December 3, 2010

Enough Said


A young friend of mine is working on the Enough project in Africa. I am amazed at the courage of young people like her, and encourage support of this important work:

Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit

November 27, 2010

The Altar of this Moment

Place everything you can perceive—
Everything you can
see, hear, smell,taste, or touch,
Upon the altar of this moment
and give thanks.
It is over so soon—
This expression,
This single moment of your precious life,
This one heart
pounding itself open
with fear or wild joy,
This one breath rising
in the cold winter air
smoothly and gently
or coughing and sputtering,
Bow, while you can, before
This one taste
Of afternoon tea
Warming its way to your belly,
Or the fragrant orange
exploding its sweet juice
in your grateful mouth.

You have to love
The antics of your mind,
Imagining life should only be sweet.
The bitter makes the sweet; and life is both.
It is whole, like you,
Before you think yourself to pieces.
Place this moment’s pain and confusion on the altar, too,
And give special thanks for such grace
That wakes you up from sleeping through your life.
Pain is greatly under-rated as a pointer to Unknowing,
yet greatly over-rated when taken as identity.

In this one moment,
Your eyes meet mine and there is
a single looking.
What is peering from behind our masks?
Can it touch itself across the room?
Place your palms together;
Touch your holy skin.
In another moment it will shed itself.
What will you be then?
What were you before you had two hands?
What are you now?
You cannot capture That
and place It on the altar of this moment.
It is the altar,
And this moment’s infinite expressions,
And the Seeing,
And its own devotion to itself.
You are That.

Dorothy S. Hunt

November 18, 2010

Nass River

Tent tethered among jackpine and blue-
bells. Lacewings rise from rock
incubators. Wild geese flying north.
And I can't remember who I am supposed to be.

I want to learn how to purr. Abandon
myself, have mistresses in maidenhair
fern, own no tomorrow nor yesterday:
a blank shimmering space forward and
back. I want to think with my belly.
I want to name all the stars animals
flowers birds rocks in order to forget
them, start over again. I want to
wear the seasons, harlequin, become
ancient and etched by weather. I
want to snow pulse, ruminating
ungulating, pebble at the bottom of the
abyss, candle burning darkness rather
than flame. I want to peer at things,
shameless, observe the unfastening,
that stripping of shape by dusk.
I want to sit in the meadow a rotten
stump pungent with slimemold, home
for pupae and grubs, concentric rings
collapsing into the passacaglia of
time. I want to crawl inside someone
and hibernate one entire night with
no clocks to wake me, thighs fragrant
loam. I want to melt. I want to swim
naked with an otter. I want to turn
inside out, exchange nuclei with the
Sun. Toward the mythic kingdom of
summer I want to make blind motion,
using my ribs as a raft, following
the spiders as they set sail on their
tasseled shining silk. Sometimes
even a single feather's enough
to fly.

~ by Robert MacLean

November 11, 2010

The Love of God

The love of God, unutterable and perfect,
flows into a pure soul
the way that light rushes into a transparent object.
The more love that it finds,
the more it gives itself;
so that, as we grow clear and open,
the more complete the joy of heaven is.
And the more souls who resonate together,
the greater the intensity of their love,
and, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.
- Dante

October 31, 2010

Praise Them

The birds don't alter space.
They reveal it. The sky
never fills with any
leftover flying. They leave
nothing to trace. It is our own
astonishment collects
in chill air. Be glad.
They equal their due
moment never begging,
and enter ours
without parting day. See
how three birds in a winter tree
make the tree barer.
Two fly away, and new rooms
open in December.
Give up what you guessed
about a whirring heart, the little
beaks and claws, their constant hunger.
We're the nervous ones.
If even one of our violent number
could be gentle
long enough that one of them
found it safe inside
our finally untroubled and untroubling gaze,
who wouldn't hear
what singing completes us.

~ Li-Young Lee

October 27, 2010

The Sculptor

In ancient India lived a sculptor renowned for his life-sized statues
of elephants. With trunks curled high, tusks thrust forward, thick
legs trampling the earth, these carved beasts seemed to trumpet to the
sky. One day, a king came to see these magnificent works and to
commission statuary for his palace. Struck with wonder, he asked the
sculptor, “What is the secret of your artistry?”

The sculptor quietly took his measure of the monarch and replied,
"Great king, when, with the aid of many men, I quarry a gigantic piece
of granite from the banks of the river, I have it set here in my
courtyard. For a long time I do nothing but observe this block of
stone and study it from every angle. I focus all my concentration on
this task and won’t allow anything or anybody to disturb me. At first,
I see nothing but a huge and shapeless rock sitting there,
meaningless, indifferent to my purposes, utterly out of place. It
seems faintly resentful at having been dragged from its cool place by
the rushing waters. Then, slowly, very slowly, I begin to notice
something in the substance of the rock. I feel a presentiment . . . an
outline, scarcely discernible, shows itself to me, though others, I
suspect, would perceive nothing. I watch with an open eye and a
joyous, eager heart. The outline grows stronger. Oh, yes, I can
see it! An elephant is stirring in there!"

"Only then do I start to work. For days flowing into weeks, I use my
chisel and mallet, always clinging to my sense of that outline, which
grows ever stronger. How the big fellow strains! How he yearns to be
out! How he wants to live! It seems so clear now, for I know the one
thing I must do: with an utter singleness of purpose, I must chip away
every last bit of stone that is not elephant. What then remains will
be, must be, elephant."

When I was young, my grandmother, my spiritual guide, would often tell
just such a story, not only to entertain but to convey the essential
truths of living. Perhaps I had asked her, as revered teachers in
every religion have been asked, "What happens in the spiritual life?
What are we supposed to do?" Granny wasn’t a theologian, so she
answered these questions simply with a story like that of the elephant
sculptor. She was showing that we do not need to bring our real self,
our higher self, into existence. It is already there. It has always
been there, yearning to be out. An incomparable spark of divinity is
to be found in the heart of each human being, waiting to radiate love
and wisdom everywhere, because that is its nature.

--Eknath Easwaran, in God Makes the Rivers To Flow

October 22, 2010

Luminous Language

The water spoke
Soft whispers
The air current
Of this one‐pointed

Gabriel Isa Madrone

October 16, 2010


I'm a wanderer
so let that be my name –
the first winter rain

October 10, 2010

Now I Know Why

Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.

-William Stafford

This marks my mother's passing - 88 years of a rich, full life. I'll miss her, as I carry forward all the talking dreams she taught me.

October 6, 2010


Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so helplessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs -

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

~ Rilke

September 30, 2010

Monday Morning Meditation

If you ask me why I dwell among green mountains,
I should laugh silently; my soul is serene.
The peach blossom follows the moving water.
There is another heaven and earth beyond the world of men.

-Li Po

September 15, 2010

Though I am Old

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

- W.B.Yeats

September 14, 2010

My World Tuesday

I love spirals - moving in and moving out again.

September 13, 2010


What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, is a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would. So, building fires requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs then we can come to see how it is fuel, and the absence of fuel together, that makes fire possible. We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way.
Judy Brown

This reminds me of the resting space in the midst of a conversation, a busy day, before a meal, and even, between breaths. There, right there, between the in breath and the out breath, is a space to rest.

September 12, 2010

Bestemor, my "Morney"

I am in the arms and heart of my beloved grandmother.

September 11, 2010

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

-William Stafford

September 10, 2010

A Love Note from Kabir

Hang up the swing of love today!
Hang the body and the mind between the
arms of the beloved, in the ecstasy of love's joy:
Bring the tearful streams of the rainy clouds
to your eyes, and cover your heart with
the shadow of darkness:
Bring your face nearer to his ear, and speak
of the deepest longings of your heart.
Kabir says: `Listen to me brother! bring the
vision of the Beloved in your heart.'

September 8, 2010

See No Evil

No one expected all three of them
to sit there on their tree stumps forever,
their senses covered with their sinuous paws
so as to shut out the vile, nefarious world.

As it happened,
it was the one on the left
who was the first to desert his post,
uncupping his ears,
then loping off into the orbit of rumors and lies,
but also into the realm of symphonies,
the sound of water tumbling over rocks
and wind stirring the leafy domes of trees.

Then the monkey on the right lowered his hands
from his wide mouth and slipped away
in search of someone to talk to,
some news he could spread,
maybe something to curse or shout about.

And that left the monkey in the middle
alone with his silent vigil,
shielding his eyes from depravity's spectacle,
blind to the man whipping his horse,
the woman shaking her baby in the air,
but also unable to see
the russet sun on a rough shelf of rock
and apples in the grass at the base of a tree.

Sometimes, he wonders about the other two,
listens for the faint sounds of their breathing
up there on the mantel
alongside the clock and the candlesticks.

And some nights in the quiet house
he wishes he could break the silence with a question,

but he knows the one on his right
would not be able to hear,
and the one to his left,
according to their sacred oath--
the one they all took with one paw raised--
is forbidden forever to speak, even in reply.

--Billy Collins

September 5, 2010

Small Ruby

The small ruby everyone wants has fallen out on the road.
Some think it is east of us, others west of us.

Some say, “among primitive earth rocks,” others, “in the deep waters.”

Kabir's instinct told him it was inside, and what it was worth,
and he wrapped it up carefully in his heart cloth.

September 3, 2010

Springtime People

We are no longer innocent; but we must make every effort to become primitive so that we can begin again each time, and from our hearts. We must become springtime people in order to find the summer, whose greatness we must herald.

Rilke, Early Journals

September 2, 2010


Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.


September 1, 2010

Forgiveness Note

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

William Carlos Williams

I don't think Williams is really sorry, do you? I want to eat some of those sweet plums, too.

August 31, 2010

My World Tuesday

North Umpqa River above, and Little River below

I dream the dream of a pond

who lives not just to mirror the sky

but to let willow trees on the bank

drink me up.

-Shu Ting

August 30, 2010


“You have to grow from
the inside out.
None can teach you,
none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher
but your own soul.”

~Swami Vivekananda

August 29, 2010

For the Sleepwalkers

Tonight I want to say something wonderful
for the sleepwalkers who have so much faith
in their legs, so much faith in the invisible
arrow carved into the carpet, the worn path
that leads to the stairs instead of the window,
the gaping doorway instead of the seamless mirror.
I love the way that sleepwalkers are willing
to step out of their bodies into the night,
to raise their arms and welcome the darkness,
palming the blank spaces, touching everything.
Always they return home safely, like blind men
who know it is morning by feeling shadows.
And always they wake up as themselves again.
That's why I want to say something astonishing
like: Our hearts are leaving our bodies.

Our hearts are thirsty black handkerchiefs
flying through the trees at night, soaking up
the darkest beams of moonlight, the music
of owls, the motion of wind-torn branches.
And now our hearts are thick black fists
flying back to the glove of our chests.

We have to learn to trust our hearts like that.
We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep-
walkers who rise out of their calm beds

and walk through the skin of another life.
We have to drink the stupefying cup of darkness
and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised.

~ Edward Hirsch


I love this poem - it so matches my intentions this morning. I am outside by my garden as I write this. The sounds of summer are everywhere, the feel of ths sun is so wonderful. I am the child bathing in this warmth, turning my face once again to the presence that fills the openness. Here I am exploring openness - where there is room for Presence to revel itself... knowing somehow that the nature of our nature is open.

August 27, 2010

Breath Made Visible

I’ve always said dance is the breath made visible and that covers about everything because once you stop breathing and the breath is no longer visible, you stop moving. ~Anna Halprin

Click here to see a beautiful video trailer of Breath Made Visible / Anna Halprin

August 26, 2010

Camas Lilies

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas
opening into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you — what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down —
papers, plans, appointments, everything —
leaving only a note: "Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming."

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.

Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.
~ Lynn Ungar ~

Oil painting by Ann Ruttan

August 25, 2010

My Mountain Flower

...and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

James Joyce

August 21, 2010

A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

~ Wendell Berry ~

August 19, 2010

A call to Love and to Ripen

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most
difficult task of all...., the work for which all other work is but
preparation. It is a high inducement to the individual to ripen...
a great claim upon us, something that chooses us out and calls
us to vast things.


August 18, 2010

Sleeping in the Forest

The Umpqua River near my home...

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

~ Mary Oliver

August 17, 2010

My World Tuesday; SE Oregon Desert

Thoreau said, "It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see." I think he was right about that.

August 16, 2010

Pelted By Beauty

The power of love received in the body:
this was the Festival!
how we stood and faced one another
and we took hands
and the love came.
And all the flowers swarmed about our heads:
deep deep the sting goes.
Let love be welcomed the moment it seeks us.

—M.C. Richards

August 15, 2010

The Hummingbird

The sunlight speaks. And its voice is a bird:
It glitters half-guessed half seen half-heard
Above the flower bed. Over the lawn ...
A flashing dip and it is gone.
And all it lends to the eye is this --
A sunbeam giving the air a kiss.

Harry Kemp

August 14, 2010

Open from Deep Within

Sometime go outside and sit,
In the evening at sunset,
When there's a slight breeze that touches your body,
And makes the leaves and the trees move gently.
You're not trying to do anything, really.
You're simply allowing yourself to be,
Very open from deep within,
Without holding onto anything whatsoever.
Don't bring something back from the past, from a memory.
Don't plan that something should happen.
Don't hold onto anything in the present.
Nothing you perceive needs to be nailed down.
Simply let experience take place, very freely,
So that your empty, open heart
Is suffused with the tenderness of true compassion.

- Tsoknyi Rinpoche in
Carefree Dignity

August 12, 2010

Reciting Poems

Reciting poems in the moonlight,
riding a painted boat...
every place the wind carries me is home.

-Yu Xuanji

August 11, 2010

This is My Motto

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony."

~ William Henry Channing

August 8, 2010

Presence into Silence

Metta Inst Last night Ram Dass taught a group of caregivers, 80 in all, via Skype about "presence". His wise council included how to find a level above the disease, the story, the suffering, to relate soul to soul with another. He reminded us that we are not our personalities, our roles, but rather just loving-awareness. His grace touched hearts and minds, and then we fell back into silence.

What does Love give?

"Love gives us the fortitude to lighten the sorrow of others and ourselves. It soothes us like sweet cream and warms us into a gazing calm which makes us feel a sense of awe in the presence of something magical. Love helps us recognize the quiet grandeur or beauty of life. We notice the earth, the sky, a breathing, ...functioning planet, full-flowering gardens, and bending branches over silent walkways" C.J. Good

August 7, 2010

Married to Amazement

When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world in my arms. When it's over, I don't want to wonder if I have made my life something particular, and real. I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened or full of argument. I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
- Mary Oliver

August 6, 2010

Watch with glittering eyes

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
— Roald Dahl

August 4, 2010

The Longest Journey

The longest journey I've made
is the one back to myself.

August 3, 2010

My World Tuesday

God's Lips Upon The Veil

God has never left you.

It is just
that your soul is so vast
that just like

the earth in its innocence,
it may think,

"I do not feel my lover's warmth
against my face right

But look, dear,
is not the sun reaching down its arms
and always holding a continent
in its light?

God cannot leave us.
It is just that our soul is so vast,

we do not always feel God's lips
upon the

St. Catherine of Siena

July 29, 2010

Ready for Everything

"But only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn't exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being."

- Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet

I love all the advice Rilke gives to the young poet. I imagine being that young poet (though I am neither young nor really a poet), and soaking in the wisdom of an beloved elder.
r really a poet), ad soaking in the wisdom of an elder.

July 27, 2010


No truth can make another truth untrue. All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge. Once you have seen the larger pattern, you cannot go back to seeing the part as the whole.

~Ursula Le Guin

July 26, 2010

The Zen of Truth

Recognizing truth requires selflessness. You have to leave yourself out of it so you can find out the way things are in themselves, not the way they look to you or how you feel about them or how you would like them to be.

Harry Frankfurt, Princeton philosopher and best-selling author of “Fighting Bull”, in a NY Times magazine interview.

Sitting in meditation, I recognize the truth in what Frankfurt is saying. Truth seems to really only be truth in this moment. It's not really about me, it's about the unfolding of the moment. It isn't about what happened, or what might happen next. That, perhaps, is what I love so much about sitting on the cushion. Truth is revealed.