It’s a day to honor courage. The word comes from the French, couer, the heart.
We honor one man today, Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1957, he said:
“I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.”
When I was young, I had a tree, a nestinto which I climbed.
I resonate to these words of Richard Powers from The Overstory.
The judge asks, “Young, straight, faster-growing trees aren’t better than older, rotting trees?” “Better for us. Not for the forest.”
She describes how a rotting log is home to orders of magnitude more living tissue than the living tree. “I sometimes wonder whether a tree’s real task on Earth isn’t to bulk itself up in preparation to lying dead on the forest floor for a long time.” The judge asks what living things might need a dead tree. “Name your family. Your order. Birds, mammals, other plants. Tens of thousands of invertebrates. Three-quarters of the region’s amphibians need them. Almost all the reptiles. Animals that keep down the pests that kill other trees. A dead tree is an infinite hotel.” She tells him about the ambrosia beetle. The alcohol of rotting wood summons it. It moves into the log and excavates. Through its tunnel systems, it plants bits of fungus that it brought in with it, on a special formation on its head. The fungus eats the wood; the beetle eats the fungus. “Beetles are farming the log?” “They farm. Without subsidies. Unless you count the log.” “And those species that depend on rotting logs and snags: are any of them endangered?” She tells him: everything depends on everything else. There’s a kind of vole that needs old forest. It eats mushrooms that grow on rotting logs and excretes spores somewhere else. No rotting logs, no mushrooms; no mushrooms, no vole; no vole, no spreading fungus; no spreading fungus, no new trees. “Do you believe we can save these species by keeping fragments of older forest intact?” She thinks before answering. “No. Not fragments. Large forests live and breathe. They develop complex behaviors. Small fragments aren’t as resilient or as rich. The pieces must be large, for large creatures to live in them.”
This morning I’m with the beauty and wisdom in this Carol video, O Holy Darkness.
I remember taking a course in Child Psychology at UCLA when I was 18. In 1968, we were propagandized that the “Communists” were programming their children. We had to fight back against that threat. Of course, our own propaganda was that we were the good guys and our children were allowed and given complete freedom and possibility in this “land of the free”.
Angela Davis, an avowed Communist, came to teach and there was turmoil and concern. In order to work as a tour guide on campus, I had to sign that I was not a Communist. I doubt I knew what that meant at the time. I knew my father believed in the Domino Theory and not wanting another World War II, he thought we were right to be in Vietnam. He didn’t live long enough to learn the truth of that.
Now, we are trying to teach our children a more whole history. Watch this beautiful movement into the embrace, the holy embrace, of wholeness.
My grandson turns two today. He has a brand new sweatshirt with red fire trucks and a beautiful, sweet smile that continues to encompass more and more.
My heart balances on the beauty of this little being and the loss of Bella which still provides an ache, and yet, I feel her here.
A friend mentions this quandary – her absence and presence at one time which may be the contemplating step out of duality. May this be so even as this child turning two walks into a future that cultivates peace and kindness, that honors the connections we share.
I’m writing postcards reminding or perhaps encouraging Democrats who voted in Virginia in 2020 to vote again in the upcoming VA election.
I think of the joy of writing a letter, hand-writing, then folding and placing it in an envelope to sail through the mail, and then, envision it unfolded and opened by another.
Shared touch that seems different than a text or email though information both ways is shared.
I’ve been noticing how sunlight lights and sparkles the line of quartz in rocks I treasure. I have a children’s book that describes rocks like this as “Wishing Rocks”. Therefore, I move my finger along the line circling the middle of the rock and wish even as I imagine what it is like to be enfolded in a different kind of stone.
Each morning I read a poem written daily by Rosemary Wahtola Trommer. Her son took his life recently, and she took a break from writing and sharing her poems, and now she writes of love and grief. Her poems break open my heart, and sometimes I can’t go all the way through, and then, because I know it is essential, I do.
It’s a beautiful fall morning. My father, born in 1921, would have been 100 today. He died in an accident in 1969. He was 47, the age my oldest son is now. Time. Trust. Today I’m with James Wright’s beautiful poem “A Blessing”. There are so many ways to step out of our bodies and into blossom.
Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
Last night I was outside with the full moon, and now I receive the news that a baby we have been waiting for is born. What a relief! I know that childbirth in this country is mainly safe but years ago, a friend died in childbirth at a hospital in Palo Alto, and so I’m always on alert until the little being is through the canal and here, seen, and cared for.
Her mother had a tough and long labor and now this little girl is here and my grandson has a new cousin. He loves music and rhythm, and so alive with vision and possibility, he channels Gene Krupa and the joy of playing the drums.
Inspired by Tish H. Warren in anopinion piece in the NY Times, I write a haiku.
“Like any other life-sustaining resource,” Marilyn Chandler McEntyre writes in her book “Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies,” “language can be depleted, polluted, contaminated, eroded and filled with artificial stimulants.” She argues that language needs to be rescued and restored, and points us to the practice of reading and writing poetry as one way of doing so. Poems, she says, “train and exercise the imagination” to “wage peace” because “the love of beauty is deeply related to the love of peace.”
Yesterday I walked along the marsh with a friend. We saw red-winged blackbirds and egrets. I took no pictures as we were discussing serious subjects, friends dealing with serious health issues and end of life. I came home tired, and went to bed early but then woke at 3:30 from the most amazing dream of strength, beauty, and trust.
I sit here now, and though it’s still dark, I feel the day coming to light, and then, I hear the first gobble and caw, and now the tweets.
Live according to your highest light and more light will be given.
Today the fog is a wrap as I sit, contemplate, and appreciate the earth I am and the earth where I live.
Water rationing is beginning again so it will be a return to buckets in the shower to capture every drop. I worry about the plants and explain to them that they, too, need to carefully utilize every drop.
I’m with Thich Nhat Hanh this morning.
We have a tendency to think in terms of doing and not in terms of being. We think that when we are not doing anything, we are wasting our time. But that is not true. Our time is first of all for us to be; to be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And that is what the world needs most.