January 26th, 2006

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Good Early Morning!

Wednesday, I had lunch with my friend Vicki. As we spoke, I realize how much I am choosing to fully feel this experience. I don't distract when I go to chemo. I take a book of poems that will stimulate my senses to more directly and evenly feel the flow of the chemo into my veins, the flow of the mountain, the hill, the tree, the birds, the sky into what sustains. I am using this experience to more clearly know and honor when I am hungry, and tired, so that I eat when I am hungry and rest when I am tired. It is that simple, I am told. Enlightenment! Chop wood! Carry water!

This morning, I feel my chrysalis beginning to thin. Light is beginning to peer in, to tint my chrysalis, pink, yellow, and green. I see through a window, though I am still wrapped. I think of poems I wrote at one time about the pygmy owl who bores a hole and lives in a saquaro cactus. I wanted to be that owl and feel what the sunrise was like from inside that cactus. I am feeling that now. Like the rising sun is tingling the inside of my home with softest yellow and pink.

We walked along the marsh and saw two pin-tailed ducks mating. That was a treat. She was quite funny when their union was finished, and kept splashing herself up and down. She seemed to be relishing the fertilization of her eggs. He watched content. Soon after, the clouds increased, and there was a soft blanket of rain. I am happy to know that babies will soon be here. I look forward to checking in on them. We were blessed to catch an extremely low tide. Saturday will bring an extremely high one.

Vicki kayaked Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing the day before. She said there were sea otters everywhere. That sounds like an experience each of us should have. A beautiful day to you. The day is still dark, and I am peace and light.
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Sustainability by Cheri Huber.

Sustainabilty and What It Means To Us by Cheri Huber

Sustainability has been a passion for us since the Zen Monastery Peace Center began. Key awareness phrases such as “leave not a trace,” “not to lead a harmful life,” and “not to take that which is not given” are interwoven throughout our days. When meditation is over, we leave our sitting place pristine, as if we had never been there. We take only the amount of food we know we can comfortably eat so that we don’t waste any of what so many have given so much to make available to us. This is the attitude of mind that we attempt to bring to every aspect of our lives.

At a recent conference on environmental education and global awareness, Bioneers, many excellent speakers made the point that if human beings don’t change our relationship with planet earth, we will cease to exist. We heard statistics on global warming, deforestation, extinction of species, water pollution, as well as great solutions such as alternative energy, water conservation and organic farming. In the midst of horror stories and dire predictions, one speaker in particular caught our attention. He said that information about the little things one can do to make a difference (recycling, composting, changing the type of light bulbs we use, buying organic) are readily available. But perhaps the most profound, essential approach would be to make cookies and take them to your neighbor.

In other words, sustainability is a process. It is a “how” not a “what.” We could use all the solar, wind, and water power generating systems on the planet. We could compost, recycle, pedal to work, and drink only organic shade-grown coffee. But if we did it with the attitude of mind that this makes us “the good, right-person,” or if it causes us to hate people who are not doing “the right thing,” or if we do it because we feel guilty if we don’t—well, we would actually have the world we have right now. And this is not sustainable.

The attitude of mind we bring to sustainability must be the attitude of mind that we bring to all aspects of ending suffering. Sustainability is the compassion that sees all life as interconnected, essential, valuable and beyond “you and me.”

Sustainability comes from center. Conscious, compassionate awareness is the only thing that is sustainable. It is inclusive. It is kind. It is respectful. From conscious, compassionate awareness, we don’t focus on what’s wrong and not enough. From oneness, we want to make choices that support and sustain all of us—from the tiny spider crawling across my desk, to the thousand-year-old redwood trees, to people in far-away places we will never visit, to the neighbor that I haven’t made the time to meet.

by Cheri Huber, founder of the Mountain View Zen Center and Zen Monastery Practice Center and author of 17 books.
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Quote -

"When I was young, I admired clever people.
     Now that I am old, I admire kind people."

                Rabbi Abraham Heschel,
                        1907-1972 Jewish Theologian and Social Activist
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Guided and Guiding!

Here is my morning flow. 

I begin with Change, and end with feeling how much I am guided, and how, I, also am given the reins to guide.  This is always so, I suppose, this balance, like flying a kite with two hands, left and right.  Jane's poem of this morning follows in the next posting.  We feel our writing of this morning is woven.  We are saying the same thing, touching the same place.  I feel awe this morning, grace, peace, beauty, joy.  I am so grateful for life!


vicki moves to new mexico
louise to mendocino
my insides shift coast to coast
and north to south -

    Like a martini,
     I am well-shaken -

Where will I  come and go,
            frolic and rest,
       now that awareness
                of death
           grants liberty
                to chest,
                 breath -



I read this poem on wabi-sabi.   Though it is a description of autumn, it fulfills the simplicity I feel now inside.


                All around, no flowers in bloom

                    Nor maple leaves in glare,

                      A solitary fisherman’s hut alone

                                On the twilight shore

                                                Of this autumn eve.


                                The poem is by Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241)



I welcome the desert, in me, on the planet, a place simple with little or nothing to block or hide.



Peace today

a crescent moon
lipping the sky,
the day turns
cartwheels in me,
crossing the grass,
pebbles, and rocks -
the only reply
is Yes, Yes,
I am here,
I am guide,
weaving the strands
so bare to the touch
so deeply grained 
with  care



Guide dogs for the blind
are trained -
are we trained to guide
the path of the sun
burning inside
the yearning
of eyes
both seen
and unseen,
the holes
in the beads
on the strand



writing in light and dark
black on white
where is the deepest stirring -
in day
or night -

I feel seen
by the light
stirring  within,
    a cauldron
       a  sun.



Mandu comes in
to be my muse
to sleep in a ball
to offer a fuse



withered ash
unless we call
the muse to fuse
the offerings
that fall
waiting for our wand
to cohere the ball
to hold and throw
back and forth
me to you - you to me -
the guide, our father,
the sun, our mother,
the moon,
watching us fill
and filled
with  love -
The cauldron stirred and stirs -

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Jane's Morning Poem!!

Jane says, "Our words feel so woven today."

Jane's poem:

Once the danger had passed, the tears.

She sat with all that had happened.

She lay her sorrows around her.

Not just her own, but any that surfaced.

They spread around her like a quilt

Her eyes filled its folds with rivers, tributaries.

Emptied, she stood there at the edge of endlessness.

Still it was better to sleep on the floor, away from windows.

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The new De Young!

Today, I finally got my chance to see the new De Young. Steve took the day off and away we went. My first view of the tower was not impressive. I found it shocking to see the tower yanked up, looming over the trees. I also found the structure massive for the space. The music concourse seems like a toy.

As we walked around, searching for the entry, I moaned how I liked the look and scale of the old De Young. A man who works there agreed with me, but says it grows on you. It didn't grow on me today, but maybe it will in future visits. The building feels out of scale to me and I thought if I saw one more circle I would throw a dart through it. What is this? Bull's eye heaven?

San Francisco is a dainty city, filled with nooks and crannies. It looks small, naked, and exposed from the top observation floor. It was exciting to see the bay and the headlands from the park, but they, too, look small. How much more delightful to see both sides of the bay's expanse from the Golden Gate Bridge, or the trails wandering around the Cliff House and the Legion of Honor. I understand this is a different view. I just wonder if every outlook needs a view. Isn't there a place to tuck?

I do not understand the purpose of wide overhangs through which rain can pour. The dining room is so inefficient as to be a joke. We ate lunch at 11:10 so as to avoid the crowds. I lost track of how long we stood in line. The jumble of people and the noise was unsettling. I did enjoy the outdoor sculpture garden and the landscaping is lovely.

When my book group went to the modern Tate in London, we had trouble orienting inside the building developed by the same architect. I felt that way in this building. Where to go? Is it obsolete to offer direction? I admit I am an old fogey and a traditionalist. I like things to fit to scale. I like the building material to fit the surroundings. I tried to imagine the copper when it turns green competing with the natural green of the trees.

From the top of the observation deck, looking down on the building, it looks like an aircraft carrier. I wish it were, so it would sail away.
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you ask about the art at the new De Young -

I felt that viewing the Hatshepsut exhibit today would be enough, so my goal was to view the Egyptian art. What I mainly saw was people with headphones on their heads, with little spatial awareness or consideration, hugging their front-row spots. Where was movement, circulation, flow?

I propose for these popular, overcrowded exhibits that a mock-up is built. People can then stand around wearing their head-phones and listen and tour the mock-up. Perhaps, books could also be provided for those who prefer to read. Then, when people understand what the exhibit is about, they can enter the shrine and use all of their senses to experience the art. Those who simply want to feel the art can just enter. Perhaps, we all should remove our shoes, like entering a temple, so we truly understand and honor the transition to another time and space. It could be a way to bow and shift our mood.

I also couldn't help comparing the James Turrell's composition Three Gems, with it's already cracking plaster, to the 3500 Egyptian art we saw inside. Of course, that art was built to last. Our art, like our society, seems built to slip into the sea.

On walking through the tunnel, and circling around to enter the inner space of Three Gems, one visitor commented, "What you see is what you get." Perhaps, this is so. Mystery seems unbound, and maybe that is right for our times, where our president sees wiretapping as perfectly legal. Maybe the statement is just.

I loved the outdoors and the park. The nooks are still there. One tree, especially, is magnificent with massive roots. Beauty and truth, for me, air there. The trees stand and oversee. That is where I seem to prefer to be, at least in this moment. I'll see what the future brings.

For now, I am tucked inside with two new books by Anselm Grun, sent by Petra, arrived today. They stir my insides like steamy hot chocolate with marshmallows melting in swirls.

I ask forgiveness for my rant. I seem to be in the strangest of moods. I understand that Three Gems provided an eye to view the sky. I understand, and I have two eyes, and I view the sky. I like to see it when it sits on the hill or the grass, rather than caught in a perfect plaster man-made circle to reflect. I like the borders to be mine. To me, that is Art!
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Museums and Me!

When I go to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, I struggle with the art within the beautiful, new, expensive building, the art, so much of which is spiritual, and the homeless outside.

I look now out on a Redwood tree. I am reading Angels of Grace by Anselm Grun. It is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it. It is about seeing angels as virtues, or virtues as angels. "Virtus, the Latin word for virtue, means both power and strength. Virtue is a power that can transform our life. The Greek word for virtue was arete, meaning the character of a noble and educated person."

I look out and see virtues, as angels, hanging like Christmas tree ornaments on the redwood tree. I think, for me, right now, art resides in the interface between inside and out. I struggle with huge, expensive, ego-driven buildings designed to evoke something in me. I rebel. I want to feel my own footsteps walking within.  I find that difficult to do, right now,  in a building that is empty in huge parts, and crammed full in others.  I need balance, silence, peace. 

I need enough space to feel the beat of my own heart when I view.  I want to feel my heart beat strike the art and come back to me.  I want to relate. 

I understand there are many reasons for art.  Perhaps, chemo is giving me enough of the darts.  Or maybe I want to offer something of myself to the art, to all that I view.  I cannot live one-sided anymore.  I have to relate, and feel connection as it springs. 

I did one painting through cancer care, and the teacher-therapist called to ask me if she could use it to get a grant.  I am happy to offer it for that.  There is purpose in the painting, learning for me.

I watched children today filling out mimeographed sheets.  I'm sure they are useful.  I remember when I went with an art teacher to the Museum of Modern Art with my children when they were young.  Most of  the children gravitated to Georgia O'keefe.  They went for flowers, for bones.   We let them choose.  There were no mimeographed sheets.
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Ellen sends this wonderful poem by Hafiz!!    Celebrate here!   Our hearts should do this more!!

Our Hearts Should Do This More

I sit in the streets with the homeless
My clothes stained with the wine
From the vineyards the saints tend.
Light has painted all acts
The same color
So I sit around and laugh all day
With my friends
At night if I feel a divine loneliness
I tear the doors off Love's mansion
And wrestle God onto the floor.
He becomes so pleased with Hafiz
And says,
"Our hearts should do this more"