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.”
My intention for this new year is to listen, listen to myself, others, and the world.
I just finished reading Etel Adnan’s book, Shifting the Silence. An artist and writer, she was born in 1925 and passed November 14, 1921. This book looks at aging and loss. What is it when we lose someone to Alzheimer’s or death?
I’m struck by certain passages and sentences.
Bach’s music is the needle of the cosmic balance.
This has taken me into the core of a silence that underlines the universe: underneath the mesh of sounds that never cease there’s a strange phenomena, a counter-reality, the rolling of silent matter.
Silence is a flower, it opens up, dilates, extends its texture, can grow, mutate, return on its steps. It can watch other flowers grow and become what they are. We’re at the turn of the year, I have to invite somebody or something. The live thickness of the silence makes sounds free themselves and expand. The year is turning, has turned. 2018 is gone forever, gone into being the new year, people are dancing, 2019 has just entered, wide-eyed, utterly new.
Silence is the creation of space, a space that memory needs to use … an incubator. We’re dealing here with dimensions, stretching inner muscles, pushing aside any interference. We’re dealing with numbers, but not counting. Silence demands the nature of night, even in full day, it demands shadows.
She goes on to say: I consider the light that enters the room in the early hours of the day as a messenger of the sun, a direct voyager, a particle, a wave, who knows, but an object of sorts that left its solar source, covered miles, and landed on my skin. So the universe constantly visits us while waiting for us to reverse that itinerary.
Morning is still dark here this winter day, and I trust the turning, the turning that seeds, the silence that breathes and breeds in me.
I love books and as we continue to explore downsizing and moving, I contemplate, even as I treasure, which books might find their way to a new home.
We’ve been checking out open houses, often beautifully staged. In one, all the books on the white book shelf were covered in white. I thought of all the work that goes into a book and it’s cover, and there they were, whitewashed, stark and blank, the same.
I just finished reading State of Terror by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny. Thumbs way, way up. It’s a “real” thriller, uncomfortably close to the truth.
State of Terror begins with this quote by Tom Peters:
“The most amazing thing that has happened in my lifetime is neither putting a man on the moon nor Facebook having 2.8 billion monthly active users. It is that in the 75 years, 7 months, and 13 days since Nagasaki, a nuclear bomb has not been detonated.”
As we watch autumn leaves fall to nourish the ground, may we live in cycling gratitude for adding days, months, and years to the continuation of that.
On Friday I was at Filoli Gardens. I looked at their library and then came home to appreciate mine. It was a sign. Like the falling leaves, it’s time to allow some of my books to find new homes, homes where their covers can shine and proclaim entry into magic, wisdom, majesty, and intent.
Transformation is so clear this time of year, well, every time of year really, every time of day, moment by moment. I’m not sure why I feel more alert these days but there’s something about the ripening of pumpkins that speaks to me, hollows me out with the rounding need to expand and stem.
Yesterday in a book by Flora Thompson, I read about a children’s game where the children find a place outside and touch the earth lightly, and bounce up and come down, singing, “We are bubbles of earth. Bubbles of earth. Bubbles of earth.”
I’m inspired to see myself as a bubble of earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh says that, “When we are able to take one step peacefully, happily, we are for the cause of peace and happiness for the whole of humankind.”
That seems especially key these days especially as thoughts are with the oil spill off Huntington Beach and all the creatures at risk.
The root of the word transform is “to move into beauty”.
This morning meditation called me, not as something on my to-do list but like food or water or the rising sun and setting moon. I meditated and went outside in the dark to water plants. The moon was still up in the west and now this first day of autumn, the sky is radiant with sun pouring through.
I honor the day with these words of Br. David Steindl-Rast:
In each of us there is a spark that can reverse the trends of violence and depression spiraling within us and in the world around us. By setting in motion the spiral of gratefulness we begin the journey toward peace and joy.
I wake and stay in bed listening to a symphony of bird song, twitterings and tweets, caws, and turkey gobbling that percolates through all my cells. It’s morning in May and we celebrate the mothering that connects us all.
This quote from an unknown source comes my way today.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way mom told you to in the beginning.”
Perhaps there’s a way to balance that, or perhaps not, but today I remember all the women in my life, related and not, who’ve enriched, guided, brightened, opened, and paved my way. I’m grateful for celebration and honoring, a day to be with the birthing that continues to transform and unfold.
Yesterday I emailed a friend and the email returned with what augments all her emails.
I offer it here.
Five Vows From Joanna Macy and the Work that Reconnects:
I vow to myself and to each of you:
To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.
To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products, and energy I consume.
To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future generations, and my brothers and sisters of all species.
To support others in our work for the world and ask for help when I need it.
To pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.”
I sink into the truths of this mothered by the roots, branches, leaves, and fruits of trees.
On a day that is exquisite with trees filling space with buds and leaves, and birds singing and sweeping through the air, I read this from Heather Cox Richardson:
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed his state’s new voter suppression law last night in a carefully staged photo op. As journalist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out, Kemp sat at a polished table, with six white men around him, under a painting of the Callaway Plantation on which more than 100 Black people had been enslaved. As the men bore witness to the signing, Representative Park Cannon, a Black female lawmaker, was arrested and dragged away from the governor’s office.
I put it with the news of a week or so ago. in a decree approved by Pope Francis, the Vatican said that priests cannot bless same-sex unions, describing such relationships as “not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”
The church said, “The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit”.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen change, and then, these two things happen and I’m caught in a collision of what seems to be so obvious, evident and true – the need for equality and freedom for all, and then there’s these broken and disintegrating steps unaligned with what I believe the majority of people think and feel.
We can know this is a last gasp effort to leave control in the hands of a few, and still it’s hard, and yet, people are gathering in vigils of solidarity and peace. I focus there and on opening leaves and birds calling and building nests.
This morning I woke feeling myself sinking calmly into a pond, anchored like the lotus, content to sink into mud, and then, I thought of mushrooms and mycelium, mycelium running all through the earth, connecting, unseen, and then, I felt myself as that reproductive body, the mushroom, popping up and out with rain. We’ve had rain.
I should check my yard and see what’s growing there but now in this moment, sprouts rise and bloom from my heart.
I feel content these days. Garrison Keillor writes of that place. Perhaps it’s a Midwestern thing that signals connection with a few, and yet …
Ken McLeod in Reflections on Silver River writes this:
As my teacher once said, “If you could really take away the suffering of everyone in the world, taking all of it into you with a single breath, would you hesitate?”
And then he introduces Tonglen meditation as a way to begin.
Today I float up and down like a jellyfish trusting immersion in my environment and unfolding in and as what comes and goes.