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Joy in the body

A weekend sunset at the Point.

Winter: Tonight: Sunset
by David Budbill

Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.

(“Winter: Tonight: Sunset” by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press,  2005.)

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At home

The front yard, the front of the house, and the pond escaping its usual confines.

I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.

~ Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

When you are born–what you are born into, the place, the history of the place, how that history mates with your own– stamps who you are, whatever the pundits of globalisation have to say.

~ Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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A Monday meander: Winter and words

Winter fairy lights in the meadow.

The English language is a magnificent sponge. I love the English language. I’m glad that I speak it. But for all that, it has a lot of holes. In Greek, there’s a word, “lachesism” which is the hunger for disaster. You know, when you see a thunderstorm on the horizon and you just find yourself rooting for the storm. In Mandarin, they have a word “yù yī” — I’m not pronouncing that correctly — which means the longing to feel intensely again the way you did when you were a kid. In Polish, they have a word “jouska” which is the kind of hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head. And finally, in German, of course in German, they have a word called “zielschmerz” which is the dread of getting what you want.

~ John Koenig

If we were not here— the show would play to an empty house, as do all those falling stars which fall in the daytime. That is why I take walks: to keep an eye on things.

~ Annie Dillard

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Election day eclipse

Eclipsing.

The most important hour is always the present; the most significant person is precisely the one who is sitting across from you right now; the most necessary work is always love.

~ Meister Eckhart

Life is political, not because the world cares about how you feel, but because the world reacts to what you do. The minor choices we make are a kind of vote, making it more or less likely that free and fair elections will be held in the future. In the politics of the everyday, our words and gestures, or their absence, count very much.

~ Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

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You are here

Sunset gathering.

IT IS EASY to dismiss the magical world as just a fairy tale belonging to childhood or old tales, to maintain that what we need at this moment more than ever is hard science, that carbon reduction and loss of biodiversity are our most pressing concerns. And yes, there is important work to be done reducing our industrial imprint, restoring wetlands and wild places. But if we do not remove the rational blinkers from our consciousness, how can we respond to the deeper need of the moment and recognize that we are part of a fully animate world? If we are to become partners with the Earth, living our shared journey, we have to once again speak the same language, listen with our senses attuned not just to the physical world but also to its inner dimension. We cannot afford to continue to dismiss so much of our heritage—the thousands of years we were awake to an environment both seen and unseen.

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Emergence Magazine, excerpted from Where the Horses Sing

Joanna Macy writes that until we can grieve for our planet we cannot love it—grieving is a sign of spiritual health. But it is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair.

~ Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

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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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