I’ve started and restarted this newsletter half a dozen times – there being simultaneously so much I want to say, and seemingly nothing to say at all. I decided to share a few things that have been good medicine for me in the past few weeks and hope they might uplift your heart.
And before I delve into my writing – let me remind you – Carl is offering 2 upcoming 5-week Feldy classes which are going to be really great. Check out details below. And….. one of the participants in my Women Embodied class has had an unexpected major surgery so I have one spot opening up. If you’d like to apply for that spot, send me an email. We begin next weekend with our first gathering. Details (and a link to all the info) can be found below.
First dose of good medicine these days?
Getting to my meditation cushion. Even when it seems “There is soooo much to do, I don’t have time!!!!” It’s more important than ever for me to keep one foot in stillness, sanity, clarity, and those deepest heart-values. I recall a story of Gandhi during a crucial time in the struggle for India’s independence. He had a busy day of meetings with important people and in the morning said to his companions – “It is such a busy day today. I can’t afford to meditate for an hour.” They nodded their heads as if it made perfect sense. He went on, “I need to meditate for two hours.” It takes courage and determination to set aside the part of my mind that flails, that says, “There is so much to doooooo!.” And sit. I’m always deeply glad I did.
I’m reminded of this great quote:
We face such a big task, so naturally we sit down for a while.”
– Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi
Would you like to sit in community?
We’re hosting a free/by donation community sit this Sunday morning from 8-9:30am. We’ll do 2 25-minute sits with time for a silent walking meditation break in between. I’m thinking that after the sit ends around 9:30, if people are interested, I’ll facilitate 30 minutes of listening partnerships.
All you have to do is show up, willing to listen to another for 15 minutes, and listen to yourself for 15 minutes. Listening and the presence it invites is good medicine.
Want to come sit and join us? Just RSVP by emailing me so I can make sure we have plenty of room. We’ll meet at our studio in the avenues, and when you RSVP I’ll give you our address. Last time we managed to squeeze 17 people into my office for the sit. Feel most welcome to join us. You can stay for just the first sit or both sits or two sits plus listening time. As you like. No experience necessary.
Poetry. It uplifts my heart, honors my grief, and reminds me of the long view. I’m so grateful for the poets.
Below are a few I’ve deeply appreciated this week. I simply couldn’t restrict myself to just one.
In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,
I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,
I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.
If You Want a True Friend – Mark Nepo
Just open your hands and say, “I don’t know.”
Say it softly and wait, so your other can see
that you mean it. Give them a chance to
drop what they think is secret. Let them
come up with a cup of what matters from
the spring they show no one. Let them sigh
and admit that they don’t know either. Then
you can begin with nothing in the way. Go
on. Admit to the throb you carry in your
heart. And let the journey begin.
A Brief For The Defense – Jack Gilbert
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
To Be and Belong – Mark Nepo
Let go your want for greatness
and feel the tool that’s in your hand.
Let go your fear of emptiness
and receive the wave still reaching
from the beginning.
It only wants to enliven you
the way water refreshes every hole.
So let the web of things
Only stars are free
and they are so lonely.
Curse what you will
but give thanks
that everything alive
wants something from you.
How it Transforms –
rosemary wahtola trommer
To my granddaughters who visited the Holocaust
Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin
– Wendell Berry
Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,
for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know
there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine
though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.
You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light. It will be
the light of those who have suffered
for peace. It will be
Third, I’ve been delving into Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects – a beautiful model. She writes about “The Great Turning” which is her name for the essential shift we find ourselves in – from the Industrial Growth society to a new life-sustaining society. You can read more here.
“Personal Guidelines for the Great Turning – by Joanna Macy
Come from Gratitude
To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe–to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it–is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, for these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings. To suffer with is the literal meaning of compassion.
Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts..Roll up your Sleeves
Many people don’t get involved in the Great Turning because there are so many different issues, which seem to compete with each other. Shall I save the whales or help battered children? The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain. So to heal one aspect helps the others to heal as well. Just find what you love to work on and take joy in that. Never try to do it alone. Link up with others; you’ll spark each others’ ideas and sustain each others’ energy..
Act your Age
Since every particle in your body goes back to the first flaring forth of space and time, you’re really as old as the universe. So when you are lobbying at your congressperson’s office, or visiting your local utility, or testifying at a hearing on nuclear waste, or standing up to protect an old grove of redwoods, you are doing that not out of some personal whim, but in the full authority of your 15 billions years.”
Every single piece seems essential to me. I love it!
I keep returning again and again to this statement from Martin Luther King, Jr., which sounds so lovely but proves to be pretty damn challenging sometimes. I know in my bones it’s true.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
While I’m deeply touched by Diane Ackerman’s line, “I will not dishonor my soul with hatred” and the deep truth of MLK’s words, I confess I’ve had a surprising flood of rage and hatred passing through my mind in the past 2 weeks. Lawmakers poised to give away our nationally protected wilderness lands? Politicians offering nonsensical justification for detaining a 5-year old boy and handcuffing innocent people who happen to be passing through customs on an unfortunate day? The ongoing assault on human rights, dignity, and the health of our planet? Rage?! Of course I feel rage. How I hold it seems to make all the difference. If I stay stuck in the “us and them” paradigm, if I act from the rage with that sense of duality, I know in my bones that we’ll stay polarized and the necessary healing will remain elusive. I very much appreciated Charles Eisenstein’s reflections on becoming aware of the tendency to use “language of war” as we describe our circumstances, (marches, campaigns, battles, enemies) and to become vigilant in our awareness of the habit of dehumanizing “others,” whether the “others” are “they who hate people of color” or “they who don’t care about climate change” or even how hard it can be to see our president as human. He doesn’t make it easy. While continuing to stand up for what we believe is right, I keep asking myself: Can we avoid dehumanizing others, which is always a basis for violence? His article is worth a read.
In Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, there’s an understanding that the 5 poisons are simultaneously the 5 wisdoms. One example? Anger and rage – when the “poison” of anger is experienced from a sense of separateness, it can be very dangerous. When anger is experienced from a sense of oneness and connection? There’s an incredible, vital clarity and so much life-energy embedded in what we normally call “rage.” If we can avoid falling into us/them polarity, yet harness the life force in rage energy – it can become a powerful fuel for positive change.
So I’ve studied for many years. So I’m humbled to be practicing and experimenting now. Keep growing bigger than the polarity. It’s a practice, and a worthy one.
Learning from Standing Rock about how to engage in resistance in a sacred manner.
The 7 Lakota values are beautiful. What are the values guiding you?I’m humbly learning as much as I can about systemic racism. What are you reading or learning?
Here are a few of my recent reads, which have helped me with stepping into new perspectives.
I’ve recently loved this novel, this book in the form of a letter, this guide and personal story, this window on history.
I hold in my heart Francis Weller’s wise words: “The task of a mature human being is to hold grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them.” Gratitude is a beautiful act of resistance and provides necessary ballast to the negativity and chaos running rampant these days. We need beauty to give us courage so we can open to the grief. We need to open to the grief so that we can respond in sane ways to our current reality. Grief and praise. Essential aspects of our inner landscape.
Lastly, can I just share with you that throughout our recent weeks in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, I was blown away by people’s generosity and kindness. The world is a beautiful place and far and away, the great majority of people, whatever their skin color or belief system, are deeply kind. As a friend wrote, “Life is good, even when it’s not.” Let’s keep reminding each other.
Bless us all.
Thank you for reading!! We are so grateful for you.