Saturday, December 31, 2011

Whole woman tea

Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.
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

How I'm learning to love my small, ordinary life

...[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

Common, Limited and Limitless

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


Remember this photo?
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

Flocks of gulls have circled us for several days, since the flock of eagles finished the most recent carcass killed for them and put out in the neighbor's field. Only a few eagles remain. Flocks of eagles seem to warn away other birds except for the resident geese.

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

Merry Christmas

That is, celebrate with joy the feast of the Cosmic Christ.
That is, celebrate the heart of Mystery in a brisk, jolly, cheerful, delightful way.
Can the word Mystery expand my heart-definition of Christ?
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

Same and Different Day

Deer Creek flows muddy and quick, near flood and full of energy. The large and interesting log piece lodged on big rocks near the bridge disappeared in an October flood; the rocks seem to remain in place. Cattle write their stories in black and white in their meadow room with its green carpet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Joy of the Journey

Saturday Uncle Scott played with baby Giulia, age one-and-a-half, tossing her up in the air and catching her again. She chortled and squealed, delighted. As she left the safe grip of his hands sailing up, her arms and legs spread-eagled as if by reflex, then came that physically experienced instant of weightlessness at apogee, and the fall back into his hands. Watching her, observing her carefree glee, I saw not the least trace of fear. She had no inkling of the possibility that she might not be caught and safely held.

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

Variations on the theme of Still

The eagle sits so quiet, so still and unmoving on its perch. Not this morning, in my view, but still-- as in the sense of continuation, day by day-- they feed in the neighbor's field, visit often, and seem to know this area well. I wonder if there is a whiskey-producing still someplace in the hills here-about that they observe with their sharp, only-natural-law-enforcing eyes?

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

The Eagle Sits Still

Between the family Christmas get together planned for Saturday, and the demands of this most recent medical adventure, I'm already feeling frenzied this morning. I glance out the window and there sits an eagle.

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 Lights (I)

All's up that's gonna go up. I speak of the Christmas decorations. Some just went back in the storage spaces for this year. What's out and placed is enough. The tree lends a happy glow to the living room as the tall windows gather the soft light of this afternoon's cloudy sky.

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

Free to walk in fresh air and hear eagles voices

The cash register line at JoAnn's fabrics showed me clearly that I do not need another yard of fabric, at least not until 2012. I love on-line shopping. USPS, Fed-Ex and UPS trucks all know the way to this house.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A dot on the dash

A dot on the dash to Christmas? Doesn't that describe us all. Each important at the center of the rush and flurry of our individual world, and there is no center of the universe.

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

A Day for Serious Silliness

Under this morning's pink-cloud sky, two deer high-tailed into my field of view, bounding. I thought of hunters. Then came a third, larger, bounding more slowly, tail not raised. Then the two each circled around, and tagged one another. This little group must be the mother and twins I watched since spring, the youngsters frisky and at play, at home in their known woodland world.

"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

The honking geese remind me of small talk, and that reminds me again of the delightful chatbots from Cornell's Creative Machine's Lab. "I am not a robot, I am a unicorn," is one of the lines. And they progress to chat about God. It is so funny, and fun, easy to find right now on youtube.

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, 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

Bethesda Doctor Visit on a Drizzly Day with Eagles

So much of my near future does depend on what the doctor says today. This visit has become like a wall in my life, and I can't see over, under, around or through it. So the door opens this afternoon, and I'll go in by the door.

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

Happy Birthday to Me!

One of the guided imagery tapes I listen to instructs me to recall all the kind words and good wishes ever sent my way. Today is a marvelous reminder of how very many people do speak kind words to me, and encircle my life with good wishes. And one of my sons reminds me that today I am twice his age, from now on, he'll be catching up. I smile and smile.

Thank you all-- each and every one-- for the blessing of your presence in my life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Order and Meaning

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

Re-enchanting the world

When social bonds break and an agreed-upon social order (called government, called organized religion, called good manners) shrinks to disappearing, then what will our shared story tell us of hope?

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

Taking measure

The trees open their boney arms to all the blue and sparkle in the sky today.

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.