Rest In The Grace Of The World

 

Greetings! Taking a small break from writing. Lot’s to think about these days. Peace to you. Two videos for you!

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Enjoy Wendell Barry’s reading of The Peace of Wild Things.

 

Deep Peace of the Running Wave to You

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Erasing the Blackboard

I remember being so excited in elementary school when it was my turn to erase the blackboard at the end of the day. Making all the learning and thinking disappear, almost without a trace. It was rhythmic and calming pushing the felted eraser across the board. Or up and down. Or in big circular swirls. Words and numbers, assignments, messages and mistakes blurred into little specks of powdery chalk. Maybe what was there would be remembered. But maybe not. It was important at the time of writing it on the board. If the teacher used colored chalk it was really important. Or maybe even something to be anticipated with excitement! Whatever was written there was erased at the end of the day and the slate was left clean for a new day and new things.

At the end of the day I often find myself sitting quietly going through everything that my brain held onto during the day. Kind of like looking at that school day filled blackboard. There is much I can easily dismiss, erase. Some of what was written there is a little harder to completely erase. I have to go through those things by steps, gradually sifting through the layers till it can be blown away with by a thought. Some things seem to have been written there with non-erasable chalk. These things can almost be completely erased, but not quite. Just enough shadow writing remains that I can always read exactly what is there.

In the process of my daily attempt to sort through things I have been hanging on to, I feel as if I am becoming lighter, less bogged down. I sort, compartmentalize and throw out millions of little things. Like the process of erasing a school blackboard the background becomes mostly clean, uncluttered, receptive, fresh.

As this happens I make room for the thoughts, feelings, ideas, “things” that do seem important for me to write down and look at again free of the clutter of daily hording of unneeded and unwanted information and emotions.

Gratitude. Appreciation. Thankfulness. Love. Kindness. Compassion. Courage. Resolve……

In Buddhism the most important of these are referred to as the Four Radiant Abodes. These are human qualities that, upon reflection, are sublimely simple. Universal expressions of a heart that is open to the world and all living things. We know them as:

LOVE    COMPASSION    JOY    PEACE

I see these qualities daily in the faces and expressions of young children. We feel it in the embrace of a loved one. We see it in the eyes of others.  Something lights up when we are in the presence of someone who is filled with these qualities. These qualities shine outward from the heart. We see, experience how these things can transform others. And when we are touched by them we are transformed too.

These are a few of the things that are permanently written on my blackboard. But, sometimes, during the day they get written over. Lost. Hidden. Sometimes maybe even forgotten about. I erase the blackboard each day to bring them back into my consciousness in a more prominent light. Hoping not to write over them so much the following day. Because that does happen when frustration or anger surfaces. When disappointment or tiredness takes hold. When there is stress or worry. When things in life make me feel rushed and I become frayed around the edges. When I feel let down or uncared for. Lots of things get written on my blackboard, pushing other things to the background.

In their shadow purpose, love, compassion, joy and peace can cause me to form a lot of attachments to people and things. So equanimity is there along side them in counterbalance. To let some things go. To let the thoughts and emotions pass over me and not so much through me. Caution ever the reminder, equanimity can lead to excessive detachment, so it is held into balance by love, compassion, joy and peace.

With the blackboard erased and the mind at rest we are peaceful and our hearts are open. In this space of equanimity we meet others in peace and we are filled with love. When this love meets others in pain and suffering it transforms into compassion. When this love meets happiness it becomes joy. Equanimity and love, compassion, joy and peace in balance. We become transformed into our highest state of being.

At the end of the day I try to take the time to erase my blackboard and find renewal. The I feel as if I have come home to the dwelling place where I can rest, residing in the abode of immeasurable love, compassion, joy, peace and equanimity.

crazy garden

one garden at my physical home!! 

There is no faith, religion, culture, class or race that owns these qualities. They are in each one of us as human beings. We all carry within us the seeds of love, compassion, joy, peace and equanimity. It is however, up to us to nurture and tend them with understanding, patience, tolerance, acceptance, humility, acceptance, respect…..supporting and caring for their growth.

On my blackboard, the slate of my being, never to be fully erased, are the life driving qualities of love, compassion, joy, peace and equanimity. They are the pillars of the place where I dwell in my heart. Sometimes, the goings on of daily life write over them, obscuring them, dimming their clarity, but they remain the foundation of my human-ness. As I take time to let go of unwanted, unneeded clutter caused by longing, desire, uncertainty, anger, fear, jealousy……so many things, erasing them away, I come face to face with what is the true foundation of who I want to be, who I can be, who I am.

I strive to do this every day. It is a goal. Always a learning process. Always humbling and grounding.

 

Who Is Listening?

Many years ago, at the Farmer’s Market in Ithaca, my husband and I were slowly wandering from booth to booth soaking in the colors and bounty from local farms. My dearest friend, Connie, was with us as we paused in front of the booth of a local artist, Jim Hardesty. Before us were dozens of Chinese brush paintings….sinuous strokes of ink and pigment transformed into birds and flowers. And, Kwan Yin.

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I felt like she was calling my name. Calling me to invite her into my life.

Kwan Yin, Quan Yin, Kuanyin, Guanyin, Padma-pâni. Her name means

One Who Sees and Hears the Cry from the Human World.

Many of us have felt compassion towards someone else. We feel the pain and suffering of others, especially of those we love deeply. We long, almost ache, to find a way to ease their suffering.

Life is a series of waves coming ashore. There are waves of love, kindness, forgiveness and generosity. And right behind those waves are the waves of violence, division, indifference and cruelty. Lapping the shore. Pushing and pulling on our heart and our fears. Some days we may feel as if we are drowning in our own suffering or in the pain of someone we love. Barely, we keep our head above the waters churning and foaming. Some days we soften, relax, let go and float softly, cradled in a lullaby of the calm waters.

When we turn away from, run from, harden ourselves against that which is painful, we are turning away from that which is a part of life. We can become protective. We may begin to live in fear.

We can, instead, choose to look at that pain and fear and open our heart to compassion. Like a beautiful garden, tended with love from the heart, compassion grows from generosity, wisdom, loving kindness, empathy, equanimity and courage. The fruits and flowers from this garden have the power to heal suffering.

Compassion is a way, a path, of maneuvering through a world and life that brings each one of us beauty and love and well as pain and suffering.

Compassion is not reserved only for those we love and respect. It is also for those who may threaten or frighten us. This is a world full of billions of people we will never know, yet our compassion in thought, and deed must include these people too. There are human beings in the world facing intolerable suffering. Of such magnitude that I will venture to say no one reading this can even imagine the degree of suffering.

Somewhere in all this we have to think about and come to terms with the fact that our ability to heal through compassion walks side by side with our capacity to cause the suffering. And we choose…..we choose and then learn to heal or we increase the divides between us.

Enter Kwan Yin. She is sometimes holding a willow branch, flexible, able to bend and not break, even in the strongest of winds or fiercest of deluge. Other times she has a thousand arms and one, all seeing eye. She is in constant awareness and her response is all embracing. Sometimes she is a warrior brandishing weapons to root out suffering. Mine holds quince blossoms from time immemorial. Kwan Yin hears the cries of our suffering. The suffering of the people of the world. And she reaches out with compassion to heal that suffering.

I know I feel overwhelmed sometimes by the magnitude and breadth of the suffering of people around the world. I don’t, and I don’t believe I can, have the answers. But, I can choose to hear the cries, to listen to the stories, to care. To not run or hid from the suffering of others. In so doing I begin to see “the rest of the story.” The loneliness and fear in and of others, the blame and anger, the mistrust, the intolerance and ignorance. Awareness teaches us how to be helpful through compassion, kindness, strength. It gives rise to understanding and and a desire to bring about the end of suffering.

We don’t have the power to change the hearts of others. We do, however, have the power and responsibility for our own state of mind, the values we carry within our heart. We make the choice to stand hand in hand with those who work endlessly to alleviate the pain of war, disease, hunger, oppression. Or, we walk hand in hand with those who spread fear, mistrust, violence, persecution, revenge.

In order to hear the cries of the world and to find the courage and strength to uplift through compassion we first have to allow our own hearts to be open. We have to look within. We have to close our eyes and listen. To the noise of the world, the cries of those in pain and who are suffering. When we have heard, we open our eyes to see, then we choose what we will do. We take action.

Who is listening?

“later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere.”

~Warsan Shire

Who is listening?

Check out this week’s readings:  This Week

“Into The World”

College seems like a lifetime ago. Ha! It really was! I reminisce with college friends and we laugh as we try to piece together fading memories. There are some beautiful memories that thankfully haven’t faded. They are the ones that were built on the pillars of love, trust, hope, respect.

I met my husband in college. He was building a wooden sailboat. I asked him if he would sail me to Nepal. He said yes. We were not geographically impaired. We were making a commitment of sailing through a lifetime together.

I went to a small Quaker college. It was founded on the idea of experiential learning and being a citizen of the world. I learned weaving in Greece and  Tea Ceremony at the Urasenke School in Kyoto, Japan. I worked at the International School in Kyoto and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete. I worked in Montessori schools and learned from Waldorf teachers.

One required reading was Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere Learn more  I was happy to discover it is still required reading in the field of education.

Heading to Japan I was asked to read The Chrysanthemum and the Sword  Learn more

Books by Lawrence Durrell helped prepare me for life in Corfu and Crete. Learn more here Books by Durrell  The legend of Theseus and Ariadne came to life as Ana Lisa and I walked through Knossos. Ariadne’s Thread by Judith White explored the mythology that ruled ancient Greece, and it translated nicely into the theories of Jungian psychology. Learn more

theseus-and-ariadne

I also discovered Anais Nin, DH Lawrence and Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Along with Nin and Pinkola Estes I read powerful books by Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Tao of Psychology and The Goddess in Every Woman.  Learn more

It’s cliché, but it feels like life was simpler then. Maybe it was as a college student traveling the world, fairly carefree. I saw beautiful places and met wonderful people. I experienced a lot of things that were very uncomfortable, and in hindsight also unsafe. I came to understand what it meant to be a world citizen. Firmly believing in the binding threads of humanity, the power of love, inclusion and respect.

In the crazy world of today it feels as if the Global Citizen, with the ideals of inclusion, respect and interconnectedness is at odds with the fear mongering, hate powered belief that is “Us/We” vs “Others/Them”.

So, I offer this feminist oriented peace poem from Jean Shinoda Bolen with the sometimes dispirited, but mostly fervent belief, that we can live in peace and respect with one another.

Peace Poem

Untappped source of peace,
The only real hope
Is to draw upon the collective wisdom of women. 
Those with direct experience of the cost of war:
The life of child, grandchild, sibling, spouse.
The loss of limb or mind of someone near and dear,
The loss of laughter, the pervasiveness of fear,
The loss of hope for the future.

Untapped source of peace,
Those who know of domestic violence:
Seen the effect of bullying on sons,
Seen daughters become silent, 
Seen light go out in their eyes.
Those who know
That when every child matters,
When none are hungry, abused or discounted
The world will become a kinder place
For us all

Untapped source of peace,
Women with empathy
Who live in a world apart,
Are safe, loved, and fortunate,
Yet can imagine
Being helpless, beaten, and raped,
Then forced to bear a child
Conceived in violence. 
Women who know in their hearts
That what happens to any woman
Anywhere
Could happen to them.

Untapped source of peace,
Women who see loved ones filled with vengeance and hate,
Hypervigilant, fear-ridden, or afraid to sleep
Because of the nightmares.
Husbands, brothers, sons, and now daughters
Home from wars,
Bearing little resemblance to who they could have been
In a peaceful world.

Untapped source of peace,
Women in circles,
Women connecting,
Women together
Bringing the sacred feminine, 
Maternal instinct, sister archetype,
Mother power
Into the world.

~Jean Shinoda Bolen

k-iraklion-port

Heraklion, Crete: a “lifetime ago”

 

 

“the untrimmable light of the world”

Mindful
by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
I don’t know about you, but everyday I have to work at remembering to look and listen for the things
“that more or less kills me with delight”.
There is so much that distracts me or draws my attention away from being able to see the
” ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.”
So much that is beautiful, wonderful, miraculous is in front of us every day.
If only we would look and listen. We would see and hear.
Gratefully I work with young children who challenge me every single day to look differently, in order to see differently, in order to think differently, in order to understand differently. And in doing so, I am able to witness the common magic of each day.
“It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.”
oregon-sunriseIf we could only remember…this is what we were born for……
What is good, beautiful and true demands we keep our hearts open, our eyes alert, our minds uncluttered. In doing so it becomes possible to turn away and refuse what is wrong and instead work for what is right. To embrace the potential and possibility of goodness, kindness, helpfulness, understanding, compassion….
Instructing ourselves in “joy and acclamation” for all that is part of the untrimmable light of the world.
Do not drown in fear, despair, hate or worry. Look up and around. Most certainly there is darkness and death and violence, war and intolerance. But there too is light, life, love, understanding and acceptance. Rise up allow yourself to grow wise with the delight of the world so that joy and love will win over all else and spread across our world. So that we will learn how to adapt to a world of peace, of having enough for all, kindness, hope, respect….and we will learn how to rise together and always welcome and honor one another.
A four-year old stood in the middle of our circle at group time and announced, unsolicited, that it was time to make a “declaration”. I asked what she meant and she said “We have to pray for peace. We have to hold hands and say ‘I declare peace.’ “
So  we did.
And then we declared kindness.
Then love.
Please vote.
This week’s reading:  This Week

Quiet Miracles

I wish I had the presence of being in the moment more often. To see and hear, to be aware of the little miracles that come softly into my day. The ones that are not flashy or boastful. The ones that are small and gentle.

“Take time to see the quiet miracles that
seek no attention”
~ John O’Donohue

One such miracle is still lingering with me. It happened a few days ago. A wee one, just three, sitting and “reading” a book. On the cover was a rainbow and a dolphin. All he cared about was the rainbow.

Softly he began to sing

“Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”

The whole song. Every word. Every lingering note.

A few minutes before he had not been sitting, looking at a book and singing. The Light that burst forth from this child had been a whirlwind of energy and emotion not unlike the cartoon character Tasmanian Devil.

While he was spinning and twirling with seemingly endless energy and force he was most definitely seeking attention.

While he was singing this child was bathed from within with a Light that was not seeking any attention. He didn’t even know I was there. Watching him. Listening to him. Soaking up every last drop of his peace and happiness.

If I had not paused with him in his space between energy waves, or walked away to get away, I would not have heard his little voice softly singing or seen his Light so in love with the magic of singing a beautiful song about a rainbow.

When he finished he did look up at me smiling. He held up the book. “See, it’s a rainbow.”

That interlude, for him, subdued the commanding, rhythmic pattern of those energy waves and left him in a calmness I could never have helped him find no matter how hard I tried. And in that interlude, he was in the fact, the one who helped me find a calmness I could not have found without him.

“Take time to see the quiet miracles that
seek no attention”

october-aspen

** Check out some of this week’s readingsThis Week

This Day

“When the path ignites a soul,
there’s no remaining in place.
The foot touches ground,
but not for long.”
~Hakim Sanai

It happens often on Sunday morning. I get up, get ready to proof read today’s post, read something else and then have to put the planned post aside and start over.

This morning I read two very different pieces. Separately they do not seem to be related. But they are.

One article was Listening Deeply for Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh and the other was by Shaun King, writer for the New York Daily News.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes about the possibility of peace. Shaun King writes about a boycott to bring an end to the killing of Black people.

I am sure that about here some of you will stop reading. And therein is part of the problem.

“Without deep listening and gentle loving speech it is very difficult to move towards peace. Peace will only become a reality, says Thich Nhat Hanh, when world leaders come to negotiations with the ability to hear the suffering at the root of all conflicts.”

“This week, I have received one question more than any other – from my wife, from my children, from friends and family, from colleagues, from college classmates, and from thousands and thousands of you.

“Shaun – what are we going to do about police brutality and racial injustice in America?”

“When one country attacks another, it is out of great fear and a kind of collective ignorance. ” TNH

This is the same for the way we treat and attack one another (physically and verbally) on an individual basis in this country. Out of fear and ignorance.

“All violence is injustice. We should not inflict that injustice on ourselves or on other people.” TNH

We live in a highly militarized country with highly militarized police. We have chosen this over clean water, renewable resources, addressing global warming, childcare, quality education, updated infrastructure, equal pay and equal rights, gender equality, religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to protest …..an endless list.

If you read my posts with any regularity, you know my thoughts on most things. You also know I put great effort in coming to terms with and understanding the balancing of “Be Here Now”, world peace and Black Lives Matter (and many other things). Sometimes I struggle so profoundly I reach out to “teachers” for guidance. Often I cringe when people ask “Why worry so much?” or comment “It’s not that bad.” or, parrot “All lives matter.”

You would also know I work with young children. Over the years I have see change in their play, in their words and role play. Some are “positive” changes. Other changes worry me.

I have children of my own who put great thought into whether they want to bring a child into the world as it is now. It is a profound inner turmoil for them that brings confusion and sorrow.

I think about things many of you don’t. I am a little older now. My life moves a little slower than it used to. I have discovered a part of me that had to wait to be nurtured. Seeds were planted many years ago by my parents, role models, friends, teachers, experiences. They lay dormant through the fantasy world of childhood, the emotional flurry of the teen years, the rebellious years of college, the floundering of young adulthood, the tender years of parenthood and the softening of these years. Now I make the time to tend to them so that they can grow.

I am not hesitant to say out loud I believe we must achieve peace in the world and that it can be attained. I am proud I stand with Black Lives Matter and all issues of social justice. I believe our country and culture has become too militarized and not only does it hurt us, it hurts people around the world. I do not hide behind my upbringing of Christian teachings and say other religions are wrong, not of value, unimportant, or “not true”. I am not very “religious” now. Most religions teach of compassion. However, many religions now are a source of division and intolerance.

“As long as we allow hatred to grow in us, we continue to make ourselves and others suffer. As we look deeply at the wars in our recent history, we have to transform our hatred and misunderstanding into compassion.” TNH

“The antidote to violence and hatred is compassion. There is no other medicine. Unfortunately, compassion is not available in drugstores. You have to generate the nectar of compassion in your heart.” TNH

We all listen to what is in our own hearts.

We have to begin to listen to others.

Listen deeply. Begin by listening to the words and hearing what is being said. There are people crying out in suffering and pain. Then, let’s reach out to heal.

wo-fear-wo-hate

 

Listening Deeply For Peace

**Please click on the This Week tab at the top of the page to check out this week’s readings.