Sunday, May 26, 2019

a stream I go a-fishing in

In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime.
 But all these times and places and occasions are now and here.  
God himself culminates in the present moment 
and will never be more divine in the lapse of the ages.  
Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in.  
I drink at it, but when I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  
Its thin current slides away but eternity remains.

~ Henry David Thoreau 
from: Walden, "Where I lived and what I lived for," 1854

in love that long

I am here, this moment, inside the beauty,
the gift God has given,
our love:

This gold and circular sign
means we are free of any duty:

out of eternity I turn my face to you, and into

we have been in
love that long.

~ Rumi
from The Glance - Songs of Soul-Meeting
translation by Coleman Barks

Saturday, May 25, 2019

soul unfolds itself

And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.
And he answered saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.
” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

~ Kahlil Gibran

all paths

And he who defines his conduct by ethics
imprisons his song-bird in a cage.
The freest song comes not through bars
and wires.
And he to whom worshiping is a window,
to open but also to shut,
has not yet visited the house of his soul
whose windows are from dawn to dawn.
And if you would know God be not
therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see
Him playing with your children.
And look into space; you shall see Him 
walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms
in the lightning and descending in rain.
You shall see Him smiling in flowers,
then rising and waving His hands in trees.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet


"What is grace?" I asked God.
And He said,

"All that happens."

Then He added, when I looked perplexed,

"Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved's arms
was grace?

Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from
until the heart has

~ Saint John of the Cross
photo by eliot porter

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 a passion about my own looks.

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 soul.

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

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
 art from the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam


Friday, May 24, 2019

a poem for Giambattist Vico written by the Pacific

A rephrasing of Vico;
All cultures go through three stages, Culture moves from the
Sacred World to the Aristocratic Realm to the Democratic Place,
and back again.


We were sitting there, badly blessed, and brooding
On aristocracies near the trouserless ocean.
We knew we were pure prose; the ocean stretched
Out, blown by wind, but we remained where we were.
The sand shifted; all of us walked on flat boards.
We were no one in particular, in our messy lives.
We tended to stay who we were. Our minds stay in this
Particular room with Nils and Judy and Tom.
If death is the mother of fashion, we don't mind.
I am myself; I am what is around me.
Pine cones fall and stick where they fall.
That is what it's like when we are born
Not from wind or spirit, but from things. 


Spirit moves where it moves; that is what 
People are like who are born of the Spirit. 
For in high air there burns a furious spirit.
It rises out of ground like Milton's mind
That meets all furies high above the sea.
It wants to rise. "If music be the food of love,
Play on." So notes, inspired not by our toes
But by th'inspired intellect, take us
Out of the dark soul-house, upward through turns
And spiral stairs, fighting the darken'd air.
The Spirit carries us, and in our minds
We know if we are high or not. It is 
Something like this for those still in the Spirit.


 The wind blows where it likes: that is what
Everyone is like who is born from the wind.
Oh now it's getting serious. We want to be those
Born from the wind that blows along the plains
And over the sea where no one has a home.
And that Upsetting Rabbi, didn't he say;
"Take nothing with you, no blanket, no bread.
When evening comes, sleep wherever you are.
And it the owners say no, shake out the dust
From your sandals; leave the dust on their doorstep."
Don't hope for what will never come. Give up hope,
Dear friends, the joists of life are laid on the winds.

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems


no way or path

There's a moment there in Arthur's banquet hall when all the knights are assembled around the Round Table.  Arthur would not let anyone start to eat until an adventure had occurred.  Well, in those days adventures were rather normal, so people didn't go hungry for long.

They were waiting for this day's adventure, and it did indeed occur.  The Holy Grail itself showed itself to the assembled knights - not in its full glory but covered with a great, radiant cloth.  Then it withdrew.  All were left ravished, sitting there in awe.

Finally, Gawain, Arthur's nephew, stood up and said,  "I propose a vow to this company, that we should all go in quest of that Grail to behold it unveiled."

Now we come to the part that interested me.  The text reads, 

"They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group.  
Each entered the Forest Adventurous at that point which he himself had chosen, 
where it was darkest and there was no way or path."

You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path.  Where there's a way or path, it is someone else's path;  each human being is a unique phenomenon. 

The idea is to find your own way.

~ Joseph Campbell
referring to:  La Queste del Saint Graal,
taken here from Pathways to Bliss

Thursday, May 23, 2019

how it feels to be free

~ Nina Simone


it's probubly me

~ Gregory Porter

starry starry night

~ Vincent Van Gogh and Don McLean

one source of bad information

There's a boy in you about three
Years old who hasn't learned a thing for thirty
Thousand years.  Sometimes it's a girl.

This child had to make up its mind
How to save you from death.  He said things like:
"Stay home.  Avoid elevators.  Eat only elk."

You live with this child, but you don't know it.
You're in the office, yes, but live with this boy
At night.  He's uninformed, but he does want

To save your life.  And he has.  Because of this boy
You survived a lot.  He's got six big ideas.
Five don't work.  Right now he's repeating them to you.

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

nothing's a gift

Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tentacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can't remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.

Wislawa Szymborska
translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

the struggle for identity

The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces
 are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. 
Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. 
Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb- time. 
Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; 
the struggle for identity and impression falls away. 
We rest in the night.

~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara

How long does it take to make the woods?

How long does it take to make the woods?
As long as it takes to make the world.
The woods is present as the world is, the presence
of all its past and of all its time to come.
It is always finished, it is always being made, the act
of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.
It is a part of eternity for its end and beginning
belong to the end and beginning of all things,
the beginning lost in the end, the end in the beginning.

What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?
By climbing up through the six days’ field,
kept in all the body’s years, the body’s
sorrow, weariness, and joy. By passing through
the narrow gate on the far side of that field
where the pasture grass of the body’s life gives way
to the high, original standing of the trees.
By coming into the shadow, the shadow
of the grace of the strait way’s ending,
the shadow of the mercy of light.

Why must the gate be narrow?
Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.
To come into the woods you must leave behind
the six days’ world, all of it, all of its plans and hopes.
You must come without weapon or tool, alone,
expecting nothing, remembering nothing,
into the ease of sight, the brotherhood of eye and leaf.

~ Wendell Berry
 from A Timbered Choir