Wednesday, July 13, 2011

awareness is

Don't talk of different religions.
The one reality is everywhere,
not just in a Hindu, or a Muslim,
or anywhere else! Realize:

your awareness is
the truth about God.

~ Lalla



The longer we are together
the larger death grows around us.
How many we know by now
who are dead! We, who were young,
now count the cost of having been.
And yet as we know the dead
we grow familiar with the world.
We, who were young and loved each other
ignorantly, now come to know
each other in love, married
by what we have done, as much
as by what we intend. Our hair
turns white with our ripening
as though to fly away in some
coming wind, bearing the seed
of what we know. It was bitter to learn
that we come to death as we come
to love, bitter to face
the just and solving welcome
that death prepares. But that is bitter
only to the ignorant, who pray
it will not happen. Having come
the bitter way to better prayer, we have
the sweetness of ripening. How sweet
to know you by the signs of this world!

~ Wendell Berry

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the remains


I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

~ Mark Strand
photo by Nancy Crampton

something that is neither yours nor from yourself


To belong to Allah
Is to see in your own existence
And in all that pertains to it
Something that is neither yours
Nor from yourself,
Something you have on loan;
To see your being in His Being,
Your subsistence in His Subsistence,
Your strength in His Strength:
Thus you will recognize in yourself
His title to possession of you
As Lord,
And your own title as servant:
Which is Nothingness. 

~ Thomas Merton
in response to writings of  Ibn Abbad

by technique?


All truly contemplatives souls have this in common: 
not that they gather exclusively in the desert, 
or that they shut themselves up in reclusion, 
but that where He is, there they are. 

And how do they find Him? By technique? 
There is no technique for finding Him. 
They find Him by His will. And His will, 
bringing them grace within and arranging their lives exteriorly, 
carries them infallibly to the precise place in which they can find Him. 
Even there they do not know how they have got there, 
or what they are really doing.

Thomas Merton
from  Thoughts in Solitude
sketch by the author


Sunday, July 3, 2011


Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

sitting together

We sit in this courtyard,
two forms, shadow outlines with one soul.

Birdsound, leaf moving, early evening star,
fragrant damp, and a sweet sickle curve of moon.

You and I in a round, unselved idling
in the garden-beauty detail.

The raucous parrots laugh,
and we laugh inside their laughter, 
the two of us on a bench in Konya, 
yet amazingly in Khorasan and Iraq as well.

Friends abiding this form,
yet also in another, outside of time, you and I.

~ Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks
from The Big Red Book

the angel standing in the sun


by J.M.W. Turner
from the Tate Gallery, London

For those with eyes to see, the world is filled with the glory of God.

wine grapes for breakfast

at first
on the tongue,
hours later
the red grapes
still sting,
as if trying 
to tell me something -
what the hook
tells the fish
or the wand
or stick hears
before conductor 
or mule driver
brings it down.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Lives of the Heart

Monday, June 27, 2011


It is possible 
that even the best counsel
cannot be processed
by the body.
All supplements to
our personal chemistry
are screened by tiny fanatical secret organs
that refuse much more than
they accept.  It is hard
to add even minerals.
Iron tablets, for example,
are not correct
and pass through us like
windowless alien crafts.
What the body wants is so exact.

~ Kay Ryan
from The Best of It

song of a man who has come through


Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine, wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.

~ D.H. Lawrence
from The Complete Poems of  D.H. Lawrence
many thanks to poetry chaikhana

Sunday, June 26, 2011

a cedary fragrance


Even now,
decades after,
I wash my face with cold water –

Not for discipline,
nor memory,
nor the icy, awakening slap,

but to practice
to make the unwanted wanted.

~ Jane Hirshfield
 from Given Sugar, Given Salt
art by Cecile Chalouni


As some people age 
they kinden.
The apertures
of their eyes widen.
I do not think they weaken;
I think something weak strengthens
until they are more and more it,
like letting in heaven.
But other people are 
mussels or clams, frightened.
Steam or knife blades mean open.
They hear heaven, they think boiled or broken.

~ Kay Ryan
from The Best of It

Friday, June 24, 2011

avoiding discord leads to war

The goddess of discord, Eris, was naturally not popular in Olympus, and when the gods gave a banquet they were apt to leave her out.  Resenting this deeply, she determined to make trouble... into an important marriage celebration to which she was not invited she threw a golden a golden apple marked "For the Fairest."  Of course all the goddesses wanted it.  Zeus was asked to judge between Aphrodite, Hera, and Pallus Athena, but wisely refused.  He told them that prince Paris was an excellent judge of beauty, and that they should go to him.  He was not asked, however, to gaze at the radiant divinities and choose which seemed to him the fairest, but only to consider the bribes each offered and choose which seemed to him best worth taking.  What men cared about most was set before him.  Hera promised to make him Lord of Europe and Asia, Athena, that he would lead the Trojans to victory against the Greeks and lay Greece in ruins; Aphrodite, that the fairest woman in all the world should be his.  He gave Aphrodite the apple and in doing so, set the stage for the Trojan War.

~ Edith Hamilton
from Mythology - Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

story originally from The Judgement of Paris which 
is part of the play Trojan Woman by Euripides

Thursday, June 23, 2011

become a pure vessel


May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear
Of the sticky web of the personal
With its hurt and its hauntings,
And fixed fortress corners,

A morning when you become a pure vessel
For what wants to ascend from silence,

May your imagination know
The grace of perfect danger,

To reach beyond imitation,
And the wheel of repetition,

Deep into the call of all
The unfinished and unsolved

Until the veil of the unknown yields
And something original begins
To stir toward your senses
And grow stronger in your heart

In order to come to birth
In a clean line of form,
That claims from time
A rhythm not yet heard,
That calls space to
A different shape.

May it be its own force field
And dwell uniquely
Between the heart and the light

To surprise the hungry eye
By how deftly it fits
About its secret loss.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us