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Simpler Times

Simpler Times.

The Saturday Evening Post cover speaks speaks about simpler times. There is no better time than this moment. The times were simpler and I think the key to the link is the quote under the image. Our inner child is our muse.

When we live in the moment with curiosity and reverence, our inner child sees the world with wonder and awe. The other night we laughed as our grandson played with the little boy in the mirror for 5 minutes. They had a wonderful time and so did we. It reminded the world is always ready to be explored anew when we adopt the beginner’s mind.

Hope (A Zen Perspective)

Mindfulness is being present in the given moment. Parker Palmer speaks about fidelity and faith as being linked together. The faith we have is not that we follow a predetermined, linear path where hope lives. Rather it is a speculative hope and faith born from deep faith that each moment is transient and what exists in each moment comes and go.

Richard Schiffman proposed hope is not an appetite for this or that concocted future. With faith in ourselves, others, and things beyond explanation, fidelity to phenomena never fully explainable and indescribable, the present unlearns the past and the present moves comfortably into an agnostic future.

When we take time, pause and breath, we enter each moment able to let go of fictitious pasts and fantastic futures, living in this particular moment, no this one.

Hope is not about some future meadow.
Hope is not a triumphal march toward some brighter,
bloodless field. Neither is it lighting a candle
or cursing the darkness or calling the glass half full.
It is this half-empty tumbler turning cartwheels
above the chasm. You, for example—
poised above your own private precipice,
bruised and bloodied, sifting through the ashes
of ten thousand burnt offerings.
Don’t scatter those ashes; don’t stuff the corpses
into body bags just yet. Don’t launch a fleet
of skyrockets to cheer up Gehenna. Don’t pretend
that you’re still hungry, like those battle-blind birds
pecking for seeds between the corpses.
Hope is not an appetite for this or that concocted future.
It is the present seeking itself, the present—
unlearning the past, agnostic of the future—
breathing, in its chains, like the sea.

Pure Relationships

Today, as I read, I came across this passage from the work of D. H. Lawrence. It is not a poem, but the words have a poetic quality to them and allow me to consider what life is all about. Life is relational and that is not limited to people. I live in relationship to everything I come in contact with. In the busyness of life, this is a gentle reminder to acknowledge the relationships consciously. I witness pure relationships in these acknowledgement, these accomplishments.

The passage has a Zen quality, but it reminded me that until about 300 years ago our souls were inseparable from our physical being even in western culture.

“If we think about it, we find that our life consists in this achieving of a pure relationship between ourselves and the living universe about us. This is how I ‘save my soul’ by accomplishing a pure relationship between me and another person, me and other people, me and a nation, me and a race of men, me and animals, me and the trees or flowers, me and the earth, me and the skies and the sun and stars, me and the moon: an infinity of pure relationships, big and little, like the stars of the sky: that makes our eternity, for each one of us, me and the timber I am sawing, the lines of force I follow; me and the dough I knead for bread, me and the very motion with which I write, me and the bit of gold I have got. This, if we knew it, is our life and our eternity: the subtle, perfected relation between me and my whole circumambient universe.”

Test

Kay Ryan wrote this deeply spiritual and moving poem. It has a Zen, mystical quality. I am sure there is Something or Someone holding everything together. When something disrupts the ocean of universal consciousness and it goes a little off course or yaws, we feel only the slightest pull. A larger energy field absorbs the drops and warps. The adjustments occur in ways so we are not tested beyond our limits and find a path to walk.

Imagine a surface

so still and vast

that it could test

exactly what

it set in motion

when a single stone

is cast into its ocean.

Possessed of a calm

so far superior

to people’s, it alone

could be assessed

ideally irascible.

In such a case,

if ripples yawed

or circles wobbled

in their orbits

like spun plates

it would be the law

and not so personal

that what drops warps

what warps dissipates.

There`s what you do

We live a personal story based on personal perspective.  I find it hard some days to not live too deeply in my story and forget the good things that happen. The kindness and generosity of people helped overcome many challenging times. I felt the breath of compassion.  I thank students and their families for lifting me up during difficult times.

Al Zolynas wrote this Zen-like poem and reminds me my narrative is only my narrative. Others see their truth differently and sometimes quite differently. And then there is poetry the act of doing, feeling, and sharing all wrapped up in one.

and then there’s what you feel
while you do it
and then there are the words
that come later
to describe, recreate, narrate it–
all at a third remove
from the doing. And
then there’s poetry,
a doing in words, the act of writing
and a pointing back to
the ultimate and absolute
the relativity of words
their limited and limiting circumscriptions,
their stalactites of feeling,
their penumbras of meaning,
the deep cave of their origin.

You Reading This, Be Ready

Recently, I attended a presentation and the person commented, “The only now we have is this one right here.” I began to use this with students. In the busyness of life, what do I want to remember? If I am present, right here, now, I can see the extraordinary aspects of the world I live in the now. I bring my mind into the room and it joins the shell, my body. William Stafford shared this Zen-like view of the world in this poem.

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

 Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
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