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Tag Archives: David Wagoner

Lost

I sometimes feel lost in the world, without bearings. David Wagoner counseled that when we feel lost to stop and listen to the world, as if it were the forest and a powerful stranger able to speak to us.

When I stop and pray, I ask someone for help, but, if I rush on, without listening, the prayer cannot be answered. I pose a question that I cannot answer. Prayer is not just speaking. My heart opens and receives what is returned to me.

Is it in the form of words? Or, is it the gentle breath that is hardly perceptible? When I am mindful and listen to listen, I intuitively sense differences. Mindfulness becomes an attentive and sensitive way of life, as opposed to just happening.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

The Lessons of Water

David Wagoner wrote this wonderful poem that encourages us to watch nature and learn from it. Regardless of one’s faith, we receive gifts that act as teachers for our living.

When we watch water, we can see and hear its story and that can guide our behaviours. Nature is not separate from us, but a part of us that was shared with us so we might care for it and pass it on to the next generations.

The best way to conduct oneself may be observed in the behavior of water. —Tao te ching

When given a place to wait, it fills that place
By taking the shape of what contains it,
Its upper surface poised and level,
Absorbing, accepting what it can as lightly
Or heavily as it does itself. If pressed
Down, it will offer back in all directions
Everything it was given. If chilled, it will shatter
Daylight and whiten to stars, will harden and sharpen
And turn unforseeably dazzling. Neglected,
It will disappear, being transformed and lifted
Into thin air. Or thrown away, it will gather
With other water, which is all one water,
And rise and fall, regather and go on rising
And falling the more quickly its path descends
And the more slowly as it wears that path away,
To be left awhile, to stir for the moon, to wait
For the wind to begin again.

Getting There

I wrote about unburdening one’s self in Dancing With Your Skeletons. David Wagoner suggests something similar in this poem. Being present means being in the here and now and we are always a getting there and arriving. In getting there, it is important to keep the backpack light and dance with skeletons.

Somewhere in our journey, we lose the serious childlike playfulness we had when we were young. It is in being adults we journey with regret. The word journey is from the French journée which is less about the measure of time and about events contained in the day/jour. Adding née at the end makes jour into a gerund continuously recurring. It is a never-ending and unfolding, impossible to make sense of in the moment. Its time is immeasurable, only livable.

Née is being born as and in the living undertaken we are continuously being born in each event and each moment. In mindfulness, we  journey without regret. The there we want is the next moment which continuously unfolds. Living is  creating and becoming with welcome uncertainty and we only know we arrive when we arrive. It is unexpected.

You take a final step and, look, suddenly
You’re there. You’ve arrived
At the one place all your drudgery was aimed for:
This common ground
Where you stretch out, pressing your cheek to sandstone.
What did you want
To be? You’ll remember soon. You feel like tinder
Under a burning glass,
A luminous point of change. The sky is pulsing
Against the cracked horizon,
Holding it firm till the arrival of stars
In time with your heartbeats.
Like wind etching rock, you’ve made a lasting impression
On the self you were
By having come all this way through all this welter
Under your own power,
Though your traces on a map would make an unpromising
Meandering lifeline.
What have you learned so far? You’ll find out later,
Telling it haltingly
Like a dream, that lost traveler’s dream
Under the last hill
Where through the night you’ll take your time out of mind
To unburden yourself
Of elements along elementary paths
By the break of morning.
You’ve earned this worn-down, hard, incredible sight
Called Here and Now.
Now, what you make of it means everything,
Means starting over:
The life in your hands is neither here nor there
But getting there,
So you’re standing again and breathing, beginning another
Journey without regret
Forever, being your own unpeaceable kingdom,
The end of endings.

Lost

David Wagoner wrote this poem. It reminds me, as I enter Sabbath, there is a need to be still, to be quiet, and listen attentively. It is in the quiet I hear answers and sometimes those are new questions without the certainty of a ready answer I sought. Those answers sought are often formed before the question is posed.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

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