Wednesday, November 25, 2009

wild geese

A beautiful friend gave me this poem on a rather difficult day. I'm thankful for poetry, and friends who know the deep healing of words and creation.

"Wild Geese"
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

ego and soul

"Is there anything that I can do to make myself enlightened?"

"As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning."

"Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?"

"To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise."

-Zen master to his disciple
(from Richard Rohr's Everything Belongs)

Friday, November 6, 2009

instructions upon entering darkness

You must hibernate:
Gather food,
Hold your rosary,
Hope (try to).

Always surround yourself with books,
not to read (necessarily)
But to remind yourself that some things
do last
and new stories are retold.
Transformation with time.

Don't talk too much,
Lips need slumber too.
Learn to listen,
Ears need constant vigilance.
Only then will you know inherent value.

Drink wine with friends who don't
rush your pain.
Believe that humility rarely shows
up without humiliation.

Turn your face to the sky:
The earth will continue to rotate around an axis
toward the sun's rays.
Winter is coming,
Spring will come after.
The deep sleep will be aroused...
It will.

A frozen river still rushes water deep within.

And when the ice does thaw,
don't forget.
The sea was parted, the walls were tumbled,
the way was prepared.
Remember--for this will come again--
Just as the leaves fall, fertilize and recloak
the oaks of righteousness.

those of us most defeated and most elated

"The words 'I' and 'Love' and 'You' are the watermark of humanity. Strung together, they convey our deepest sense of humility, of power, of truth. It is our most common sentiment, even as the feeling of it is so infinitely uncommon; each to proclaim these three words with his or her very own heart and mindset of reason (or lack thereof); a proclamation completely and perfectly new each time it is offered. Uttered daily and nightly by millions, the words are said in an unending array of circumstances: whispered to the newborn in a new mother's arms; shared between best friends on the playground; in the form of sympathy--said by a girl to a boy, as the respect continues but the relationship does not. It is said too loudly by parents to embarrassed children in the company of their friends, and by grown children--to their fading parents in hospital beds. The words are thought in the company of the photograph and said in the company of the gravestone. It is how we end our phone calls and our letters...the words at the bottom of the page that trump all those above it, a way to gracefully finish a message, however important or trivial, with the most meaningful gift of all: the communication of love. And yet the words themselves have been the victims of triviality, a ready replacement for lesser solutions among near strangers, burst forth casually as 'love ya.' Truly? To what degree? Why, how much, and for how long? These are questions befitting the stature of love, though not the everyday banter of vague acquaintance. The words have also been twisted by the dark nature of deceit; to say, 'I love you' with a dramatic measure of synthetic emotion; a snare set by those who prey upon fellow humanity, driven to whatever selfish end, to gain access to another's body, or their money, or their opportunity. In this realm, the proclamation is disgraced by one seeking to gain rather than to give. In any case, and by whatever inspiration, these words are woven deeply into the fibers of our existence. Our longing to hear them from the right place is maddeningly and simultaneously our finest strength and our most gentle weakness. The album 'I and Love and You' is unashamedly defined by such a dynamic of duality. As living people, we are bound by this unavoidable parallel. We are powerful yet weak, capable yet temporary. Inevitably, an attempt to place honesty within an artistic avenue will follow suit. [...] 'I and Love and You' is an album of obvious human creation, characterized by its best and its worst. Emotional imperfection is a reality for those who recorded the piece, just as it is for those who will hear it. The conclusion of the song from which the title is taken admits that the words 'I love you' have become 'hard to say.' And perhaps that difficulty is as common as its counterpart. Perhaps the inability to say these heaviest of words is as much a part of life as the lighthearted candor of those who say them without any difficulty at all. And so it ends with the phrase whispered to and by those of us most defeated and most elated...I and love and you..."
-The Avett Brothers