And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
~ Wendell Berry
Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up
from the pages of books and from your own heart.
Be still and listen to the voices that belong
to the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
by which it speaks for itself and no other.
Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
and the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
which is the light of imagination. By it you see
the likeness of people in other places to yourself
in your place. It lights invariably the need for care
toward other people, other creatures, in other places
as you would ask them for care toward your place and you.
No place at last is better than the world. The world
is no better than its places. Its places at last
are no better than their people while their people
continue in them. When the people make
dark the light within them, the world darkens.
~ Wendell Berry, excerpted from This Place That You Belong To from This Day: New & Collected Sabbath Poems
I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately. There is nothing unusual about that. What is different is my attitude. I’m thinking of the walks as acts of love. I walk, slowly some days, while singing and chanting and every now and then, breaking out in a little dance in the woods. Occasionally some of the other residents on the ranch join me. As I was chanting one afternoon, a doe walked a little distance away, parallel to me in the woods, as if she wanted to listen for a little while before she veered off into the marsh. She kept pace with me, not skittish at all. Our resident Great Blue Heron has suddenly been rather accepting of my presence, too.
In the last decade or so, my walks have frequently — maybe always — been acts of love. What I photograph, how I photograph, are acts of love. It’s just that I didn’t always think of them that way. Writing, too, is an act of love. So is my morning yoga practice.
About a month ago, in a post titled A love project, I wrote a little about this. In the time since, I have been pondering what I would do as a love project and what came to mind at first were all the lifetime type of love projects that I have already been engaged in. I bet you have a few of them, too. It might be writing poetry or fiction, painting or drawing, photography, yoga, cooking, sewing, crafting, praying, walking, or any of a whole host of activities that you are drawn to, inspired, inspirited, or touched by.
I have come to realize that there are many things I do throughout the day that could be considered acts of love, if only I would think of them that way. Yes, even the (sometimes) dreaded cleaning and laundry and washing of dishes. I don’t dread them at all when I’m in the groove of “acts of love.” Laundry? Acts of love. Scooping the poop out of the litter boxes? Acts of love for Izzy and Bella.
Just as we sometimes look at everything as sacred or holy or magical, we can look at everything we do as an act of love.
I have, finally, decided on a love project. The Mandala Magic course with Julie Gibbons has come to an end. It was an incredible year of learning through the use of the mandala as a container. Although Julie doesn’t teach techniques, I did come to learn a few through experimenting or looking for videos on how to do whatever it was I didn’t know how to do.
My plan, which is open to change (because you know how it is with plans!), is to start a new art journal using the notes, quotes, poetry, and images I collected or wrote throughout the 200-hour yoga teacher training (from 2019-2020). Because I find it difficult to read long articles and such online, I printed out a lot of stuff. I could leave it sitting in the file cabinet until I decide it’s time to throw it away. That seems such a waste of paper and trees. Better to use it for something. Let it all become part of an act of love.
Thank you so much for joining me on another meander. Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset. It’s scheduled for 4:43 PM. We have had some fairly warm (in the 60’s) weather today, but it is windy and getting windier (gale warning in effect). It is also cooler by the water so I’d suggest a jacket, maybe a hat.
Please be safe, be well, and find some time to just be.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,921) Doing the final assignment in the Mandala Magic course. As someone with a reputation for not finishing what she started, I’m quite pleased with having worked (and played!) my way through the almost year-long course. I put the finishing touches on the last mandala today. 1,922) Reading the letter I wrote to myself at the beginning of the Mandala Magic project. It was part of the first module and in it I listed my intentions for the year. After sealing it in an envelope that was taped inside the front cover of my art journal, I pretty much forgot all about it. It was surprising to find that I pretty much stuck with the intentions I set at the beginning, and went a little above and beyond. 1,923) Starting a new art project. I’m excited. 1,924) Sweet potato pie. 1,925) Learning a new chant. I’m struggling with it a bit (because it’s in Sanskrit), but that’s often the case with something new. It does me good to focus and struggle a little.