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my cats

We don’t own a cat. We did once and she was special. I think Charles Bukowski gets it right that when we have a pet they are our teachers. I always tell people who cat really owned us. We have opportunities to learn from whatever appears in our world and space. When we stop and sense closely, deeply, it is a learning experience that sometimes only reveals itself much later.

I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
needs and
concerns.

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
much.

they complain but never
worry,
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t
understand.

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
without
hesitation or
remorse.

when I am feeling
low
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my
courage
returns.

I study these
creatures.

they are my
teachers.

Pride

Noelle Kocot wrote about being contented as a human. I find my space not in the competition and busyness of living, but being human is in the never being done.

There is a sense of wonder in stepping back and accepting what the moment offers. It is about the awe that wandering with an open heart and mind allows me to have. I stay open to the world and to myself when I remember living is not competition. I cooperate with everything I meet and experience.

If I claim I was a terrible, horrible,

Evil no-good person,

It would be a lie, and it would be

Wanting always to be the best or the worst.

So now I’m destined to wander,

My bag full of pride a lot lighter,

And if I say I am done

With whatever ails me,

That would also be a lie.

I am not done, will never be done

Till the day I die,

But I am content to be human,

Naked and shaking with love

At the moment, and the next moment,

I just can’t say.

The Inner History of a Day

John O’Donohue wrote many of his poems as blessings and prayers to living. He included a deeply spiritual aspect in his writing reminding us to be mindful and attentive in living our lives.

Each day has a history that we cannot know in advance and only recall incompletely. Life becomes a mystery except when we are living each moment in its completeness. It is here, on the sacred ground of the present, that the past and future continuously mingle becoming one. It is here the eucharist of the ordinary happens and we join together living in community.

The word present reminds that each moment, each day, we should not take the gift for granted and lightly. Living it fully, responsibly, and richly is the gift we return.

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

Part Two X: The Machine Endangers All We Have Made

Rilke suggested we live the questions now and someday we might live our way into the answers. This poem raises the question about what he meant by the Machine. He capitalized it suggesting it has been given a privileged place in the world.

Does the Machine eat away at our humanness and humanity? Mindfulness allows us to be present, living in the moment, and possibly living our way to answers. Perhaps, this gives us our humanness and humanity even when we do not have the words to express the mystery involved.

The Machine endangers all we have made.

We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

At the New Year

As Kenneth Patchen wrote, “there are other bells we could ring” provides choice in living mindfully and sensitively in the world.

In the shape of this night, in the still fall
        of snow, Father
In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds
        and children
In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys
        and the lovers, Father
In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise
        of our cities
In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches
        where the dead are, Father
In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners
        out on the black water
In all that has been said bravely, in all that is
        mean anywhere in the world, Father
In all that is good and lovely, in every house
        where sham and hatred are
In the name of those who wait, in the sound
        of angry voices, Father
Before the bells ring, before this little point in time
        has rushed us on
Before this clean moment has gone, before this night
        turns to face tomorrow, Father
There is this high singing in the air
Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window
And there are other bells that we would ring, Father
Other bells that we would ring.
When we explore the cracks in everything, we find the light and ring the bells we can and could.

“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”—Leonard Cohen

Christmas Light

May Sarton provided a simple message for this time of year. When we take a moment and share a few moments of quiet, there is sometimes a feeling of being reborn. It is in the quiet and simple moments we feel love’s presence.

As I prepared to post, I read the poem again. It took May Sarton almost a whole year to feel love’s presence. Regardless of our beliefs, each day is a special celebration and feeling love’s presence. Each day offers silent spaces for meditation and prayer bringing us closer to each other.

Take care and enjoy each day as if it were a special and wonder filled holiday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.

Love distant, love detached
And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.

Be Still in Haste

Wendell Berry is one of my favourite poets. He writes with such clarity and practical appreciation for the world. Even in clarity, the world remains ambiguous and fuzzy.

I read the last stanza of this poem as an example of the paradox and tension we try to hold. Perhaps, as much as I would like it to be different, time is always starting over in each moment. Each moments holds the eternity of time to paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead, yet I do not sense that unless I pause and notice time is passing me by.

Unless I pause, time passes me by and, yet, I cannot hold time still. It is inevitable it will start afresh in the next moment. In these pauses, I encounter the world and living as creative processes which I experience more fully when I am awake.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed,  and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first.

 

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