December 21, 2009
November 2, 2009
October 31, 2009
This autumn an elderly friend died. She was ready, and her family was ready for this transition. There was a “Memorial Meeting” in the Friends tradition to honor and remember her.
A Friend, after sitting with her thoughts about Roberta for a long time, stood and said, “Two types of metal keep coming to my mind, and they describe Roberta. The metals are tempered steel and silver bells.” The Meeting made verbal utterance as to the perfection of that metaphor for our friend.
Earlier, I had risen and shared two things about Roberta. One was an experience that she had shared with me many years earlier that she said she hadn’t shared anyone because she didn’t know what to make of it. Roberta had told me that one day, in autumn, she had been looking around her farm, and “a golden maple tree just lit up, as though it were electrified.” The shock of the color went right through her, and changed her. I could tell by her voice the vulnerability of one who has been changed by things not understood by the mind.
The other sharing I offered was that although during Roberta’s early life she was engaged in a very structured religion, in her later years, after she had long given up that structure, she became more and more open. So open, that she would often ask in the silence of Meeting, “What is God, anyway?” with a completely open heart.
I have been richly blessed by knowing Roberta; I feel her spirit now moving in me.
October 28, 2009
Because the massman will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you
when you are the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught
in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher lovemaking
sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter,
now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven't experienced
this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.
June 21, 2009
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
May 4, 2009
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings, side by side,
We browse, we are two among the wild herds, spontaneous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings,
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbit and stellar, we are two comets,
We prowl fang'd and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other,
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.
From 'Children of Adam', 'Leaves of Grass'
April 10, 2009
From Mark Doty's Heaven's Coast
March 11, 2009
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you’d be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.
Rumi begin with the grief for what was lost - a phrase that surely gets my attention. But Rumi says that this grief lifts a mirror. I recognize this is an amazing truth, a beautiful and enlarging insight. This mirror shows us where we are working, bravely working. Things look their worst in grief. And yet, there in the dark bitterness is the kindness of a friend, a lily in bloom, the soft satin of the blanket's edge. These signs work on me, and in my imaginings I connect with the essence of God; it is a fleeting feeling of being held, a feeling of hopefulness and of greatness enveloping me. I feel my sad, dragging, crying, loathsome self begin to soften, to look, to open to this light, and to the warmth of connection. I stretch my hand/heart open, just a little at first, then close again. Then, feeling a soft breeze upon my face, move to open again. I expand, and then contract, and somewhere within this slight movement is where I settle, balanced in a faint flutter.
March 7, 2009
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing,
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and
the sweet confinement of your
aloneness to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
by David Whyte
From "The House of Belonging"
January 23, 2009
Martin Buber (1879-1965), Jewish theologian/philosopher, published his seminal work I and Thou in 1923. In this book he argues that we often objectify people, relating to them as we do things ("I-it" or "I – them"). He notes that it is possible to be truly open and vulnerable to another human being (or to God) when we entered into a relationship based on "I" and "Thou." This connection enlarges a person and makes true dialogue possible.
Gene Knudsen Hoffman
I've been contemplating what it looks / feels like when we enter an I / Thou relationship. Is there a way to describe that which epitomizes the I / Thou stance? I'm wondering if we could say of this relationship, "I love you just the way you are" and really feel the truth of it?