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Praying

Mary Oliver writes wonderful, often short, poetry and this poem is no exception. The small and overlooked things in nature seem to call to her so she can share their words with the world.

When we just pay attention, we notice people and things that we might overlook in our haste to move through the world and our days. Praying is a doorway, not a contest. Prayer calls upon each of us to listen and give thanks for the world and its gifts. It is in those mindful and attentive moments that the world speaks to us and it is in silence that we hear its words.

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.

We need a renaissance of wonder.

“We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic”   E. Merrill Root

Source: We need a renaissance of wonder.

Tonight, I attended a dinner meeting and a recent PhD graduate presented the summary of her thesis. She used the word magic in her findings. She suggested in academia there are those who do not like that word, but it allows us to communicate with each other. When words elude us, there is something intuitive that sparks a sense of wonder and touches a person’s soul as we communicate with each other. John Dewey suggested that when we live in community we communicate and make what we value common.

Magic doesn’t fit well when we seek certainty, but the world is a magical place. When we see the snow-and tree-covered mountains in the linked post, we may not have  words to describe what we see. Moreover, we lack words to describe what we cannot see.

Quite a few years ago, we went fishing at Quesnel Lake which is a remote glacial lake in British Columbia that in some spots is almost 2000 feet deep. At one end of the lake, there are waterfalls, aptly named Niagara Falls, which cascade about 100 feet almost directly into the lake. We talked and tried to decide the source: a glacier, a lake, a spring. etc.

We anchored the boat and climbed to the top, hoping to see where the river came from. When we arrived at the top we saw the stream appeared to flow from a distant mountain, but we did not see the source. What we did experience was a spectacular view. There was something magical and wonderful (full of wonder) in that moment which overflowed with meaning for each of us.

Regardless of the source of the river and the waterfalls, each person present had a different understanding and description of that moment’s experience. Despite different descriptions, we  shared the same experience. When we described the view, we had different descriptions, which were understood by all of us who shared that experience. There was something magical and wonderful in that moment.

The Way of Art

There is a Taoist quality to this poem by Albert Huffstickler. The art of writing is not a given path, but that can only be seen in the moment, much like living.

We make plans, but they are tentative. Who knows what will happen in the very next instance? Or, who will appear at our door?

There is a need to be mindful, attentive, and sensitive as we each walk our path and create our art, including living. As well, there is a need to rest along the journey and take in the world as we sit quietly in our meditative moments. In those moments, we learn from the world and others as they teach and lead each of us.

It seems to me that
paralleling the paths of action, devotion, etc.,
there is a path called art
and that the sages of the East would recognize
Faulkner, Edward Hopper, Beethoven, William Carlos Williams
and address them as equals.
It’s a matter of attention and discipline, isn’t it?—
combined with a certain God-given ability.
It’s what you’re willing to go through, willing to give, isn’t it?
It’s the willingness to be a window
through which others can see
all the way out to infinity
and all the way back to themselves.

Introductions

When we remain mindful to the world and others, we stumble upon people and things to love. Once we find it, we carry it carefully as a bright cup of water and a loaf of bread.

Moya Cannon suggested that being mindful keeps us open to what might be overlooked. We find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the unexpected places and times. We learn to become mindful and attentive over time, knowing we cannot  always be mindful.

The commonplace waits for us to notice its extraordinary beauty and sensuousness. We find it in the sweet taste of the  water and the inviting smell of freshly baked bread. Those seemingly ordinary people and things become the purse of gold.

Some of what we love

we stumble upon —

a purse of gold thrown on the road,

a poem, a friend, a great song.

And more

discloses itself to us —

a well among green hazels,

a nut thicket —

when we are worn out searching

for something quite different.

And more

comes to us, carried

as carefully

as a bright cup of water,

as new bread.

The Door

When we go to the door, do we know what lays beyond? That is a question of wonder, full of wonder and wonderful. Miroslav Holub suggests we go and open the door. Opening the door, we are not sure what to expect. Is there a magic city, a picture of a picture, or the sound of the darkness ticking waiting for light to break through?

What drew me to the poem was the very last word: “draught.” It is an uncommon word, suggesting when I open the door a breeze will pass through the house. Somehow, the breeze relieves me of the stuffiness and certainty of what I think is inside. The wind blows gently and clears the clutter of certitude from my mind.

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

A Prayer Among Friends

We live in a world populated by others and surrounded by things. Often, we take the communal nature of living for granted. John Daniel suggests we walk together “in the light of this unlikely world that isn’t ours for long.” He counsels that we spend our time with each other and the world generously.

Being present, mindful, and attentive to others and the world lifts our relationships from the taken-for-granted to the meaningful. We elevate the ordinary to the status of extraordinary, finding beauty in the smallest details that are easily overlooked in the busyness of our living.

Sam Intrator wrote about the etymology of companion, which is breaking and sharing bread on one’s journey. As a teacher, eating lunch with students became an important feature of my relationships with them. I got to them and they me during those more informal moments, adding depth to the pedagogic relationships.

I often feel eating lunch with students added to “gift of good work” that pedagogy calls teachers and others to be part of. Taking time with each other over meals is similar to a prayer spoken from the heart and the listening for responses.

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn’t ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

 

Photography Quote of the Day

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu To Download free inspiration and life quotes on nature photos please visit: Pi Photography and Fine Art

Source: Photography Quote of the Day

When I think about times that I have felt strong, it has been when I felt deeply loved by someone. At our wedding, I stood up as the procession song began and I shook. When I turned and saw Kathy, I was calm. Perhaps, her love found its way up the aisle of the church that day.

When I think about times that I had courage, it is because I loved someone deeply. As parents and grandparents, we feel that unconditional love and it gives us courage act in ways that seem out of character. On Friday night, while babysitting our grandson, him and I ran around the basement laughing and chasing each other. I had the courage to do things I had not done for years in a safe and private setting.

Thomas Merton wrote that we call it falling in love, because we open ourselves to the risk of being hurt. What if the love is not returned? Love that gives strength and courage is not something that is fleeting and superficial. It runs deep, coursing through our veins and between people. Love helps us remain mindful, attentive, and sensitive to others who are in our lives. More importantly love is felt by others who are not immediately present.

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