Thursday, July 31, 2014

The quietness

The quietness;
A chestnut leaf sinks
Through the clear water.

Shohaku (1443-1527) (translated by R. H. Blyth)

The rain will never stop falling

Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

 A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

The Book of Hours

There was that one hour sometime
in the middle of the last century.
It was autumn, and I was in my father's
woods building a house out of branches
and the leaves that were falling like
thousands of letters from the sky.

And there was that hour in Central Park
in the middle of the seventies.
We were sitting on a blanket, listening
to Pete Seeger singing "This land is
your land, this land is my land," and
the Vietnam War was finally over.

I would definitely include an hour
spent in one of the galleries of the
Tate Britain, looking up at the
painting of King Cophetua and
the Beggar Maid, and, afterwards
the walk along the Thames, and

I would also include one of those
hours when I woke in the night and
couldn't get back to sleep thinking
about how nothing I thought was going
to happen happened the way I expected,
and things I never expected to happen did—

just like that hour today, when we saw
the dog running along the busy road,
and we stopped and held on to her
until her owner came along and brought
her home—that was an hour well
spent. Yes, that was a keeper.

Joyce Sutphen

Four A.M.

The hour between night and day.
The hour between toss and turn.
The hour of thirty-year-olds.

The hour swept clean for roosters' crowing.
The hour when the earth takes back its warm embrace.
The hour of cool drafts from extinguished stars.
The hour of do-we-vanish-too-without-a-trace.

Empty hour.
Hollow. Vain.
Rock bottom of all the other hours.

No one feels fine at four a.m.
If ants feel fine at four a.m.,
we're happy for the ants. And let five a.m. come
if we've got to go on living.

Wislawa Szymborska

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Since Now is all we really have, just curious, what is Now for you, when you came to this blog?

Now for me is dusk in a small city apartment in Bangalore, with the wind blowing in from the balcony that offers a view of a small patch of sky between buildings. Nothing beautiful, but it is the season of winds, this monsoon time, and the huge new wind chimes I recently bought, sway gently from the balcony ceiling, reverberating like a Buddhist temple gong. Music all day.

The world outside, crumbling, coming apart at the seams, renewing, rising again. Inside, as always, I live and work in this small pool of light, day and night, trying to bring order into disorder, fix things - opportunities we all get, in whatever job we do. The flower, a recent addition to bring a patch of beauty into an increasingly functional life, frantic in its pace.

The last birds call, before settling down for the night. The evenings will start getting cooler now, the seasons of flowering trees and blue skies will be here soon. (None of which, of course, is promised to me). But for now, I have temple bells and the descending night and yet another day everyone I know made it through.

What is Now for you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A fierce sanity

"Rilke recommended that when life became turbulent and troublesome, it was wise to stay close to one simple thing in nature. A friend of mine who had great trouble with her mind told me once that she had brought a stone into her apartment, and when she felt her mind going, she would concentrate on the stone.

She said, 'There is a fierce sanity in stone.'"

John O'Donohue from "To bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings"

Look ahead

"Look ahead. You are not expected to complete the task.

Neither are you permitted to lay it down. "

from the 'Talmud'


"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

John Muir

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Go transparent. Disappear.

Barry Spacks

This bird, this Innerbird - she means you well,
but clenches in at times so very small
she’s hard, tight, an acorn, a stomach pain …

in other moods you feel her fluttering
like the purple wide-sleeved garment of a queen,
frantic within you - a wild queen’s will

stirring your farthest reaches till you scheme
to set her free. That wish leads you to know
you’re her idea: this bird invented you;

your purposes and due-dates are her trap,
her cage of concepts, arbitrary as a map
holding Montenegro, Montana, to one special place.

Go transparent. Disappear. And then the bird’s released.
But never give that unbound bird your name,
or again she’s small within you, seed within a cell.

Your absence lets her soar forth at her will -
at last she has no wrappings but the air,
but sweeps out hugely, and is everywhere.

Photo: Ely Cathedral, UK

Supreme Court of Canada Grants Aboriginal title over Tsilhqot'in First Nation land

"A Supreme Court of Canada decision has granted the Tsilhqot'in First Nation of British Columbia Aboriginal title over a wide area of traditional territory. The unanimous 8-0 decision, gives the Tsilhqot'in First Nation rights to more than 1,700 square kilometers of land. The group now has rights to the land, the right to use land and the right to profit from the land.

Reports indicate that this is the Supreme Court's first on Aboriginal title, and can be used as a precedent wherever there are unresolved land claims."

Supreme Court of Canada Grants Aboriginal title over Tsilhqot'in First Nation land

The Tsilhqot'in Language:

Looking’s a way of being

Looking, Walking, Being
Denise Levertov

“The World is not something to
look at, it is something to be in.”
Mark Rudman

I look and look.
Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch
fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Mary Oliver

Thursday, July 3, 2014


"We are waiting for the seasons to change. We are waiting for our time to come around, or that opening to appear in the Tao where we can walk through and touch somebody. Whereas if we had moved before, everything would have been wrong - no point, no effect.

Sometimes the right thing to do is to wait. In the hexagram in the I-Ching about waiting, it says you should enjoy yourself with this kind of waiting, you should eat and drink and be of good cheer.

We do not need to be dour about waiting because we are in tune with the seasons. It is the right time to wait."

John Tarrant


"And the artist must never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist must never be a prisoner of [one’s] self, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, prisoner of a success, etc …

Didn’t the Goncourt brothers write that Japanese artists of the great period changed their names several times during their lives? I like that: they wanted to protect their freedoms.”

Henri Matisse

How the Trees on Summer Nights Turn into a Dark River

How you can never reach it, no matter how hard you try,
walking as fast as you can, but getting nowhere,
arms and legs pumping, sweat drizzling in rivulets;
each year, a little slower, more creaks and aches, less breath.

Ah, but these soft nights, air like a warm bath, the dusky wings
of bats careening crazily overhead, and you'd think the road
goes on forever. Apollinaire wrote, "What isn't given to love
is so much wasted," and I wonder what I haven't given yet.

A thin comma moon rises orange, a skinny slice of melon,
so delicious I could drown in its sweetness. Or eat the whole
thing, down to the rind. Always, this hunger for more.

Barbara Crooker

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I want to believe that the light is everything...

The Ponds
Mary Oliver

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.

A yellow leaf slowly falling

Wendell Berry

Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

The sky
is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.

What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased.

from 'This Day: Collected and New Sabbath' 

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