Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Carl Jung
“The Journey” by Mary Oliver
|One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
|It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
“At the River Clarion” by Mary Oliver
I don’t know who God is exactly.
But I’ll tell you this.
I was sitting in the river named Clarion, on a water splashed stone
and all afternoon I listened to the voices of the river talking.
Whenever the water struck a stone it had something to say,
and the water itself, and even the mosses trailing under the water.
And slowly, very slowly, it became clear to me what they were saying.
Said the river I am part of holiness.
And I too, said the stone. And I too, whispered the moss beneath the water.
I’d been to the river before, a few times.
Don’t blame the river that nothing happened quickly.
You don’t hear such voices in an hour or a day.
You don’t hear them at all if selfhood has stuffed your ears.
And it’s difficult to hear anything anyway, through all the traffic, the ambition.
If God exists he isn’t just butter and good luck.
He’s also the tick that killed my wonderful dog Luke.
Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.
Imagine how the lily (who may also be a part of God) would sing to you if it could sing,
if you would pause to hear it.
And how are you so certain anyway that it doesn’t sing?
If God exists he isn’t just churches and mathematics.
He’s the forest, He’s the desert.
He’s the ice caps, that are dying.
He’s the ghetto and the Museum of Fine Arts.
He’s van Gogh and Allen Ginsberg and Robert Motherwell.
He’s the many desperate hands, cleaning and preparing their weapons.
He’s every one of us, potentially.
The leaf of grass, the genius, the politician, the poet.
And if this is true, isn’t it something very important?
Yes, it could be that I am a tiny piece of God, and each of you too, or at least
of his intention and his hope.
Which is a delight beyond measure.
I don’t know how you get to suspect such an idea.
I only know that the river kept singing.
It wasn’t a persuasion, it was all the river’s own constant joy
which was better by far than a lecture, which was comfortable, exciting, unforgettable.
Of course for each of us, there is the daily life.
Let us live it, gesture by gesture.
When we cut the ripe melon, should we not give it thanks?
And should we not thank the knife also?
We do not live in a simple world.
There was someone I loved who grew old and ill
One by one I watched the fires go out.
There was nothing I could do
except to remember
that we receive
then we give back.
“The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz
|I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
|the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes
Mysteries, Yes By Mary Oliver
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. ~ Rumi
The Real Work- by Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
“…It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being human is all about.” F. Buechner
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Your purpose is to be yourself. You don’t have to run anywhere to become someone else. You are wonderful just the way that you are.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“It is important to realize that you have to take care of yourself because you can’t take care of anybody else until you do.” G. Mate
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our life means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” — Henri Nouwen
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” Vincent Van Gough
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Plato
“Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart, do not know how to laugh either.” Gold Meir
“One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.” F. Buechner
“If someone sees God in me, I am happy. I see God in everyone, and especially in those who suffer.” Mother Theresa
“Tell me… What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver
“Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets.” Paul Tournier
“May this suffering serve to awaken compassion.” Prayer to Kwan Yin
“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing…It’s simple… It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life…and being open and available to others around us.” W.P. Young
“The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new places, but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
“If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.” – Marian Wright Edelman
“If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.” Annie Dillard
“How beautiful the world is even in its ugliness” Helen Cixous
“What has been wounded in a relationship must be, after all, healed in a relationship.” Annie Rogers PhD
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres….and now, these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13. The Holy Bible.
“Blessed are the poor…
not the penniless,
but those whose heart is free.
Blessed are those who mourn…
not those who whimper,
but those who raise their voices.
Blessed are the meek…
not the soft,
but those who are patient and tolerant.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice…
not those who whine,
but those who struggle.
Blessed are the merciful…
not those who forget,
but those who forgive.
Blessed are the pure in heart…
not those who act like angels,
but those whose life is transparent.
Blessed are the peacemakers…
not those who shun conflict,
but those who face it squarely.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice…
not because they suffer,
but because they love.”
The warriors tame
The beasts in their past
So that the night’s hoofs
Can no longer break the jeweled vision
In the heart
The intelligent and the brave
Open every closet in the future and evict
All the mind’s ghosts who have the bad habit of barfing everywhere
For a long time the Universe
Has been germinating in your spine
But only a Saint has the talent
The courage to slay
The past giant, the future anxieties
Wisely sits in a circle
With other men
Gathering the strength to unmask
Like a great illumined planet on