by Burton D. Carley
I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and
nights by which we count time remember their own passing.
I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine
remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars.
I do not know if the squirrel remembers last fall’s gathering or if the
bluejay remembers the meaning of snow.
I do not know if the air remembers September or if the night remembers
I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if
the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.
Perhaps that is the reason for our births—to be the memory for
Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected.
Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:
“What can you tell me about September?”
We are continually aligning or relating ourselves to those energies or actions which we perceive as being favourable or desirable. Our bodies take us to food, sex, rest, recreation. Our minds take us towards knowledge of all kinds. Our feelings attract us to the arts, to nature, even to spiritual pursuits. This is all natural and desirable….But is it not strange that we do not, at the same time, turn more frequently to the supreme energy, to the Self veiled within each of us, for the profundity of which we only have human words?
~ William Segal, Openings
No man knows how much he is an optimist, even when he calls himself a pessimist, because he has not really measured the depths of his debt to whatever created him and enabled him to call himself anything. At the back of our brains… [there is] a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life [is] to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonder; so that a man sitting in a chair might suddenly understand that he [is] actually alive, and be happy.
~ G. K. Chesterton
Healing does not require that you master the unreasonable side of your reason. Nor does healing require inner perfection of any order. A common trait shared by people who have healed is that they cease being unreasonable in ways that no longer matter in the greater scheme of life. Against the scale of life or death, how important is winning an argument? How important is holding a grudge? How important is anything other than how well we love others, how deeply we regard the value of the gift of life, and what we do with our life that makes this world a better place?
~ Caroline Myss
I believe our survival demands revolution, both cultural and political. If we are to survive the disasters that threaten, and survive our own struggle to make it new – a struggle I believe we have no choice but to commit ourselves to – we need tremendous transfusions of imaginative energy. If it is indeed revolution we are moving toward, we need life, and abundantly – we need poems of the spirit, to inform us of the essential, to help us live the revolution. And if instead it be the Last Days – then we need to taste the dearest, freshest drops before we die – why bother with anything less than that, the essential?
~ Denise Levertov, The Poet in the World
The ancient words of the Orthodox liturgy, or the Om mani padme hum, or the Upanishads, have an incantatory power — a power of invoking that which they seek to invoke — because they have been repeatedly uttered. But they have been repeatedly uttered because millions have trusted them. To take etymology really seriously is to trust words.
And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. In my less depressive moments, I think that there’s a deep and universal principle at work — which is that if you really, really trust the world (a world that includes words) and make yourself wholly vulnerable in the event of your trust being misplaced, the world always honors and rewards the trust and vulnerability. You can call it faith or grace if you want.
~ Charles Foster, Emergence Magazine
For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else. That is an enormously liberating experience, and it worries me that more and more people are learning not to use language; they’re giving in to the banalities of the television media and shrinking their vocabulary, shrinking their own way of using this fabulous tool that human beings have refined over so many centuries into this extremely sensitive instrument. I don’t want to make it crude, I don’t want to make it into shopping-list language, I don’t want to make it into simply an exchange of information: I want to make it into the subtle, emotional, intellectual, freeing thing that it is and that it can be.
~ Jeanette Winterson
Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back, to living in a way that the Earth will be grateful for us.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
There’s a song that wants to sing itself through us. We just got to be available. Maybe the song that is to be sung through us is the most beautiful requiem for an irreplaceable planet or maybe it’s a song of joyous rebirth as we create a new culture that doesn’t destroy its world. But in any case, there’s absolutely no excuse for our making our passionate love for our world dependent on what we think of its degree of health, whether we think it’s going to go on forever. Those are just thoughts anyway. But this moment you’re alive, so you can just dial up the magic of that at any time.
~ Joanna Macy
Searching for spring all day, I never saw it,
straw sandals treading everywhere
among the clouds, along the banks.
Coming home, I laughed, catching
the plum blossom’s scent:
spring at each branch tip, already perfect.
~ unknown zen nun from the Song Dynasty (trans. by Sam Hammill and J.P. Seaton, The Poetry of Zen)
We can no longer hear the voice of the rivers, the mountains, or the sea. The trees and meadows are no longer intimate modes of spirit presence. The world about us has become an ‘it’ rather than a ‘thou.’
~ Thomas Berry
What is needed is a new pattern of rapport with the planet. Here we come to the critical transformation needed in the emotional, aesthetic, spiritual, and religious orders of life. Only a change that profound in human consciousness can remedy the deep cultural pathology manifest in such destructive behavior. Such change is not possible, however, so long as we fail to appreciate the planet that provides us with a world abundant in the volume and variety of food for our nourishment, a world exquisite in supplying beauty of form, sweetness of taste, delicate fragrances for our enjoyment, and exciting challenges for us to overcome with skill and action. The poets and artists can help restore this sense of rapport with the natural world. It is this renewed sense of reciprocity with nature, in all of its complexity and remarkable beauty, that can help provide the psychic and spiritual energies necessary for the work ahead.
~ Thomas Berry, The Sacred Universe