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Be Still in Haste

When I read poetry, it gives me opportunities to consider the rich paradox that living brings with it. Wendell Berry proposes that in the title. How do I experience being still in haste?

David Bohm who was a theoretical physicist suggested that paradox dissolve unlike problems. Problems wait to be solved, but what if there are multiple ways to understand and solve the problem?

Bohm used the example of war and argued that people from all sides justified war citing problems with their enemies. Instead of asking about war, what if we asked about killing innocent children? Bohm suggested, for the most part, humans agreed that killing innocents was wrong. In that case, war is paradoxical and, when we begin with something we agree upon, we begin to dissolve the issue and see it through new eyes.

Time is similarly paradoxical. We act and speak as though we control, quantify, save, and manage it, but this moment is the only time we experience this moment. Time is fleeting and has qualities that resist us, dissolving in its fluidity becoming paradoxical. Time calls us to be present and mindful of the moment we live in, as it dissolves into the next never to be re-experienced.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first.

Still Point

Max Reif describes the rush of life and the calling of nature somehow overriding that rush. The poem reminded me of biblical passage from Matthew 6:28 describing lilies as just being.

What is my hurry? What roots me in this place and time? I overlook the depth of those questions. I enjoy reading Wendell Berry‘s essays about farming. He reminds me that farming is a love of place and time. The small farm is home for people and nature. There is no separation.

My mother said farmers do not need Daily Savings Time. Depending on the time of the year, they understand their work based on the time and space they are in at that moment. When I think of the world as unpatterned, I sense its majestic wholeness and not compartments, rendering them virtual.

Leaving home
for work
each day

I hear the trees
say “What’s your hurry?”

Rooted, they
don’t understand

how in my world
we have to rush
to keep in step.

I haven’t even time
to stop and tell them
how on weekends, too,
schedules wait
like nets.

It’s only on a sick day
when I have to venture out
to pick up medicine

that I understand the trees,
there in all their fullness
in a world unpatterned

full of moments,
full of spaces,
every space
a choice.

This day
has not
been turned yet
on the lathe

this day
lies open, light
and shadow. Breath
fills the body easily.
I step

into a world
waiting like
a quiet lover.

Walking in the Mountains in the Rain

Similar to our emotions, the weather moves through quickly like a cloudburst. When we pay attention and grow mindful, we sense changes around us and ones further away.

I sense Wang Wei proposes a there are benefits that occur in occasional changes in our immediate surroundings. Those changes mute distant sounds and other stimuli that intrude. Whether it is outside or inside us, the impending storm signals we need to find shelter and take stock of what is happening.

Perhaps through our questions and wonder we awaken and become aware of the world. What happens further downstream from us? What is happening out at sea? What do our emotions mean to the immediate world and the larger world we experience and share? What does it mean to lead, teach, and learn in this world?

In this quick cloudburst
air thickens, the sky comes down

dark mountains
flashes of lightning

out at sea new clouds
have just started to form
and this small brook I straddle
is a river in flood somewhere

rags and blankets of mist
hang on these slopes and cliffs

then the clouds open and vanish
rain patters off
and moonlight silvers
that whole reach of river
foothills to ocean

and even from this black mountain
I can hear boatmen singing.

Step Six and Step Seven

Allowing the ordinary and overlooked things to be celebrated requires mindfulness to the world, our words, and actions.. Nura Yingling proposes that poems serve as cups of praying where we can hold the silence.

In the margins and spaces I do not visit often, I explore the silence that helps me overcome moments of fear. When I am attentive and mindful, living offers poetic spaces between the lines and stanzas of each moment.

My breath becomes those spaces where I forgive myself and overcome emotions that are as fleeting as each moment. Jacques Derrida proposed how we experience the world is not binary. In one emotion, such as sadness, I discover enfolded inside  joy and happiness.

Let me be where I am.
Let this bread, this morning, be their own ceremony.
Let me pass the gilt mirrors without looking.

When the lead mouth of fear clamps onto mine
and blasts her wind of rope and iron filings into me,
let my breath be forgiveness returned for her black sadness.

Let poems be cups of praying
made for holding silence.

Seeing, Up Close Again

When we are mindful, we experience the immense detail of the ordinary world. It is a sensuous and intoxicating affair. We take the world and all its detail in through each of our senses.

Joyce Sutphen reminds us that, when we experience the immense detail of the ordinary world, we are like Gulliver in a world we have not experienced before. We have, but living at a breakneck speed can deny us the full, embodied richness of the experience.

When we slow down, we see the world and its detail fully. Seeing is the default sense we experience, but I think as we slow down  we more fully experience the world and all its details through all of our senses.

The world and we become richer a richer tapestry textured with the fullness of previously undetectable tastes, fragrances, traces upon skin, and gentle murmurs. Similar to the small child, the world and all its detail are fresh and new. We see, again and nothing is too small for our notice.

Like Gulliver in Brobdingnag, I
swooned to see again the immense
detail of the ordinary world:

the rippling surface of a fingernail,
exactly the color of a horn erupting
through the swirled-hair head of a calf,

the flayed landscape of skin where
catgut, pressing into the finger’s
tip, made a ragged canyon,

the beaten sheen of a silver ring
around the pillared finger,
dark-tarnished runes

in its patterned crevices.
Nothing was too tiny for
my hungry eye,

nothing too finely etched.
I had grown weary of smooth
honed perfection, perceived from

a distance. Now, even the smallest
stroke of ink on paper was
deep enough to fold me in.

when the animals

Gary Lawless suggests that the world, as a living being, and its inhabitants speak to us, asking for help. Do we listen?

I told the boys, as they grew up, that listening and hearing are different. We hear, but, without listening, what we hear disappears immediately. In the busyness and rush of daily living, it is hard and sometimes impossible to be mindful and attentive.

When we sense the world, other humans, animals, and plants come alive for us and give the world continuously new meaning.

In yesterday’s post, Every Movement, I wrote about creating never being completed. It becomes an infinite event that  continuously occurs and calls for us to be wakeful even in our dreams. Creation sings in a delicate, beautiful language that we share with the world and its inhabitants.

When we recognize Creation as a continuous event, our hearts open up and we become one with the rest of Creation, able to help.

When the animals come to us

     asking for our help,

     will we know what they are saying?

When the plants speak to us

     in their delicate, beautiful language,

     will we be able to answer them?

When the planet herself

     sings to us in our dreams,

     will we be able to wake ourselves, and act?

Every Movement

The philosopher and Talmudic scholar Emmanuel Levinas proposed that events are ongoing and remain incomplete, including creation as an event. In a sense, God’s creating is never completed.

Hafiz suggests something similar when it comes to understanding God’s work. It is a movement, an event. I find it easy to say no without pausing and being attentive. What does this mean? Am I able to understand its meaning at this time?

There is little patience in waiting for the luminous movement of existence. Quite often, we want something and set forward in a singular way captivated by the thoughts of that might mean as if living is done in moments. When we are patient, mindful, and attentive, the luminous movements appear at the most unexpected times that cannot be measured and described in any complete way.

I rarely let the word “No” escape
From my mouth
Because it is plain to my soul
That God has shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
To every luminous movement in existence.

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