My six year old daughter Eva keeps two jewelry boxes in her room: one new, bedazzled and pink, a gift from her aunt Hanna; and one old, weathered, and wooden, a gift from her maternal great grandmother, whom she calls Great Grandma K. After lifting the latch on the wooden box for the first time, … Continue reading Story in an Old Wooden Box
It was the stuff of childhood lore, really, those few years when garter snakes declared the low area just behind the house their territory. We’d lead unsuspecting friends over to the barrel with the mesh lid on it and they’d run away shrieking at the sight of that day’s capture writhing up the sides, looking … Continue reading Snake Bucket
If you’ve been following along here or on social media, you’ve likely noticed that poems have been the theme as of late, especially April. Here in Minnesota, it was a cold spring, and I was at what would be the close of a very long struggle with persistent illness – not the sort of illness … Continue reading Broken Hallelujah
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.
An excerpt from Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth – available wherever books are sold.
About a month ago, we pulled into the driveway after a great five days up along the north shore of Minnesota, still reveling in the tonic that is Lake Superior, anticipating a low key few days of unpacking before returning to the usual work schedule. We ambled down the path from the garage, happy to be out of the car and walked into the house to a putrid smell and reports that the septic alarm had been going off for an indeterminate amount of time in our absence. Awesome. Turns out a little creature of some sort had chewed through the cord that powered the septic pump, shorting it out. Could have been much worse. All and all and easy fix for Nick, and we were back in business. But the smell….remained. For another day we pondered just what could be making the kitchen stink. Eventually we followed some clues and found a decomposing mouse behind the fridge. Again, awesome. But we got rid of it, gave the cats a pep talk and life carried on. Then I got a call that my credit card number had been stolen and there was someone in Texas trying to charge a trip to Thailand on my Visa. And the grass needed to be mowed and the garden weeded. Then the water heater broke, one of our indoor cats got out and was lost for a day and a half, and my retreat co-leader broke her foot and couldn’t come to the retreat we had been planning for several months. And then the road construction workers cut the phone lines that run to our house and we were down phone and internet for several days…and still are, truth be told. Not a big deal, really, except for when you work from home calling people and working on the internet. (And that’s just what happened in my own little privileged bubble – the events happening in tandem with my own mini dramas in terms of racial inequality and war and planetary destruction would make this little list much, much longer.)
It’s been a rough month. Continue reading “Bits of Astonishment”