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A Monday meander: What does it mean to be human?

Watching the skipjack races from the water.

…And, gratitude is the same thing as not taking for granted. Really it’s all part of the via positiva that the mystics talk about. Awe, wonder, gratitude. And, I think we as a species today, we have to ingest this in a deeper way. I think during previous moments in history or eras of history, we were more grateful. I think our secularizing of life has taken things for granted. However, science and the new creation story from science — I mean, 13.8 billion years has brought us here, each of us and all the species that we know — ups the ante on gratitude to know that this is a pretty surprising event that we call the Earth, and the human species, and the rest.

So, yeah, I think when that really seeps in, the new creation story from science, I think a lot of awe, wonder, and gratitude will rise. But we don’t have much time for that seeping to happen. So I think that’s part of the rattling of the cages we have to do today is to take in the new creation story and then draw conclusions from that about how fragile and special this Earth is and our species is.

~ Matthew Fox

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The starlings are back

Beekeeping.

Droughts especially appear to have accompanied the spirits of the dead in bee-form, and for this reason the honey offering was almost always customary in rain-magic, and the power of predicting rain was attributed to the bee.

~ Hilda M. Ransome, The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore

Farmers depend on honey bees to pollinate ninety different fruits and vegetables, from almonds to lettuce to cranberries to blueberries to canola—nearly $15 billion worth of crops a year.

~ Hannah Nordhaus, The Beekeeper’s Lament

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A Monday meander: Thinking ahead

Net fishing in the creek. (Trough Creek State Park, Pennsylvania)

The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy. That is the innocent, naïve misunderstanding that we all share, which keeps us unhappy.

~ Pema Chödron

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

~ Henri Nouwen

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A Monday meander: Summer vacation edition

Along the way, a field of sunflowers. We stopped to take a look (and a couple of photos).

It’s not enough to love something–or someone. Of course you love a person or art or music or the theatre. But you have to imagine that this person or this thing is trapped in a house afire, and the fire is apathy, and the fire is ignorance, and you have to go into the house all the time, day after day, year after year, and put out the flames and save the thing you love and rebuild the house in which it lives, and show it to others who will come to the rescue when you no longer can. Love is cheap and silly–a moron can love ice cream–but devotion is something worth talking about.

–Eva Le Gallienne

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Morning light and shadows

Sunrise through the raindrops resting on the kitchen window.

By opening up our heart then, the blessings come in. If our hearts are closed, then, like they say, like the sun is shining, but if you close all the shutters and the curtains, then the room is dark. If you open it up, then the sun is always there. It will lighten you if we open up to it. So from the Mahayana point of view, the whole universe is filled with blessings. All we have to learn how to do from our side is to learn how to develop that quality of openness and devotion and trust in order for those blessings to percolate into our own heart.

~ Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

To perceive the world through other senses is to find splendor in familiarity, wilderness in one’s backyard, the sacred in the mundane.

~ Ed Yong

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Posted in Change, Fire, Grief, In these strange times, Life, Quotes, Soapbox, Spirit, Spiritual practices

On strike

Shot of the television screen this morning. Young women (who obviously have something in common — can you spot it?) celebrating the announcement from the anti-majoritarian political party that calls itself a court.

Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.

~ Audre Lorde

Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.

~ more from Audre Lorde

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A little throwback and some new walking shoes

A throwback to 2017.

In the psychological climate of our own times, our emotions are almost always considered to be virtually identical with our personal authenticity, and the more freely they flow, the more we are seen to be honest and “in touch.” A person who gravitates to a mental mode of operation is criticized for being “in his head”; when feeling dominates, we proclaim with approval that such a person is “in his heart.”

In the Wisdom tradition, this would be a serious misuse of the term heart. Far from revealing the heart, Wisdom teaches that the emotions are in fact the primary culprits that obscure and confuse it. The real mark of personal authenticity is not how intensely we can express our feelings but how honestly we can look at where they’re coming from and spot the elements of clinging, manipulation, and personal agendas that make up so much of what we experience as our emotional life today. . . .

~ Cynthia Bourgeault, from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations

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