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Category Archives: Sabbath

The Light of Old October

The Light of Old October.

I have not written a poem for some time, but as I wrote this appeared. The catalyst was the wonderful imagery from the pictures and quotes at the link. Nature has a way of showing us the way. It takes a Sabbath in our climate called winter.

October fades,

The artist’s palette splashes colours about.

Autumn gives way to the winter.

It slips into rest;

Life’s weariness lifted,

Spirits uplifted.

A white blanket appears;

Covering all that sleeps in its wake.

Nature comes full circle,

It rests in its Sabbath.

Sometimes

It is the end of a busy week. It might be the busiest since I came home from Spokane. I don’t coach ice hockey any more, but I help in several ways. For example, I am helping a young man who coached with me several years ago get a hockey related business off the ground. I also facilitate coaching clinics which help coaches with their work. In Canada, this is a time of the year when hockey is busy. It is important to take a break, a Sabbath from the busyness and business.

I came across this poem by Hermann Hesse who is better known as an author of fiction such as Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Journey to the East. He was a wonderful writer of prose writing in a poetic and mystic voice.

The poem reminds me to stop and pause, to listen attentively to the world and my self. It is in the mindfulness that I hear the questions being asked by the world and me. It is in those silences that the world and I create together speaking to each other in richness in our silences.

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?

The Road Less Travelled….

The Road Less Travelled…..

“Once suffering is completely accepted, it ceases in a sense to be suffering” M. Scott Peck

The link provides a short summary of Peck’s wonderful work in “The Road Less Traveled.” His thinking ranks with James Hillman in examining spiritual growth as an essential aspect of living. Living is the continuous unfolding of character, who we are, and it is not predictable hence a title similar to Robert Frost’s The Road not Taken.

Life is not easy, although at times it can be. It is always about accepting responsibility for decisions we make as adults. Taking time and pausing at the junctions of decisions requires discipline and mindfulness that many struggle to find in a busy world. In those moments, when we pause, listen closely to our spirit, we build new disciplines that help us overcome the busyness to some extent. It is not perfect, but it is in imperfections we travel the road less traveled.

Clever or Wise?

Clever or Wise?.

I spent two days on a break of sorts. I intended to post something late Saturday afternoon, but spent the day and good portion of the evening being a minion to our 5 month old grandson.

He is getting to the age where he can play games i.e. peek-a-boo and he recalls that he has played the game with you. When I walked into the house on Sunday, he smiled and wanted to play.

Small things and children help us grow and become wise. We want to change our self because it is the best way to change the world we come in contact with. We blend the passion for life with compassion, because without the integration we are incomplete.

1996 X (Some Sunday Afternoon, It May Be)

Thich Nhat Hanh suggested our ancestors are always with us. They join us in places and moments that hold special meaning to us. Place is particular. Wendell Berry who wrote this poem suggested we have lost our sense of place.

When we sit quietly and sense the world, just soak it in, it is an opportunity to re-discover place and its essence. We become grounded in the world and not sitting outside and observing. The ordinary reveals itself as extraordinary.

Some Sunday afternoon, it may be,

you are sitting under your porch roof,

looking down through the trees

to the river, down to the river. The circles

made by raindrops’ striking

expand, intersect, dissolve,

and suddenly (for you are getting on

now and much of your life is memory)

the hands of the dead, who have been here

with you, rest upon you tenderly

as the rain rests shining

upon the leaves. And you think then

(for thought will come) of the strangeness

of the thought of heaven, for now

you have imagined yourself there,

remembering with longing this

happiness, this rain. Sometimes here

we are there, and there is no death.

Mysteries, Yes

Mary Oliver writes many poems about life’s mysteries, life’s questions, and the sacred spaces we enter in listening. During Sabbath time, I use her poetry to focus on stillness and allow questions to emerge. They poke their heads forward and are always joined by other questions. The answers are less relevant than the wondering that flows from each question. The mysteries are truly too marvelous to be understood.

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

The Art of Blessing the Day

I am taking a few days off from digital technologies. I am traveling to an area where the only Internet access is via dial-up. It is not that remote, but it is probably the imperfect alignment of satellites, mountains, and other geographic features.

Having said this, it is nice to take a break. I spend considerable time between social media and dissertation writing on computers. Sometimes the imperfections of the world and the universe act in ways that bring about a necessary change.

Marge Piercy’s poem suggests we bless everything we can. In the busyness and hurry of life, we run past much of life and forget blessing. I have a few days to count my blessings in quiet moments away from the hectic.

This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.

This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.

This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let’s not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends’
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree

of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.

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