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Happy holidays

Wishing you the happiest of holidays possible given the circumstances this year.  Find the light in the darkness and allow it to grow.  Or, as the song goes, may your days be merry and bright.

For those that might want a little music with that:  Sunny Christmas.  It’s a cheerful song with wonderful lyrics.  Enjoy.

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A billion tiny ways

Just after sunset on Thanksgiving.

There are billions of tiny acts that create suffering in the world—acts of ignorance, greed, violence. But in the same way, each act of caring—all the billion tiny ways that we offer compassion, wisdom, and joy to one another—serves as a preservative and healing agent.

~ Ram Dass, Being Ram Dass

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing.  Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.

~ David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

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A Monday meander: Vulnerability

In the woods, in the world.

Look at everyone around you and see what we have done about ourselves and what is considered our daily victory. We have not loved above all things. We have not accepted what is not understood because we do not want to be fools. We have accumulated things and assurances for not having each other. We have no joy that has not been cataloged. We have built cathedrals and we have stayed on the outside, because the cathedrals that we ourselves build fear that they are traps. We have not given ourselves, because that would be the beginning of a long life and we fear it. We have avoided falling on our knees in front of the first of us who out of love says: you are afraid. We have organized associations and smiling clubs where it is served with or without soda. We have tried to save ourselves, but without using the word salvation so as not to be ashamed of being innocent. We have not used the word love to avoid having to recognize its context of hatred, love, jealousy and so many other opposites. We have kept our death a secret to make our life possible. Many of us make art because we do not know what the other thing is like. We have disguised our indifference with false love, knowing that our indifference is anguish in disguise. We have disguised the great fear with the little fear and that’s why we never talk about what really matters. Talking about what really matters is considered an indiscretion. We have not adored for having the sensible stinginess of remembering the false gods in time. We have not been pure and naive not to laugh at ourselves and so that at the end of the day we can say “at least I was not stupid” and so we were not perplexed before turning off the light. We have smiled in public about what we would not smile when we were left alone. We have called weakness to our candor. We have feared each other, above all. And all this we consider our victory every day.

~ Clarice Lispector, An Apprenticeship, Or, The Book of Delights

“We are because we are seen; we are because we are loved.  The world is because it is beheld and loved into being.  On a silent retreat, while watching a line of ants traveling up a hillside, words came to me that I would repeat again and again in my mind:  I am in the world to love the world.

~ Anita Barrows, in her preface to Rilke’s Book of Hours:  Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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Where to start?

A sunrise.

The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also.

~ G. K. Chesterton

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A Monday meander: Rituals

At the pump.

While we have much to learn from indigenous cultures about forms of rituals and how ritual works, we cannot simply adopt their rituals and settle them neatly onto our psyches. It is important that we listen deeply, once again, to the dreaming earth and craft rituals that are indigenous to us, that reflect our unique patterns of wounding and disconnection from the land. These rituals will have the potency to mend what has been torn, heal what has been neglected. This is one way that we may return to the land and offer our deepest amends to those we have harmed.

~ Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

At the core of this grief is our longing to belong. This longing is wired into us by necessity. It assures our safety and our ability to extend out into the world with confidence. This feeling of belonging is rooted in the village and, at times, in extended families. It was in this setting that we emerged as a species. It was in this setting that what we require to become fully human was established. Jean Liedloff writes, “the design of each individual was a reflection of the experience it expected to encounter.” We are designed to receive touch, to hear sounds and words entering our ears that soothe and comfort. We are shaped for closeness and for intimacy with our surroundings. Our profound feelings of lacking something are not reflection of personal failure, but the reflection of a society that has failed to offer us what we were designed to expect. Liedloff concludes, “what was once man’s confident expectations for suitable treatment and surroundings is now so frustrated that a person often thinks himself lucky if he is not actually homeless or in pain. But even as he is saying, ‘I am all right,’ there is in him a sense of loss, a longing for something he cannot name, a feeling of being off-center, of missing something. Asked point blank, he will seldom deny it.

~ Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

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A morning walk

Out the back door, near sunrise.

Today is sacred – for it will never come again. What could be more important than living this day with attention and the intention to be of benefit, to the best of your ability, to all you encounter?

~ John Bruna

In spite of all the talk and study about our next years, all the silent ponderings about what lies within them…it seems plain to us that many things are wrong in the present ones that can be, must be, changed. Our texture of belief has great holes in it. Our pattern lacks pieces.

~ M.F.K. Fisher

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A Monday meander: Rainy days and Mondays

Early this morning.

As I get older, I realize the thing I value the most is good-heartedness.

~ Alice Walker

Many of us sense in the time of this current pandemic a great opportunity: it is as if we have collectively been sent indoors to do our essential human homework, to hit the pause button on our hyper-accelerating lives and reflect on what is really of value. It is to get into our hearts; to discover that being human is a magnificent thing; that each human being is a uniquely formed stream of creativity so perfectly designed to flow into communal rivers of renewal and into a great tidal shift that moves us in the years ahead to declare, “Powered by love? Indeed the whole thing is powered by love: every forest, every lake, every creature, every human, every galaxy is powered by love—by a love as potent and creative as we allow it to be.”

~ James O’Dea

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