November 28th, 2005

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Good Morning!!

This morning I receive these words from a good friend.

"It's funny, but when I start to write something that's a complaint, I censor myself because I think about what it would be like to hear a complaint if I were going through chemo.  This whole notion of perspective is powerful."

It is interesting to me because I now well understand what Marion Rosen meant when she spoke of suffering.  For one person, to not get a peanut butter sandwich at the right time when they were a child might be stored as tragically as what we consider more severe abuse.  We do not know how or why another suffers.  There is no place for judgment around it, or perhaps, no place for judgment at all.  

And yet, this whole thing has me so aware of all the suffering around me.  I, too, am putting it all in perspective, noticing the people who are so much worst off than I.  They surround me.  I see them every day.   My path is relatively easy.  I have every bit of support it is possible to have.   What I am getting is a chance to see how quickly life changes.  There is so much shifting going on in me, and I have time to not only feel it, but also to work with imagery to sometimes shift it.  Each of you has problems equal to mine, suffering, if that is how it is perceived, equal to mine.  We are all in this together, and, now,  how do we meet it, now and now and now.  

Sometimes I think your suffering in this is worst than mine, as I am in it, forced to presence, and I don't have much time or energy to think about it, to dwell,  or perhaps, I am dwelling, but only in the moment.  It is not to say that I don't have my dream list of where we will go the minute I am cleared to get on a plane, hopefully sometime this summer.  My list of what I will do when I am able is intense, and, in this moment, all is well with me.  Anyway, I feel your suffering, and I honor it, as more than equal to my own, and I see that sometimes, in the honoring, is the shift.

Today, I am going to do many things which have needed doing for quite awhile.  I am going through the stacks of stuff that have accumulated, and I am going to make a place for hats, and put away combs, brushes, hair dryer, curlers.  I even have a curling iron which I have not used in years, and yet, there it sits taking up space.  This is such a clear noticing.  Why is it taking up space in my closet when I haven't used it for years, and now, have no intention to ever use it again?   I like my hair short.  I don't even need a comb. I am like a seal in the shower.  Everything falls into place.

 The same goes for all the other accumulations of "stuff"  I have here,  the clogging splogs of energy.  It is ridiculous, and today, I am sending stuff to Good Will.   It is time to cleanse.

Great love to all of you, the oneness that we are,
cathy
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An amazing poem by Jane Kenyon -

Twilight: After Haying

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?

The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)

The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed --
Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will
--sings from the dusty stubble.

These things happen...the soul's bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses...

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.

Jane Kenyon
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acronym -

I am in procrastination mode, so, here is my own acronym for cancer to add to Lance's.


C - creativity and cooperation

A - announcing and appreciating

N - noticing and networking

C - coring and careening

E  - enlisting and enlivening

R -  revealing and relishing
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Poem Alert!!

This comes from Joyce today.

She writes: "As I enjoy adding leaves from the garden to the compost, I am reminded of this poem written by a boyfriend (Bill Langer)in the 60's. I actually found it which is pretty much a miracle."

Here is the poem. How appropriate for these days of turning fall to winter light.


The weaver bent over,
age showing in hands
worn by threads of time,
selects colors to weave,
crosses patterns of lives,
asking what is now
admiring what is past.
Always connecting life
with threads of experience
knowing the future is hope
reinforced by the past.
And the life blue filament,
crossed before, will again
cross those left behind.



Happy weaving, and I hope you are still quacking tooooooo!
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Noticing -

Today I notice that my hair is still attached and my legs still need shaving. That is very exciting to me.

Thinking of Jane Kenyon, I realize there is another poem of hers, I want to share. I hope I am not overdoing the poetry, though now perhaps you are out buying books of your own. Perhaps, your holiday gift list includes Stanley Kunitz's "The Wild Braid," and "Risking Everything," edited by Roger Housden.

Otherwise

Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

 

from Otherwise, 1996


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Happiness Now! : )

Jack Kornfield is interviewed in the Chronicle today by David Ian Miller. Here is an excerpt from the interview. I love the comment by the Dalai Lama. His happiest moment? Now!


Miller asks Kornfield: "You describe yourself as happy. What is happiness, as you see it?"

Kornfield replies:

"Happiness is a profound sense of well-being, which includes both being connected with ourselves and the world. That's different from pleasure. Pleasure comes and goes. You can have a good meal and it's great -- but then it's over. Pain and difficulties also will come and go. Happiness -- true happiness -- is a quality of well-being in the midst of pleasure and pain and gain and loss.

We see it in people like the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela, who could walk out after 27 years of prison on Robben Island with a magnanimity of heart and a beauty about him that didn't blame the world in a bitter way. That kind of dignity and presence and wholeness of being is possible no matter where we are."

Miller: "For many people, happiness is about chasing after something -- a new car, a promotion, a trip to Bermuda. But when they get it they aren't satisfied. They want more. Why do you think that happens?"

Kornfield:

"I'll tell you a story. A reporter was asking the Dalai Lama on his recent visit to Washington, "You have written this book, 'The Art of Happiness,' which was on the best-seller list for two years -- could you please tell me and my readers about the happiest moment of your life?" And the Dalai Lama smiled and said, "I think now!"

Happiness isn't about getting something in the future. Happiness is the capacity to open the heart and eyes and spirit and be where we are and find happiness in the midst of it. Even in the place of difficulty, there is a kind of happiness that comes if we've been compassionate, that can help us through it. So it's different than pleasure, and it's different than chasing after something."

Miller: "What would you say is the most practical spiritual advice you can offer?"

Kornfield: "Relax. That's my first instruction. We have all of these things that we are in the middle of, you know, whether it's tending to an emergency at work, or a relative is in the hospital, or some great thing has just come up that occupies your mind. Relaxation allows for our natural response, rather than the kind of tension and fear that can often control our lives.

My second instruction is, especially when things are difficult, try to hold your experience with compassion. Whether a crying child is keeping you up all night, or a car accident has just happened, or you are trMying to get along with someone who is difficult, you can respond appropriately if you hold all of it -- your own body, mind and those around you -- in compassion. And your life becomes much wiser as a result."

Miller: "That sounds simple enough, but how easy is it to do?"

Kornfield:

"Well, the beautiful thing about compassion or mindfulness, the things that we are talking about, is that they are innate to us. Even the most hardened criminal would reach to pick up a child who'd fallen in the street in danger. Something in us knows what compassion is, but it gets covered over by our busy lives and our fear."
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Quote -

There are two kinds of truth, small truth and great truth. You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another great truth.

Niels Bohr, 1975 Nobel Prize winner for Physics
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Another poem -

This poem is from a book "Stone, Bow, Prayer," by Amy Uyematsu

Let me hear
the clarity of stone,
one small enough
to hold, its cool
singular weight
in my warm hand.

Let me lay stone
in still water, on white
sand or paper -
the only adornment
I need
to give me this
place I look out from,
to speak my own
simple name.




I am reminded of the stones my son Jeff skipped on the marsh side of Rodeo Beach a few days after my operation. We gathered them up from the sand, and he skipped them on that flat water like ducks reaching for land.