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
The animacy of the world is something we already know, but the language of animacy teeters on extinction — not just for Native peoples, but for everyone. Our toddlers speak of plants and animals as if they were people, extending to them self and intention and compassion — until we teach them not to. We quickly retrain them and make them forget. When we tell them that the tree is not a who, but an it, we make that maple an object; we put a barrier between us, absolving ourselves of moral responsibility and opening the door to exploitation. Saying it makes a living land into “natural resources.” If a maple is an it, we can take up the chain saw. If a maple is a her, we think twice.
… Learning the grammar of animacy could well be a restraint on our mindless exploitation of land. But there is more to it. I have heard our elders give advice like “You should go among the standing people” or “Go spend some time with those Beaver people.” They remind us of the capacity of others as our teachers, as holders of knowledge, as guides. Imagine walking through a richly inhabited world of Birch people, Bear people, Rock people, beings we think of and therefore speak of as persons worthy of our respect, of inclusion in a peopled world. We Americans are reluctant to learn a foreign language of our own species, let alone another species. But imagine the possibilities. Imagine the access we would have to different perspectives, the things we might see through other eyes, the wisdom that surrounds us. We don’t have to figure out everything by ourselves; there are intelligences other than our own, teachers all around us. Imagine how much less lonely the world would be.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
We dream of having a clean house — but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning? We don’t have to dream about doing the work, because doing the work is always within our grasp; the dream, in this sense, is to attain the goal without the work.
~ Marcus Buckingham
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending the weekend cleaning out the basement.
~ Gretchen Rubin
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
Is giorra cabhair Dé ná an doras.
Divine help is closer than the door.
If you have a few moments, please watch Blessings, a short film, at Emergence Magazine. There are no ads, no spamming of any sort. It’s a beautiful reading of part of David Whyte’s Blessings poems.
I have been trying to come up with a good way to introduce Frank. Some of you might already by familiar with him from his blog, A Frank Angle. Frank and I go back quite a ways in blog years although I can’t say exactly when we met in cyberspace and cybertime. It was back in my Life in the Bogs days, that much I know for sure. He has been a great blogging companion and has joined in on quite a few Walktobers (his first, I think, was in 2013). Honestly, I think if you really want a hint of who Frank is, go read the comments in his last post at A Frank Angle, On the Finale: The Puzzle’s Last Piece. Frank had a big impact on a lot of people, bringing a diverse group of us together for musicals (always great fun!), politics, satire, and more. One of the comments describes Frank’s blog as a front porch and it’s true. That is what it felt like when we gathered there for music or discussions. Here is what I wrote as my final comment:
Frank, my friend, you have me in tears. Good tears, though, for a good man who created this wonderful place for people to meet. When you wrote about your visitors and how you connected with people, you left out how we visitors also connected with each other in various ways. You’ve created this amazing web, all by being yourself. Well done. Very well done.
Frank posted his final post at A Frank Angle, On the Finale: The Puzzle’s Last Piece, in February with hints of possibly more to come. I am honored and pleased to bring you this guest post from Frank as a sampling of what his new blog, opening on October 20th, will be gifting to us. Beach Wak Reflections is the name of Frank’s new blog.
Without further ado…Embed from Getty Images
I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Ever think about seeds? They seem so simple at a glance – even on closer examination. We typically think of a hard, thin outer shell with a softer inside.
We do not know how this pandemic will change our lives, change the scenery of our world. For how long will “social distancing” remain? Will we ever return to cheap crowded flights? How long and desperate will the food lines get? It is as if someone has pulled the thread that held it all together, even as we struggle to “return to normal.” But the question is, what story are we trying to tell ourselves? Or are we between stories, in a state of unknowing and insecurity? What are our dreams telling us, what is the message of our hearts? As Leonard Cohen sings, “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” Is this a moment when the light can come in through the cracks, through the structures in our civilization that have been shown to fail?
~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee