Sufi wisdom. He had a style similar to Ibn Arabi and expressed Sufi philosophy in a moving and simple language. As David Fieldler says of Shabistari

“ Shabistari possessed a unique genius for summarizing the profound and often complex teachings of Sufism in a beautiful, aphoristic, and concise fashion, which often leaves the reader speechless when the deeper meanings of his verse are grasped. “


The Secret Rose Garden by Shabistari Shabistari (1317 A.D.) must be reckoned among the greatest mystical poetry of any time or land. Treating such themes as the Self and the One, The Spiritual Journey, Time and this Dream-World, and the ecstasy of Divine Inebriation, Shabistari’s work is a perennial witness to the capabilities and destiny of humanity. Stressing the One Light that exists at the heart of all religious traditions, Shabistari's work is one of the clearest and most concise guides to the inner meaning of Sufism, and offers a stunningly direct exposition of Sufi mystical thought in poetic form.

~ Comments from Poet Seers



home








Whether drifting through life on a boat or 
climbing toward old age leading a horse, 
each day is a journey and the journey itself is home. 


~ Basho



steps







Like ev'ry flower wilts, like youth is fading
and turns to age, so also one's achieving:
Each virtue and each wisdom needs parading
in one's own time, and must not last forever.
The heart must be, at each new call for leaving,
prepared to part and start without the tragic,
without the grief - with courage to endeavor
a novel bond, a disparate connection:
for each beginning bears a special magic
that nurtures living and bestows protection.
 
We'll walk from space to space in glad progression
and should not cling to one as homestead for us.
The cosmic spirit will not bind nor bore us;
it lifts and widens us in ev'ry session:
for hardly set in one of life's expanses
we make it home, and apathy commences.
But only he, who travels and takes chances,
can break the habits' paralyzing stances.
 
It even may be that the last of hours
will make us once again a youthful lover:
The call of life to us forever flowers...
Anon, my heart! Do part and do recover!




~ Hermann Hesse
translated by Walter A. Aue




Monday, August 30, 2021

births

 
 
 


 
 

We will never have any memory of dying.

We were so patient
about our being,
noting down
numbers, days,
years and months,
hair, and the mouths we kiss,
and that moment of dying
we let pass without a note—
we leave it to others as memory,
or we leave it simply to water,
to water, to air, to time.
Nor do we even keep
the memory of being born,
although to come into being was tumultuous and new;
and now you don’t remember a single detail
and haven’t kept even a trace
of your first light.

It’s well known that we are born.

It’s well known that in the room
or in the wood
or in the shelter in the fishermen’s quarter
or in the rustling canefields
there is a quite unusual silence,
a grave and wooden moment as
a woman prepares to give birth.

It’s well known that we were all born.

But of that abrupt translation
from not being to existing, to having hands,
to seeing, to having eyes,
to eating and weeping and overflowing
and loving and loving and suffering and suffering,
of that transition, that quivering
of an electric presence, raising up
one body more, like a living cup,
and of that woman left empty,
the mother who is left there in her blood
and her lacerated fullness,
and its end and its beginning, and disorder
tumbling the pulse, the floor, the covers
till everything comes together and adds
one knot more to the thread of life,
nothing, nothing remains in your memory
of the savage sea which summoned up a wave
and plucked a shrouded apple from the tree.

The only thing you remember is your life. 




~  Pablo Neruda
from Plenos Poderes (Fully Empowered)
 art by Jackie Traverse
 with thanks to whiskey river
 
 
 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

no strangers

 
 
 

 


under cherry blossoms’ shade
even those whom we don’t know
are not strangers 
 
 
 

~ Issa Kobayashi 
 
 
 





Friday, August 27, 2021

relatedness

 
 
 

 
 
 In reality there is a single integral community of the Earth 
that includes all its component members 
whether human or other than human.
 
 In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, 
its own dignity, its inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. 
Every being declares itself to the entire universe. 
Every being enters into communion with other beings. 
 
This capacity for relatedness, for presence to other beings,
 for spontaneity in action, is a capacity possessed by every mode of being
 throughout the entire universe.
 
 
 
~ Thomas Berry
 photo by Edward Sheriff Curtis



 
 

a common spirit dwells within them

 
 
 
 

 
 
 Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them.
 Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them.
 Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. . . .
 
 Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wild flowers and the grass in the fields;
 look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well.
 The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; 
and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing on the earth is ugly. 
 
 
 
from The Letters of Pelagius: 
Celtic Soul Friend,
 edited by Robert Van de Weyer
 with thanks to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations
 
 
 

desire the truth?

 
 
 



We are all convinced that we desire the truth above all.
Nothing strange about this. It is natural to man, an intelligent being, 
to desire the truth.
 
 (I still dare to speak of man as "an intelligent being"!)

But actually, what we desire is not "the truth" so much as "to be in the right."

To seek the pure truth for its own sake may be natural to us,
 but we are not able to act always in this respect according to our nature.

What we seek is not the pure truth, but the partial truth that justifies our prejudices,
 our limitations, our selfishness. This is not "the truth." 
It is only an argument strong enough to prove us "right."
And usually our desire to be right is correlative to our conviction
 that somebody else (perhaps everybody else) is wrong.

Why do we want to prove them wrong?

Because we need them to be wrong. For if they are wrong, 
and we are right, then our untruth becomes truth: 
our selfishness becomes justice and virtue: 
our cruelty and lust cannot be fairly condemned.

We can rest secure in the fiction we have determined to embrace as "truth."

What we desire is not the truth, but rather that our lie should be proved "right,"
 and our iniquity be vindicated as "just."

No wonder we hate. No wonder we are violent. 
No wonder we exhaust ourselves in preparing for war!

And in doing so, of course, we offer the enemy another reason to believe
 that he is right, that he must arm, that he must get ready to destroy us.

Our own lie provides the foundation of truth on which he erects his own lie,
 and the two lies together react to produce hatred, murder, disaster.




~ Thomas Merton, 
from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
 with thanks to brainpickings


 
 
 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

the swarming throng of "I"

 
 
 
 A detail from the Sea Journey: People Without Borders by Erub/Lifou Project, commissioned for APT9.
 
 

The secret teachings lead the pupil further. 
They teach him to look, with the same serene indifference, 
at the incessant working of his mind and the physical activity 
displayed by the body. 
 
He ought to succeed in understanding, in noting that nothing
 of all that is from him, is him. 
He, physically and mentally,
 is a multitude of others.

This "multitude of others" includes the material elements—
the ground, one might say—which he owes to his heredity,
 his atavism, then those which he has ingested, which he has inhaled 
from before his birth, by the help of which his body was formed, 
and which, assimilated by him, have become, with the complex forces 
inherent in them, constituent parts of his being.

On the mental plane, this "multitude of others" includes many beings
 who are his contemporaries: people he consorts with, with whom he chats, 
whose actions he watches. 
 
Thus a continual inhibition is at work while the individual absorbs
 a part of the various energies given off by those with whom he is in contact, 
and these incongruous energies, installing themselves in that which
 he considers his "I", 
form there a swarming throng.





~ Alexandra David-Néel and Lama Yongten
frjom The Secret Oral Teachings
 in Tibetan Buddhist Sects
 
art from A detail from the Sea Journey: 
People Without Borders by Erub/Lifou 
Project, commissioned for APT9.
 
 with thanks to Love is a Place

 
 
 
 

Friday, August 13, 2021

painting tigers

 
 
 
 



Monday, August 9, 2021

brokenness and vulnerability

 




 
 
  brokenness and weakness 
also mysteriously pull us out of ourselves. 
We feel them both together.

Only vulnerability forces us beyond ourselves. 
Whenever we see true pain, most of us are drawn out
 of our own preoccupations and want to take away the pain. 
 
For example, when we rush toward a hurting child, 
 we want to take the suffering in our arms. 
That’s why so many saints wanted to get near suffering—
because as they said again and again, 
 it “saved” them from their smaller untrue self.(1)



I think grief puts us in touch with our vulnerabilities.
 I think the feeling of grief lets us know the power of wounds
 to shape our stories. I think it lets us know how capable we are
 of having our hearts broken and our feelings hurt. 
 
I think it lets us know the link that we each have because we’re human.
 Because we’re human, we hurt. Because we’re human, we have tears to cry.
 Because we’re human, our hearts are broken. Because we’re human,
 we understand that loss is a universal language. Everybody grieves.
 All of humanity grieves. All of us have setbacks, broken dreams.
 All of us have broken relationships or unrealized possibilities. 
All of us have bodies that just don’t do what they used to do.
 Though grief is personal, every person grieves.(2)
 
 
 
 
 ~ Richard Rohr(1) 
and Dr. Jacqui Lewis(2)
 
 
 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

the world rolls right on

 
 
 
 

 
 
mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
an upwelling spring whispers subtle tales
pine breezes stir the fire beneath my tea
bamboo shadows soak deep into my robe

I grind my ink: clouds scraping across the crags
copy out a verse: birds settling on branches
as the world rolls right on by
its every turn tracing out non-action
 
 
 
 
 
~ Shih Shu 
English version by James H. Sanford
from  The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: 
Buddhist Poet Monks of China
 Edited by Red Pine 
with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana
 
 

take a look - recognizing our biases

 
 
 

 



People can't see what they can’t see. 
Their biases get in the way, surrounding them like a high wall, 
trapping them in ignorance, deception, and illusion. 
No amount of reasoning and argument will get through to them,
 unless we first learn how to break down the walls of bias. . . .


Confirmation Bias: We judge new ideas based on the ease with which they fit in with and confirm the only standard we have: old ideas, old information, and trusted authorities. As a result, our framing story, belief system, or paradigm excludes whatever doesn’t fit.

Complexity Bias: Our brains prefer a simple falsehood to a complex truth.

Community Bias: It’s almost impossible to see what our community doesn’t, can’t, or won’t see.

Complementary Bias: If you are hostile to my ideas, I’ll be hostile to yours. If you are curious and respectful toward my ideas, I’ll respond in kind.

Competency Bias: We don’t know how much (or little) we know because we don’t know how much (or little) others know. In other words, incompetent people assume that most other people are about as incompetent as they are. As a result, they underestimate their [own] incompetence, and consider themselves at least of average competence.

Consciousness Bias: Some things simply can’t be seen from where I am right now. But if I keep growing, maturing, and developing, someday I will be able to see what is now inaccessible to me.

Comfort or Complacency Bias: I prefer not to have my comfort disturbed.

Conservative/Liberal Bias: I lean toward nurturing fairness and kindness, or towards strictly enforcing purity, loyalty, liberty, and authority, as an expression of my political identity.

Confidence Bias: I am attracted to confidence, even if it is false. I often prefer the bold lie to the hesitant truth.

Catastrophe or Normalcy Bias: I remember dramatic catastrophes but don’t notice gradual decline (or improvement).

Contact Bias: When I don’t have intense and sustained personal contact with “the other,” my prejudices and false assumptions go unchallenged.

Cash Bias: It’s hard for me to see something when my way of making a living requires me not to see it.

Conspiracy Bias: Under stress or shame, our brains are attracted to stories that relieve us, exonerate us, or portray us as innocent victims of malicious conspirators.
 
 
 
 
 
 ~ Brian McLaren
from  Why Don’t They Get It? Overcoming Bias in Others 
 with thanks to Beth Cioffoletti, quotes and musings
art by Caravaggio
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 6, 2021

look through it and you will see the world

 
 



 
If you look at zero you see nothing; but look through it and you will see the world.
 For zero brings into focus the great, organic sprawl of mathematics, 
and mathematics in turn the complex nature of things. 
 
From counting to calculating, from estimating the odds to knowing exactly
 when the tides in our affairs will crest, the shining tools of mathematics 
let us follow the tacking course everything takes through everything else –
 and all of their parts swing on the smallest of pivots, zero

With these mental devices we make visible the hidden laws 
controlling the objects around us in their cycles and swerves. 
Even the mind itself is mirrored in mathematics,
 its endless reflections now confusing,
 now clarifying insight.
 

The story begins some 5,000 years ago with the Sumerians, 
those lively people who settled in Mesopotamia (part of what is now Iraq). 
When you read, on one of their clay tablets, this exchange between father and son:
 “Where did you go?” “Nowhere.” “Then why are you late?”, 
you realize that 5,000 years are like an evening gone.

The Sumerians counted by 1s and 10s but also by 60s. 
This may seem bizarre until you recall that we do too, using 60 for minutes
 in an hour (and 6 × 60 = 360 for degrees in a circle). Worse, we also count by 12
 when it comes to months in a year, 7 for days in a week, 24 for hours in a day
 and 16 for ounces in a pound or a pint. Up until 1971 the British counted
 their pennies in heaps of 12 to a shilling but heaps of 20 shillings to a pound.

Tug on each of these different systems and you’ll unravel a history
 of customs and compromises, showing what you thought was quirky
 to be the most natural thing in the world. In the case of the Sumerians,
 a 60-base (sexagesimal) system most likely sprang from their dealings
 with another culture whose system of weights — 
and hence of monetary value — differed from their own.
 
Haven’t we all an ancient sense that for something to exist it must have a name?
 Many a child refuses to accept the argument that the numbers go on forever
 (just add one to any candidate for the last) because names run out.
 For them a googol — 1 with 100 zeroes after it — is a large and living friend,
 as is a googolplex (10 to the googol power, in an Archimedean spirit).

Names belong to things, but zero belongs to nothing. 
It counts the totality of what isn’t there. By this reasoning it must be everywhere
 with regard to this and that: with regard, for instance, to the number
 of humming-birds in that bowl with seven — or now six — apples.
 Then what does zero name? It looks like a smaller version of 
Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, having no there there.

While having a symbol for zero matters, having the notion matters more, 
and whether this came from the Babylonians directly or through the Greeks,
 what is hanging in the balance here in India is the character this notion will take:
 will it be the idea of the absence of any number —
 or the idea of a number for such absence?
 


~ Robert Kaplan
excerpts from The Nothing that Is:
A natural history of zero 
with thanks to brainpickings
 
 

 


Thursday, August 5, 2021

connected in compassion

 
 
 

 

No one escapes suffering in this life. 
None of us is exempt from loss, pain, illness, and death.
 How is it that we have so little understanding of these essential experiences? 
How is it that we have attempted to keep grief separated from our lives
 and only begrudgingly acknowledge its presence at the most obvious of times,
 such as a funeral?
 
 “If sequestered pain made a sound,” Stephen Levine says,
 “the atmosphere would be humming all the time.”

It is the accumulated losses of a lifetime that slowly weigh us down—
the times of rejection, the moments of isolation when we felt cut off
 from the sustaining touch of comfort and love. It is an ache that resides
 in the heart, the faint echo calling us back to the times of loss. 
We are called back, not so much to make things right, but to acknowledge
 what happened to us. 
 
Grief asks that we honor the loss and, in doing so, deepen our capacity for compassion.
 When grief remains unexpressed, however, it hardens, becomes as solid as a stone.
 We, in turn, become rigid and stop moving in rhythm with the soul. . . . 
When our grief stagnates, we become fixed in place, unable to move and dance
 with the flow of life. Grief is part of the dance.

As we begin to pay attention, we notice that grief is never far from our awareness. 
We become aware of the many ways it arrives in our daily lives. It is the blue mood
 that greets us upon waking. It is the melancholy that shades the day in muted tones.
 It is the recognition of time’s passing, the slow emptying of our days.
 It is the searing pain that erupts when someone close to us dies—
a parent, a partner, a child, a beloved pet. It is the confounding grief 
when our life circumstances are shattered by the unexpected—
the phone rings with news of a biopsy; we find ourselves suddenly without work,
 uncertain as to how we will support our family; our partner decides one day
 that the marriage is over. We tumble and fall as the ground beneath us opens, 
shaken by violent rumblings. Grief enfolds our lives, drops us close to the earth,
 reminding us of our inevitable return to the dark soil. . . .

It is essential for us to welcome our grief, whatever form it takes.
 When we do, we open ourselves to our shared experiences in life.
 Grief is our common bond. Opening to our sorrow connects us with everyone, everywhere.
 There is no gesture of kindness that is wasted, no offering of compassion that is useless.
 We can be generous to every sorrow we see. It is sacred work. 
 
 
 
 
~  Francis Weller
from  The Wild Edge of Sorrow:
 Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief; 
The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation
 with thanks to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
 
 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

How poems are made




Letting go
In order to hold one
I gradually understand
How poems are made.

There is a place the fear must go.
There is a place the choice must go.
There is a place the loss must go.
The leftover love.
The love that spills out
Of the too full cup
And runs and hides
Its too full self
In shame.

I gradually comprehend
How poems are made
To the upbeat flight of memories.
The flagged beats of the running 
Heart.

I understand how poems are made.
They are the tears
That season the smile.
The stiff-neck laughter
That crowds the throat.
The leftover love.
I know how poems are made.

There is a place the loss must go.
There is a place the gain must go.
The leftover love.



~ Alice Walker