RSS Feed

Tag Archives: spirituality

What is Life?

I don’t know the title of this Gregory Orr poem is so I used the opening line. This is a great question which brings up many other questions. What are the roles that we are each cast in? It is not so much the answers that are important, but the new questions and the searching, the questing that makes life what it is.

“What is life?”

When you first

Hear that question

It echoes in your skull

As if someone shouted

In an empty cave.

The same answer each time:

The resurrection of the body

Of the beloved, which is

The world.

Every poem different, but

Telling the same story.

And we’ve been gathering

Them in a book

Since writing began

And before that as songs

Or poems people memorized

And recited aloud

When someone asked: “What is life?”

Meditation on a Grapefruit

Craig Arnold wrote this poem that reminds us being awake is not just an early morning event. When we engage in ordinary, daily tasks we have opportunties to see them as extraordinary and sacred. Thich Nhat Hanh counsels this gives life fuller meaning. It is encountering the little things in each waking moment that bring deeper, richer living.

To wake when all is possible

before the agitations of the day

have gripped you

To come to the kitchen

and peel a little basketball

for breakfast

To tear the husk

like cotton padding        a cloud of oil

misting out of its pinprick pores

clean and sharp as pepper

To ease

each pale pink section out of its case

so carefully       without breaking

a single pearly cell

To slide each piece

into a cold blue china bowl

the juice pooling       until the whole

fruit is divided from its skin

and only then to eat

so sweet

a discipline

precisely pointless       a devout

involvement of the hands and senses

a pause     a little emptiness

 each year harder to live within

each year harder to live without

136 Syllables at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center

Each morning, I sit in the little chapel that is on-site. It is a daily Sabbath I keep up. While in Spokane, I stay in a building that was once a convent and it retained some of convent-like features. I retreat each morning and try to quiet my mind in readiness for entry into the day.

It is interesting to notice what shares the space with me. Sounds come from outside. Crows are cawing and smaller birds cheep. The sunlight casts a finger through windows brightening the space.

Allen Ginsberg captured the essentialquiet and solitude where I am never alone. People visit as thoughts flow. It is a simultaneous opening up to what is around  and what is inside .

When I began sitting in the chapel, I brought my cell phone and checked time. Now, I leave it in the room and my practice suggests when it is appropriate to begin the day.

Tail turned to red sunset on a juniper crown a lone magpie cawks.

Mad at Oryoki in the shrine-room — Thistles blossomed late afternoon.

Put on my shirt and took it off in the sun walking the path to lunch.

A dandelion seed floats above the marsh grass with the mosquitoes.

At 4 A.M. the two middle-aged men sleeping together holding hands.

In the half-light of dawn a few birds warble under the Pleiades.

Sky reddens behind fir trees, larks twitter, sparrows cheep cheep cheep
cheep cheep.

Tewksbury Road

There is something about walking in nature that stimulates all the senses. I come alive in those walks and feel energized. We walked the North Saskatchewan River Valley two years ago during Autumn. The leaves turned colour. Over time, I smelled rich decay as Nature continued in her life-cycle.

Nature celebrates her Sabbath. It is a time of renewal emerging from what was alive. She never wastes.

John Masefield described a pastoral scene I imagined in a multi-sensory way. There is a universality in these scenes that touches the spirit.

It is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,

Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why;

Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air,

Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.

And to halt at the chattering brook, in a tall green fern at the brink

Where the harebell grows, and the gorse, and the foxgloves purple and white;

Where the shifty-eyed delicate deer troop down to the brook to drink

When the stars are mellow and large at the coming on of the night.

O, to feel the beat of the rain, and the homely smell of the earth,

Is a tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words;

And the blessed green comely meadows are all a-ripple with mirth

At the noise of the lambs at play and the dear wild cry of the birds.

Fire

Judy Brown wrote this poem and it is a gentle reminder of spaces in our lives that softly breath passion back into living. In these spaces, we lightly lay com-passion, integrating it in life and rekindling  passion.

Sabbath is an ongoing event. It is the daily pauses taken to be thankful and momentarily rest. It is meditation and prayer, listening not for certainty and answers, but more likely questions serving as life’s fuel. It is being in Nature and seeing ourselves as a small part of the larger whole.

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.

A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

The Low Road

I had to read this whole poem as the first stanza is scary, but Marge Piercy provides a message about the way we our Self.  We are never alone in this work even when we are separate in time and space. Humans connect in ways that make the person stronger.

When we care and act, the world becomes a different place. It is one act, one word, one smile at a time. It is a moment of mindful gratitude at a time. It happens when we are attentive, mindful, and present in the world and not as detached observers.

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know you who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

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.

For Courage

John O’Donohue wrote this lovely poem about the need for quiet spaces where we rekindle the love and joy we find in living life. I attended and presented at a small leadership symposium today. Although it was an invigorating two days, my brain is a bit like mush.

I think I will close my eyes, gather a little kindling around my heart, and seek to create a new spark to light my way.

Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart.
To create one spark.
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark.
Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive
To urge you toward higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

Awareness Knowing Itself

I just met Danna Faulds poetry. I used this poem as it has a sabbath quality to it. The words suggest stillness and non-reaching that mesh together. The real me is living inside stillness and non-reaching. Letting go affords  opportunities to locate myself in the effortless that emerges.

Settle in the here and now.
Reach down into the center
where the world is not spinning
and drink this holy peace.

Feel relief flood into every
cell. Nothing to do. Nothing
to be but what you are already.
Nothing to receive but what
flows effortlessly from the
mystery into form.

Nothing to run from or run
toward. Just this breath,
awareness knowing itself as
embodiment. Just this breath,
awareness waking up to truth.

i thank You God for this most amazing

e. e. cummings was a poet who loved playing with language and its rules. We see this where he makes up words and excludes capitalization except for two words.

Poetry allows me to explore the world in new ways such as watching for the leaping greenly of trees and all those things which are yes. It is in the cracks that appear in poetry that light shines through.

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)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,729 other followers

%d bloggers like this: