Thursday, July 4, 2019


That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
"It's not the weight you carry

but how you carry it-
books, bricks, grief-
it's all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down."
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled-
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

~ Mary Oliver


on another's sorrow

Wiping all our tears away.
O! no never can it be.
Never never can it be.
Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief.

Can I see a falling tear
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear-
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be.

And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small birds grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear—

And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infants tear.

And not sit both night & day,
He doth give his joy to all.
He becomes an infant small.
He becomes a man of woe
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not, thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy maker is not by.
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy maker is not near.

O! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy
Till our grief is fled; gone
He doth sit by us and moan

~ William Blake
from The Complete Poetry and Prose
of William Blake

Saturday, June 29, 2019

after long silence

Politeness fades,

a small anchovy gleam
leaving the upturned pot in the dish rack
after the moon has wandered out the window.

One of the late freedoms, there is the dark.
The leftover soup put away as well.

Distinctions matter.  Whether a goat's
quiet face should be called noble
or indifferent.  The difference between a right rigor and pride.

The untranslatable thought must be the most precise.

Yet words are not the end of thought, they are where it begins.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from After

Friday, June 28, 2019

what we call presence

There is a lovely, disconcerting moment between sleep and awakening.  
You have only half emerged from sleep, and for a few seconds
 you do not know where you are, who you are, or what you are.  
You are lost between worlds.  Then your mind settles, and you recognize
 the room and you take up your place again in your own life.  
And you realize that both you and the world have survived the crossing
 from night to reality.  It is a new day, and the world is faithfully there again, 
offering itself to your longing and imagination, stretching out beyond your room
 to mountains, seas, the countenances behind which other lives hide. 
 We take our world totally for granted.  It is only when we experience the momentary
 disturbance of being marooned in such an interim that we grasp what a surprise
 it is to be here and to have the wild companionship of this world.  
Such disturbances awaken us to the mystery of thereness that we call presence.
  Often, the first exposure to the one you will love or to a great work of art
 produces a similar disconcerting confusion.

Presence is alive.  You sense and feel presence; it comes towards you
 and engages you.  Landscape has a vast depth and subtlety of presence. 
 The more attentive you are, and the longer you remain in a landscape,
 the more you will be embraced by its presence.  Though you may be
 completely alone there, you know that you are not on your own. 
 In our relentless quest for human contact, we have forgotten the solace
 and friendship of Nature.  It is interesting in the Irish language
 how the word for the elements and the word for desire is the same word:
 duil. As the term for creation, its accent is on the elemental nature of creation.   
Duil suggests a vital elemental-ism.  It also means longing. 
 "Duil a chur I gceol" means "to get a longing for music." 
 Duil also holds the sense of expectation and hope..
 Could it be that duil originally suggested that human longing 
was an echo of the elemental vitality of Nature?

You feel the presence in Nature sometimes in great trees that stand 
like ancient totem spirits night and day, watching over a landscape
 for hundreds of years.  Water also has a soothing and seductive presence
 that draws us towards it.  John Montague writes: "Part order, part wilderness 
/ Water creates its cadenced illusion."  Each shape of water - the well, stream, 
lake, river and ocean - has a distinctive rhythm of presence.  
Stone, too, has a powerful presence.  Michelangelo used to say 
that sculpture is the art of liberating the shape hidden and submerged in the rock. 
 I went one morning to visit a sculptor friend.  He showed me a stone 
and asked if I saw any hidden form in it.  I could not.  Then he pointed out 
the implicit shape of a bird.  He said, "For ten years I have been passing that stone 
on the shore and only this morning did I notice the secret shape of the bird." 
 Whereas human presence is immediate, the presences in landscape are mediate; 
 they are often silent and indirect.

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

the mind's desire


Thought is the form of the mind's desire.  It is in our thinking that the depth of our longing comes to expression.  This longing can never be fulfilled by any one person, project, or thing.  The secret immensity of the soul is the longing for the divine.  This is not simply a haunted desire for an absent, distant divine presence that is totally different from us.  Our longing is passionate and endless because the divine calls us home to presence.  Our longing is an echo of the divine longing for us.  Our longing is the living imprint of divine desire.  This desire lives in each of us in that ineffable space in the heart where nothing else can satisfy or still us.  This is what gives us that vital gift we have called "the sense of life." 

The wonder of presence is the majesty of what it so subtly conceals.  Real presence is eternity become radiant.   This is why the "sense of life" in us has such power and vitality.  Our deepest longing is like a restless artist who tirelessly seeks to make our presence real in order that the mystery we harbour may become known to us.  The glory of human presence is the divine longing fully alive.

~ John O'Donohue
 from Eternal Echoes

peace in presence

~ Rupert Spira



My father could hear a little animal step,
or a moth in the dark against the screen,
and every far sound pulled the listening out
into places the rest of us had never been.

More spoke to him from the soft wild night
than came to our porch for the family on the wind;
we watched him listen, and his face go keen,
till the walls of the world flared, widened.

My father brought in so much that we still stand
inviting the quiet by turning the face,
waiting for the time when the soft wild night
will reach to us here, from that other place.

~ William Stafford 
from West of your City

Thursday, June 27, 2019

first lesson about man

Man begins in zoology
He is the saddest animal
He drives a big red car
Called anxiety
He dreams at night
Of riding all the elevators
Lost in the halls
He never finds the right door

Man is the saddest animal
A flake-eater in the morning
A milk drinker
He fills his skin with coffee
And loses patience
With the rest of the species

He draws his sin on the wall
On all the ads in all the subways
He draws mustaches on all the women
Because he cannot find his joy
Except in zoology

Whenever he goes to the phone
To call joy
He gets the wrong number

Therefore he likes weapons
He knows all guns
By their right names
He droves a big black Cadillac
Called death

Now he is putting anxiety
Into space
He flies his worries
All around Venus
But it does him no good

In space where for a long time
There was only emptiness 
He drives a big white globe
Called death

Now dear children you have learned
The first lesson about man
Answer your test

"Man is the saddest animal
He begins in zoology
And gets lost
In his own bad news."

~ Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
art by Picasso

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

no one home

No one home
Fallen pine needles
scattered at the door.

~ Ryokan
from Sky Above, Great Wind
by Kazuaki Tanahashi

the one who is at home

Each day I long so much to see
The true teacher. And each time
At dusk when I open the cabin
Door and empty the teapot,
I think I know where he is:
West of us in the forest.

Or perhaps I am the one
Who is out in the night,
The forest sand wet under
My feet, moonlight shining
On the sides of the birch trees,
The sea far off gleaming.

And he is the one who is 
At home. He sits in my chair
Calmly; he reads and prays
All night. He loves to feel
His own body around him;
He does not leave the house.

–Francisco Albanez
Robert Bly translation
art by Van Gogh




Earth ....
a love song, 

Where could my home be? 
My home is small, goes from place to place, 
It take's my heart away with it, 
Gives me grief, gives me rest; 
My home you are!

~ Hermann Hesse

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

our inner worlds

We assume too readily that we share the one world with other people... 
It is true at the objective level that we inhabit the same physical space as other humans; 
the sky is, after all, the one visual constant that unites everyone's perception of being in the world... 

At a deeper level, each person is the custodian of a completely private, individual world...
when people come to visit you, they bring all of their inner worlds,...
their lives are not elsewhere; they are totally there with you, before you, reaching out toward you. 
 When the visit is over, their bodies stand up, walk out, and carry this hidden world away. 

 This recognition also illuminates the mystery of making love. 
It is not just two bodies that are close, but rather two worlds: 
they circle each other and flow into each other. 
We are capable of such beauty, delight, and terror 
because of this infinite and unknown world within us.

~ John O'Donohue
art by Norval Morrisseau


Geronimo, was born on this day in 1829 near the present day town of Clifton, in southeastern Arizona.  He was the fourth of eight children, four boys and four girls, and was named Goyathlay — "one who yawns." He was received into the Council of Warriors when he was 17, which meant he was now allowed to marry, which he did, and the young couple had three children, by and by. His life seemed headed down a peaceful, uneventful path.

In 1858, Goyathlay and his family traveled with the rest of their tribe down to Old Mexico, where they set up a temporary camp. The women and children stayed behind in the camp while the men — with the exception of a few guards — left to hunt and trade. On the men's return, they discovered that Mexican troops had attacked the camp, stealing their horses, weapons, and supplies and killing not only the guards but also many of the women and children as well. Goyathlay lost his mother, his wife, and all of his children in the attack. He also left behind his peaceful life and became a fierce warrior, conducting numerous raids in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. He was so fearless in his attacks that the Mexican soldiers cried out to their patron, St. Jerome, for aid: "Cuidado! Geronimo!" It became a battle cry for Apaches, and Goyathlay's new name.

Why did he fight?

Geronimo was a member of the Chiricahua Apache tribe whose homelands in the deserts of New Mexico were annexed first by Mexico and later by the United States during its expansion into the south-west during the 19th century. His insurgency was part of a wider rebellion by Native Indians against their treatment by white settlers, who carried out what in modern terms might be called ethnic cleansing: removing tribes from ancestral territories and (in some cases) placing a bounty on their scalps. Geronimo's success was down to old-fashioned derring-do, and sheer good luck. Because of repeated close shaves with mortality, many followers believed he was resistant to bullets. His men were adept at using their opponents' technology – including rifles and pistols – against them.

How was he captured?

After more than 30 years the US General Nelson Miles tracked Geronimo to Arizona. The rebels were exhausted after decades on the run, and their number had dwindled to just 36 men, many of whom (including their leader) had taken to heavy drinking. In the autumn of 1886, Geronimo negotiated a tactical surrender, agreeing to lay down his arms on condition that his followers would be allowed to disband and return home to their families. But the US reneged on its promises, and promptly took Geronimo and his troops into custody. They spent seven years in prison in Alabama before being transferred to Fort Sill, where they lived out the rest of their days in a form of open prison.

Monday, June 24, 2019

from the deeper source

When you pray,try to stay beneath your thoughts, neither fighting them nor thinking them.  Everything that comes also goes, so don't take any of it too seriously. Hold yourself at a more profound level, perhaps in your chest, solar plexus, or deep breath, but stay in your body-self somehow.  Do not rise to the mind, because the mind is endlessly repetitive commentary. Just rest in what I call your animal contentment.  You will feel exactly like nothing, like emptiness. Stay crouched there, at the cellular level, without shame or fear, long enough for the Deeper Source to reveal itself.  Universal love flows through you from that Deeper Source as a vital energy much more than an idea.

Because most people still think of God as an object separate from themselves, they naturally try to please God or inform God or even use God.  You cannot "think" God.  God is never an object, like any other object of consciousness.  In fact, God refuses to be objectified, which is why there are so many atheists and agnostics, who basically try too hard.

God is always and forever the subject, knowing in you, through you, with you, and, yes, as you!

You can only know God subject to subject and center to center, and the initiative is always from God's side. There is no other why to know God or to be known by God!

 ~ Richard Rohr
from just this : prompts and practices for contemplation 
art by  Noha Nayel

be ahead of all parting

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice - more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be - and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The Sonnets to Orpheus, II,13
from The Enlightened Heart
an anthology of sacred poetry
edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell