Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Haiku (& Response) to ring out January

Image Source: peace.maripo.com

on the one ton temple bell
a moon-moth, folded into sleep,
sits still.

~Taniguchi Buson (1718 - 1784)


Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.
It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.
I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.
I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.
I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.
And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.
It's the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,
and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.
When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.
When I say it at the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.
And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,
and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

--Billy Collins

Billy Collins poem © 1997 Big Snap
Source: http://www.magazine.skysifter.com/haiku/2003-12-rasmussen-meditation-3.htm

Sitting Days

In short, I am sitting most every day. Weekends continue to prove to be a challenge and I am generally having to find a way for a sneaky sit. Weekday sitting is much easier to manage with our family's routine.

Now about numbers . . . I have a love/hate relationship with numbers. So I am ditching the daily numbering of my sitting days. I find numbers to be a most magical way of knowing. But numbering my days has many implications these days; some agonizing. And I am time-adverse; much more of an event orientation than time-orientation. I thrive in Central America, Europe, Africa; but I struggle at home and work.

Now, about today's sit, I sat for about 15 minutes this morning. Perched on a red pillow, legs crossed and nestled in, sitting felt settling. Warm tears welled up and spilled for a moment. I enjoyed not thinking and simply being with and sensing the quality of quiet inside.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Neale Donald Walsh on Helping Each Other

Source: Neale Donald Walsh FB page
The impulse to help each other is built into our genes; it is coded within our species. We have a "soul contract" to help each other. I'm convinced of it. We all, each of us, feel this impulse.

Naomi Shihab Nye on Caring For Each Other

Source: http://blackreddots.blogspot.com/2011/07/la-valise-rouge-welcome.html

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Red Suitcase

Days Twenty Seven, Twenty Eight, and Twenty Nine

On Day Twenty Seven, DH traveled for a one-day workshop so I had the distinct responsibility of driving the girls to school. I am terrible at driving the girls to school. And my morning routine is my saving grace. So needless to say, sitting on Day Twenty Seven did not happen in the morning. I sat late in the evening, after the house was quiet.

On Day Twenty Eight, I also sat in the evening. Since we have been away for a week, the house needed attention and I couldn't help myself. Cleaning felt critical. When I sat last night, I felt gravity. Bones on the earth. My solar plexus is tender. I followed the tenderness right into the center of my body. My hands rested there.

On Day Twenty Nine, I finally sat in the morning. It was such a good feeling to return to routine. My body feels literally 'bent out of shape' this week. Fidgety. Restless. Busy mind. I really needed my Shadow Dancing Mindfulness Mantle from On Slender Threads. Gradually, I found a resting place in my heart, but slowly, and down a long, dark winding road.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Andrew Cohen on Boredom While Sitting

Q: I have been practicing leave the mind and emotions alone, but I often find meditation boring.

A: In order for the experience of meditation to be endlessly fascinating and infinitely compelling, you have to be interested in 'nothing'.  Day in and day out, we are constantly pre-occupied with one thing or another, always busy with 'something'.  But if you want to experience profound meditation, and a depth that liberates, the objective of your attention must be nothing -- absolutely nothing whatsoever.  If you are attempting to meditate, but are not actually 'interested' in nothingness, then of course, you will be bored.  

That's just like sitting in a darkened movie theatre, waiting for a film to start.  Eventually you will experience frustration and boredom.

But imagine that you are sitting in that movie and instead of waiting for that film to begin, you become interested, passionately interested, in the darkness, in the nothingness.  There is 'something' in the nothingness that once discovered is infinitely compelling, and absolutely absorbing.  There is an ungraspable mystery there and there is nothing boring about that mystery.  Nothingness is what existed before the universe was born.  How could something come from nothing?  That is the greatest mystery.  That's what you would be interest in, as you contemplate the darkness.  The more deeply you are able to penetrate the nature of nothingness, the more the mystery of being and non-being, of life and death and that which transcends both begins to reveal itself.  There is more to nothing than meets the eye.

Once you truly become interested in the darkness, you wouldn't want the movie to start.  You might actually be disappointed when it started, because it would take you away from your meditation.
--Andrew Cohen
March 11, 2011
Source: http://www.ijourney.org/?tid=739

Day Twenty Six

Yesterday, I sat in an airport; simply sat. With all the buzz and whirl around me, I placed my palms very close together, and facing up. My feet were firmly on the ground. I allowed my gaze to lower and become soft. My attention and focus followed.

About ten (or so) minutes passed, and all sounds were swirling way off in the distance, but my inner landscape had completely shifted to stillness.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I wish great welcome to the snow . . .

Source: http://flagwallpapers.com/owl-in-the-snow-wallpaper/

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field
written by Mary Oliver  
published in House of Light (1990)
Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

Sitting Day Twenty Five

Today I am sitting on the floor of a warm, cozy hotel room in Minnesota, looking out the window at a blustery snow day. I am traveling for work and grateful for a chance to turn inward alone, while deeply missing my family.

This morning's sit was sweet. I perched on a bed pillow, facing the snow and gently closed my eyes first thing this morning. I sat for a long while. As thoughts drifted in, I imagined them drifting away like snow. During the sit, I had brief windows of pure quiet. I am warm as I write. And tired.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I am standing upon the seashore . . .

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:

“Here she comes!”

And that is dying.
Henry Van Dyke

Sitting Days Twenty Three and Twenty Four

Meditation Chapel in Hospice

As I mentioned liminal space, we have certainly been in it. I have found moments to sit sometimes for much, much longer than a typical day at home; and sometimes on the go, or in the bathroom on the edge of the tub, or in the passenger seat. 

My family experienced the death of a dear loved one on Friday night. It was swift, merciful and peaceful. We surrounded her in love and light. And she drifted out of this life as if in a deep sleep. Our immediate grieving bubble burst as my DH flew one direction, and I flew another for business travel this afternoon. It has been such a time of transition, sweetness and deep sorrow; and quite far from our daily routine.

Tomorrow, I will share of my next morning sit. This evening, I will simply share that in my sitting over the past few days, I am aware that life is tender; and good health is a precious gift to be cared after and deeply appreciated. And that death can be gracious and quiet, kind of like sitting still.

A beloved winter garden 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sitting Days Twenty One and Twenty Two

On Day Twenty One, I sat still as we flew along the East Coast to be with someone dear at a very difficult time. I adore Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls but especially the lines from 'Get Out the Map', 

Why do we hurtle ourselves through every inch of time and space,
I must say around some corner I can sense a resting place,
With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face . . . 

When someone is very ill, and we stop to attend, we experience a liminal space where the experience of time and boundaries dissolve. 

Liminal space is that space we enter during great uncertainty; when 

we stand in the threshold between what was, and what is to be, the 

details of which are not yet revealed.

Liminal space is where we are tonight. And it is in, and with, liminal 

space, that I will be simply sitting. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sitting Day Twenty

'Commonsense is the consensus of all of the senses . . .'
~ I Ching

Sitting this morning was restful and as thoughts rose up, I simply sent them on their way. Today our family faces a difficult meeting detailing the plan of care for a sick loved one. It weighs heavy on our hearts. Sitting feels like a wise way to prepare to offer support in any way that may be of use. When I sit, I notice the water level rising in the well. At the end of the year last year, I was feeling dry to the bone. This rising is welcome . . .

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Hand

The Hand  
by Mary Ruefle

The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom 
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that 
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie 
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question. 
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.
Reprinted from Cold Pluto: by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press © by Mary Ruefle 1996.  

Sitting Day Nineteen

Suffice it to say, the sneaky sit worked all three days of this long weekend. It was really a joy to sit this morning, although it was a fitful start to sitting. At one point, DH slipped into the bedroom to grab something and didn't realize I was sitting. He slipped right out but I noticed a judgment rise up. It was such a beautiful lesson. I was able to snatch that belief right up, relinquish it, ask for help, and sit in a quiet state of calm, non-action and letting go . . .

Sitting is pure magic. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Love

". . . nonviolence demands that the means we use must be 
as pure as the ends we seek."

Source; en.wikipedia.org
                           Source: http://www.uwkc.org/ways-to-volunteer/mlkday/                             

"I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. "

~  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  ~

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Einstein genius


“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”  

~  The late, great Albert Einstein  ~

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: smh.com.eu


“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


~  More Einstein Genius  ~ 


 Source: www.myclassiclyrics.com

Hello Supernova

Source: en.wikipedia.org

I greet you, supernova beneath my sternum;
Percolating wonder and energy and light;
Burning from the core to radiant shine beaming outward;
Reigning supreme deep inside the cadence of my chest;
Yet too oft forgotten in the daily grind. 

~ JBLee ~
15 Jan 2012 

Sitting Day Eighteen

I continued with yesterday's recipe for a weekend sit by sneaking to sit first thing. The throw pillow makes sitting plenty comfy. It is really difficult to maintain my sense of inner peace in the context of all of the moving parts that make a family. My conclusion? Sitting is more valuable than ever. Each of the members of my family are excellent mirrors, and teachers, for where I can grow. I see my stubborn streak, the constant state of motion, nit picking and need to control, my out of control . . .

I sat this morning for about 10 minutes or so. The house was silent as a stone. DH and the girls were snuggled way off in the family room. Mmmmmm . . .

As I write, I wonder, what is this obstacle course called Life? The moment we strike a balance and find ease, along comes a mighty wind . . . My teacher, Swami Satchidananda might offer, 'don't let anything disturb your peace.' Hmmmm . . .

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Love calls - Rumi

Love calls - everywhere and always.
We're sky bound.
Are you coming?
― Rumi
Source: posted on FB by Ayan Bin Riaz on 14 Jan 2012


Brother David Steindl-Rast on Sitting

My friend, Kay Moates, of On Slender Threads' Mindfulness Mantles introduced me to Karma Tube today. I searched for videos on sitting and look at this wonder!

Karma Tube writes of 'being the change' - 
"Pick a tradition other than your own and look into their meditation tradition. We are not, you’ll find, that different from each other where it counts the most."

Source: www.nuns.org

Sitting Day Seventeen

I woke to sounds of giggling and fussing over lip gloss across the hall. I had a decision to make. To face the family and find time to sit later this morning, or to sneak down beside my bed, grab our decorative throw pillow and sit right where I was. I went in for the sneaky sit. I raised the window shade and peered over the mountain of folded laundry to the sunshine, forest and blue sky out in the backyard. Folding my throw pillow in thirds, I sat down.

Because I was just waking, I let my gaze grow soft and my thoughts wander as I acclimated to being awake. The girls grew quiet, and I would find them later watching Saturday morning cartoons with DH. Magic!

Soon I was inside a sweet sit. No tools, no method, just sitting. I continue to discover old ways of thinking floating up, and one common thought/belief has been, "I can do it all" or with resentment, "I have to do it all". In today's sitting, the thought came up that people I know who are in recovery from  addictions, and for that matter recovering from illness, are commonly peaceful, loving, resilient, compassionate and openly spiritual beings. For some reason this week I have come across two beautifully-written blogs by young mothers in recovery living stunningly peaceful lives. I asked myself, "why?" 

The idea bubbled up, "Recovering requires asking for help. . . publicly and often."

Because my life has taken a relatively healthy path, I have fallen under the spell that "I can do it all. And better." When I say better, I mean as a wife and mother, I can do it better than my husband. Or better than my own mother, etc.

Two of the beliefs that I am steadily asking for Cosmic Help (substitute any view of the Divine) are: 

1. I can do it all.
2. I can do it better.

It sounds crazy to admit these outloud but they are very real inside my head. Not my heart, but my head. Which brings me to my third belief, that the head/rational thought, is higher than my heart. Nah-uh. Nope. Bringing balance in 2012, I am honoring my nature as a whole  -  head and heart  -  mind, body, and Soul.

To bring balance, I am finding these three invaluable lessons.

1. Ask for help, often. And receive what comes graciously.
2. Make it public, in a safe and meaningful way.
3. Accept others as they are, in Love.

As a performing artist and teacher, and more importantly a human being observing the lives of my human, and non-human, friends - I believe deeply in the value of just showing up and witnessing one another's lives. This blog is a great example of how accountable I feel to enjoy a daily sit.

Sitting is simple. But I have never heard it was easy. I do believe it is overwhelmingly worthwhile. I believe that sitting may be saving my life.

A & CJ - the giggling culprits

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tiny temptation

Suddenly, in 2012, I am not sure how to feel about long weekends. I am looking forward to family time, but I have no idea how to squeeze in my daily sitting. I am tempted to wait up another 21 minutes and go ahead with Saturday's sit . . .

Every Path is Sacred

Every path is sacred -

The green & wide & lush
Where many gather often
And abundance surrounds;

The dense forest way
Enclosed with brush & solitude
Hours beyond twilight, & prickly;

The drowning wild Ocean
With waves forever crashing
And vistas vast & sweeping
Over deep and troubled waters;

The rocky, steep & narrow
Where the only way beyond is to climb up
And there is room for but one set of footprints;

Every path is sacred.

Jenny Baxley Lee 2011

Sitting Day Sixteen

Good morning. This morning's sit was time-luxurious in that I am home for the day. I started a fire in the fireplace near the circle rug and straightened the living room before I sat down. And I began with reflective writing. I looked at a few old collages and paintings created last year as we prepared to move to a new home town. I read an inspired text as I continue to feel compelled to dig through old, old beliefs and relinquish those that aren't serving.

After cleaning, reading and writing, I began to sit still. My hands fell loose in my lap, legs crossed and eyes gently closed. After having sat awhile on the floor already with all of the reading and writing, my joints contested a little bit. Still, my focus remained inward, even as my eyes fluttered open after 10 minutes or so. During my sitting time, the proverb floated up, "Don't push the river..." and I am reminded that Nature unfolds as it will. Everything in its own time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Listening, as Wild Geese do

Something Told the Wild Geese

Rachel Field

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, "snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, "frost."
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spices,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.  

Source: Google Images

Sitting Day Fifteen

As I sat this morning, I was feeling disjointed. I really notice that when I sit before I get busy, the quality of my time is different than when I sit in the midst of morning's work. So I am still finding my best sitting time. I do like sitting before going to work. I notice a marked difference in the tone of my entire day.

What happened in this morning's sit was new. I felt that I only had time for a very short sit, maybe 5 minutes. And then I sat, and felt as though I kept to that short amount of time, only to find I had been sitting 10 minutes. I wandered deep inside so quickly and it felt so good to be still, that I lingered. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Student of the honey bee

For years and years, I have been a student of the honey bee. I love the buzz of busy. I love to stick my nose in the fragrance of a rose's nectar. I am enamored with the bee's sense of direction, clarity of purpose, and connection to the hive. Last week, our writers in residence in Arts in Medicine shared the following writing. enJOY.

by Julie Cadwallader-Staub

Who could need more proof than honey—

How the bees with such skill and purpose
enter flower after flower
sing their way home
to create and cap the new honey
just to get through the flowerless winter.

And how the bear with intention and cunning
raids the hive
shovels pawful after pawful into his happy mouth
bats away indignant bees
stumbles off in a stupor of satiation and stickiness.

And how we humans can't resist its viscosity
its taste of clover and wind
its metaphorical power:
don't we yearn for a land of milk and honey?
don't we call our loved ones "honey?"

all because bees just do, over and over again, what they were made to do.

Oh, who could need more proof than honey
to know that our world
was meant to be


was meant to be

Sitting Day Fourteen

I find myself sitting with ease, looking forward to a morning sit, sitting longer. I also notice a mild anxiety at other points in the day as I begin my new work. Contrasting these two sensations, I am really beginning to honor the pressures in the world to be 'excellent'; meaning to strive to excel. I am noticing how much we identify ourselves with our work to feel important and powerful. In my daily sitting, I sense that striving and effort are not the means to the end. It seems that when we show up fully present, and remain true to what we know in our hearts is needed in each moment, the work in front of us is not so strenuous. And the quality of completed work is masterful without striving.

For years I have expected a daily sitting practice to be challenging. For years, sitting was a challenge. I tried on all different styles of seated meditation including special breathing patterns, special movement patterns, using words, phrases or images, trying to still the mind; and I always struggled. But the key is, I expected to struggle.

Now, I am actively sitting still for the purpose of honoring and balancing my body's constant motion. I am not striving to master any particular form of meditation or prayer. And I find ease. Contentment. Joy. And peace is extended a little bit longer each day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Don't go back to sleep," Rumi whispers...

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Jalaludin Muhammed Rumi
From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

Sitting Day Thirteen

Quiet and joyful greetings. This morning I sat and greeted the day just before 7 am. DH and the girls picked up breakfast on the way to school which gave me a little extra time. I experimented with sitting as soon as the door was closed. The only glowing light was beaming on the center of my rug and I was compelled to sit. Something truly magical happens in that hour before dawn. I avoid the wee morning hours in favor of a little more sleep most days. I am grateful I didn't go back to bed this morning.

I sat for a full 20 minutes and settled right in to the quiet.  My mind was relatively still this morning. I noticed short belly breaths and remembered how babies breathe, how their bellies rise and fall. Again this morning, I sang myself out of meditation, and closed by asking for help on behalf of a family member who is ill. Praising comes easily to me; asking for help is more of a stretch sometimes.

Quiet, reflective, daily practice quickens me. Emotion is closer to the surface; and so is the capacity to release it, silently, immediately, fully.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sitting Day Twelve

This morning I sat for maybe 10 minutes, on a cushion folded about a third to lift my hips a bit higher than my feet. I find I sit longer and more comfortably this way; a trick I've known thanks to hatha yoga, meditation and dance and movement practice but had forgotten when I first began sitting. I spent a little time in reflection prior to sitting with a book I have been taking to heart lately. I reflected on the balance between personal will and harmony with the Cosmos. And then I grew still, quiet, and calmed my thought through focused breathing. It was a satisfying sit. I sang my way out with a brief song-prayer. Grateful to enter this day...

Friday's appointment

My work week is Monday through Thursday at the university. For most of the last seven years, I have preserved a shortened week to allow me to parent well and take care of myself. On Friday, I knew I would go in, as I sometimes do, to attend a few meetings and finish up our work flow chart for 2012. I love my work and enjoy going in. However, in order to protect my time for self-renewal, I also accepted an invitation for an afternoon bike ride.

All day long I had the feeling that I would run late, or miss, our bike ride. I tried several methods of accountability including stating that I had a bike ride scheduled at 3:30. At 3:06 pm, I flew out the office door, down two flights of stairs, and began the very familiar race against the clock. I literally ran to my car, across the busy road, and hopped in. I glanced at my phone to see that my friend had nudged me to meet at my place sooner than later, and I texted back that I was just a few minutes away. I pulled into my drive to see my friend with her bike loaded up on her bike rack. I hopped out of the car in dress and boots and rushed in my door shouting over my shoulder, "Wait for me! I will only be 3 minutes. Oh, and come on in! Do you want water, tea..." My voice trailed off as I slipped on yoga pants, long sleeved tee, tennis shoes. Rushing through the living room, I charged out the back door, keys in hand, to grab my bike and load it up. At 3:30 something, we headed toward the prairie.

I didn't know why the ride felt so important to me but it was pressing. I felt it was an appointment that must be met. We biked a ways and then hiked along the La Chua Sink Trail on Paynes Prairie.

Here are a few of the beauties we saw along the trail...

 I am developing a course in Northern Ireland and had reached out to a new, local peacebuilding effort to connect. We made a beautiful connection via phone and set good intentions to meet face to face at the first of the year. Guess who else we met along the trail...

Sitting Days Ten and Eleven

Simply sitting on the weekends presents the challenge of keeping with the activities of my family and staying true to my daily practice. On Saturday, DH was sick, leaving the girls and I to our own defenses. We biked to the home improvement store for a couple of quarts of paint to continue our treehouse project. We chose paint colors with epic names such as Swan Seas and Mythic Forest to carry home and get to work. I began with symptoms likened to DH's at dinner time. He stepped in to prep dinner and tuck the girls in while I laid down to rest around 7. I cleared my mind while lying there and very intentionally remained still for hours; eventually drifting off to a fitful sleep.

On Sunday, I sat for 7 or 8 minutes after tactically starting a movie for one girl and encouraging the other to do a little tree climbing. I instantly felt a warm, sinking feeling from the crown of my head to my sitting bones. As it does, my mind wandered here and there but was quick to return to non-thinking. My body re-grouped from Saturday's illness and I felt fresh and energetic throughout the day. Sitting is wonder-full.

The Swan
Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Friday, January 6, 2012

From Rilke's Book of Hours

Wenn etwas mir vom Fenster fällt
(When something comes to me from my window)

written by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing ---
each stone, blossom, child ---
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

That is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

Sitting Day Nine

Good morning. Fresh from a morning sit, I am feeling happy that it is Friday and we have a few 'down days' to balance the full swing feeling from the first week of the New Year. This morning's sit stretched over about 15 minutes time and had moments of pure stillness and calm mind; a sense of almost a waking slumber. I used a singing bowl to ring me in, sat on the nearest pillow from the bench, had kleenex as I have been fighting a bug, and a steaming cup of Lemon Ginger infusion. The first 3-4 minutes I noticed a repeating chorus from an old hymn I loved as a child, "And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim..."

And then I really sank into the quiet deeply. . .