the unsettled & brittle spaciousness

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This is it for the state and temperament of the wavering, thinking mind.

The anxiety, the gnawing fear, the palpable, dark and messy resistance to being seen and being loved, is here to stay.

The cloud will always interrupt with its shadow, the shaky sensation of overwhelm, of not enough, of make it better, make it perfect, or at the very least, make it go away, is not a force to be reckoned with, but one to be accepted, one to be curious about, one to ride until it’s present becomes pure presence itself.

It means Stop. Stop chasing, doing, pushing and desperately seeking a way to improve, to find a way to break free of an emotion or an experience. To outsmart, outwit, out-drug the sensations of life, the duality of being alive, letting it be raw, real, vulnerable and exposed, just as it is.

What if all sources of light were, first and foremost, purveyors of darkness?…..Ali Van Putten

when we are exceptionally tired and distraught, it may happen to be that we forget to understand, forget to breathe deeply, forget who we are, forget why we are……it is here, that the numbness begins…..and the bravery is simply in being honest and present….blessed be….

The journey toward our beauty is a magnificent struggle. Achieving an integrity between what we believe and how we live is a challenge worthy of the gift of life. A thousand obstacles stand between ourselves and the honoring of our truth. A thousand distractions. A thousand ego-generated delusions. To dive down, find the beauty, nurture it, and offer it to the world is magnificent. Staying with your beauty, your truth, your integrity is difficult, but out of these things comes meaning, and meaning is all-transcendent……..Roderick MacIver

 through the sludge

That we go numb along the way is to be expected. Even the bravest among us, who give their lives to care for others, go numb with fatigue, when the heart can take in no more, when we need time to digest all we meet. Overloaded and overwhelmed, we start to pull back from the world, so we can internalize what the world keeps giving us. Perhaps the noblest private act is the unheralded effort to return: to open our hearts once they’ve closed, to open our souls once they’ve shied away, to soften our minds once they’ve been hardened by the storms of our day…….Mark Nepo

a pause in our stalwart bravery

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Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room……Cheryl Strayed

if the angels and the devils conspired to a truce, what would that look like? maybe that is what the heart looks like as it comes to terms with the challenges and dark times that plague us again and again…..

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.

Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.

…..Waylon Lewis – from The Four-Fold Way

what does it mean to be ok?

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

…….. Kurt Vonnegut

it is here, right where it’s always been

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If you wish to be a mine of jewels,

open the deep ocean within your Heart.
…..Rumi

when we can’t remember where we left our hearts, may we pause and not assume that others have lost theirs too nor that we have lost our way…..

In the absence of presence there is only that repetitive mental noise and part of that mental noise is the story of me. It’s the problematic story that is hoping that at some point in the future that it will no longer be problematic not realizing that what it calls ‘future’ has no actual existence……. Eckhart Tolle

listening with deeper care

How do we stop living an unexamined or overly examined life to discover the treasures of purpose? Stop betraying yourself. Allow yourself or start to be open to changing, doing, saying and thinking things that feel right. Put yourself into positions where you can feel, sense and connect with your self-worth and stop doing things that constrict, restrict and disconnect you from who you are. Allow yourself to feel valued without having to seek external approval. Allow yourself to not feel psychically and unhealthily drained by what you do in life. Every choice, every action will either drain or deplete your spirit, so choose wisely and intuitively — and know who you are doing what you are doing for. Recognize how you change and what has been revealed as a result of your efforts. Plus one, minus one. Two steps forward, one step back. Notice your resistance, your broken record and repetitive patterns that take you back and back and back. Keep inviting the possibility of creating space around thoughts and beliefs that make you feel restricted (relax your inner organs). Softly and gently surrender to the wisdom of who and what you are…..Tanya Lee Markul

only love remains

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Wait for evening.

Then you’ll be alone.

Wait for the playground to empty.

Then call out those companions from childhood:

The one who closed his eyes

and pretended to be invisible.

The one to whom you told every secret.

The one who made a world of any hiding place.

And don’t forget the one who listened in silence

while you wondered out loud:

Is the universe an empty mirror? A flowering tree?

Is the universe the sleep of a woman?

Wait for the sky’s last blue

(the color of your homesickness).

Then you’ll know the answer.

Wait for the air’s first gold (that color of Amen).

Then you’ll spy the wind’s barefoot steps.

Then you’ll recall that story beginning

with a child who strays in the woods.

The search for him goes on in the growing

shadow of the clock.

And the face behind the clock’s face

is not his father’s face.

And the hands behind the clock’s hands

are not his mother’s hands.

All of Time began when you first answered

to the  names your mother and father gave you.

Soon, those names will travel with the leaves.

Then, you can trade places with the wind.

Then you’ll remember your life

as a book of candles,

each page read by the light of its own burning.

…..Li-Young Lee

in honor of my minister who took her own life, I and those who cared for her hold fierce compassion for this woman of soul who graced so many with her big heart…..may the many unanswered questions and groundless despair find their way into the seeds of rebirth…the ancient way of becoming….

Entering into the deep darkness is like going into a cave that has been dark for a million years. Yet the light from a single match illuminates the cave and dispels the ancient darkness. This tearing open of the heart leaves us exposed to that which has caused us and our loved ones the pain of imagined separateness so often before. This experience of discovery that grief leads us to is, for some, like going below ground level to look at the roots of a tree whose branches and twigs, leaves and flowers were all you thought was meaningful. It is the tree of life, of your life. The foliage is like the personality, the outward manifestation of being, a by-product of being born you have always imagined to be you. You notice how the leaves appear, the flowers unfolding, and are proud or frightened, depending on how much their shape fits your model of how it should look to the world around. You have never seen the roots from which all this growth originates. You have carefully pruned and trimmed the tree to eliminate the painful, then magnify the pleasant. Life has become like an ornamental shrub. The living truth buried beneath layer upon layer of longing for things to be otherwise. But in grief there is no hiding. There is no choice or control and you are forced beneath ground level to the very roots out of which your life experience has arisen. You enter the dark holdings and the clamorings of the heart and find yourself torn open to the truth. You enter below what is usually accessible to awareness and see the immensity of this process of growth and being. You see what has conditioned the arising of so many traits and preferences, so many ways of acting in the world. Ways now recognized as inappropriate fro the communication of love and the opening of wisdom……..Stephen Levine

the limitless heart

By generating deeper levels of compassion, extending forgiveness toward ourselves and others, and engaging in positive actions and spiritual practice after a loved one dies, we will find that our bereavement can set us firmly on a spiritual path and enable us to connect more confidently and deeply with the innermost essence of our being- that fundamental goodness which illuminates and pervades our entire life. We don’t know how or when grace will arrive. Keep nurturing any memory of love you have, pray for courage and wisdom to grow within you, and open yourself fully, asking for blessings and love to fill your heart……Christine Longaker

the ordinary power of fresh perspective

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Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,

but when we look back everything is different.

….. C.S. Lewis

our sights are so fixed when we forget to move, when we forget to give, when we forget who we are……groovin’ on into the colored world is the risk of this life…..may it’s gifts abide…..

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.

….Written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abby

remembering closed doors

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes,
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace,
even the gods speak of God.

…..David Whyte

a pilgrimage from life to living

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On the mountaintop, upon the altar of light he was born.

Others recognized him as the love he is and the love he came from.

In his innocence, others were able to see their own innocence again, and recall what truly matters. He was a precious child. Wherever he was, people wanted to hold him because he wasn’t heavy, he was light—because he was love. When people held him they held a holy reminder of the truth of what we are.

As time went by the boy grew into a young man. In his journey from infancy to being a young man, he encountered those who recognized him as the love he is. He also encountered others who saw him completely different than the love he is.

Those who couldn’t recognize him as the love he is gave him a bag to carry. He was instructed to use the bag in this manner: place everything you say, do, and think that is wrong in this bag and carry it.

Those who recognized him as the love he is also handed him a bag to carry with this instruction: place everything you say, do, and think that is right in this bag and carry it.

Accepting the bags and the instructions, he went on his life journey.

Every day, whether at work or play, either he or someone else placed something in each of his bags. Some days his bag of wrong was heavier than his bag of right; and other days his bag of right was much lighter than his bag of wrong.

He was strong, so he easily compensated from one side to the other to walk balanced and straight in public.

However, every evening in private he unpacked both bags before going to bed.

As he looked through his bag of wrong he cried and condemned himself; and as he looked through his bag of right he smiled, boasted and congratulated himself. Placing all of his rights and wrongs back in their appropriate bags he would sleep. Some nights when he forgot to place his wrongs in their appropriate bag, sleeping proved to be difficult.

Days passed, merging with weeks, blending to years, and accumulated to decades of the rights and wrongs he and others gave him to carry about himself.

He began to lose his balance, even in public.

Both bags were full and heavy, overflowing onto others in every interaction. Some moments his wrongs (along with the inferiority and condemnation that comes with that bag) spilled onto others. In other moments his rights (along with a sense of superiority and self-righteous indignation that comes with that bag) spilled onto others.

Weary, frustrated, and lost, he decided to return to the mountain where he was born in hopes of finding himself.
Hours after sunset, he finally made the seventeen inch journey from his head to his heart, and was once again upon the mountaintop where he was born.

He didn’t have to light a fire, because the star that never moves from that special place illuminated the entire area with its light. His grip loosened from the heavy bags of wrong and right as the memory of  who he is ran through his tears, and spilled upon the altar of light where he was born. His tears reflected the light that has always shone brightly upon the altar of his heart, cleansing it, and revealing an inscription:

In this Holy instant
Of Light and Love you were born
and Light and Love you will always be
Place your bags of rights and wrongs on either side of me

Step back upon the altar where light never ceases
and allow the light of love to dissolve the useless pieces
Pieces of rights or wrongs hold not one glimpse of you
Step back upon this altar to remember all that’s true

You are not lost
You’ve just used your eyes to see,
only your bags of rights and wrongs,
exchanging Holy memory for misery

You’re not in either bag
and cannot be found in one or both
No matter if you hate yourself
Or use each day to boast

Beyond failures or successes
Past confidence or guesses
Afar from gracefulness or messes
Is your true reflection – Love

Of Light and Love you were born
And Light and Love you’ll always be
Throughout your life you may come here heavy
Yet in this holy instant you are free

….Anthony Goulet

this may be the finest hour of insight…..to witness the subtle transformation of becoming again and again….returning to our source of compassion…..surrendering to the heavy sky….

For the Zen Buddhist, an ethical precept is a question to be held up to the light of circumstance, an inquiry rather than an answer. And the nature of this inquiry is not so much the dubious enterprise of trying to figure out the right thing to do as it is an offering of an unaided heart. After all, it’s from this heart of ours that the precepts themselves once arose. At the threshold of choice, the Zen Buddhist trusts this ancient heart above all other authority.

…..Lin Jensen

to comfort each one along the way

As I see it, our collective future requires that we fashion an integral type of spirituality that can bridge the three domains of human life. This would entail embarking on a new trajectory. The spiritual quest, from ancient times to the present, has primarily moved along an ascending track: one that leads from darkness to light, from the conditioned to the unconditioned, from mortality to the deathless. Our task today, in my understanding, is to complement the ascending spiritual movement with a descending movement, a gesture of love and grace flowing down from the heights of realization into the valleys of our ordinary lives……Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

the beautiful muck of our lives

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 Most people don’t grow up. Most people age.

They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards,

get married, have children, and call that maturity.

What that is, is aging.

….. Maya Angelou

we do well to take heed and guard our precious beingness, our curiosity & inner fire…..to rest in the fearless heart takes us on a wild ride…..may we know our unique truths…

Life is a funny thing. As children, we play. As adults, we work. In between we develop relationships, raise families, pursue goals and pause every once in a while, attempting to gain some perspective on the whole thing. Before we know it, we are retired and approaching the end of our lives, wondering, where did the time go? Throughout this process, it is impossible not to learn. Experience is the greatest teacher. And yet, there are so many of us who will end our lives still subject to the same core tendencies that we developed in early childhood. And, while it is these very personality traits that make us ‘who we are’, they also hold us back in numerous ways. In order for true growth to take place, an honest ability to reflect on oneself and one’s place in the world must be developed. Only then, after true contemplation has taken place, is it possible to integrate this understanding into our behavior and see real maturity arise, real actions in the world that one would call wise. Yet the modern world makes this very hard. We are so busy holding down jobs, keeping marriages together, paying the bills and raising kids that any time for true self-development is lost. Society assures us, of course, that it is these very things that make us adults, but if that was the case, would we still be seeing such high levels of depression and divorce, health problems and school-shootings? Are these the markings of a truly ‘mature’ society? Obviously not. In the true order of things it is not ‘playing by the rules’ that makes you a mature individual, but the recognition of a much deeper set of rules, and their development in the self……wisdompills.com

where is the heart of your life?

Finding our way into the answers.

We cannot solve the problems we face with the same sort of thinking that created them. We cannot be so certain of which path to take. We must all become beginners. We are slowly cracking and breaking the outer shell (ego) in order to reveal the true. We have never been here before. We are brand new.

So, as I sit shaking in my boots at the mere thought of all this change — of these paradigm shifts that are unseen in any lifetime before ours — I keep reminding myself, always be a beginner, always realize there is something to learn, always remember that you know far less than you think.

Be a novice. Be a blank page. Be embryonic in your sense of yourself. You are just learning the steps. You are just starting out. It is okay to be stupid or blind or to not have the answers. It is okay to be wrong, to make mistakes, to muck it all up. This is all part of the process of becoming. Of enlightenment. Of living.

Love it all.

The confusion. The mess. The raw, red rims of your eyes. Love the experience of being born. Love the experience of watching the old way of life die. Watch everything burn. Watch everything go. Don’t be afraid.

This. This is how you find your way. You don’t notice the changes as they come. You just wake up, one bright morning — sky the color of robin’s eggs — and you realize that you are there. And you open the door and smell the restless air and say a prayer of profound thanks.

Love your life. It’s all you really have.

…..Shavawn M. Berry

the beauty of light seeking

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In the shared quiet, an invitation arises
like a white dove lifting from a limb
and taking flight. Come and live in truth.
Take your place in the flow of grace.
….Danna Faulds

consider the finest hour of your life as an emblem of something like destiny, only a bit more subtle and sweet and conscious……may we fall deep and true to know our own inner God….

Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals.
Cherish the music that stirs in your heart,
the beauty that forms in your mind, the
loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts,
for out of them will grow all delightful conditions,
all heavenly environment; of these, if you but
remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
…..James Allen

the inner eclipse

Let no one keep you from your journey.

Let nothing dissuade you

from seeing what you see

or feeling the winds that make you

want to dance alone

or go where no one

has yet to go.

You are the only explorer.

Your heart, the unreadable compass.

Your soul, the shore of a promise

too great to be ignored.

…..Mark Nepo

we know the heart before we know the self

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How can you follow the course of your life

if you do not let it flow?

….Lao Tzu

so many little trickeries along the way….riddles and koans and mysteries and frustrations….and we rarely feel clear in choosing a path….the great sages seem to taunt us sometimes…..making it all seem so necessary and filled with ‘if only we had the key’…..how is it that it all keeps moving?….how do we put one foot in front of the other with grace and the vulnerability of our not-knowing?……

there is no path
that goes all the way,

one conversation
leads to another,

one breath to the next
until

there’s no breath at all,
just
the inevitable
final release
of the burden.

And then,

wouldn’t your life
have to start
all over again
for you to know
even a little
of who you had been?

….David Whyte

peak trajectories….

There is no greater mystery than this,

that we keep seeking reality

though in fact we are reality.

…Ramana Maharshi

finding the space to dive down deep

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Our real journey in life is interior; it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts…..Thomas Merton

there’s never been a better time to seep into the cracks of the heart…….life keeps moving toward an infinite grace….we just have to keep up…..

Just as a novelist turns his anxiety into a story in order to be able to control it to a degree, so a sick person can make a story, a narrative, out of his illness as a way of trying to detoxify it. In the beginning I invented mininarratives. Metaphor was one of my symptoms. I saw my illness a visit to a disturbed country, rather like contemporary China. I imagined it as a love affair with a demented woman who demanded things I had never done before. I thought of it as a lecture I was about to give to an immense audience on a subject that had not been specified. Having cancer was like moving from a cozy old Dickensian house crammed with antiques, deep sofas, snug corners, and fireplaces to a brand-new one that was all windows, skylights, and tubular furniture….Anatole Broyard

we can’t turn away now

Don’t turn your head. Keep looking at the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you. And don’t think for a moment that you’re the one healing yourself….Rumi