February 18, 2007

What do we bring?

The wanderer does not bring a handful of earth,
the unutterable, from the mountain slope
to the valley, but a pure word he has learned,
the blue and yellow gentian.

R. M. Rilke

February 16, 2007

Lingering Beauty

I do not know which to prefer,

the beauty of inflections

or the beauty of innuendos,

the blackbird whistling

or just after.

from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens

Photo by Brian McGeough

February 10, 2007

Language is Prayer

I have been keeping this blog up for what seems like a long time now. Often, especially lately, I find myself asking, "Why do I do this?" I have thoughts about scrapping this project, as I really haven't taken the time lately to nurture friendships like I used to. I haven't been putting out a lot of effort on this blog as I find my energies going in many other directions. Yet, something keeps drawing me back with just one more entry. Kind comments from readers let me know that what I offer is received. Writing is a small way of reaching out, to share something of myself and something greater than myself. Writing is a way to be close to others, and close to God.

This month, in the Shambhala Sun magazine, Norman Fischer writes about this very notion:

Years ago I went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and did what all tourists there do: wrote some words on a scrap of paper that I tucked into a crevice in the wall. When I closed my eyes and touched my head to the warm stone, it came to me: “All language is prayer.” This must be so. Who is it we are speaking to when we speak to anyone? To that person, and also past him or her to Out There. If there is language, it means there is the possibility of being heard, being met, being loved. And reaching out to be heard, met, or loved is a holy act. Language is holy.

Norman Fischer, Shambhala Sun, March 2007

February 9, 2007


This is a photo of my father's sister, Melvina, at her place in Clatskanie, Oregon, connecting the earth and sky with cane and wand, two summers ago at 95.

My friend Steve Erickson sent me this picture with the above caption. Big smiles for Melvina!

February 3, 2007

Come to the Table

I have a round table in my dining room. The other day, after Quaker Meeting, Friends sat around the table and shared refreshments. We laughed and talked easily, sharing stories, memories, and ideas while sipping hot tea and eating apple cake together. Later, I thought about these friends, some of whom have serious health problems, some who are elderly, some young, some my own age, each with a unique past and with current struggles of one kind or another. I'm not sure if I would have chosen these folks as my friends. All of us are a bit quirky, one might observe, and yet every week we gather together and enjoy familiar camaraderie despite, or perhaps because of, our differences.

This gathering reminded me of the parts of my own broader self, all sitting at the table with me. I have parts I'd previously rather not have invited to my table – you know those parts, the wounded parts, the superior parts, the dark self-loathing, and shameful, shadowy parts. Mostly, in the past, I'd rather only have hosted my most congenial parts, my lighthearted, loving, compassionate, articulate, funny, and spiritual parts. But if I leave out the fullness of who I am, if I don't invite all my parts to the table, I realize that I am really not all there -that I will have repressed uninvited components of me, and eclipsed what these parts may have to teach me. So now, I want to invite them all in. Because my table is round, none of these parts sit at the head of the table – none of them have a seat of power in the full gathering here. Sometimes in my life, I recognize that I had let a sorrowful part assume the head, when I wallowed in my grief. Another time, sadly, I let my spiritual head take rein, and ignored my own humanity. Now, in the candlelight from the center of the table, I wish for all these parts of me to be illuminated, and welcomed.