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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

Hawks and Vultures

A note from Carl:

Good Morning!

Last week I was walking in a canyon, and out of my peripheral view I saw a giant shadow passing through the sky- I paused. I turned toward it. Was it a visitation from a hawk? An eagle? Hawks evoke for me, a special connection with my father, perhaps it was a giant Redtail? I took in the beautiful bird with wonder and appreciation, and then….wait…small, featherless head, spread finger like feathers…oh, its just a vulture. I noticed a deflation, a turning away.

Then I caught myself, with great humor and humility. I was not turning away from a vulture, I was turning away from life.

I looked back at the bird, and took it in freshly. It was no less glorious with its new classification.

I realized how often I unconsciously make these choices- attending to some moments as though they were filled with mystery and wonder, and others, as though they were just a “vulture.” A few days later, on the porch, I came across Mary Oliver’s poem. I imagine (or project) that Mary does not turn away from vultures…

Prince Buzzard,

I took you, so high in the air,
For a narrow boat and two black sails.
You were drifting

In the depths of the air
Wherever you wanted to go,
And when you came down
With your spoony mouth

And your read head
And your creaking wings
To the lamb
Dead, dead, dead

In the fields of spring
I knew it was hunger
That brought you’
Yet you went about it

So slowly,
Settling with hunched wings
And silent
As the grass itself

Over the lambs’s white body-
It seemed
a ceremony,
A pause

As though something
In the quick of your own body
Had come out
To give thanks

For the dark work
That was yours,
Which wasn’t to be done easily or quickly,
But thoroughly-

And indeed by time summer
Opened its green harbors
The fields was nothing but flower, flowers, flowers,
From shore to shore.

One of the many, many things I appreciate about, and learn from Mary Oliver is how to be deeply touched by the ordinary. How to, as Blake said, “To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.”

I am reminded of a fantastic quote from Scott Morrison’s book “Open & Innocent: The Gentle Passionate Art of Not Knowing”

The Whole Teaching

“The path of liberation and awakening requires that we ask ourselves just this one fundamental question: Do I wish to live this moment with as much attention, care and affection as possible? Or am I going to do something else? There is no point in judging the something else as good or bad, it’s just that it’s good to know who’s making the decisions”

The world we live in is the world to which we attend. Vultures and hawks, pleasure and pain, suicides, beauty, conflict, connection…Do I wish to live this moment with as much attention, care and affection as possible? Do you?

We are looking forward to exploring this theme in our Dynamic Transitions workshop this weekend. Part of the great benefit of Awareness Through Movement is that when we learn how to bring attention, care and affection to how we move, our movement becomes much more intelligent, graceful, and enjoyable. The grunts of effort and struggle getting up and down from the floor, or in and out of chairs can seem to just evaporate in the warmth of curious, welcoming attention.

With love,
Carl

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