to remember our deepest gratitudes

1-IMG_6427 copy

As we begin to realize how to recognize Suchness and move with it, rather than opposing it, we enter a realm of harmony with the flow of things and we’re able to discover for ourselves the words of Master Jianzhi Sengcan:

Obey the nature of things- your own nature

and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When thought is in bondage, the truth is hidden,

for everything is murky and unclear,

and the burdensome practice of judging

brings annoyance and weariness.

What benefit can be derived

from distinctions and separations?

For the unified mind in accord with the Way

all self-centered striving ceases.

Doubts and irresolutions vanish

and life in true faith is possible.

With a single stroke we are free from bondage;

nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,

with no exertion of the mind’s power.

Here thought, feeling, knowledge and imagination

are of no value.

In this world of Suchness,

there is neither self nor other-than-self.

…..John Daido Loori

I celebrate my late mom’s birthday today in the spirit of gratitude and deep knowing….she would have been 70…….this gratitude is a microcosm of all that grows and dies and returns and invites us into profound reverence for the tenderness of this life’s truth….may we pause and offer sweet thanks……..

To carry the self forward and realize the 10,000 dharmas is delusion. That the 10,000 dharmas advance and realize the self is enlightenment……Eihei Dogen

our teachers lead us inward

Let me keep company always
with those who say ‘Look!’
and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
…..Mary Oliver

come to the altar of peace

1-DSC05910

 

You, God, give the mind’s eye Your divine light

so completely and excellently,

You bring lucidity even to the light of faith.

In that faith, I see my soul has life, and in that light,

I receive You who are Light itself.

……St. Catherine of Siena

there is this precious space between us and the divine beauty…..the place of ineffable knowing…..the place where we bring our best self and our deeply pained and imperfect self…..let us not forget…..

Sometimes for prayer, I engage in a walking lectio divina, choosing a text and praying with it as I walk. Recently a passage about an experience St. Benedict had at the end of his life had my heart burning: “The whole world was gathered up before his eyes/ in what appeared to be a single ray of light.” I took these words on a walk with me, entering with Benedict into his final vision. I began by relishing the words themselves, savoring them within me. Then I allowed my imagination to unfold, to let images, feelings, and memories stir in me. I was flooded with images of creation infused with radiant light- sitting by the sea, walking deep in the woods, climbing a mountain, breathing in a field of wildflowers- each place luminous and connected in a sacred way to the others through this luminosity. In moment of grace, I saw the daffodil was not radiant just because of the sunlight dancing across its surface. Suddenly the daffodil was lit from within. And in this way, the light reminded me of the way God illuminates me from within, dwells deep within me as a spark. When I open my heart I become a burning flame. My invitation is to carry this light into the world and to see fire everywhere I look…….Christine Valters Paintner

deep silence, like a gem tucked deep in the heart

I will try, like them

To be my own silence:

And this is difficult. The whole

World is secretly on fire. The stones

Burn, even the stones

They burn me. How can a man be still or

Listen to all things burning? How can he dare

To sit with them when

All their silence

Is on fire?

…..Thomas Merton

considering the abyss of the heart

1-DSC04330

 

Prayer is not a strategem for occasional use, a refuge to resort to now and then. It is rather like an established residence for the innermost self. All things have a home; the bird has a nest, the fox has a hole, the bee has a hive. A soul without prayer is a soul without a home…..Abraham Joshua Heschel

may we be fearless in our need to close the gap between our hearts and what feels sacred……and may we hold our fears gently as we cross the deep threshold between the abyss that sometimes appears between the them……

The ultimate and highest leave-taking is leaving God for GOD, leaving your notion of God for an experience of that which transcends all notions….Meister Eckhart

may we know faith

The courage to take meaninglessness into itself presupposes a relation to the ground of being which we have called “absolute faith.” It is without a special content, yet it is not without content. The content of absolute faith is the “god above God.” Absolute faith and its consequence, the courage that takes the radical doubt, the doubt about God, into itself, transcends the theistic idea of God…..Paul Tillich

to flower within the dark

1-IMG_3144

Sooner or later, just by living, we’re reduced to what matters; as many of the things we thought were important and irreplaceable are broken or snapped like small branches in a storm. And somehow, as we heal from the scratches and bruises, we stand taller, covered by less. It’s then we begin to feel gratitude, even though it’s hard to be grateful for what is difficult. In the earned nakedness that follows honest experience, we are very close to the thread that connects us to everything. When we least expect it, what’s in the way is the way. The broken door lets in the light. The broken heart lets in the world. Like shattered fruit, our broken plans attract the angels who feast like songbirds on the sweetness we’ve hidden, now finally in the open. And so we grow……Mark Nepo

wonder what it would look like if we tried to live our life within an ideal of grace? if we honored our heart first? if we held our hurts like fragile wings?

Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all…..Buddha

heart sense

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have….Abraham Lincoln

in a cafe with a soul friend

1-DSC01772

 

What takes a lifetime to learn is the existence and substance of myriad relationships, it is these relationships, not the things themselves, that ultimately hold the human imagination……Barry Lopez

to seek one’s heart through the heart of another can be pure and soft like a reflective arc of rainbows….may you know the beauty of a smile and raw connection…..

We live in an interdependent world, with every single life in relationship with many other lives, many Others. The field of relations that constitute a human life is endless, and perhaps best described as everything we directly experience. Yet this merely describes our local set of relations. But the vaster intelligence of the world is calling on us to hear and truly see the Others. We are being asked to foster a relational way of seeing, to read the signs, to recognize the patterns, and to feel the pulses threading through us. Whether or not we notice relational ways of seeing depends on the focus of our attention, on how deeply we are looking and on how willing we are to be uncertain, relinquishing the habits of absolutist, dualistic thought. But my ultimate interest is in perceiving the relationships between our imaginal, intuitive, and sensuous selves and the rest of nature. In an era hungry for heart and meaning, they remind us of our belonging and purpose within a tremendously vast field of conversation, through the senses, with the powers of the planet. They offer conversation, through the senses, with the powers of the planet- with the forms and forces of nature that are whole and healthy and bigger than ourselves…….Laura Sewall

to care with a full heart

It’s a shift from seeing a world made up of things to seeing a world that’s open and primarily made up of relationships, where whatever is manifest, whatever we see, touch, feel, taste, and hear, whatever seems most real to us, is actually nonsubstantial. A deeper level of reality exists beyond anything we can articulate….Peter Senge

the grace in receiving

1-IMG_2257

 

Let me keep company always
with those who say ‘Look!’
and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
…..Mary Oliver

hold close those that feed you….those that know magic even sweeter than you…..those that carry you through the times you don’t even realize you need to be carried….and those that honor the deep dark with you…..

Life is always magic. Always fun.

Inside we can always be children, fascinated with beauty and nature. We can always be surprised, as if every time we see something, we see it with new eyes. We can make sure our hearts and minds are always curious.

1. Daydream 2. Laugh 3. Spend Time Alone.  4. Play.

5. Dance.  6. Enjoy Nature.

Keeping the magic alive is not just for relationships, it’s for our own souls; to always remain amazed at what’s in front of us and to always find the humor and color in life. You are magic….Zoe Quiney

into the kiss

Surround me with your loving arms…

hold me in your heart.
Let me know that I am loved
and that I can love.
Show me that no matter where I go
That I come and go in You.
I am never out of your loving presence.
That you are the smile behind the smile,
the touch behind the touch
The kiss behind the kiss…
You are the constant presence that I forget

until I remember
and when I remember my Self, I remember You.
I sing your Name. What else can I think of?

You are Love.
And I am You.

….Krishna Das

harmony & clarity of discomfort

1-DSC02493 2

It can be so subtle, can’t it? The ways we avoid the real. I still catch myself using positivity and perfection as a cover, as a way to avoid those confusing, chaotic and disappointing places that feel uncomfortable. Yes, there is a place for order and achievement, but if we can’t live in the discomforts, we aren’t really here. We can’t be here and only show up for some of it, can we? It’s all divinity, even the murky, mucky and mad…..Jeff Brown

this enlightened mystery begs us to not romanticize, to not overwhelm, to not feed the impulsive negativity, to not negate our sad hearts……may we pause and feel before we judge these big, open, wild, sad hearts……

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  …..Victor Frankl

I have great respect for Victor Frankl. He was not only a concentration camp survivor during the Holocaust, but also someone who went on to help others find goodness and meaning in life. He was a man from whom we can learn something about what it means to be human and how to be our best – sometimes in spite of our inclinations. And the above quote is incredibly wise guidance in these very areas.

In it, he implies that people often react without thinking.  We frequently don’t choose our behaviors so much as just act them out. But he observes that we don’t need to accept such reflexive reactions. Instead, we can learn to notice that there is a “space” before we react. He suggests that we can grow and change and be different if we can learn to recognize, increase, and make use of this ‘space.’ With such awareness, we can find freedom from the dictates of both external and internal pressures. And with that, we can find inner happiness.

Victor Frankl was clearly an extraordinary man. Most of us can only wish for his moral strength, insight, and wisdom. But we can follow his lead by looking for the ‘space’ in our own lives. When faced with situations that pull for some particular reaction, we can choose to respond instead. Frankl found his ‘space’ through finding meaning. Others find it through prayer, meditation, or therapy…..Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps

to witness the ephemeral…..

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us…… Marcel Proust

 

within your time

1-IMG_1728

i found you sitting
with a smile
upon your face
i found you sitting
counting moments
that can’t be replaced

i found you
talking
though i saw no one near

i found you
waiting
for angels to appear

you thought
you were hidden
amongst the trees
camouflaged
in the colorful
autumn leaves
wanting solace
seeking comfort
asking
a question
knowing there is
only 1 direction

huddled
hunched
nestled
without fear
knowing
your new path
has been cleared

i found you reading
a soliloquy
i found you writing
a stream of consciousness

profound
reflective
insightful
intense

an introspective
meditative
for hours & hours
spent
selecting
choosing
the absolute verbiage
expressing
conveying
what most
shy from

your light is bright
your light will never
diminish
you’ve touched so
so many souls
leaving each
with a piece of your golden heart

this is not
your last day
this is not
your last breath
this is not
the day
of final rest

yet

i find
you sitting
with a smile
upon your face

reflecting
on moments
that can’t be replaced

i find
you waiting
for
angels to appear

……Gwynneth Green

to manifest, to resist, to sabotage, to bargain, to unfold, to reveal, to become, to transform, to deny, to disintegrate, to heal……all of this in one small, vital life……

Ultimately, the word beyond captures the true meaning of spirituality. In its most basic sense, going beyond means going past where you are. It means not staying in your current state. When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more limitations. There are no more boundaries. Beyond is infinite in all directions. To go beyond, you must keep going past the limits that you put on things. Spirituality begins when you decide that you’ll never stop trying. Spirituality is the commitment to go beyond, no matter what it takes. If you are willing to just stand at the edge and keep walking, you will go beyond. You end up loving your edges because they point your way to freedom. All you have to do is constantly relax and lean into them. They one day, when you least expect it, you fall through into the infinite. This is what it means to go beyond…..Michael Singer

within the ancient myths

Now I become myself. It’s taken

Time, many years and places;

I have been dissolved and shaken,

Worn other people’s faces,

Run madly, as if Time were there,

Terribly old, crying a warning,

“Hurry, you will be dead before-“

(What? Before you reach the morning?

Or the end of the poem is clear?

Or love safe in the walled city?)

…May Sarton

peace within the deep hush

1-DSC03159

It’s 3 am, I lie in bed in my cabin in the forest listening
To night sounds, to the life of the forest
Unfolding as it should
In harmony with the Way, according to the Way
The forest, in turn, unfolds according to the rhythms of the Universe
The soundless music of the Universe
I too seek a life and death
That unfolds in sync with that harmony, that balance.

 ……..Roderick MacIver

this heavy quiet blankets us in a sweet inertia……where does this haunted desire unfold? into what cadence? into movement like the rhythm of breathing?

I will have loved my life with passion, embraced it with fervor, cherished every single moment of it. I will have contemplated with wonder the sky and its running clouds, my brethren the humans, my sisters the flowers and stars. I will have feasted unceasingly on the treasure of life in all its forms. I will not have dwelled in mediocre ambitions, vain hatred, and useless complaints.

I will depart with the belief that there is no end to the flow of life in the universe, that there is no death but only an unceasing change of worlds.

……….Robert Muller

can’t find my way home

Anyone who has probed the inner life, who has sat in silence long enough to experience the stillness of the mind behind its apparent noise, is faced with a mystery. Apart from all the outer attractions of life in the world, there exists at the center of human consciousness something quite satisfying and beautiful in itself, a beauty without features. The mystery is not so much that these two dimensions exist – an outer world and the mystery of the inner world – but that we are suspended between them, as a space in which both worlds meet … as if the human being is the meeting point, the threshold between two worlds.

…….Kabir Helminski

our forgotten blessings

1-Pics for Blog Edits173

Soon it will begin—the shopping, the cooking, the entertaining, the parties, the crowded parking lots and lines at the mall. Standing in line to board plans, layovers that turn into long delays. Too much alcohol, sugar, and fat. In my house, too many latkes. The children will be home from school; friends and family visiting from out of town.

 

Six weeks of whirlwind and then it will be January, the dark month. What happens after the rush, when the relatives go home and your children return to school, when you find yourself alone in an empty house or quiet studio?

 

Perhaps you will feel the pressure of your New Year’s resolutions. You should get started on something—a new project or an old project or an exercise regiment. But you probably won’t feel like it. January is a dark and quiet month and calls for hibernation. January is the time to get quiet and reconnect to yourself, to your purpose and your values.

 

How can you prepare for the dark month now?

 

1)  Practice. If you have a regular practice – meditation, writing, drawing, yoga – then you always have a place to return. A therapist I know likens it to secure attachment in children. Like a loving parent, your practice is always waiting for your return. Even if it’s only intermittent, staying with your practice will anchor you and give you a place to touch down in January.

 

2)  Know it’s coming. When the inevitable letdown arrives, you’ll recognize it for what it is and not fight it. You’ll be like the bears, snug in your cave, not rushing into action because everyone else is.

 

3)  Plan for it. Instead of hitting the ground running with those resolutions, schedule time for silence and practice. Make time and space for deep listening for what comes next in the New Year.

….Saundra Goldman

this may be the space of most resistance…..fear arises in this untethered and unknowing unreality…..our traditions hold us, yet we benefit greatly from stepping back……how do we remove some of the busyness? some of the need to answer every question? how does gratitude move us out of our ordinary space? may we explore the well of peace this holiday……

November is the month of letting go of what is no longer needed or has fulfilled its purpose, just as trees now release the last season’s leaves. In China, an old proverb speaks to this: “Give away, throw away or move 27 items for nine days and your life will change.” The practice of letting go teaches us about nonattachment. The process of releasing or emptying provides room for new possibilities, opportunities, and blessings to enter our lives. In November we can readily see how much we have to be thankful for compared to our troubles and dissatisfactions. As we extend gratitude for the bounty and goodness that are present in our lives, any pockets of ingratitude that once seemed large in our imaginations become dwarfed- nearly nonexistent. It is important to remember that whatever we need to rectify in our lives is often small in proportion to all the benefits we have extended toward and received from others. All the good intentions, prayers, good deeds, and kind words we have offered others are still with us: they cannot be taken away, and this is a great source of encouragement……Angeles Arrien

finding rhythm in peace

The fruit of silence is prayer,

The fruit of prayer is faith,

The fruit of faith is love,

The fruit of love is service,

The fruit of service is peace.

….Mother Teresa