Monday, March 26, 2012

Good bye, Call Light


This morning's sit was a retreat from both the busy and mundane. Have you ever discovered the busy life to become a dull, mundane sort of roar? At this moment in life, I am rushing away from something. It is often that I discover that I am rushing toward something; and that is a true rush for me, indeed. But to be rushing away from something is less my sort of 'RUSH'. 

Sitting has become a lifeline; and while it is not quite a daily practice, it is consistent enough to be life giving, nourishing, and essential. 

During my sit, I experience a flash flood of sensation such as,
                                                                                                       sweeping . . .
                                                                                                                           soothing . . . 

Quite the cascade, all in all, yet so honest and true and essential.

As I head to work in the field of Arts in Medicine, I feel optimistic, connected, and ready for the day after sitting for a few minutes. As a patient in the hospital uses the call light to get the nurse's attention, I too have days that I keep the call light close at hand. And there are always those patients who are never quite settled, who may not have a loved one attending, or may be in dire pain or suffering, and utilize the call light day and night. It is very difficult for a nurse to respond to a constant call from a patient while caring for others. 

When we practice the arts in healthcare, at the bedside of an uncomfortable patient, we hear from nursing staff that patients are more prepared for the day. Nurses state, "our patients stay off the call light when they have experienced ART in the morning. They seem ready for the day." This translates to happier, focused, and positively optimal nursing care.

After I have been wholly with myself, in this sit, I do not require a 'call light' either. I too am happier, focused and positively optimized for whatever the day may bring. Sure, I'll keep the call light for the big stuff, but for the daily grind, I say, "Good bye, call light! Hello, Sit!"

The Great Wide World and Its Busyness

Source: "Mist"

The Old Poets of China
By Mary Oliver

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Poem for Spring


Such Singing in the Wild Branches (2003)

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that's when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last

for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, "Such Singing in the Wild Branches"
     Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays,
     Beacon Press, Boston, 2003, pp. 8-9

I Get By With a Little Help . . .

What a glorious Spring sit this morning! I am grateful to welcome Spring in this way. The warm sun is beginning to heat the day, yet I deeply enjoy the cool morning breeze. I sat in the middle of my circle rug and did some reading in the I Ching before growing still and quiet.

I am reminded this morning that in order to create a harmonious and peaceful life, we must welcome help. When change comes, we invite help to receive it. When life is a mess, we invite help to create order. At every twist and turn, I am reminded that Help will come. We only have to ask for it. And we are not intended to do the work of life all alone. We can ask for help. Help will come.

And with this simple reminder to receive the help that is coming my way, even in this moment, I celebrate that Spring has indeed sprung!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mary Oliver's Swimming Lesson

"The Swimming Lesson"

Feeling the icy kick, the endless waves
Reaching around my life, I moved my arms
And coughed, and in the end saw the land.

Somebody, I suppose,
Remembering the medieval maxim,
Had tossed me in,
Had wanted me to learn to swim,

Not knowing that none of us, who ever came back
From that long lonely fall and frenzied rising,
Ever learned anything at all
About swimming, but only

How to put off, one by one,
Dreams and pity, love and grace –
How to survive in any place.

            Mary Oliver

Published in No Voyage and Other Poems

On Loving the Dark Hours

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,

and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open 
to another life that is wide and timeless. 

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a grave site
and make the real the dream 
of the one its living roots embrace:

a dream once lost 
among sorrows and songs.

Raven Tree by Caspar David Friedrich
Written by Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Book of Hours:Love Poems to God 
trans. by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy