faith in the exquisite flow

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The only true place of calm in a storm is the very center. So the only thing to do, once in the storm, is to make our way to the center of it, hard as that may seem……Mark Nepo

gratitude may be one of the most powerful practices……nothing moves stuckness quite like the humble reassurance in the grace found in this life….with that comes some hard reality as well…..a direct invitation to make the choices of our lives……may we continue to find the divine within our courage….

I want to know where gratitude lives. I want to knock politely on its door. I want to be invited into its house. Gratitude does not live in the transactional or the manipulative or the bargaining or the negotiating. I know it does not, because that is where I live, and I never brush shoulders with gratitude, as I am wending my way around and through obstacles and navigating my trajectory from here to that place we used to call safe in our game of tag when we were kids — that one designated spot we could just touch with a foot or even a finger and be impervious to being tagged and made it. When we were touching safe, we could relax our bodies and breathe for a moment. When we were touching safe, we could look around the yard and hear a bird sing, or we could laugh about something or even just not be worried for one infinitesimal moment about the consequences of being caught……..Sarah Rosenberg

courage to know the soft places…..

Life emerges out of the silence of our inner being. The life that we have in our mind, the life that is a reflection of our planning, the life that has been constructed out of bits and pieces in our environment—external conditioning, things we have observed in other people, things that influential people have told us—is actually not who we are. That pre-planned life is rigid. It’s artificial. It’s unresponsive. It doesn’t reflect the life that we were born to live. Magic is actually very down to earth. It’s a part of our lives. It’s going on all the time, we just don’t see it. But when you actually take care of yourself, work with yourself and create openness in your life, life will respond by cooperating. And when you are unwilling to relate with yourself at the beginning of your day, your life is going to give you a hard time……Reggie Ray

angels of Christmas magic

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It’s imperative for us to understand that spiritual practice is not just something we do when we’re sitting in meditation or when we’re on retreat. Failing to see everything as an opportunity for practice is a setup for frustration and disappointment, keeping us stuck where we are and limiting our possibilities for inner growth. The more we include in our practice, the more satisfying our life can be. ……..Ezra Bayda

may you show your love in this exquisite moment of peace…..may you know your deepest gratitude on this holy day…..may you sweeten your peace with being peace……may your heart shine this Christmas…..

A Spirit that lives in this World and
Does not wear the shirt of Love,
Such an existence is a deep disgrace.
…..Rumi

with the quiet of prayer

We are most open to and connected with our surroundings when we feel sincere gratitude. This is about more than just being grateful, it’s about how we show it. It’s about finding our individual expressions of gratitude in a way that makes our hearts burst with that warm tingling sensation of love. For me, it’s letting myself feel wildly passionate about the things that make me tick. I smile with my whole body, enough that it exposes my heart. People want to tell me everything and I let them; I listen and I respond. I love them. Feel your gratitude bubbling up in a way that can’t be suppressed. Let it move you from the core, giving you an unspeakable strength to do things you never imagined doing. Tell people how much you love them—with words and with actions. The world will see your heart; those who are lucky enough to know you will sense your openness to giving and receiving the love you exude…..Sara Rodriguez

mingling in the halls of gratitude & longing

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The supreme purpose & goal for human life

is to cultivate love.

…..Ramakrishna

as we nurture and tend to the heart, we harvest our blessings, come clean with our grievances and soften our sufferings…..may you know abundance as you know love…

Gratitude deflates the barriers to love, and evokes happiness, which is itself a powerfully healing and beneficial emotion. Gratitude is a gift to everyone. While forgiveness heals the heart of old hurts, gratitude opens it to present love. Love does no flower in a vacuum, but rather is nourished by supportive attitudes such as gratitude. Love is also the essence of emotional wisdom. Reducing the barriers to love and cultivating attitudes that support is smooth the way for our hearts to open……Roger Walsh

a feel good moment

The month of the harvest is an important milestone on our journey to loving in gratitude. The lessons of living and being human- of harvest, of letting be, and of letting go- surface in the fall as we prepare for winter and the close of the new year. What did not come to fruition, or what did not hold our interest, may reveal where we ‘tricked’ ourselves, and it shows us that it did not truly matter. We learn that what has heart and meaning for us comes into being, and that in contrast, any ambivalence or doubt we may feel often produces inconsistent results. Consider what you are harvesting in this light. Whatever we have accepted both internally and externally, we can let be. The questions to help you go deeper in the portals of gratitude…..What is strengthening? What is opening? What is softening? What is deepening?…..Angeles Arrien

digging deep in earth to find sky

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Happily may I walk. Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk. Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk. Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk. Happily, on a trail of pollen, may I walk. With beauty before me, may I walk. With beauty behind me, may I walk. With beauty above me, may I walk. With beauty below me, may I walk. With beauty all around me, may I walk. Wandering on a trail of beauty, lively I walk……Navajo Chant

to be reconciled to our capacities, our negligence, our character, our insights requires a gratitude unlike any other superficial goodness……this deep gift shapes our hearts, flaws, madnesses, and despair into a beautiful offering…..something we’ve made of blood and bone and earth and can share….this is the gratitude of real beauty….

As Care was crossing a shallow river, she picked up some wet clay and began to give it shape, meditating upon what she had created. She took the clay from the body of Earth and asked Jupiter to give it spirit. Care wanted to give this new being her name. But Jupiter and Earth each claimed their right to the name. Saturn, father of Jupiter, settled the dispute by saying the name would be homo since it was made from clay, humus, or earth. At death, Earth would receive the body, and Jupiter the spirit. However, the new being would belong to Care during its lifetime, for it was she who had first shaped it……Roman myth

receive possession in shadows

In innocence abides love. Those traveling along the Way of Beauty have an erotic attitude toward life. Like all true lovers, they do not ask for explanations or impose conditions, but simply embrace life in its mystery. Do not ask them for a formula or theory- that is not their specialty. Look, instead, at the way they face the world. Rather than trying to decipher it, they open themselves to it and perceive beauty in its subtlest and most poignant aspects. In the Way of Beauty, we embrace life’s ambiguities without having to interpret and explain them. We enjoy the mystery and transform its terror into awe. Obscurity and ignorance are positive factors here, because they help us to get rid of cumbersome opinions and relish the enigma. The result is the ability to accept life’s contradictions without feeling we have to resolve them. Keats calls it ‘negative capability, ‘Several things dovetailed in my mind and at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature and which Shakespeare possessed. I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason- with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all considerations…..Piero Ferrucci

born of a stark honesty

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The moment I heard my first story

I started looking for you.

…..Rumi

‘to serve’ sounds wistful and sweet and angelic…….the reality calls us to a depth we are unprepared for….we must live into the truth…stalwart, expressive, prevailing…..complete with a quiet and noble heart…..may you know the vulnerability of truth seeking, so that you may bear witness to truth speaking…..

Yes, you need to open your heart, but you have to have the support and wisdom of your brain and gut- the whole council of your being- rather than just following whichever voice happens to be really loud. Part of Truth Speaking is taking that moment to check in with your internal council. What is my truth right now? What can I say to help this moment of conflict come to resolution? Truth Speaking- speaking from a place of deep honesty and compassion- propels us into a very rich field of feeling. Every time we speak the truth, it shudders through the cobwebs and dimness in our lives, tapping back in to the Beauty in our world, in ourselves, and in each other. How incredibly sweet it is to be able to talk about what’s really important, stepping out from behind our facades and the little stupid conversations that we’re taught are a necessary social lubricant. When we Speak Truth to each other, once we get past the shock, it kindles the desire to hear the truth coming back at us. By speaking the truth, we learn the difference between our authentic self and our facade. If we put our little masked self out there, the horror is that other people might accept and end up making love to it, while we starve and die of neglect behind it. It’s much richer to interact genuinely with the world. When you speak the truth, it feeds and brightens you Spirit. The first step to Truth Speaking is opening our hearts. There’s a difference between an open heart, which can feel, process, and stay steady, versus a stuck-open-window heart, which lets all sorts of crap fly in. I encourage you to develop a Warrior’s Heart- an open heart that is responsive and reflexive, meaning that when something comes in and touches it, the heart responds and bounces right back. When we curl around the pain, that’s when it embeds. A heart has to be healthy to feel, respond, and flex. Empaths- people who feel other people’s feelings- especially need to be able to feel the world without letting its woes root deep within them. Sit with a truth, then ask yourself, ‘What’s the most healing action I can take as a next step?’ ……Ana Forrest

the struggle of everything….

Blue lights on the runway like stars

on the surface of a well

into which I fall each night from the sky,

emerging through the tunnel door

of the jetway, and the black waters

of the night, in the cities of America.

In the lit rooms of glass and steel,

in the still and secret towers,

under the true stars hid by cloud

and the steam shrouded roofs

of the mansions of money and hope,

I come with my quiet voice and

my insistence, and my stories,

and out of that second and

deeper well I see again those other

blue stars and that other darkness,

closer even than the night outside,

the one we refuse to mention,

the darkness we know so well

inside everyone.

I have a few griefs and joys

I can call my own

and through accident it seems

a steadfast faith in each of them

and that’s what I will say

matters when the story ends.

…David Whyte

where the ineffable & the hard edge collide

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Temperance is love surrendering itself wholly to Him who is its object; courage is love bearing all things gladly for the sake of Him who is its object; justice is love serving Him who is its object, and therefore rightly ruling; prudence is love making wise distinctions between what hinders and what helps itself….St. Augustine

if we risk coming to the edge, we find the miraculous……and if we ‘do good,’ we cannot return to anything less…the art of being kind brings us through closed doors, trailing beauty behind….may we befriend our own hearts…..

Lon’s Fort

is round and looks

on every other roundness

of the world

as if to stand here

is to stand

at the center

of circle

after growing circle

and reach

in the mind

for a far circumference

that holds as focus

an interior so far in

so concentrated

with origin

we find ourselves

by looking out

at what looks back:

the lighted edge

of rock and sky,

the sweet

unmoving darkness

over the horizon

that makes

a perfect

beckoning symmetry

to the night

beneath our feet,

the underground

where light cannot live

but whose darkness

makes a ground

on which to stand,

the central

ancestral story

of those who

lived here

looking out

at the same

horizon

and the same

surrounding

ground

who saw a world

that witnessed them

at a privileged

center,

their lives caught

like ours

in the glance

of what lies beyond

only for

a fleeting moment.

…David Whyte

do not be afraid of vulnerability

When you were younger, what roads did you think you would take? Have you taken any of those roads yet? That ‘today’ became ‘the day’ for you? Was the road-you-took as you imagined it would be? If roads have not been taken, what do you need to do for that to happen? How do the tomorrows, the todays, and the yesterdays of your life flow? Is there congruence, connection, gentleness? What is the road you are on at this moment in your life?…..June Mack Maffin

the twinkling stars behind our sorrow

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It is rare to meet a person whose life is full of gratitude. Even though the course of a single day may bring innumerable blessings to us, the few moments of genuine gratitude we experience are often overshadowed by our complaints, disappointments, sorrow, and frustration. We may not truly appreciate what we have until it is gone. And having lost the opportunity to be grateful, we simply find a new opportunity to be disappointed. Gratitude requires attention and reflection. If we don’t pay attention, the countless and constant ways we are supported go unnoticed. If we don’t reflect, we fail to acquire the wisdom that comes with perspective. As long as we hold fast to our ideal of what we deserve from the world we blind ourselves to the gifts we are receiving. We look back on our childhood and notice what could have been done for us and given to us that, we think, would have made us happier. The gap between our reality and our ideal of what it should have been like attracts our attention like a magnet. But to focus on this gap is to miss most of reality. We miss the countless moments when we were perfectly cared for and attended to. It’s an unworthy exchange that leads us to spiritual and emotional bankruptcy. When I narrow my vision to search for an ideal that my mind has created, life seldom complies. But when I broaden my vision to simply notice what life is offering, I find that I am surrounded by an abundance of care and support. Such awareness is the first step in retraining ourselves to truly open to the gifts the universe is offering to us…..Gregg Krech

the stars in our souls guide us without fail….where is the light leading us? how deep are our wishes when we look up at the sky? how deep is the night, dreaming of home? may the harmony of love be tucked in our stars…..

Great love has the potential to open the heart space and then the mind space. Great suffering has the potential to open the mind space, and then the heart space. Eventually, both spaces need to be opened, and for such people non-dual thinking can be the easiest. People who have never loved or never suffered will normally try to control everything with with an either-or-attitude, or all-or-nothing thinking. The mentality that divides the world into ‘deserving and undeserving’ has never been let go of by any experience of grace or undeserved mercy. Authentic love is of one piece. How you love anything is how you love everything. You cannot sincerely love another or forgive another’s offenses inside of dualistic consciousness. How you love is how you have accessed love……Richard Rohr

closed doors, open doors……

May you be blessed with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May you be blessed with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May you be blessed with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy. And may you be blessed with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all children and the poor…..June Mack Maffin

where the angels enter

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The old man

must have stopped our car

two dozen times to climb out

and gather into his hands

the small toads blinded

by our lights and leaping,

live drops of rain.

The rain was falling,

a mist about his white hair

and I kept saying

you can’t save them all,

accept it, get back in

we’ve got places to go.

But, leathery hands full

of wet brown life,

knee deep in the summer

roadside grass,

he just smiled and said

they have places to go to

too.

….Joseph Bruchac

this deep care for the movement of life, for the intrinsic rhythm and the primal need toward tenderness intuits us into our ultimate priorities….this authenticity of sweet, full, breadth, invites us to hold the broken without flinching…..this is the sincerity of our burdens….

St. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not by your own doing, it is the gift of God.’ To accept this gift is to step into a world that is larger, deeper, richer, and fuller. Thomas Aquinas, a thirtheenth-century Italian Catholic theologian, notes, ‘Grace is nothing else than a beginning of glory in us.’ Elsewhere, he adds, ‘Grace renders us like God and a partaker of the divine nature.’ John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, agrees, as do most Greek Orthodox Christians. Through the bounty of grace, we discover the Divine Guest inside us. Signs that the Blessed One is working within and through us are what spiritual educator Celeste Snowber Schroeder calls ‘gracelets’ or ‘the moments of meaning in the mundane.’ We come to realize that daily life is a theater of grace with continuous performances. The sacred is here and there and everywhere. Suddenly our lives take on a special radiance from within. ‘Grace happens,’ Buddhist Joanna Macy observes, ‘when we act with others on behalf of our world.’ Again, Rumi says:

Something opens our wings. Something

makes boredom and hurt disappear.

Someone fills the cup in front of us.

We taste only sacredness.

…..Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat

peace within

I want to say, ‘It doesn’t have to be so intense, so fierce, so acrimonious. You can work to ease the ills of society, and at the same time you can love the world with all of its sorrow and beauty. You can serve your God without being so uptight about it. You can feel the simple rapture of being alive and let that rapture be your North Star. You can be led by a quiet joy.’ It may seem that living for rapture is a selfish act reserved for the elite, or that it’s a fancy phrase for hedonism. But it isn’t. Rapture is not a selfish emotion. It is pure gratitude, flowing freely through the body, heart, and soul. Gratitude for what? For breath, for colors, for music, for friendship, humor, weather, sleep, awareness. It is a willing engagement with the whole messy miracle of life. The world suffers more from unhappy, stifled people trying to do good than it does from those who are simply content within themselves. In the end, it is the people at home in their own human skins- people who love the wounded world and its broken family- who can move mountains when called out of themselves and into a work in the world. The founders of the great religions were such people. Every great hero- past and present- took a difficult journey of self-awareness before finding his or her rapture. The great loneliness- like the loneliness a caterpillar endures when she wraps herself in a silky shroud and begins the long transformation from chrysalis to butterfly. It seems that we too must go through such a time, when life as we have known it is over- when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don’t know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change.  What is keeping you from the rapture? What stands between you and a full-bodied life can only be found in the shadows. What wants to live in you may be waiting- as it was for me- at the end of a long loneliness……Elizabeth Lesser

refreshing the heart’s intention

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Have you searched the vastness

for something you have lost?

…..Robert Service

resting in the embrace of exquisite eyes

Listening beyond our own silhouette, each thing we encounter is alive- be it a stone, a dragonfly, a symphony, or a peach. And each thing in its aliveness encodes and mirrors the whole of life in its own way. When we can listen, each particle of being, no matter how small, invites our presence and attention, so we might hear and feel the Universe through it. Despite our physical explanations, this is what enables us to hear the ocean when putting a shell to our ear or all of humanity when holding someone with a broken heart. When relating to what we encounter, we become more possible ourselves; able to grow from what other things see and feel. But how does a stone see and feel? Well, that’s the work of openness, isn’t it? To discover and inhabit many ways of listening, not just those we call human. I invite you to immerse yourself- through words and beneath words- in the deeper, fresher, eternal ways of listening that keep us alive……Mark Nepo

this birthday finds this old soul in deep gratitude for every sky that has opened the day, for every heart that has opened my knowing, for every moon that has opened the night……it is this tender cycle of time’s sweet remembrance that invites me into the pristine wild of my own heart-making….

We need each other. ‘The begging bowl of the Buddha,’ Catholic monk Thomas Merton explains, ‘represents not just a right to beg, but openness to the gifts of all human beings as an expression of this interdependence of all beings.’ Empathy is a sign of openness. ‘Jesus said one word, and a dead man sat up,’ writes the Sufi poet Rumi, ‘but creation usually unfolds, like calm breakers. Openness means that we don’t want to miss one moment of what’s going on, whether it is mind-bending miracles or the slow epiphanies of the natural world. ‘All real living is meeting,’ notes Jewish scholar Martin Buber. Joan Puls, a Catholic sister, calls openness ‘the attitude and condition that is at the heart of all spirituality.’ Be open like the monk with a begging bowl. Be open like a flower to the sun. Be open like the artist awaiting her muse. Trust your natural responses to the world. Walk the trail of the true human being. Let the miracles and the calm breakers transform you. Make the most of the deep in you meeting the deep in another. And recognize that like a monk with a begging bowl, your openness to the gifts of the universe is what holds you in its warm embrace……Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat

how intimately we shelter each other

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Spiritual maturity is an acceptance of life

in relationship.

…..Jack Kornfield

we don’t know what love really is…..it’s greatest gift is the laying down of gray lines and the picking up of hard truths…..when love whisks by, we know it by how it lingers….never holding it, simply being held by it……may love linger in the coolest hours before dawn….

I was sitting on a beach one summer day, watching two children, a boy and a girl, playing in the sand. They were hard at work building an elaborate sand castle by the water’s edge, with gates and towers and moats and internal passages. Just when they had nearly finished their project, a big wave came along and knocked it down, reducing it to a heap of wet sand. I expected the children to burst into tears, devastated by what had happened to all their hard work. But they surprised me. Instead, they ran up the shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another castle. I realized that they had taught me an in important lesson. All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships to other people endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold will feel the laughter……Harold Kushner

growing into old skin

This is intimacy: its touch is ever new,

revealing the precious moments we have to live

and to connect with things.

No love is ever lost in this universe.

……Gunilla Norris