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






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




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