Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Blessing

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work you do 
with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, 
and renewal to those who work with you 
and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment,
 inspiration, and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, 
approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered. and protected.
May your soul calm, console, and renew you.

~ John O'Donohue
(John said, "the soul is not in the body;
 rather the body is to be found in the soul.)

stretching out toward God

When you go apart to be alone for prayer, put from your mind 
everything you have been doing or plan to do.  
Reject all thoughts, be they good or be they evil.  
Do not pray with words unless you are really drawn to this; 
or if you do pray with words, pay no attention to whether they are many or few.  
Do not weigh them or their meaning. 
 Do not be concerned about what kind of prayers you use, 
for it is unimportant whether or not they are official liturgical prayers, 
psalms, hymns, or anthems; whether they are for particular or general intentions; 
or  whether you formulate them interiorly, by thoughts, 
or express them aloud, in words.  
See that nothing remains in your conscious mind 
save a naked intent stretching out toward God.

from chapter 1 of The Book of Privy Counseling
by an anonymous fourteenth-century English author

The Fall

There is no where in you a paradise that is no place and there
You do not enter except without a story.
To enter there is to become unnameable.
Whoever is nowhere is nobody, and therefore cannot exist
except unborn:
No disguise will avail him anything
Such a one is neither lost nor found.
But he who has an address is lost.
Who would dare to go nameless in so secure a universe?
Yet, to tell the truth, only the nameless are at home in it.
They bear with them in the center of nowhere the unborn
flower of nothing:
This is the paradise tree.  It must remain unseen until words
end and arguments are silent.
~ Thomas Merton
(excerpt from The Fall)

Are you looking for me?

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. 
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms, 
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding
around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me.
instantly -- you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.
~ Kabir

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In Silence

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
To speak your
to the living walls.
Who are you?
are you? Whose
Silence are you?
Who (be quiet)
Are you (as these stones
Are quiet.) Do not
Think of what you are
Still less of
What you may one day be.
Be what you are (but who?) be
The unthinkable one
You do not know.
~ Thomas Merton
(excerpt from In Silence)

I loved what I could love

I had a natural passion for fine clothes, excellent food, and
lively conversation about all matters that concern
the heart still alive.  And even a passion 
about my own 

Vanities: they do not exist.

Have you ever walked across a stream stepping on
rocks so not to spoil a pair of shoes?

All we can touch, swallow, or say
aids in our crossing to God
and helps unveil the 

Life smooths us, rounds, perfects, as does the river the stone,
and there is no place our Beloved is not flowing
though the current's force you
may not always

Our passions help to lift us.

I loved what I could love until I held Him,
for then - all things - every world

~ Saint Teresa of Avila

The Inner History of a Day

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.
~ John O'Donohue
(excerpt from The Inner History of a Day)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Love letters

Every day, priests minutely examine the Law
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon.
~ Ikkyu
(Ikkyu and the Crazy Cloud Anthology,
 trans. by Sonya Arutzen)

from: Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. 

Say that your main crop is the forest 
that you did not plant, 
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. 
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees 
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear 
close, and hear the faint chattering 
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful 
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child? 
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields. 
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is highest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn't go.
Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction. 
Practice resurrection.

~ Wendell Berry
from Collected Poems

Look it Over

I leave behind even
my walking stick.  My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot.  I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book. I go
into the woods.  I sit on
a log provided at no cost.
It is the earth I've come to,
the earth itself, sadly
abused by the stupidity
only humans are capable of
but, as ever, itself. Free.
A bargain!  Get it while it lasts.
~ Wendell Berry

Friday, June 25, 2010

As a caterpillar

As a caterpillar, having come to the end of 
one blade of grass, draws itself together and 
reaches out for the next, so the Self, having 
come to the end of one life and dispelled 
all ignorance, gathers in his faculties and 
reaches out from the old body to a new.
~ The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Always in the distance

Always in the distance
the sound of cars is passing
on the road, that simplest form
going only two ways,
both ways away.  And I 
have been there in that going.
But now I rest and am 
apart, a part of the form
of the woods always arriving
from all directions home,
this cell of wild sound,
the hush of the trees, singers
hidden among the leaves -
a form whose history is old,
needful, unknown, and bright
as the history of the stars
that tremble in the sky at night
like leaves of a great tree.
~ Wendell Berry
(A Timbered Choir)

The world of machines

The world of machines is running
Beyond the world of trees
Where only a leaf is turning
In a small high breeze.
~ Wendell Berry
(A Timbered Choir)
photo by: Kathleen Connally

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the smallest word

Of all that God has shown me
I can speak just the smallest word,
Not more than a honey bee
Takes on his foot
From an overspilling jar.

~ Mechtild of Magdeburg

in every moment

True love in every moment praises God.
Longing love brings a sorrow sweet to the pure.
Seeking love belongs to itself alone.
Understanding love gives itself equally to all.
Enlightened love is mingled with the sadness of the world.
But selfless love bears an effortless fruit,
Working so quietly even the body cannot say how it comes and goes.

~ Mechtild of Magdeburg