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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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Posted in Air, Autumn, Change, Covid-19, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Faith, Gifts, Gratitude, Heartfulness, Hiking, In these strange times, Life, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Portals & Pathways, Quotes, Sky, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Water, Weather, Wonder, Woods, Yoga

Autumn dressed up for the occasion

When the fog reflected the colors of sunrise.

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.  It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well, can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

~ Pema Chodron

The early Greeks defined presence as the fundamental characteristic of being alive.

I believe it is not easy for any of us to be fully present, and that we settle for shadows and glimpses, for fleeting moments that sift through our hands and are gone. We may become clouded from impinging distractions as we are carried into countless pressures, anxieties, and demands; or else we try to escape through the many abundant and tempting means at our disposal; or we seek to overpower obstacles through adrenalin-driven pursuits, or with our intellects, determination, and skillful maneuvers, or by other strengths and capabilities, continually striving for something out of reach, or once attained, soon abandoned, while we silently lack what we most want.

As flawed human beings, it can be difficult to see beyond ourselves and understand each other intimately and compassionately. Being hampered by our limitations and the context of our past experience (or inexperience), we can be blind to each other even when we don’t want to be. Our failings can also blind us to ourselves, preventing us from reaching a deeper understanding below the surface of self-awareness.

~ John Justin David, from Parabola, October 26, 2020

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Posted in Air, Autumn, Change, Covid-19, Critters, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Garden, Gifts, Grandparenthood, Gratitude, Heartfulness, Hope, In these strange times, Life, Listening, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Portals & Pathways, Quotes, Sky, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Water, Weather, Wonder, Woods, Yoga

Random bits and pieces

Yellow rumped warbler in the woods.

Oh, the sweetness of realizing: I am not other than what I’m experiencing.  I am this breathing.  I am this moment, and it is changing, continually arising in the fountain of life.

~ Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self

Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat
yourself as long as it is interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.

He says keep praying.

He says everyone of us is a child,
everyone of us is ancient,
everyone of us has a body.
He says everyone of us is frightened.
He says everyone of us has to find
a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive–
shells, buildings, people, fish,
mountains, trees, wood is alive.
Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.

Everything lives inside us.

He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn’t matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.

It matters that you feel.

It matters that you notice.

It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.

Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.

Let life live through you.

~ Roger Keyes

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Posted in Air, Autumn, Change, Covid-19, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Fire, Gifts, Gratitude, Health & Well-Being, Heartfulness, Home, Hope, In these strange times, Life, Listening, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Sky, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Water, Weather, Wonder, Woods

A Monday meander: Shifting

Up.

Grace

The Wood is shining this morning.
Red. Gold and green. The leaves
Lie on the ground, or fall,
Or hang full of light in the air still.
Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes
The place it has been coming to forever.
It has not hastened here, or lagged.
See how surely it has sought itself,
Its roots passing lordly through the earth.
See how without confusion it is
All that it is, and how flawless
Its grace is. Running or walking, the way
Is the same. Be still. Be still.

~ Wendell Berry

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On my soapbox: The myth of positive thinking

A family tree.

I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.

~ Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided:  How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America

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Posted in Air, Autumn, Change, Climate Change, Covid-19, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Gifts, Gratitude, Heartfulness, In these strange times, Life, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Portals & Pathways, Quotes, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Walktober, Wonder, Woods

My Walktober

The woodland trail, here on the ranch. This is the trail you take to get to the dock.  It might not look like there are any signs of autumn, but there are.  What might appear to be white flowers just left of center is a sea myrtle that has gone to seed.

It’s no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

~ Saint Francis of Assisi

Walking, in particular drifting, or strolling, is already — with the speed of culture of our time — a kind of resistance… A very immediate method for unfolding stories.

~ Francis Alys

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Posted in A bit of history, Autumn, Beginnings, Change, Friends, Gifts, Spirit

Beach walk reflections with Frank

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.

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