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Walking Meditation

We attended a wedding yesterday and it was late when I got home. I prepared this post in advance and took a few minutes today to post it. After this, I begin or re-begin sabbath, which was largely a Saturday and Sunday event this week.

When the boys were young, we would get up on weekends and go for a walk. The boys wanted to hold our hands. One son always checked my hands out. He often started with my left hand and I felt his fingers checking my palm. Not finding what he wanted he moved to the right side and completed the search. My right hand is scarred from various events and scar tissue built up leaving a bump. As we walked, our son would hold that hand and now and again rubbed the scar and bump. I don’t know if it was that reassured him, he was reassuring me, a combination of those things, or none of the above. In those moments, it was easy to sense being, linked together and holding hands.

In today’s world, we hurry to get somewhere. It is not clear where somewhere is and we are victims to trying to get out of this moment. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us we should walk peacefully, not thinking of arriving anywhere but here. When we do this, we walk in peace and walking is peace. In holding hands, we touch each moment and kiss Earth with our feet. We feel Earth through and in our feet, its scars and make it safer for us and Earth.

We see commercials with people holding hands singing about making the world a better place. In hand-holding, we are linked physically and united. It is not an abstraction as we feel other people and Earth in linking and walking.

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

A Moments Indulgence

Rabindranath Tagore wrote this poem reminding me when we live in the world it is important to take time and encounter that world so we can more clearly hear the sighs and murmurs. Quite often, in the midst of the busyness and noisiness in the world, we need and space to witness the world through all our senses. It almost seems the quietness needed is indulgent, but it is a necessary indulgence.

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works
that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and
the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.

The Wisdom of Peace

Lao Tzu wrote this poem as part of his work many centuries ago. The hard work of transforming life begins internally and closest to home. Sabbath practice and the mindfulness that comes with it are essential ingredients to living life in a fuller, honest, and moment-to-moment way.

We only bring peace to the world when there is peace in our hearts. From there, we gradually move outwards and the ripple effects are felt gradually first in our home, then our communities, cities, in our nations, and finally in the world. It is not the work of one person and one life time, but the work of many and many life times.

In this rippling, leading is not leading others as much as it is leading my self in the world and touching others with new-found peace.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

When Someone Deeply Listens To You

When we listen to our self closely and deeply, we open our self up to listening to others and the world deeply. In turn, the world and others are able to listen to us deeply as we create vulnerable spaces exposing ourselves and holding that dented cup out with certainty that others will respond.

John Fox wrote this poem about others listening to us. The process begins within us and moves out. When we are unable to listen to our self, we should not expect others can listen to the person we are unable to listen to, our self. Spending time in meditation, taking Sabbath breaks makes this possible.

When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you’ve had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.

When someone deeply listens to you
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind’s eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!

When someone deeply listens to you
your barefeet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

People quite often have views of the world and people that are fixed. We become observers and outsiders separate from the life we live in a sense.

William Stafford‘s poem offers another approach. We read our lives as stories to each other and share in the living. This is important in leading, which we are all able to do. In a sense, reading life is leading, learning, and teaching in the world we co-inhabit.

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.

I Want to Write Something So Simply

Mary Oliver has a magical way of writing. There is a simplicity in her writing that is moving and stirring. It always gently reminds us that we are not alone even when we are alone. We are part of a larger complex called humanity which has many common shared loves and pains. When we pause, even for a moment, we get a sense of this largesse.

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 heart
had been saying.

Snow

I chose this poem by Louis MacNeice for various reasons which is one of the poem’s underlying themes. The poem is about the fragmented ways we see the world. Humans are limited in that sense, but being mindful, present, and attending to our immediate world begins to offset this and present a more complete picture.

There is always a (w)hole in the hole, a sense of mystery, but it seems less challenging and we see the extraordinary we might otherwise miss. We are in the world not separated from it by windows and walls we construct.

Spokane received snow yesterday and it is easy to wish spring were here or summer. But, the snow added a backdrop and left provided a crisp world that has lasted into today.

This morning, I watched a squirrel tentatively climb snowy tree limbs. It moved slowly, but eventually reached its food. It was a blessing to be in the world and not outside.

The room was suddenly rich, and the great bay window was

Spawning snow and pink roses against it

Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:

World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural, I peel and portion

A tangerine and spit the pips and feel

The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world

Is more spiteful and gay than an one supposes–

On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands–

There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Li Po wrote poems that asked questions. A common theme was drinking alcohol, but, when I read his poetry, I wonder if it was alcohol or his intoxication with the world he lived in? What is real and not real sometimes blurs boundaries and we ask questions about what is real and not real. Who is the leader and who is not appears in Li Po’s poetry.

Herman Hesse blurred the lines between Leo as a leader and Leo as a servant in Journey to the East. Who serves who? What does it mean to lead and serve? There is a Taoist quality in those questions.

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?

Be with those Who Help your Being

Rumi, the Sufi poet, wrote this poem several centuries ago, but it resonates today strongly. In the fast-paced world, it seems easier to calculate and do, rather than mediate, pray, and be. The latter takes time, patience, and caring. Once the calculation is done, quite often the business is done. When we enter into the space where we listen deeply to our self and others, there is no business to do. It is just being in relationship, first with the person who is me and with the other who has listened with care.

Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.

A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don’t try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it’s too late for all you could become.

Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?

Praying

Mary Oliver writes in uncomplicated ways. It is not simple, but there are elements of simplicity linked to complexity. Her poem Praying is an example of this simplexity. Praying is an entreaty or asks for something and suggests creating space for responses. There is a simplicity in the way prayer unfolds. It happens anywhere, anytime, and with few words. The complex part is being quiet and discerning the answers. This requires quiet spaces that we have to craft out of the busyness of modern lives and days.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

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