Saturday, December 31, 2011
Poetry is the report of a nuance between two moments, when people say, 'Listen!' and 'Did you see it?' 'Did you hear it? What was it?' Carl Sandburg
I would add that poetry is mathematics, physics, chemistry. It is biology and physiology and psychology and sociology and every other -ology of the world. Those are paths I trust to examine how this sea animal who lives on land and first dreams and then finds ways to make possible all sorts of ways to fly the air, all sorts of ways to say listen, did you see, hear, experience this fascinating Mystery.
Robert Krulwich writes a blog about science in easy to understand, layman's language. He wrote earlier this week about the calculated weight of the internet being about the same as a grain of salt. He goes on to say that calculating the weight of all the electrons that carry our experience of listen, of did you hear-read-see, misses the point entirely.
All the sciences and world knowing through the scientific method are both squishy and so reliable, solid and dependable, and telling only part of the story. There's no incantation that will give me electricity if the local grid is down. Without a plane or really good bungee cord my flight will be short and possibly disastrous. But the spirit of exploration which will never open all the doors of the Mystery- ah! that's the essence in the whole world tea cup I wish to drink from.
Friday, December 30, 2011
...[R]ecognize and accept your own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect.... When you know that your “I” has an inherent dignity and is objectively one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.” No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or value has already been resolved once and for all and forever. Fr. Richard Rohr.
I don't pretend to understand "God," but I accept the word as shorthand for the Mystery of the Universe which contains the natural world as I know it, and therein I put my trust.
Here is a reminder that I may participate in daily activities, but when I fail, others stride forward and speak effectively. The world IS about me AND the world IS NOT about me. It's fascinating, how that goes.
I asked for, and received, several Mary Oliver books. I've discovered that reading her poetry lowers my blood pressure. Like a walk to Deer Creek. The truth that carries creation— the underneath and clear, unvarnished truth— really does set one free. It's all true: the closely observed and that which is beyond separation and human comprehension. And somehow every scrap fits together, of all the little pieces fit, all we know and all we do not yet know. Don't forget.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
This morning enough moisture hung in the air to turn the whole sky an intense salmon pink, and all the land took on the gentled effect of the sky colors. As hours passed, the clouds thickened and the world was colored by quiet grays. Now in late afternoon snow falls and I see the world as through mesh.
We live in a rainbow, and forget to notice, for the colors of the world are so common. Also, the colors of the world change minute by hour by day by season. There is a repetitive similarity, yet there are always subtle differences, all is made new again and again and again in ways easy to overlook.
The old and the new always coexist. The seasons of the year turn one to the next. We label them, and define them in even chunks with definite start and end dates. We often forget to notice that the gestation for spring is happening now in winter, and the fruits of summer and autumn are, therefore, not only present in the springtime burst of glorious energy and are also in gestation in the depth of winter.
We separate things, divide off chunks of time and place and person, define things small so that we can manipulate and understand. It is so hard to see how practical details work when we look through the lenses of continuity and unity. We define and set limits so that we can explore the limitless.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Part of the creek that is
complete. Can you hear her
chuckle over rocks, sense
the doe and her twins
behind the greening thicket?
Since then floods and turnings
passed, big trees fell, the creek
remade her stony bed. Fawns
still wait just out of sight.
You are in the picture too
do you know? You are
the creek, whole and changing,
the standing tree,
the soft mammal
behind leaf and mask.
Monday, December 26, 2011
This morning the sky is clear and brilliant to the west. The rising light turns the gull breasts a sort of salmon, and they gleam and shine in their uplit flight. Bare treetop branches glint and look special and blessed, too, where the early sunshine strikes them.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
That is, celebrate the heart of Mystery in a brisk, jolly, cheerful, delightful way.
Fill the heart of the day-- my heart-- with joy and delight.
Find and pursue my deepest, most pure, most enduring delight.
I'll sit with my breath and friends at church, eat a fine meal,
step my way along a fine walk, experience a fine, merry day.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Watching, I thought of how we are brought from the elements of the earth and into this form, into this life. We rise through early years, break free into adulthood, reach apogee, and begin the fall into old age and back to earth again. It is the natural progression.
Every life trajectory includes enough physical and emotional pain from which no one can shield us so that in the ordinary course of events we each lose that unquestioning confidence of safety. We experience hunger, physical hurts, mean-spiritedness, loneliness, betrayal, anger welling up from within us, anger of others directed toward us, greed. We learn caution and a certain skepticism.
Yet in the larger scheme, why fear? We rise from the arms of earth, and will return there again, safely caught. Why should the journey of a natural life, beginning through end, be any less joy inspiring than the flight of a small child being tossed in the air and caught again? How can we imagine that possibly we will not be caught again by earth? How do we lose sight of the full, complete trajectory and the rightness of the journey? For myself, I seek to let go my learned fear and renew that joy of the journey, confident that I will, indeed, be safely caught at the end of my fall.
Here we are again, come to the longest night of the year. The day hours were overcast and rainy, as well. I am thankful for Christmas lights, and for the multiple creature comforts of my quiet life.
Monday, December 19, 2011
It just recently dawned on me that-- yes!-- the work in the still room of the estate mistress, or the healer, or perhaps the witch, is done with the cook-the-concoction-and-draw-off-the-distillate kind of still. Done well, I believe still room work includes some meditative concentration, and it draws ingredients from the past-- knowledge and real-world, tactile, collected stuff-- with trajectory for the future, but in the moment it is mix-and-cook deal. One can never be done with finding out new things in the world, and then we can add to our mix-and-cook. Let us rejoice and be glad in our finding out, and as often as possible laugh at mistakes, each and every element of the world recognized as part of life's brew.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
High in a tree, head white and almost blending with the gray-white sky, body distinguishable from the trees because I know the woods well and the wings occasionally move, this bird just sits and gazes out at the world. Oh, a necessary head scratch. And another wing adjustment. And return to that calm. Now arising on legs, leaning forward, and that step off the tree limb into easy flight.
I am reminded that I, too, may pause often for a short rest and to return to calm, and my day-flight will be easier for it. "The world will little note, nor long remember..." And I'm not engaged in a great endeavor, only my small, ordinary December life. I may open the gift of a calm spirit any and every moment, whenever I choose to take a breath and notice that possibility.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Christmas greetings have been arriving. Each day I sit a while and savor them. I have such warm thoughts for the individuals who took the trouble to send them.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
I love to say yes to all sorts of opportunities, and I've learned to love to say no as well. Real freedom of choice demands the possibility of either yea or nay. If I say "I had to say yes," I am only saying I give weight to indirect drivers toward how I allocate my resources.
The sky cleared late last week, and Saturday the moon waxed full. Lit and colored day and night by the governing light, this astonishing world engages me fully, fills me with wonder.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
"God comes to us disguised as our life." (Paula D'Arcy) Does a thing, an idea, an element of reality, cease to exist if we don't believe, don't recognize or know, don't understand? Or does all the world simply continue to exist in its forever changing natural ways, as we humans go about our serious silliness?
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Small talk challenges me. So just at the time I'm feeling most drained, here comes an email from my friend referring me to this site, http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/ The Power of Introverts, indeed.
A small cloud floated across the meadow rise across the way as I watched this morning. One rarely sees a small, defined clot of fog traverse the landscape, but there it was. I am reminded that all things in this world change and float across the landscape as surely as that small cloud.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The comforting thing is, I already know that on the other side of that door lies my ordinary life, full of known elements and all cradled in the natural world so full of hope. Let me not forget what I already know.
The valley was full of eagles this morning, flying close above me so I could see their wing muscles working so beautifully. Geese flew overhead, heading south. I can't tell the resident geese from the migrating ones, though. They all hold such vivid conversations.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Thank you all-- each and every one-- for the blessing of your presence in my life.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Frost painted the meadows overnight, grass tips glittery, which sounds sharp, yet the world looks softened as under a mesh throw. Morning sunlight fills the horse shelters. Two willow trees by St. Omer's Creek hang onto their leaves and cast bulky shadows. Trees in my woods still cling to their few last seeds, and cast thick webs of finger-like shadows.
My hope arises from my daily experiences in the natural world which includes all us humans. My stories include my search for continued meaning, and peace. 'The human spiritual longing expressed by “Come, Lord Jesus” is a longing for universal order and meaning,' says Fr. Richard Rohr in today's meditation. As mind and body deteriorate, what about spirit? We have life, we are life...
My spiritual story includes the Christian story and so much more. Years ago I set out to find the places where religions agree. That longing for universal order and meaning is deep, profound, found everywhere.
Friday, December 2, 2011
There is a difference between hope and foolish optimism. Real hope requires first seeing the depth and dimension of our problem. Only then can we create or rediscover the kind of hope that leaps through the tangle into freedom.
"[Freedom] doesn't come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well." (Pema Chodron)
This morning a layer of frost creates a thin sandwich filling between what is rooted in earth and the brilliant blue air that floats around us. Light on air molecules allows me to see the aggregation of molecules, hence the brilliant blue. All the molecules together. Winter brings a clarity not so easily found in other seasons.
What is the story we share in winter? What enchantment can we, together, make possible? What can we agree upon now to take forward into the potential season of renewal?
Thursday, December 1, 2011
One of the farmer neighbors put out a deer carcass in his field. Yesterday there were perhaps twelve to fifteen bald eagles feeding, lifting away, circling, observing from various surrounding trees (including ones I call mine), returning to feed again. What fierce wildness they carry. .
From the deck, I observed three eagles in my trees, and heard the scree of at least one in the air. Then I went inside and observed some more. When I was outside, the eagles were surely aware of my presence, but when I went inside, I likely became part of the house, not a separate entity. Those sharp-sensing regal eagles...
The eagles and I affect each other in ways none can measure.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I write to myself: if you're reading this, you have enough, even if you feel bad and blue.
My friend Judy mentions the image of calm in the deep ocean and busy excitement in the waves on the surface. She points out how we simultaneously have both calm and excitement in our lives, and we can see either element, or both, depending on our choice of thoughts, our noticing, our point of view.
We take such pride in what we give. Do we forget to notice the much greater gift we constantly receive?
Yesterday the morning sky tinted the whole world pinky-salmon, and by mid-afternoon the air temperature rose into the low seventies. Today clouds and rain. Wind coming, and cold. Weather, like the ocean waves, is part of the busy surface stuff of the world.
Monday, November 28, 2011
... See you on the bus.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
If we are truth tellers, we will tell of the whole shebang, not hiding the hard parts of life because that's socially uncomfortable, considered self-pitying, or depressing, or some such nonsense. I actively seek the company of truth tellers who will look in the face of death and confidently, calmly say, "It's hard, and at the same time all is well." What did we expect, we'd get out of this life alive?
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
of rain and sun and growth, the gifts of the earth given
into the hands of strangers, friends and family
whose efforts now bring such bounty to this table.
Thanks for the soft animal body that carries each life
here present, so sturdy and so fragile;
thanks and praise for fellowship, and for the lives
of those now absent whose essence yet echoes among us;
Thanks for the complex ways we each continue to seek
and find our place, unique like everyone else.
Lead us to the gift of regular silence until it silences us;
bring us to choose gratitude until we are truly grateful;
fill us with praise until we ourselves become
a constant act of praise.
So we give thanks for all things, including joys
and sorrows here deeply felt but left unspoken.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
A bald eagle rows the sky, it's wings so strong-looking and pulling evenly.
A twittery flutter of starlings as they rise, a whirring wing-beat of iridescence.
The bluest depth of the bowl that covers us all.
The covering bowl re-glazed, now colored in striated tints and shades of gray.
The smells of manure mixed with water and earth in the meadow, of fermented corn silage, of ripe ossage orange leaves and fruit.
The red berries of dogwood, viburnem, rose hips.
The black wooly-bear curling and straightening its way down the road, wearing the color that, according to folklore, foretells a hard winter to come
The hope of continuance, the certainty of change.
"Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, and ten thousand beside."
The blessing of all the ten thousand things.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
There are fewer in the woods, when they visit, than there were in that sky river of starlings I remember experiencing at the MVA one morning when I was setting up the driver license test course before I began the early truck test. That year they streamed horizon to horizon. 1996. I paused among the orange traffic cones to just observe for a minute, to open my senses to the world that included those amazing birds. I wrote a poem, but it seems to be as far gone as that sunrise. All I have is the date, title and the memory of that streaming flock. They flew as if they were the cheery, chittery flow within invisible-to-me river banks in that day's cold, gray, November sky. I remember the smell of asphalt and exhaust and moist, moving air. I have not forgotten the starlings.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Yesterday I had a morning walk with a friend. This morning I had breakfast with another. In both cases the conversation moved deep into sharing our truest understanding of what really matters to each. Some moments tears welled up, other moments laughter rang out, and together we each experienced enrichment.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Today my imagination is crippled (medical tests require a caffeine-free day, and the local sky and atmosphere is drizzly-dull, as well) and my minute has passed.
One friend told me that when she considers a new purchase, she asks herself how she presently does the job the new item shall do. And where will she put the new thing? What smart friends I have! (Family, too.) Now I also ask those questions of myself before I make a purchase.
When I googled the above quote for exact reference and source, I came upon these, also, from William Morris: The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for, I should answer, A beautiful House; and if I were further asked to name the production next in importance and the thing next to be longed for, I should answer, A beautiful Book. To enjoy good houses and good books in self-respect and decent comfort, seems to me to be the pleasurable end towards which all societies of human beings ought now to struggle.
Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement; a sanded floor and whitewashed walls and the green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
We cannot see light, we can only see objects which light illuminates.
So, how do we see non-object reality? Things like joy, pain, contentment?
Yesterday I was again blinded by light, this time as I walked westward along Deer Creek in the late afternoon. My own poem came to my mind, and here I share it:
Everything, But Light
In a half-dream before waking,
little capsules of color
almost like bubbles
dance in dark space
and the Universe trills
so pleased for playfulness
and beauty. Even injured
and disappearing ones are
Rendered in haiku—
within and between
the void and all matter, you,
an ovoid rainbow—
those two words appear,
one above the other,
one letter of difference,
circle of potential apart.
I rise into the promise
of day, sunshine flows
from just above the horizon
straight into my eyes.
I lose sight of everything
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Come Little Leaves
"Come, little leaves,"
Said the wind one day,
"Come over the meadows
With me, and play;
Put on your dresses
Of red and gold;
Summer is gone,
And the days grow cold."
Soon as the leaves
Heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering,
One and all;
Over the meadows
They danced and flew,
Singing the soft
Little songs they knew.
Dancing and flying
The little leaves went;
Winter had called them
And they were content-
Soon fast asleep
In their earthy beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle
Over their heads.
Written by the American poet George Cooper (1838–1927), "Come Little Leaves" was one of a standardized collection of poems printed in little pamphlets and distributed to school children each year to be memorized as part of the Pennsylvania curriculum requirement at the time. I've loved that poem since the year-- third grade? fourth?-- I made up a little song to sing and dance with it, over and over, in the process of memorization.
How useful for me to recall that learning happens most easily if I will involve rhythm, a tune, a lyric, a dance or stomp, whatever seems fun so my whole body gets involved. Learning as a full body experience.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Sunrise approaching, near-full moon westering.
Pearl colored air like thick, quality paper.
Trees-- trunk, twig, clinging leaf-- like ink strokes,
some drawn with full-bristles brush strokes,
some with one stroke of a single bristle.
This too, this too. This too shall pass.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
By mid-morning Monday the air had cleared, and this season's brilliance emerged again to bless all. Who wants to be inside at a computer in weather like this? The brilliant sunshine, the golden hour, the brilliant moonlight-- oh, I look and look, breathe it all in, let the scents of each moment of these amazing days permeate my cells.
"Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love"
(from the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness, words by Thomas O. Chisholm)
That Being that life on this earth carries at essence, this marvelous time to experience Being in the world.
Friday, November 4, 2011
From my writings on this blog, you know of my daily walks. In a recent email Terrianne wrote of hers. Her words bring me such a tender, clear holding of each described detail that my breath comes more easily and my heart feels more open after reading. I feel like I've been blessed. I share this with her permission:
-A break for a description from my walk today:
Thursday, November 3, 2011
What do you think of?
One group member mentioned the saying, at an open-casket funeral, "Doesn't s/he look good?" Another mentioned her experience of a deep, abiding, life sadness and yet, simultaneously, how laughter and joy welled up in her life. Yet another told of a time when an experience of being entirely vulnerable led to a position of strength.
For me, what leapt to mind was the memory of a glorious, blue-and-gold Monday in May when abundant life flourished, plants in the surrounding fields so verdant and vibrant, balmy breeze, a day absolutely gorgeous. That particular day I stood by my father's grave, the polished sheen of golden oak closed over his calloused hands, as he was returned to the earth. In that hour, I knew with sharp clarity that my life was all mine, all about me, and simultaneously not about me at all.
(Now, decades later, I live with cats. Any time one can observe that cats know it's all about them.)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Emotion, memory, fantasy, and story. How do we collect memory and meaning if not through the creation of story? Even small, basic equations (2+3=5) tell a little, comprehensible, memorable story.
Being me, that little equation I intended to choose at random suddenly appears like the story of my life-- me, my husband, our three kids. Therein hangs the tale. Experience, collected into words with meanings assigned, and thus the stories emerge of a life, of a community, of a nation, a world.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Dead impatience stems and leaves turn black. Today the impatience are wilted yet still green. How dead are they? This world astonishes me. It is a day to be astonished. Happy Halloween!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Diane Johnson in the epigraph to her spy novel Lulu in Marrakech.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Today rain falls, the sky gray, all the colors muted. Past experience allows me to predict that quiet reigns outdoors, the busy, rustly, chirpy creatures all in dry-ish, protected places. Even wild things seek protection from harsh weather. Snow in the forecast.
Friday, October 28, 2011
We're about to cross the threshold of seven billion human beings alive around the globe. Have you ever met your double? Ever observed any doubles? Even "identicals" exhibit subtle variations. Seven billion unique human beings.
And then, if we expand the definition of life, we have other mammals, birds, plants of all sorts, fungus, bacteria, virus... All variations on the theme of ways of being in this world. How can we doubt that the world is full of being, beyond our comprehension?
The multiplicity of being astonishes me.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I say yes.
Some Sacredness that is unnameable, beyond comprehension, yet somehow known?
I say yes.
A Being whose sacred power is in force everywhere, like gravity is in force everywhere?
I say yes.
In Christian churches I was taught of a God who is
(the verb is referring to a state of Being),
All Powerful (Omnipotent),
All Seeing (Omniscient),
Everywhere Present (Omnipresent).
Now, isn't the place of God (Being) sacred?
Does it not follow, therefore, that the whole world is a sacred place?
Sacred space honored, ignored, desecrated... yet sacred...
What does it take to hold the whole world as sacred, to stand in constant relationship with the sacred presence, that presence being everywhere I could ever possibly be? Oh, how awake one must become to stay ever aware of the depth of such relationship. What conscious noticing, moment by moment, of every thought and intention and affect and effect. How is this possible? Faith. Here is my call to ever-deepening faith.
On October 22, 2011, in his online daily meditation, part of the series he titles "The Indwelling Presence," Fr. Richard Rohr writes:
"Faith is an end in itself.
Faith is not what we do in order to get to heaven.
To have faith is already to have come alive.
“Your faith has saved you” (Luke 18:42 )
is the way Jesus put it to the blind man.
Faith is the opposite of resentment, cynicism and negativity.
Faith is always, finally, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Faith actually begins to create what it desires.
Faith always re-creates the good world.
Without faith, we can sink into despair.
Faith is a matter of having new eyes,
seeing everything, even our most painful suffering,
through and with the eyes of God."
(Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, p. 21)
(Rohr writes in paragraphs, I see in short pieces, I've added the line arrangement.)
Today, Rohr writes:
"...God becomes more a verb than a noun,
more a process than a conclusion,
more an experience than a dogma,
more a personal relationship than an idea.
There is Someone dancing with you now,
and you are not afraid of making mistakes."
(Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, p. 23)
A process, an experience, a personal relationship. This Being dancing with me, holding me so fully and lovingly and securely that I am no longer afraid of making mistakes. The beginners mind, the freedom to explore without answers already in place.
I say yes! Now here's an explanation of a freedom of Being within this entirely sacred world that I can experience, relate to, interact with, hold by faith.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My farmer neighbor down by Deer Creek had a wheel off his corn combine as I walked by this morning. "Oh, we have a bent axle, he went off into that hole there. The bolts were kinked in a way we had some trouble with, but we'll have 'er going again right quick, here, now." He and his friend who farms down the road another bit seem to often work together, making jobs easier and more fun for both, I believe. I want to call them two old guys, but I'm sure they're not much older than I. They're the two who found me sitting on the road berm resting at my normal turn-around place one day when I'd overestimated my strength. "The bus doesn't stop here anymore, " they told me when they stopped. And then they gave me a ride back home.
Today the sky waters look rippled in their bowl. Rain coming.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
When I was a small child I spent hours and hours playing beside and in a branch of Cross Kill Creek where it ran though the meadow beside our house. I created channels and dams, observed the flow, put little floating things-- sticks and leaves-- on the surface and paced them on their downstream journey until they sank or got stuck or my short legs couldn't keep up as I ran along the bank. For as long as I've had conscious thought I've been fascinated by water and its flow.
Water moves in subtle but consistent patterns. I suppose the formalized study is called fluid dynamics, which I didn't know about when I was choosing a course of formalized study. Yet overt, non-quantified, close observation has both physical world lessons and metaphorical lessons. I am a poet, I speak metaphor.
Watch a swan create a small wake on a calm lake and know it's paddling like mad underneath.
Friday, October 21, 2011
You know how summer smells green?
Autumn smells rich, alluring, bewitching.
Every tree carries its unique scent, strong in ripe leaves.
Ripened, drying-in-the-field corn; fermented chopped forage; Osage Orange.
Indoors: mulling cider, baking bread, stew,
the first fire in the wood stove,
the evergreen joy of a shower with good smelling soaps...
What's on your list of Autumn smells? How does Autumn smell in the city?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The steady, continuing flow, the detritus of endings, the chance for a new beginning inherent in every ending. "If you want to be reborn, let yourself die," says the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching, chapter 22.
Two vultures hovered on the road near my lane as I approached on my way home. They only flew as far as the fence, not very fearful of me, a known one. They'd been feeding on a road-killed squirrel, its flesh raw and beautiful where the gray-furred skin had peeled back.
The vultures look fierce up close, and as glorious in flight as any eagle. Hard as it was to see the poor, mangled body on the road, yet I understood that the squirrel was becoming a bird. Soon those very birds will take flight, and soar. Soar high, fellow travelers, soar high.
Monday, October 17, 2011
“The rewriting of history is a fabulously wonderful and romantic thing.” said Walters Art Museum curator Will Noel, quoted in The Baltimore Sun, Sunday, October 16, 2011 in the article “Archimedes Decoded.” The article says that twelve years ago The Walters gained possession of a 174-page goatskin book, badly deteriorated and scraped and written over, but with ghostly images of a 10th-century scribe's copy of Archimedes' work “On Floating Islands,” and the only versions anywhere of his “Method of Mechanical Theorems,” and “The Stomachion.”
Do you ever wish you could know much more than you do? I wish I had energy and focus and ability and all the other resources to learn-learn-learn. I'd learn languages of all sorts, including mathematics, so I could translate for myself whatever I wished to read. I'd learn history, and and government, economics, medicine, physics, and all the -ology sciences. Then I'd go online and study the digitally imaged pages The Walters posted of Archimedes' writings, too. Wanna work together? Wouldn't that be fun?
Sunday, October 16, 2011
He said it about writing, which was his job. Have you found, defined, your place of absorption?
Saturday, October 15, 2011
None of those outdoor things seem to care even a little bit about me or you. We have to look deeply at the subtle effects we have on each other and hence on the world around us in order to notice that we have any effect at all. But cumulatively we are powerful.
Monday, September 26, 2011
We slipped across the lip of light to this
colorful, flavorful season of endings, full
of change and new space for kindness,
for you, for me, for quiet acceptance
of my specific, small place, and yours
in the recipe of the world.
(I'm still reading and writing at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thursday, September 22, 2011
A bag of strawberries that had been near the top on one side evidently had a tear in it. Also, frost that had accumulated near the top and in the lid had dripped and settled during the outage. Yesterday, as I unpacked, unpacked and got to the bottom, I found a dam of ice with a flow of bright red like fresh, spilled blood.
I know full well that fresh blood, spilled and frozen, turns a sort of brown-red, not that bright, fresh red. I knew strawberry juice when I saw it. But still. All sorts of scary tales came to mind.
So I opened the drain plug, and poured on hot water, and scooped and dumped and wiped and repeated until that enamel box shone so clean and bright I thought of sunglasses. Then I repacked good food.
Oh, and yes, I found cookies. I thought I had wrapped up and frozen a version of show cookies that no one wanted to eat even when they were new one Christmas, (why do I save things like that?) but when I unwrapped (and they were thoroughly wrapped!) that plate of cookies turned out to be rugala. Some apricot, some raspberry. We ate them. They were wonderful.
I am so thankful--
for plentiful food,
for people with whom to share,
for enough old towels to catch the spills and mess of the process,
for the washer and dryer to clean and dry the cleaning cloths,
for the shower and nice towel to clean and dry me,
for clean, cold and hot running water,
for order and shine restored,
for the physical capacity to move, to clean, launder, cook,
for the remaining vegetables and meat in baskets, frozen,
for a plate of sweet deliciousness, a happy surprise,
for plenty, and people with whom to share,
for plenty, and people with whom to share.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
"For a cat, nirvana is the food bowl just around the corner." (137) Yes!
McTaggert writes carefully and cites specific studies, their parameters and controls. The gist of the cat experiments, though, and those on other animals, showed that high levels of interest, anticipation, and curiosity turn on the production of dopamine, the brain feel-good chemical.
Describing a woman undergoing surgery without other-administered anesthesia, McTaggert writes, "All she had to do was keep her mouth full of saliva and keep repeating to herself, "My leg is anesthetized.".... A dry mouth is one of the mind's first warning signals of danger. When the mouth is lubricated, the brain relaxes, assumes all is well, and turns off its pain receptors..." (139)
Ah, that explains one of the big drawbacks of Sjogren's syndrome, the autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own moisture producing glands in the eyes, mouth... a dry, not lubricated, mouth...
Now, I shall take a walk, anticipating the joy of new things I shall find, and then I shall clean out the chest freezer, keeping myself curious about what might be in the lowest depths of it, and all the while I shall keep a good flow of saliva in my mouth. Oh, and I will keep my blood pressure and pulse steady within healthy parameters, I've been practicing this last for a couple years. Biofeedback works.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with your machine,
Let me hear you whisper that you'll buy the gasoline,
Keep the headlights burning and your hands upon the wheel,
Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with your automobile.
And then I began my day-- starting before coffee, silly me-- with the news.
What is an individual citizen's responsibility? What can one citizen not do alone, or even in a small local group? Or regional group?
How many of us want to call Uncle Sam sweetheart as long as the machine has plenty of gasoline and seems to be running along just fine, but do not want Uncle to have any expectations when the automobile stutters, needs to shift gears?
I think of such basics as unpolluted air and water and food. Molecules from as far away as the nuclear accident in Russia have fallen on you and me. Probably not enough to injure us, or our water, or the land that provides most of our food. But what about adding the smoke from coal-burning power plants in Ohio and Indian? And, oh, let's add in what happens on the roads, and in... You can create the list.
Dignity and freedom. I have observed even wild animals ruffling up and stretching, straightening, grooming, resuming dignity after (sometimes amusing) incidents in which something awkward transpired. And there are numerous stories of animals willing to even gnaw off a limb to achieve freedom. So, by implication of basic animal imperative, humans all seek some basic dignity and freedom.
Dignity and freedom are not concrete, touch-it values. May we call them spiritual values? Our country was not founded on any specific religion, but it was surely founded on deeply held spiritual values. For lack of a better world, our nation's founding documents include the word God to designate the power of those spiritual root values that support all there is.
My own twisty life journey has taken me ( unexpectedly, unplanned) into an intense search for spiritual root strength. Heart strength, perhaps. I have been searching (and, for myself, finding) heart pieces, central pieces of what the sages taught. Useful, practical, workable pieces. At heart core, at the power place, all the world's religions seem to have commonality.
How do I find words and ways to communicate what I've been finding? Is it thus that religions grow? That someone has found a workable path, recognized as a workable spiritual path, and starts to (believably, persuasively) say "this way, this way, this is the way." Let's see: Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus...
How do we get beyond our religious persuasions, get deeper, back to some core of shared, useful, spiritual values for our shared world? Even for our shared continent? Our shared nation? How do we even share local community with individuals who hold "other" views?
A light rain falls on this house and its surrounds, air moist and in the upper sixties. Enough light sines through to make me trust and believe the sun still shows in the sky above the heavy, covering clouds. In the passage of time I trust, too, the scientist's observations that this, my earthly world, moves around the sun.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Recently a thing came into my hand that one morning passed as a gift to another. In that moment and again later when I received a thank you note, I felt such a deep, shared joy in the exchange, I felt so privileged to have been the vehicle through which this thing found its home, it felt wrong, just wrong, to say "You're welcome."
"You're welcome," I perceived suddenly, puts the giver in a superior position. "Here is what I have that you do not. You need, want, will like this thing that I have that you do not. You are the beneficiary of my largesse." Maybe.
Better, "My pleasure."
Best, an honest heartfelt, "Thank You!" Best occurs when the giving and receiving of a gift weaves cords of friendship, strengthens and deepens human bonds. The element of give-receive stands secondary to flow, to sharing between equals. Treasure discovered, offered for sharing, accepted. Best makes giver and receiver of equal value and honor, both experiencing a benefit and joy in the exchange. Best makes each a participant in the marvel and flow of life.
Social conventions, "Thank you," "You're welcome," stand as serviceable forms. Yet sometimes we experience the best. Here I say to you, reader, Thank You! You're the best.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I know that Deer Creek waters flowed along as I walked on Walters Mill Road.
I know that the horse shelters continue to stand so firm and sturdy in the meadows. They scoop up morning light into their shallows and depths. Faces open south-east, they are filled (or not) according to the seasonal angle of the sun, according to sky clarity or cloud cover in any specific moment.
I know the two-thirds full trench silo at the Walters farm has been covered and the cover weighed down.
I know leaves fell around and on me when the breeze moved briskly. Each morning, recently, more leaves lie on my deck.
I know my body temperature felt just right as I strode along clad in long pants, shirt and sweatshirt. The calendar says Autumn begins Friday, but the air whispers, "Time, it's time..."
I believe for this minute, this hour, I know enough, and even in the midst of all my uncertainty I am content.
Friday, September 16, 2011
The way I think about, see, perceive the world, determines how I will choose to act in the world.
"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7a (KJV)
[That Bible quote came to my mind, and as I'm now prone to do, I got out Cruden's Concordance and looked up the context. Other translations of the Bible say that idea in such a different way that I thought I misread the citation, and I looked up the verse four times until on the fifth try I intentionally sought out my King James Bible. Other versions hint at the same truth, but the King James translators put the thought in such a pithy little sound bite. Spinning already, way back then?]
Vibrant energy and health puts us into the world doing things. We play and work and strive, we study and figure, we use our bodies and minds with great vigor. And that energetic way of doing is surely good and right. Energetic doing builds our world and is the way to achieve reward, honor and success in this Western society.
Now the truth of my collected years and health situation puts sustained high energy activity mostly beyond me. Now what?
I want to, need to, discover the spiritually strong, wholesome, wholehearted answer to that question, "Now what?" This experienced change of pace, this slowed life, feels to me less valuable, less worthy, than the more vigorous, outreaching, sweeping accomplishment pace. And yet...
Now is my time to notice and honor
and participate with smaller, more subtle actions.
Now I'm thankful to recognize when others just welcome my presence.
I seek a spirit of kindness and fierce compassion
which does not always appear gentle or kind.
I seek to live out my life in awareness of and rejoicing in
the ever flowing reality of change.
Now let me find a strong and wholesome courage.
Now let my way of being--
shine a blessing into the world.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
What shall we do with a drunken sailor,
What shall we do with a drunken sailor,
Ear-lie in the morning.
Let's lock 'im up until he' sober,
Better lock 'er up until she's sober,
Best lock 'er up until she's sober
Ear-lie in the morning.
That's the song that I woke with this morning, noisy and jolly and insistent in my head.
Minding morning things-- how to move to get up, what hurts need releasing, what weak places need strengthening, breathe in, breath out-- I knew morning hunger for food. Even after I ate, this morning, I could have eaten more. When I feel sturdy I have a hearty appetite for food.
No appetite for food is an indication I must be sick. I love to eat. I love broccoli and squash, rice and bread, cheese cake and chocolate. And much, much more. My BMI implies my weight is "normal." But I know I could easily, easily be grossly obese.
This morning after breakfast I stepped into the shower, conscious of the lift of one leg, placement of the first foot in the tub, shift of weight, lifting my other leg into the tub. Present-moment, present-moment, care of balance, don't fall, present moment... And here, simultaneously, comes that silly drunken sailor song I woke up with, and also awareness of my appetite for food.
Karma, my small voice whispered.
With the appetites of a drunken sailor, here I am, locked up in a body that fails me if I do not hold to abstinence and awareness in every precious, present, passing moment. Locked up in this body until I'm sober.
I don't pretend to know how karma functions, I don't imagine I know where we come from at birth or where we go at death. I don't believe in or mock or even doubt any religion's theory or prophecy or understanding. I just know that for myself I simply don't know. I believe it all, I'm sure I don't know anything for sure. Certain of uncertainty. ("Doubt is an uncomfortable state but certainty is a ridiculous one." Voltaire)
I had one life until I was 17, another until I was 20, another to about 27, another... You get it. And I seem to have a life yet to come.
This morning, carefully aware of the present moment as I stepped into the tub, hearing that whispered karma, I was suddenly aware of how all my past lives and all my future lives are linked, contained, encapsuled in this present moment. If I want to continue to have freedom to move in this, my physical body-- this body that carries my life-- I will make abstemious present-moment choices about the amounts of food I allow my drunken sailor appetite to indulge in. I may desire the flavors and textures and general joy of eating food, but I more deeply desire to only carry enough energy (weight) to fulfill present needs, not enough to hamper and even cripple me.
Let's not lock 'er up, she's sober! I promise! She's sober!
Monday, September 12, 2011
The Farmer's Almanac says the full moon closest to the autumn equinox becomes the one named harvest moon, so some years it's in September, some years October. The Autumnal Equinox falls on September 23 this year. The sky-declared end of summer. (Though I obey old fashion rules and stopped wearing white shoes after Labor Day.)
September and the end of summer always brings me a bit of pensiveness, a sober thoughtfulness. Days shorten. The air tends cooler, and it won't be long until first frost. One can't help but notice the inexorable march of time. Winter approaches. The metaphors are as thick and colorful as all the pumpkin and squash and corn coming ripe.
I was a young woman when Neil Diamond sang "September Morn," and the song repeated often on the day's play list. I'm not young anymore, but I haven't forgotten that yearning feeling of times and places and chances and loves left behind:
Stay for just a while
Stay, and let me look at you
It's been so long, I hardly knew you
Standing in the door
Stay with me a while
I only want to talk to you
We've traveled halfway 'round the world
To find ourselves again
We danced until the night became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes from some romantic play
September morning still can make me feel that way
Look at what you've done
Why, you've become a grown-up girl...
...and so it goes for us all. In September we all intuitively know that where we've come from, where we used to be, is a place that now only exists in heart and memory. Who can say, now, whose memory is most clear and true? Just because you are right does not mean I'm wrong.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
My natural response-- our very, very human response-- is to turn away from what feels bad, undesirable, or wrong, to run as fast as possible from that which is painful and/or frightening.
I began to learn the experienced-in-real-life lessons of giving thanks for all, the lessons of joy in this very moment-- this specific, present moment-- as I learned to live with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I still find my lessons there. I need to turn TOWARD this specific moment of my life, rather than to turn away.
That still includes running as appropriate. In this age we animals have the urge to run when running solves nothing. There comes a time to stop and notice.
I must embrace the reality of each present moment rather than to hate what exists now and pin my mind in some "better" past or future moment. I act from my experiences of the past and with predictions and expectations for the future, but I exist and act and actually experience life, have my power in life, in this present moment, however it is.
That's what's wrong with Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers," from my view: it exist as a “better tomorrow” voice. (Others interpret her differently; perhaps I misunderstand Emily.) That "better tomorrow" version of hope splits time, it's a kind of hope that puts us into some future "better"moment instead of helping us to rest safe and accepting in the moment we have.
The much stronger stance, I find, is to give thanks for what is, to find joy in exactly what I have,"bad" things included. I have pain. I have fatigue. I have fear. I have breath and pulse and consciousness. I am part of life. I also have a comfortable bed. I also have clean, cold and hot running water, as much as I want (when the electrical grid works). I also have clothes. I also have ... The list goes on and on and on.
I contemplated my sort of resentful feeling about hope, then wrote for myself:
Hold hope as a sense of "all is well, all is well, all manner of things shall be well."
Hold hope as resting in the moment.
Hold hope as profound acceptance of the ongoing-ness of life.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
In rushing, rising rivulets.
And the river crept out of its bed
And crept right into Piglett's.
The rain and floods, the news--my aura feels rumpled, jaggedy and off-kilter. Breathe, just breathe, focus on this moment, on what actually exists in this present moment... Blessings, dear world, and continuation, and the constancy of change.
A paradox of change: Things change, and change, and change again. Wait a moment, something has changed. AND the most sturdy, enduring, permanent thing is the constancy of change.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
For example: You can't really affect or control the choices or behavior of another, you can control only yourself. AND ALSO You affect others and are effected by them in a range of ways from the most overt and direct to the most subtle and unnoticed.
One friend says, "When you find a paradox, you've found a sliver of truth." Another says, "When you think you've found a paradox, one of the ideas is wrong." I know of wisdom writings that say, "Look for the middle way, it is neither this nor that, but some combination you have not yet understood. Look how the empty spaces define all the filled-in places."
I prefer the notion of slivers of truth, and perhaps some third way.
All the animals I've ever observed exhibit some caution, even fear, in their ways of being in their environment. All seek survival. Is that different from having a fear of death?
There is a thought that fear of public speaking has fear of death at its root. In primitive ages survival depended on group membership. In that reality, if an individual spoke in a way that drew group disfavor she risked ostracization and death.
Over the summer I became aware that at some deep, unconscious place I felt that if I could not draw positive attention as a member of a group I might cease to exist. I told this to one friend who said, "Of course, that's a very primal fear. An infant who cannot draw caring attention will, indeed, cease to exist, and we easily internalize that infantile, felt experience and carry it under our conscious thoughts."
For now it's comforting to hold in my conscious awareness the warm thought that I do exist, whether anyone notices or not. I exist. You too. We have life, we are life.
I have regained much of my strength following this summer's illness. Yet I will never again be as young as I am today. And some level of conscious awareness smiles and whispers, "You, too, will surely die."
In managing pain, I have learned that fear of pain just makes things worse. When I can relax into noticing exactly what hurts and which of the various kinds of too-intense sensations defines my pain in the moment, I have a foot on the path toward less pain. That is, there will be some relief if I turn toward the pain instead of letting fear of pain cause me to try to turn away.
What will happen if I continue to turn toward whatever comes, including my physical decline toward death instead of trying to pretend I will live forever? Will I spend less money on doctors and medical tests and drugs, spend more of my varied resources on my own initiative to care for my health? Will I eat more carefully and continue to exercise because I know I will feel better in the near term for such persistence? Where is the balance between turning toward joyful life and also holding a fearless, conscious awareness of death?
I learn so much from those with whom I share my life, family, friends and associates traveling in the caravan with me, either ahead of me, beside me, or coming along after me. If we can not have a shared, thoughtful conversation about the reality of death because everyone is trying to run away from their fear of death, then how am I to be wise? Are you in the don't talk camp? Just because you are right does not mean I am wrong.
(P.S. And paradox could also just be two medical types...)
Monday, September 5, 2011
Love defined as conscience in its purest form. Oh my!
Dr. Stout, a psychologist, names conscience as the seventh sense, and cites it as a necessary element to finding joy in life. She illustrates ways in which we find life lively and continuously interesting because we have an ability to imagine others' experiences, to share joys and sorrows and ordinary, little details of a day with others in our lives. She illustrates in her chapters how a psychopath, a sociopath, is constantly bored and needing stimulation because of the lack of sympathetic resonance with others. A resonant empathy rooted in conscience rooted in love.
Dr. Stout quotes the Dalai Lama as referring to people who don't feel obligated to others based on a sense of human connectedness as "people who don't have well-developed human lives. " Of the World Trade Center attacks, she quotes him as saying, "Technology is a good thing, but the use of technology in the hads of people who don't have well-developed human lives can be disastrous." (ibid., 213-214)
"... out of our own skins and into the skin of another, or even into contact with the Absolute..."
Fear vs. love. Are they both necessary learnings? Or are they, as Elissa commented on yesterday's writing, both fully inborn and fully learned? Or...? Ah, isn't pondering the Mystery fun? More on paradox soon.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
In my life I find that even harder than writing the truth (yet a necessary precursor to writing the truth) the hardest thing about living is recognizing, identifying, knowing the truth.
I recognize that I hide, even from myself. The layers of self, the onion that we occasionally work to peel back layer by layer, that onion grew in the rich soil of the family and society into which I was born. That's how we all grew, in the environment we had.
I once thought (was taught) that I could square my shoulders and put on a brave face and cope with making a living and making a life in the wide world. The world granted me some success, dealt me some failures, and my methods of coping brought me to my knees. As I seek a new path, a path to wellness through wholeness and balance, I recognize that I am full of fear, paralyzing fear, and fear is primary to what stopped me in my tracks.
In the various wisdom writings I read I often find fear defined as the opposite of love. Not love vs. hate, but love vs. fear. An idea to contemplate.
Do we hate snakes (if we do) because we fear them? Do we hate physical discomfort because at some level we're afraid it damages and shortens our life span? Do we hate "terrorists" because first we're afraid? Choose your enemy and consider: do you find fear underneath hatred?
Friday, September 2, 2011
Imagine the spring as the welling of earth energy, the water table under the earth, the oceans and tides, the changing seasons. Imagine the wind as air in every phase, and how it moves around the whole earth. Imagine each raindrop as one of us.
Look how the circles intersect beyond our control, beyond our intention, beyond our comprehension.
Neither you nor I can know our own impact. In the manner of circles in pond water rippling and spreading from a raindrop, our way of spending the most ordinary day affects the world. We can only know that, modest or flamboyant, recognized or not, our influence exists and spreads.
P.S. There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the lines__ to our house__
Some readers will recognize that a jaunty tune fits similar words in a rousing hymn. Oh, the wonders of power of all sorts, but specifically electrical power that was restored to us a little after 6:00 p.m. last night. Thankful only begins to tell.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
1. Disrupted routines. I have to reconsider how to do every blessed, ordinary thing.
2. Lack of practical ways to meet ordinary needs. With no expectation of ever having electrical power, one develops other ways to access water (to drink, cook, bathe, do dishes, do laundry) and dispose of bodily wastes. Also other, practical, routine ways to provide task and ambient light.
3. Lack of refrigeration. But I went on about that yesterday.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
We lost electrical power Saturday night and as of this afternoon it's still out. So this afternoon I am writing from the library. Before I came here, I emptied and cleaned the refrigerator freezer. It hurt to throw out so many lovely items of carefully prepared and preserved food: chicken cubes ready to be made into salad; various half-empty veggie packages; two microwave meals I'd forgotten I'd had in there, and lots more. Some of it still had ice crystals, and mostly I cooked that. But once-good food went onto the compost pile.
We have a propane camp stove for cooking, and I kept at the process. Now , newly cooked and in the frig we have green beans and bacon, veggie burgers and one beef burger, and peroigies, an odd combination to be sure, and it makes me laugh. I'm keeping ice in the frig, so there are some greens for salad, and tomatoes from the farm, ripe and delicious at this time of year, waiting on the counter. We have enough. In spite of the power outage.
Power outage, electric power, the power company, real power, no power, powerless... Such a study in the links between the words about electrical energy and social control, physical strength, other strength of all sorts, life control. Power.
How many times have I come square against the recognition of my powerlessness, of human powerlessness?
I set out to walk this morning feeling full of tension and anxious frustration. I knew I needed to do something about the thawing refrigerator freezer. So step-step-step I began to visualize the clean, empty space, began to imagine and formulate an order of action, the ordinary, practical steps I could achieve to create the change from the mess I'd looked at before I left the house to that cleared, white porcelain box. The creative imagination of my life.
Not to be confused with The Creative Imagination of Life.
There have been times in my life when I have been stunned by the real and sudden occurrence of an event that I had simply never imagined. At those times, a change I had not considered possible thrust itself upon me. Such events, though, are uncommon.
Change like the cleaning of the freezer is more common. Ordinary. I imagine and consider a possibility, I formulate a plan of action, I carry through the planned actions (or some variation on the theme) and change occurs, small or less than small. I look around and know that in all the world my procedure is common.
So it makes me wonder, what is the connection between The Creative Imagination of Life that is too big to comprehend, and all the creative imagination of life scenarios going on among us, in every one of us? J.B. Phillips wrote the book Your God Is Too Small. A whole book expounding on the topic, but the title says it all. In these days of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, wild fire-- whose creative imagination comprehends an Overarching Creative? Can you trust the one who claims to know the will of God? Just wondering...
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Our social order feels just as heavy as this morning's natural atmosphere. Here is a quote that arrived in my email this morning that resonated in my waiting:
The amazing thing is that Jesus never once says “worship me!” He
says, “follow me” (e.g., Matthew 4:19 ).
Christianity is a lifestyle—a way of being in the world that is
simple, non-violent, shared, and loving. However, we made it into a
clever “religion,” in order to avoid the lifestyle itself. One could
be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain, and still believe that
Jesus is their “personal Lord and Savior.” The world has no time for
such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great.
Fr. Richard Rohr
Though I seek to live in a simple, non-violent, shared and loving way, I also recognize in myself anger and greed, selfishness, vanity, and a tendency to look around to identify who is like me and who is other. It's easy to most approve of ones like me, to judge and disapprove of others. Where is the compassion in that?
In college I learned Steps for Problem Solving. The first step: identify and define the problem. Now there's a challenge. Intentional living, making choices toward "solving problems," requires a lot of first noticing, deeply noticing, identifying and defining what is going on. I notice that what is going on is that the human heart-- mine and surely yours, too-- is full of both light and dark, and every shade and shadow between.
The heavy shadow of Irene will pass within a day or so, now.
Friday, August 26, 2011
I moved the Miata with it's canvas roof into the garage, and the two cars to stay outside... well... The cans of fuel for tractor and chain saw are full. Two five gallon containers of water are set in the freezer to become ice chunks to be used later for keeping the refrigerator cool without electricity. In a bit I'll fill the bathtub with water.
The laundry is caught up, and I vacuumed today.
We have gallon jugs of water, three shelves full. We have flashlights and batteries, camping lanterns with fuel, candles and matches. Our can opener is manual. We have a camp stove and fuel. We have battery operated radios and clocks. We have books.
We do not have the ability to spread a shield over our tall trees. We can't cool the house ahead of time so the coolness will last. We do not have the ability to share this coming rain with Texas, where it is so desperately needed. We can't hurry the storm, or stop it either.
All is well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I came home, stripped off my wet clothes, took a shower, started the washer. Will I hurt less later for having walked earlier? I appreciate the open, exposed out-of-doors, and I find it ever joyous in its harsh perfection; I appreciate the protected, cozy comfort and shelter of this house that I call home and find it marvelous in its cushy, messy imperfection. Each moment of my life, let me accept whatever comes. Like Rumi writes (translated by Coleman Barks?):
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meannes,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearning you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
My first "real" earthquake experience was the October 1, 1987 Wittier Narrows quake in California. Every time, I find myself most disconcerted by the surprise of them, the fact they just suddenly happen, unpredicted, unexpected, in the midst of an ordinary hour, ordinary moment.
The cats noticed yesterday's quake, too. They ran and hid.
Yesterday and today I walked to Deer Creek. A lovely, dark-chocolate-colored Brown Swiss heifer browses among the Holstein herd in the meadow at the corner of Ady and Walter's Mill. She is sleek and healthy-looking, curious like cows are, her eyes so moist and long-lashed. She is beautiful in her being, in the midst of a herd of young beauties. As I walk past I greet them, "Hello, girls." They look at me carefully; they seem to see me and judge me as worthy of notice. It's a mutual thing.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
My dictionary (Webster's Third New International, Unabridged) devotes three column-inches to the definition of surrender. The definitions vary on these themes:
to give in;
to give up;
to abandon, resign or relinquish possession or control;
to give over to an influence;
to devote oneself entirely without restraint, reservation, or further resistance;
More at Render.
Oh my. Isn't that list almost un-American? Never Surrender! is the slogan, right? I hear it in terms of war, in terms of earning a living, in terms of the push for forever-youth. None of the definitions say "to accept defeat," but it's woven through the notion of surrender.
Yet it's the word that came to me first when I was asked to say, without thinking, what would be my prayer for myself. Surrender to what exists in any given present moment.
What might that mean? What does the balanced life look like that includes the element of surrender? What value or good do I give up in order to gain what other value or good?
I give up money for all sorts of goods and services, just like you; we could make a list.
I give up the thrills and joys of travel for the joys and comforts of home.
I give up chasing the latest fashion for the individual flair of knowing my own style.
My Christian background includes the word surrender, so I looked in Cruden's Concordance. Surrender is not there, but render and its variation has a lengthy list, too long to explore here and now, and too murky in my thinking, as well. My present spiritual searching and practice, though, includes meditations on and around the applied meanings and ideas of surrender.
How do you understand surrender?
Monday, August 22, 2011
I've just read (sometimes skimmed) to the end of the September, 2011 Scientific American, a Special Issue devoted largely to cities. Near the end:
"People customarily believe they have control of their thinking and thus their behavior-- a belief that is proven fantasy, causing untold damage in the lives of all members of the human race," blares the headline on page 93. Oh, yes, clearly marked ADVERTISEMENT. Nevertheless.
Even alone, I raised my eyebrows a bit, for I am firmly among those who do believe we have some control of our behavior. Not perfect, and surely not always reasoned or reasonable. Yet I regularly observe, and therefore believe, that we seem to exercise some choice and control over our own behavior. So the headline got my attention.
The opening, supporting paragraphs mention that gravity, not people, causes things to fall when they are let go at inopportune times. The writing goes on for a bit about the laws of physics.
In the second column of text come this amazing statement: "People's irrational, dishonest thoughts and behavior, however, can never be concealed from nature's self-enforcing law of absolute right." (Print differences already included in the article.)
Next paragraph: "Ordinarily people regard a white lie as harmless and permissible. Not so! People's thoughts that are not rational and honest cause wrong results." (This time I added the print differences.)
Not rational. Wait. In our human being-ness, how do we filter out all emotional (not rational) responses? And how on earth can we always distinguish, even in ourselves, what is honest? An honest mistake? Is that automatically a lie? Baahhh!
But again, wait. Page 93 faces page 92.
This advertisement with its astonishing claims on page 93 faces page 92, on which is the Skeptic column by Michael Shemer. The title of the essay: "What is Pseudoscience?"
Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha....
I thought I'd write about cities, since that's what I've been mostly reading about. But. Ha-ha-ha...
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Imagine all the cats you know, strolling, sitting, lolling about, all of them laughing. Mouths open, heads tilted, brow and jowl whiskers vibrating, all the cats laughing. Isn't that a grand notion?
I often laugh about cat antics. Last week one day our young, pale-ale-cat Yuengling jumped out the window I had opened to wash on the outside. She landed about half-a-story down, crouched for a moment, looked around as if momentarily surprised, then straightened, raised her tail, and walked away with all catly dignity as if to say, "Yes, I planned this."
This morning she brought an offering to the door, as she occasionally does. Sometimes it's a vole or mouse, sometimes its a cicada or a leaf. This morning it was an offshoot of a spider plant.
All summer the spider plants thrive outdoors. When I bring them in the cats play with them, leaf and shoot, and eat them, until by spring the plants are spindly and poor. So I no longer have more spider plants than I know what to do with. I will root and pot these leafy offerings the cat brings. This winter I will water my plants and think of cats laughing.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Today I carried home six apples. They weighed a pound and a half. I had four others from my walks on previous days. I washed and cut up all ten apples, cutting away all the bruised and wormy parts, saving out the pure, sweet flesh. I sprinkled a little Truvia over the pieces, a little cinnamon, a little time in the microwave, and they were delicious. Let nothing go to waste.
Last evening at journaling group one of the prompts took me to memories of the farm where I grew up. There was an orchard there, and we picked the cherries, pears and apples. Last evening, I remembered how I loved being outside at dawn, the energy of the sunrise hour when everything was fresh again, the cows patient in their walking, dew or frost trimming the grasses and such. All the sturdy, dependable, reliable routines.
I also remember how I loved the end of day. I used to experience such a just-right feeling back then as I moved through the atmosphere of mowed lawn, tidy garden, tended and quieting creatures in chicken house, barn, meadow, cultivated fields and woods. In the years when I knew I had been a primary contributor to the maintenance of the order that felt so peaceful, I had such a feeling of ownership and attachment. The lengthening shadows of a summer day seemed to wrap everything in a blanket of serenity. In winter, the starshine seemed like a blessing flung out over all, including all the heavens. Clouds created a mystery of their own, and storms as well.
For today I carry a quiet energy, an end-of-day energy, full of memories of all sorts and also a serene sense that all is well, and all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
The youngsters still wear their polka-dot capes, though their lower flanks show the smooth, redish-brown coloration of summer, the same coat color that their mama wears. My head says, "Overpopulation." My emotional, felt response says, "Aaaawhhhhh." My quilting hand stills for a few minutes as I just watch.
The fawns nibbled at vegetation, ground and tree, as did Mama. She seemed less hungry. Well, of course. It's surely been my experience of mothering that kids are always hungry when they're growing. She seemed more watchful, as well, and aware of movement indoors.
The fawns' legs showed prancing strength as they occasionally bounced about with what seemed like an illustration of the simple joy of being alive. The distances among the three of them varied, yet they came together frequently, nuzzling, the little ones touching side-by-side, one baby once turning to mama almost as if to nurse and receiving a few tongue-licks on the head and neck.
I remembered the tiny, spotted bag of fur and small bones I saw on one of the upper meadow trails this summer, a still-born or early-dead fawn. I thought of the many times I've walked past deer carcases dumped along Deer Creek. I imagined the pleasures of lovely venison stew I've eaten at frugal hunters' tables, and the times I did not have enough food.
Today I witnessed this intimate, homely, family scene among the deer. What shall I do with my witness? How does my presence to that moment translate to my presence in each coming moment? What shall any of us ever do with our honest, daily, ordinary, complex witness?