Anne Herbert, in an essay titled “Handy Tips on How to Behave at the Death of the World” writes, “Falling in love has always been a bit too much to apply to one person. Falling in love is appropriate for now, to love all these things which are about to leave. The rocks are watching, … Continue reading On Love
This Autumn, let something die. I first read that phrase by Asia Suler a few years ago. Every time I read it again, it makes me wonder why we are so afraid of death, of letting things go, of decline, of allowing something that has run its course to fade into whatever lies beyond. It … Continue reading Let Something Die
Someone shared this poem, by Patricia Monaghan, in a group I facilitate, and I keep reading it over and over again.
The Old Song of the Tribes
The sky draws its curtain
across the season. Any day
now it will snow, curtaining
the footprints in the soft earth
we made today, but any day in this life
or another, if I meet you, the earth’s
pull will be upon us, the mark of the forest
will be on us, indelible handprints, birthmarks.
We will know each other in city or forest,
despite continents and oceans, we will know
each other as much, as little as
we know ourselves, as much as we know
what the mind is, what the body
can be. Amidst
all the changing, our souls will remain
true to each other. The rest can be mist.
Woodland Manitou is a book for individuals who are searching for something that they can’t quite verbalize; those who aren’t content with the state of the world but are trying to make peace with how things are; those who are unsure how to move forward in taking action to change what feels important to change; those who want to find solace in natural spaces. Reading this book provides reassurance that we aren’t alone in uncertainty, a reminder that there is beauty in the ordinary if we take time to notice and focus on it, and hope that one person’s choices can make a difference even if it’s not always apparent what that difference is.
I’m sitting outside on the back deck, surrounded by towering basswood trees that have just fully come into their summer leafy glory. Birds are chirping, and I can hear frogs croaking down in the shallows of the lake, and squirrels chattering at each other as they race from tree to tree. Filtered sunlight is streaming down, there’s a gentle breeze keeping any bugs away, the purple flowers of the hillside Sweet William are in full bloom, and all of this combined creates a little oasis of beauty and tranquility. I can also hear the growl of heavy machinery as crews prepare to pave another section of the road and every so often there’s a loud crash as a tree comes down, followed by the buzzing of a chainsaw and the beeping of a large loader backing up. I hear a diesel truck roar by and the dust from the road rises like a massive cloud as it races by the house. There is beauty and there is destruction. This contrast exists everywhere. Continue reading “Between Beauty and Destruction”
I first heard this story on the public radio show “Speaking of Faith” that is now called “On Being,” hosted by Krista Tippett. On the show, she interviews all sorts of interesting people, all of them deep thinkers and mystics and wonderers in their own ways. A few days ago, I read it again in Tippett’s most recent book, Becoming Wise. It’s an important story, I think. I’m glad I was reminded of it these years later. It’s the story of the Birthday of the World.
This version below is as told by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a medical doctor who has a unique and much needed perspective on spirituality, healing, and living (and dying) well. Her grandfather gave the story to her for her 4th birthday. It makes me wonder how the world would be different if every child were given this story, or one like it, (and reminded of it often) on their fourth birthdays.
In the beginning there was only the Holy Darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. Then in the course of history at a moment in time this world, the world of 1000 thousand things, emerged from the heart of the Holy Darkness as a great ray of light.
And then (perhaps because this is a Jewish story) there was an accident. The vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into 1000 thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.
According to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, and to lift it up and make it visible once again, and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world.
This is a very important story for the world today. This task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew, which means the restoration of the whole world. This is a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive and all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world.
It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in. There’s a war being waged on peaceful indigenous people and their allies in North Dakota, people who are continuing to stand strong to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed (and eventually poisoning the Missouri river watershed.) People in high office in this country seem to have missed the history lessons that taught us about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the danger that lies in acting from fear, hate, entitlement, and greed. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, the dog is getting old. There are many things to lament. But we might do ourselves a favor and take a break from the lamenting to give thanks as well. Gratitude is always possible. Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Continue reading “A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude”