I periodically reread and refresh on And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran. He writes:
Because of my blindness I had developed a new faculty. The faculty is attention. In order to live without eyes, it is necessary to be very attentive, to remain hour after hour in a state of wakefulness, of receptiveness and activity. Indeed, attention is not simply a virtue of intelligence or the result of education, it is a state of being. In its truest sense it is the listening post of the universe.
Emily Dickinson may have been living the same way when she wrote:
Steve and I spent two nights in Liege, Belgium four years ago. It was pure delight as we ate our meals outside in outdoor cafes.
When Steve wanted to find a laundry on a Saturday, he asked a policeman who then led us to the police station where he gathered a crew of police women and men interested in helping us fulfill this task. We all walked around together until we learned it wasn’t meant to be but meanwhile we’d made new friends.
When I look at the photos of the flooding in Liege, I’m shocked. Each moment of our lives, a moment preserved.
Yesterday I was with my grandson. He gets very excited when he sees bees and he loves to watch them. I read that bees can differentiate people so maybe they recognize a gentle soul who is curious about their ability to weave the air with flight.
Leonardo da Vinci wrote:Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Yesterday I was at Abbott’s Lagoon – such beauty and yet I took no pictures even though a Great Blue Heron posed on the sand dune giving me time to pause, focus, and relate. Then, he opened his wings, and with a lift and swirl, passed gently overhead.
Now, today, I realize my mother who passed away in 2005 would be 94 tomorrow if she were alive. The next day my younger brother would have turned 68, and yet, here I am.
What is mine to learn and reflect?
I’ve been harvesting these words of Thomas Merton:
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to… fit our image, otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
The author writes about David Abram, a philosopher and magician, who was working as a magician at Alice’s Restaurant in Massachusetts. He would walk around tables, and coins would vanish and reappear in new places. Customers started coming up to him saying that when they left, they noticed the sky was more blue, and the clouds more vivid. They heard and saw more. “The magic tricks were changing the way people experienced the world.
The explanation: “Our perceptions work in large part by expectation.” “It is our preconceptions that create the blind spots in which magicians do their work.” “Tricked out of our expectations, we fall back on our senses. What’s astonishing is the gulf between what we expect to find and what we find when we actually look.”
The book opens a whole new world. Indulge!
One example is slime molds. “Physarum form exploratory networks made of tentacle-like veins and have no central nervous system – nor anything that resembles one. Yet they can “make decisions” by comparing a range of possible courses of action and can find the shortest path between two points in a labyrinth.”
One man, who can’t find his way out of an IKEA store, decided to test it out. He built a maze sized for slime molds and modeled on the floor plan of his local IKEA store. “Without any signs or staff to direct them, the slime molds soon found the shortest path to the exit.”
Yesterday Michael Atkinson led a Sensory Awareness call on Zoom. He spoke about a tango lesson he and his dance partner were given by two tango masters. The man said you only need to remember two things: the pause and the full stop. Michael and his partner then danced with that awareness, and saw and felt the difference.
We worked with noticing the pause in breathing, and then, in language.
What is it to give ourselves fully to a word, a statement, a phrase?
I started with “Please, come in,” and felt myself invited in to myself, and then, the more I stayed with the word “please” the more I heard and became “ease”. That led, this morning, to realizing the word release also contains ease. Play with a word, and feel and hear how the breath folds and unfolds the heart, throat, legs and feet.
Come to a full stop!
Touch possibility in the pause – a – bility – the invitation within.
Gratitude is so much more than a polite thank you. It is the thread that connects us in a deep relationship, simultaneously physical and spiritual, as our bodies are fed and spirits nourished by the sense of belonging, which is the most vital of foods.
I know that climate change is bringing excessive heat to many areas of the country, but here, this morning, very softly, on her cat feed, the fog comes gently rolling in.
More and more I come to understand these words of Alan Watts:
The only Zen you’ll find on mountain tops is the Zen you bring up there with you.
I’m also understanding these words of George Washington Carver as the years unroll in me.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.
More and more I find myself sitting with trees. Last night I was with the Maples as twilight came, dusk. Birds were twittering so that I could have been in the jungle but I was here, listening, feeling, absorbing, touched. And then with darkness, an owl with it’s who, who, who.
Herman Hesse wrote:
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
Yesterday I was invited in my Sensory Awareness group to tear firm paper into strips. Just that, might have been enough, the sound and the hesitation in my hands and in the paper to bring those fibers apart, to separate what was once together in a tree, and then, brought together again, to now be rendered and gently tendered apart.
We then separated strips of tissue paper. I had Christmas tissue paper at hand. A different sound and feel as this texture found space with new edges and shape.
We then wrote on strips of firm paper, and strips of tissue paper.
We wrote: There is something deeply within us that knows.
We wrote Charlotte Selver’s famous words: Every moment is a moment. The question is how we answer it.
We wrote our own vow. My vow these days is to melt the icebergs within. Lately I’ve been with all that’s hidden underneath that I haven’t yet discovered or uncovered. I’ve been thinking about how it was for the iceberg and the Titanic to meet and break apart.
Anna, who was leading us in this experiment, spoke of how we use the same word for tear and tear. When one pauses to consider, the same word for what appears different on the surface, makes sense.
We made boats of our thicker paper strips, and twisted the ends of the tissue paper and allowed them to float together in a bowl of water. On some, the ink dissipated like smoke. Even with waves, mine stayed, until this morning when I came to see that all had settled, a bowl at rest and peace, a gentle oasis reflecting this day in me.