It’s a good November day to think about author and poet Wendell Berry and things familiar- things to be grateful for- the miniscule, the often unnoticed. He once wrote: “The search withholds the joy from what is found” in his poem “Boone”. It seems like a great time peek around the corners of the everyday, the familiar, and utter a small or extra large helping of “thank you”, even though it may be hard in times like these. I’m in the city of Seattle as I write this, grateful for every person who opens a door for another, every smile given gratis, every face of every color and shade. Let’s keep opening the door for one another, and say “thank you” to every kindness or a glisten of light that comes our way today.
Medicine for Surgery:
Mindful view of glass-paned greenscape, incoming-
the gloss and black-masked glaze of a cedar waxwing,
floating onto a branch from the larger greyworld.
Rose honey- in a jar- “good for the heart” my visiting
alchemist said, “scientifically, not just metaphorically”,
the antiquing beige petals floating in a sweetness sea.
Words, words, words, words. Flowing through the
portals of Facebook and phone call- friendly chatter
cresting in a light crescendo of levitation, laughter.
Small, simple grace of an extra helping of sleep amid
cries from the deeper wound seeking to heal Itself
through pains of a red inner world unseen.
Music- Melody. Blood-red beets on a salad of flowers.
Appearances on the stages of dreams. Colors in my fingers
foraging forms from cuttings, crumbs of origami scraps.
Breathing. Baring. Bearing. Being
– Gina Marie Mammano
I asked the whitebark pine
a question, and he said to me,
“aren’t you glad we don’t all talk?”
And in silence he spoke:
a million voices whining, droning in
each other’s ears like a carnival madhouse?
Each leaf, each tendril, each rooty spine spinning
sounds, yabba, yabba, yabba, yabba.
The quiet madness of the mosquito multiplied
more than a million times over?
Aren’t you glad some of us convey
by bark, by bearing, by Being?
Aren’t you glad some of us commune
in the quiet witness of Living?
and in Silence, I understood.
- Gina Marie Mammano
I woke up this morning agog. Alive in gratitude, openness, and grace (yes each beginning letter is part of that eye opening made-up acronym, though I don’t usually do that sort of thing). When you look up the word “agog”, the definition “very eager or curious to hear or see something” will appear. Almost as if the reader were “very eager or curious . . . to see something”.
When taken “seriously”, or rather, earnestly, what a way to start out the day! But what a curiously forgetful lotus-eating event happens the moment I wake up and find myself chained to the rowing benches of my usual mindset: “What do I have to do today . . . will I get it done in time . . . will it be good enough? That sounds tiring.” O.K. reverse. Back to the alarm, or the sun, or whatever woke me up.
“I wonder what will unfold today? What surprises? What delights? Of course, I’m good enough, but will I be able to remain awake enough to see what perks up or peeks open?” That’s better. Agog. Alive with Gratitude, Openness, and Grace. That’s what I wish to be. Maybe you do, too . . .
“We are each surrounded by an enormous silence that can be a blessing and a help to us, but from which we often turn away in dread and fear, a silence in which the skein of reality is knitted and unraveled to be knit again, in which the perspective of a work or a life or a relationship can be enlarged and enriched. Silence is like a cradle holding our endeavors, our will and our understanding in ways that allow them to grow and thrive; a cultivated and silent spaciousness sustains us and at the same time connects us to larger worlds that, in the busyness of our daily struggle to achieve, we have yet to investigate. Silence is fearful exactly because in its spacious depths lies both the soul’s sense of rest and its possible break for freedom.”
Taken from Adapted from Crossing the Unknown Sea:Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte
If I am carving out silence right now. I am enjoying the patterns of light creating joyful ghosts of illumination on the piano in my living room that the sun in companionship with the remnant storm are making. I am aware of a limited time set up to sit in this silent spaciousness. Awareness feels so important. So does gratitude. I am aware of the green statue sitting across from me- a long-haired lady also being touched by the sunlight, her candle holder glowing this time, not with fire, but with light. I am aware of the shimmering, sizzling shadows created by the shivering tree branches outside.
I am also aware of the potential. A guitar sitting in the corner. A notebook of songs. There is a sacredness here.in the silence. Is this what life is all about?
For this moment, yes. I guess each moment is crafted differently, in its own holiness. I am in the bowl of my living room. A hollow of holiness. It is a living sculpture where light can dance with shadow. It is a shadow box. It is a diorama. And I am in it. I am a living sculpture sitting and noticing the things that dance and play on this stage. Sometimes I will dance, and sometimes I will watch, eyes glowing, heart leaping in the audience. And yet, I still get to be a part of it all. Wherever I bring myself, there I am. The diorama of the day.
The Art of Blessing The Day
by Marge Piercy
This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your splashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.
This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.
This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.
This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.
This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let’s not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.
The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends’
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.
But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.
Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.
On the threshold of now. A door is opening. I don’t know what is on the other side. I guess it is being open to all that is that counts. The possibility of pain, hardship. The possibility of release, relief, beauty, gratitude. It is all there. And I am here.
For a moment, I step out of my own shadow. Sometimes we look at shadows as the places of our own darkness, and that’s fine, but they are also the sum of the sun and earth- proof of our own physicality. My hair blows in the wind in the late afternoon, strands of shadow on the ground are the picture show of what is. We are here. A black silhouette of ourselves moving or standing still shows it.
If I can step outside of this portrait for a moment, what do I see feel in front of me? What can I see in the long stretch of shadow that feeds into the distance? Will it be a surprise gift? Good health? Strength? Or will it be illness, challenge, difficulty?
I don’t know, but I’ll standing in that outside place for just a moment. Looking on. Hoping to be open to receive the bounty beyond the door.