Once I had imagined that my journey would be like the Pilgrim’s Progress, where each adventure brings the hero closer to the heavenly city, but the Christian God with whom I had been intoxicated in my teenage years did not survive the theological studies I undertook to serve him (and it was a him). When I turned outward, angry and heartsick, to political affairs, I found that I was a failure as an atheist, too, for I could not cure myself of praying to a God I no longer believed in.
~ Joanna Macy, from the preface to Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.
~ Hildegard Von Bingen
This ancient Latin phrase loosely translates as “It is solved by walking.” A walk is a journey that requires very little — neither planning nor passport, neither ticket nor equipment. Nearly always at our disposal, a walk provides so much more than just a change of scenery. Walking has helped me decide what is wise and what is foolhardy, has made me fall in love with a place, has batted away my melancholy. Walking has helped me loosen the grip technology has on my life, giving me space and permission to disconnect from my devices that beg for my attention and feed my anxiety. Most of all, walking has nurtured my creativity as I struggle to give tangible form to abstract ideas.
~ Bonnie Smith Whitehouse, in the introduction to Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking
Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.
~ Harriet Goldhor Lerner
Gain health from lusty, heroic exercise, from free, firm-nerved adventures without anxiety in them, with rhythmic leg motion in runs over boulders requiring quick decision for every step. Fording streams, tingling with flesh brushes as we slide down white slopes thatched with close snow-pressed chaparral, half swimming or flying or slipping — all these make good counter-irritants. Then enjoy the utter peace and solemnity of the trees and stars… Find a mysterious presence in a thousand coy hiding things.
~ John Muir
Take the whole teatime just to drink your tea. I started doing this in airports. Instead of reading, I sit there and look at everything, and appreciate it. Even if you don’t feel appreciation, just look. Feel what you feel; take an interest and be curious. Write less; don’t try to capture it all on paper. Sometimes writing, instead of being a fresh take, is like trying to catch something and nail it down. This capturing blinds us and there’s no fresh outlook, no wide-open eyes, no curiosity.
~ Pema Chodron
… I couldn’t point to any enormous instantaneous change that has happened to me, but certainly over the last ten years, this notion—that I don’t really know everything and that I’ve got a lot to learn, rather than a lot to teach, and that there is a conversation I don’t know how to have, that I’d like to learn how to have—has been a constant for me, and it’s changed me subtly.
There’s still a lot I’d like to do and a lot I’d like to learn, a lot I’d like to know. I think that’s increasingly such an important task: just to learn how to listen, to relearn what we’ve forgotten. I don’t think there is any easy sort of ABC curriculum for it. There’s a lot of work you can do.
~ Paul Kingsnorth, The Myth of Progress, Emergence Magazine Podcast
In a flash of wonderment she saw firm, continuous ground under her feet, stretching from back then to right now and on and on as far as her eyes could take her.
~ Ann Brashares, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
The resolution of a koan requires a certain trust of mystery, a faith that there is an answer which will come in time.
~ Rachel Naomi Remen