Monday, October 31, 2011

For Work


May the light of your soul bless your work
with love and warmth of heart.

May you see in what you do the beauty of your soul.

May the sacredness of your work bring light and
renewal
to those who work with you
and to those who see and receive your work.

May your work never exhaust you.

May it release wellsprings of refreshment,
inspiration, and excitement.

May you never become lost in bland absences.

May the day never burden.

May dawn find hope in your heart,
approaching your new day with dreams,
possibilities, and promises.

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.

May you go into the night blessed,
sheltered, and protected.

May your soul calm, console, and renew you. 




John O'Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us
A Book of Blessings
Photo:  Peter Bowers





Love Sorrow



Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,
what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so
utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment
by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,
as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow.





Mary Oliver
Red Bird
Photo:  Peter Bowers











Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Shape of Love



What we see is not the most important.
Could dust rise without the invisible
hand of the wind?
Could a fan turn without any current?
Could lungs breathe without breath?
Tell me
What is the shape of Love?
How much does Joy weigh
when held in the palm of your hand?
Can you catch the Spirit of Life in a jar?
All things seen depend
upon the Unseen.
All sounds depend upon Silence.
All things felt depend
upon what is not felt.


Adyashanti
Photo:  Peter Bowers




In Complete Control



In complete control, pretending control,
with dignified authority, we are charlatans.
Or maybe just a goat's-hair brush in a painter's hand.
We have no idea what we are.



Rumi
The Book of Love
Photo:  Peter Bowers




Thursday, October 27, 2011

Everything is Waiting for You


Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.  You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.



David Whyte





For Celebration


Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.



John O'Donohue
Photo:  Peter Bowers




Sunday, October 23, 2011

Learn by little the desire for all things


 Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker's joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.



 Wendell Berry





Friday, October 21, 2011

Within the circles of our lives



Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing.  Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy.  The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,

each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone

into the darker circles of return.



Wendell Berry
 photo:  Peter Bowers




On Death


Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
  And he said:
  You would know the secret of death.
  But how shall you find it unless you seek
it in the heart of life?
  The owl whose night-bound eyes are
blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery
of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of
death, open your heart wide unto the body
of life.
  For life and death are one, even as the
river and sea are one.

  In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
  And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.
  Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden
the gate to eternity.
  Your fear of death is but the trembling
of the shepherd when he stands before the
king whose hand is to be laid upon him in
honour.
  Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his
trembling, that he shall wear the mark of
the king?
  Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

  For what is it to die but to stand naked
in the wind and to melt into the sun?
  And what is it to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides, that
it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

  Only when you drink from the river of
silence shall you indeed sing.
  And when you have reached the mountain
top, then you shall begin to climb.
  And when the earth shall claim your
limbs, then shall you truly dance.



Kahlil Gibran
photo:  Peter Bowers











Ordinary kindness


There is no spiritual practice more profound than being kind to one's family,
 neighbors,
the cashier at the grocery store,
 an unexpected visitor, the con in the next cell,
a stray cat or dog,
or any other of the usually 'irrelevant' or 'invisible' beings who may cross our paths
in the course of a normal day.      
         Certainly there are spiritual mysteries beyond description to explore,
 but as we mature, it becomes clear 
that those special experiences are only meaningful
 when they arise from and return to
a life of ordinary kindness. 


Bo Lozoff




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kindness


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
Like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be 
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crown of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.



Naomi Shihab Nye






Keeping Quiet


Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.



Pablo Neruda
photo:  Peter Bowers




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sit and be still


Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind's
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.




 Wendell Berry
photo:  Peter Bowers




In our consciousness of time


In our consciousness of time
we are doomed to the past.

The future we may dream of
but can know it only after
it has come and gone.

The present too we know
only as the past.

When we say, “This now is
present, the heat, the breeze,
the rippling water,” it is past.

Before we knew it, before
we said “now.” it was gone.

If the only time we live
is the present, and if the present
is immeasurably short (or
long), then by the measure
of the measurers we don’t
exist at all, which seems
improbable,

or we are immortals, living always
in eternity, as from time to time
we hear, but rarely know.


You see the rainbow and the new-leafed
woods bright beneath,
you see the otters playing in the river
or the swallows flying,

you see a beloved face, mortal
and beloved, causing the heart
to sway in the rift between beats
where we live without counting,

where we have forgotten time
and have forgotten ourselves,

where eternity has seized us
as its own.

This breaks
open the little circles
of the humanly known and believed,

of the world no longer existing,
letting us live where we are,

as in the deepest sleep also
we are entirely present,
entirely trusting, eternal.


Is it concentration of the mind,
our unresting counting
that leaves us standing
blind in our dust?

In time we are present only
by forgetting time.



Wendell Berry
photo:  Peter Bowers





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We come at last to the dark


We come at last to the dark
and enter in.  We are given bodies
newly made out of their absence
from one another in the light
of the ordinary day.  We come
to the space between ourselves,
the narrow doorway, and pass through
into the land of the wholly loved.



Wendell Berry
photo:  Peter Bowers

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



Sunday, October 16, 2011

To Learn From Animal Being


Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within its silence:
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distanced and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens:
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging,
We manage seldom
To be where we are:
Whereas they are always
Looking out from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

May we enter
Into lightness of spirit,
And slip frequently into
The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence
Of our animal being
Cleanse our hearts
Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk
Upon the earth
With all their confidence
And clear-eyed stillness
So that our minds
Might be baptized
In the name of the wind
And the light and the rain.



John O'Donohue






Friday, October 14, 2011

Tree



It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.

Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.

That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books --

Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
Bold




Jane Hirshfield
Photo:  Peter Bowers





Thursday, October 13, 2011

Metempsychosis


Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.

Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.

There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.
Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.

Next comes the ringing a stone or violin or empty bucket
gives off --
the immeasurable's continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.

In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.

I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant-road, a highway for beetles.

I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart.
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further.



Jane Hirshfield
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Want to Write Something So Simply


I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think -
no, you will realize -
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart
had been saying.



Mary Oliver






i thank You God for most this amazing


              i thank You God for most this amazing
day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any -- lifted from the no
of all nothing -- human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)






e.e. cummings









Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thanksgiving



More than these greens tossed with toasted pecans,
I want to serve you the hymn I sung into the wooden bowl
as I blended the oil and white vinegar.  More than honey ice cream
beside the warm pie, I want to serve you the bliss in the apples' flesh,
how it gathered the sun and carried its luminousness to this table.
More than the popovers, the risen ecstasy of wheat, milk and eggs,
I want to serve you the warmth that urged the transformation to bread.
Blessings, I want to serve you full choruses of hallelujah, oh so wholly
here in this moment.  Oh so holy here in this world.



Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There are no words for the deepest things


There are no words for the deepest things.  Words become feeble when mystery visits and prayer moves into silence.  In post-modern culture the ceaseless din of chatter has killed our acquaintance with silence.  Consequently, we are stressed and anxious.  Silence is a fascinating presence.  Silence is shy; it is patient and never draws attention to itself.  Without the presence of silence, no word could ever be said or heard.  Our thoughts constantly call up new words.  We become so taken with words that we barely notice the silence, but the silence is always there.  The best words are born in the fecund silence that minds the mystery. 

As Seamus Heaney writes in Clearances,  "Beyond silence listened for..."   When the raft of prayer leaves the noisy streams of words and thoughts, it enters the still lake of silence.  At this point, you become aware of the tranquility that lives within you.  Beneath your actions, gestures and thoughts, there is a silent tranquility. 






John O'Donohue
photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to be a Poet (to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down.  Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill - more of each
 than you have - inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity.  Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditioned breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly.  Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of that silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.



Wendell Berry
photo:  Peter Bowers




Monday, October 3, 2011

The Poet


moves forward
to that edge
but lives sensibly,

through the senses
not because of them.

Above all he watches
where he steps.
As if it matters
where he leaves his prints.

The senses overwhelm him
at his peril.

Though he must be taken
by something greater.
That is what he uses
senses to perceive.

The poet's

task is simple
He looks for quiet,
and speaks to what
he finds there. 

But like Blake
in his engraving shop, works
with the fierceness
of acid on metal.

Melting apparent
surfaces away
and displaying
the infinite
which was hid.

In the early morning
he listens
by the window,
makes
the first utterance
and tries to overhear
himself
say something,
from which
in that silence,
it is impossible to retreat. 


David Whyte
photo:  Peter Bowers




Farewell Letter



She wrote me a letter
after her death
and I remember
a kind of happy light
falling on the envelope
as I sat by the rose tree,
on her old bench
at the back door,
so surprised by its arrival,
wondering what she would say,
looking up before I could open it
and laughing to myself
in silent expectation.

Dear son, it is time
for me to leave you.
I am afraid that the words
you are used to hearing
are no longer mine to give,
they are gone and mingled
back in the world
where it is no longer
in my power
to be their first
original author
nor their last
loving bearer.
You can hear
motherly
words of affection now
only from your own mouth
and only
when you speak them
to those who stand
motherless
before you.

As for me I must forsake
adulthood
and be bound gladly
to a new childhood.
You must understand
this apprenticeship
demands of me
an elemental innocence
from everything
I ever held in my hands.

I know your generous soul
is well able to let me go,
you will in the end
be happy to know
my God was true
and I find myself
after loving you all so long,
in the wide,
infinite mercy
of being mothered myself.

P.S.  All your intuitions were true. 




David Whyte




Saturday, October 1, 2011

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass



1.
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.

2.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
  are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.

3.
The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
still another.

4.
Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

5.
We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
change.
Congratulations, if
you have changed.

6.
Let me ask you this.
Do you think that beauty exists for some
fabulous reason?

And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure -
your life -
what would do for you?

7.
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
though with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another.)

And I have become the child of clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world.



Mary Oliver
from Evidence
photo:  Peter Bowers