Hiking - I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word "saunter?" It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, "A la sainte terre," "To the Holy Land." And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not "hike" through them. - John Muir
Monday, November 9, 2020
Salvation by Deeds
One autumn, one of the autumns of time, the Shinto divinities gathered, not for the first time, at Izumo. They are said to have numbered eight million. Being a shy man I would have felt a bit lost among so many. In any case, it is not convenient to deal in inconceivable numbers. Let us say there were eight, since eight is a good omen in these islands.
They were downcast, but did not show it: the visages of divinities are undecipherable kanji. They seated themselves in a circle on the green crest of a hill. They had been observing mankind from their firmament or from a stone or from a snowflake. One of the divinities spoke:
Many days, or centuries, ago, we gathered here to create Japan and the world. The fishes, the seas, the seven colors of the rainbow, the generations of plants and animals have all worked out well. So that men should not be burdened with too many things, we gave them succession, issue, the plural day and the singular night. We also bestowed on them the gift of experimenting with certain variations. The bee continues repeating beehives. But man has imagined devices: the plow, the key, the kaleidoscope. He also imagined the sword and the art of war. He has just imagined an invisible weapon which could put an end to history. Before this senseless deed is done, let us wipe out men.
They remained pensive. Without haste another divinity spoke:
It is true. They have thought up that atrocity, but there is also this something quite different, which fits in the space encompassed by seventeen syllables.
The divinity intoned them. They were in an unknown language, and I could not understand them.
The leading divinity delivered a judgment:
Let men survive.
Thus, because of a haiku, the human race was saved.
- Jorge Luis Borges
Monday, October 5, 2020
Every day now, I wake up, and I feel it - grief. It is not a grief conjured up solely from my own personal losses. Although those have a part to play. It is a different grief. It is a lingering, low-lying, non-distinct grief. It is a grief that hovers, mixed with concern, with worry, with desire, with longing. A grief for something lost, or dying, or calling out for my attention, that feels like it is going to perish because there is no way for me to reach it. It is like a baby constantly crying somewhere in the distance.
Yes, like that, like that a thousand times over. A grief for things being harmed, that I alone have not the strength or power to protect. A grief that reaches out its hands to a burning rainforest, to a trafficked teenage girl, to a victim of crime that was denied justice in an unjustice system, to salmon contending with low water, to a stand of trees cut down for yet another development, to a beach covered in plastic, to a child covered in sores, to a sensitive soul shooting up the overdose of fentanyl, to the last caribou standing in a functionally extinct herd, to first nation communities surrounded on every side by industry, to the factory worker in China who forgets her own name after a 14 hr shift, to a migrant worker exhausted and unable to find a safe place to live, to a struggling farmer in India who can't afford his debts, to a millionaire buying love over and over again and never receiving it, to a cow in a feed lot standing knee deep in her own feces living a completely denaturalized life and yearning for an open field, to a person who hasn't been touched or hugged in months, to the freshly logged cut block in the last remaining old growth.
I feel you, but I cannot touch you.
I feel you, but I cannot reach you.
I feel you, because I am you.
Here is the challenge of our time, dear beings: To truly open our hearts to the wonders of Interbeing, to live a connected, open-eyed, open-hearted, wide-awake life of awareness and responsiveness to what is happening on our beloved planet, this comes with a cost. And that cost is an intensity of grief. The grief of being born to an earth family that is poisoning each other and our one and only home. That is neglecting and ignoring its elders (indigenous peoples worldwide), and squandering the inheritance of its children (our young ones, our future ones).
I don't think the world is full of cold-hearted people. I don't think that's why we're not seeing a full-scale REVOLUTION and REVOLT against business as usual. I think the world is full of people who only know their heart to be so big. Who feel the subconscious fear of the cost of it breaking, if they were to let the full reality enter in like a mighty rushing wind. I think the world is full of people who need to feel...more. And more. And...more. People who need a deeper and wider feeling experience inside of their human experience. People who have learned how to block that from happening, and so are in need of a great softening medicine. People who are exhausted with pain, and don't feel they can bear another drop.
Grief. You are a heavyweight champion. The great contender. The water and the stone.
And yet, I do believe our hearts need to be expanded by this collective grief. And so today I am making a stand for the grievers. I am making a stand for grief itself. That we must feel it. That we must not hide from it or run from it or lose our faith in its ability to connect us most deeply to all life. That we must not allow cynicism to arise in the absence of making space for it (because perhaps cynicism develops when grief is retained in the mind only, and is not allowed to reach deep down in and expand our hearts) . And that this grief, if we let it do its work in us, will have us turn fiercely and lovingly toward what we love. It will give us the wherewithal to protect it and each other and stay...open. To be giants of feeling.
I think the revolution will come through the catalyzation of grief work. It will arrive quietly and powerfully on a trail of tears.
May grief do its work in you as it is doing its work in me.
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
– Mary Oliver
Monday, August 3, 2020
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Monday, June 1, 2020
That is why he is called a poet. And his responsibility, which is also his joy and his strength and his life, is to defeat all labels and complicate all battles by insisting on the human riddle, to bear witness, as long as breath is in him, to that mighty, unnameable, transfiguring force which lives in the soul of man, and to aspire to do his work so well that when the breath has left him, the people—all people!—who search in the rubble for a sign or a witness will be able to find him there.
- James Baldwin, from "How to Think like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education Hardcover" by Scott Newstok
Friday, May 1, 2020
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster
than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple,
their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Inside the labyrinths of grief, transition, uncertainty, and doubt are hidden jewels, which long to be mined and to disclose their essence.
While we will naturally have a preference to be free of the wound, we are asked to find the soul there. For there are colors, fragrance, data, and revelation that is not accessible outside that landscape. It is buried within it.
To access this, we must go against the grain and flow of a world that has forgotten the poetry and melody of the dark… one that has become enamored by solar glow and where the lunar has fallen into the shadow.
Somewhere in the middle of transcending the wound and drowning within it, the call comes from there, from that unknown place that is oriented in creativity and holding the tension. In that liminal dimension, in between, it is there the beloved awaits, looking for us.
- Matt Licata
Saturday, February 1, 2020
So the next step in the process is for you to see that your own thinking about what you are doing is crucially important. You are probably striving to build yourself an identity in your work and your witness. You are using it so to speak to protect yourself against nothingness, annihilation. That is not the right use of your work. All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.
- Thomas Merton