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Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Invitation

I am not familiar with Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poetry, but, when I found this poem, it reached out and called me.

What questions do I ask myself, that I cannot answer. There is an eloquence in those questions that leads me to new questions, without knowing the answers. When I sense the world in one way or another, I am unable to sense it in any other way.

What if I live the wildness of life and I allow myself some abandon, not carelessness? I can dance with that wildness and not care about what others may think, hopefully making the world a better place.

When we open our hearts to the other, their standing in life is about who they are as a person rather than what identifies them: their job, their age, where they live, etc. When we open our hears to the other, it is an invitation to be human and humane with them.

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day.

And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

 

 

Love After Love

Derek Walcott wrote this poem that describes how, when mindful, we experience the fullness and richness of life. Perhaps it is only, when we older, that we have wisdom to sit, take it all in, and just be good with what life is.

Who is the person, the self, that looks back from the mirror? Or, greets me at the door? The answers are only questions in a new form, as the answers cannot be fully formed.

When we engage in conversation with ourself, we must be present to the person we speak and listen to. When we ask eloquent questions that cannot be answered, we allow those questions to remain unanswered and guide the conversation.

The time will come

When, with elation,

You will greet yourself arriving

At your own door, in your own mirror,

And each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here, Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

All your life, whom you ignored

For another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,

Peel your image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

 

Patience: Darkness and light, conscious and unconscious

Night after night, darkness enters the face of the lily which, lightly, closes its five walls around itself, and its purse of honey, and its fragrance, and is content to stand there in the garden, …

Source: Patience: Darkness and light, conscious and unconscious

The link includes a lovely picture of lily accompanied by a Mary Oliver poem, The Lily. The poem reminds me of the passage from Luke describing the lilies and wild flower, just being and growing.

Nature is what it is. There is a mindfulness in its creation and how it dresses. The lilies wait in their splendor for us to notice them and realize how they are always present. Nature and lilies teach us. To paraphrase Confucius, they open the door and we enter when we are ready.

Lingering in Happiness

Mary Oliver writes mystical and magical poetry. The words, the silences, and the images invoke and evoke something deep within my spirit. The etymologies of invoke and evoke, along with vocation, is “to call” in a ministering sense.

For me, teaching was/is a calling. I am still becoming a teacher. I reflect on what I experienced and arrive at new understandings about what those experience means. Emmanuel Levinas described an event as something that transcends time and place.

In that sense, becoming a teacher is an event as it continues to happen in many ways. Not only am I making sense of what that means and who I am, others do, as well. Even who I am becoming is an intersubjective event that shared with others.

Similar to the rain drops that slowly fall and nourish the oak, becoming some one is something that takes time. The drops and memories may disappear, but not vanish. They leave traces in the tree that grows and the person who is always becoming.

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear – but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Angels In Your Head

“You wouldn’t believe what once or twice I have seen.  I’ll just tell you this: only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one.”  – Mary Oliver I consider eagles…

Source: Angels In Your Head

Mimi writes about eagles being a spirit animal and her good fortune in having 46 of them guide her on her walks. We live in Alberta where bald eagles fly over the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains as they migrate from their winter and summer nesting areas. When we visit the farm, we see the Rockies from the highway and a pair nested there each spring and fall. For us, it was a rare sighting.

Last weekend, we drove home from a birthday party west of Edmonton. As we drove, there was a bald eagle in the ditch. I think it is unusual to see them this far east of the Rockies and it might be that spring is arriving a bit early.

Mary Oliver’s quote at the top calls us to be mindful and attentive. Every now and then, we see the unexpected, as if we had angels in our heads. In those moments, we sense that something is different, and not just see, and turn in the right direction.

The Open Door

Danna Faulds wrote this lovely poem in the form of prose and tells a story with poetic language. When the door opens, something calls and we intuitively follow that call as we be/become. Something pulls us and allows us to be alive when we are fully aware, without “adverbs, descriptors, or qualities”. We hear the call in moments when we are present to the universe’s vastness and the spirit that calls us, animates us, and provides us with voice.

What calls to each of us is unique, but somehow shared through our humanity, our humanness, and humaneness. Rooted in antiquity, the call speaks to us in the present tense and we are unable to make full sense of it. Due to its vastness, there is always mystery in that which calls each of us.

“A door opens. Maybe I’ve been standing here shuffling my weight from foot to foot for decades, or maybe I only knocked once. In truth, it doesn’t matter. A door opens and I walk through without a backward glance. This is it, then, one moment of truth in a lifetime of truth; a choice made, a path taken, the gravitational pull of Spirit too compelling to ignore any longer. I am received by something far too vast to see. It has roots in antiquity but speaks clearly in the present tense. “Be,” the vastness says. “Be without adverbs, descriptors, or qualities. Be so alive that awareness bares itself uncloaked and unadorned. Then go forth to give what you alone can give, awake to love and suffering, unburdened by the weight of expectations. Go forth to see and be seen, blossoming, always blossoming into your magnificence.”

PS I could not find a link for Danna Faulds, but her poetry is too lovely not to share.

Thought for Today

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Source: Thought for Today

Genie shared this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh about what our mindfulness means for others. When we do not offer our undivided attention to other, it diminishes who they are.

However, a risk is we diminish mindfulness and it becomes a clichéd word that loses its full meaning. Occasionally, I read articles that suggest mindfulness is a “business tool” that we turn off and on as a calculated choice. When someone is truly mindful, they attempt to be present in every moment, realizing that is not humanly possible.

When I am present to the other, it means I give my attention as an unconditional gift with no advance calculation. Mindfulness is not a business calculation. When we are mindful, we attend to each word, not seeking to answer, but to hear what the other says to us.

Capturing Life’s Precious Moments

Yesterday at work I was given the privilege to escort an elderly gentleman from one of our treatment rooms to the waiting room where his sweet wife was waiting patiently for him.  The couple’…

Source: Capturing Life’s Precious Moments

Whatever our job, it should inspire us in extraordinary ways. Tina‘s post makes that point so well.

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that we find the extraordinary in the ordinary. When we pause, enjoy the moment, and our mindful, we share what is important to us with others. We make the world a better place.

When I taught, I loved being in the classroom with students and sharing with them in many ways. What I found important was that, when I enjoyed what I was doing, they enjoyed it, as well. One student told his mother that he could not understand why he enjoyed Social Studies that year as he had not before. She answered, “When the teacher is enthusiastic and lets you sense that, that is what happens.”

 

The Methodology for Happy

“It is not possible to live happily if one does not lead a beautiful, righteous and wise life, or to lead a beautiful, righteous and wise life if one is not happy.”  Epicurus (341-270 B…

Source: The Methodology for Happy

The linked post is a wonderful, concise description of happiness beginning when we help others without expectation of something in return. Aristotle spoke about doing good for one’s self and others as the greatest Good. We each have ethical responsiblity for all sentient beings, non-sentient things, and the world we co-inhabit.

Harlon provided a short list which help me understand what it takes to be happy. It is not a recipe, as I need to be mindful and attentive, always asking questions. What are the necessary and unnecessary desires in my life?

Oceans

Juan Ramon Jimenez posed questions in this short and provocative poem. Sometimes when we are up against something that seems immovable, perhaps it is in that moment we turn to mindfulness and questions that guide us.

When we ask eloquent questions, we find ourselves guided by questions rather than fixed answers and destinations.

What does it mean to be in this moment when we do not seem to be moving? It might be that we are moving and it is our lack of awareness that makes us feel we are not. Quite often, we have predetermined outcomes and, as long as we are moving or think we are moving in that direction, we think something happens.

Stopping and meditating in a moment helps us realize that we are moving, just not in the directions we planned in moving. In those moments, we ask, “What does this mean?” and wait silently for answers to show themselves.

I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.
And nothing
happens! Nothing… Silence… Waves…

—Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

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