August 28th, 2006

Book Cover

A tough day -

Today I am going to share what feels rather odd to share, and I am doing it because I realize it feels odd because it is something we don't talk about, and because, we don't,  it stays undercover.  I note that each time I share what I debate, some of you come forth with sharings of your own, and so I am willing, though it feels difficult,  to look more openly and clearly at what happens around me.

I finally understood yesterday that Jan's mother is mentally ill.  I have been struggling with her behavior, and feeling it as toxic and venomous, and even the therapist Jan and Jeff are seeing said they could legitimately walk away, but yesterday, when I heard that one of her accusations is that Jeff killed Jonbenet Ramsey, I realized the depth of the problem, and compassion, rather than anger, flooded in.  I realized we don't walk away from someone who is physically ill.  Why then is mental illness so hard to take?   And it is hard.  We don't know what to do.  We so honor the autonomy of another, and I am glad about that, but we don't know what to do.  There is no guidance here.

I debated sharing this, but, to me, the benefit is this.   When I felt attacked, I responded with anger.   When I feel another as ill, compassion floods in.  The difference is clear.  I see her as a child or kitten in need of my help and care.   Will that make a difference to her?   We'll see.  I pray that it does.  In the immensity and overwhelm of this, I have released to a higher place, as I did the cancer.  This is more than I can hold, and so the comforting place of surrender enters, or is entered, and, there is peace.   That is what I learn in this.  My suffering comes when I think I can, in two year old Jeff's words, "do it by unself." 

We have installed a cat door to the downstairs.  It is fascinating to watch the cats interact with it.  It is still a toy to them, and we continue to leave the door open,  as they haven't yet figured out the new cat door is an, at their level,  solution to their need to go downstairs to their litter box.  What I see, in watching them,  is how many doors are probably there, that we do not see or use.  How do we walk through thresholds?   How do we find our way through doors we perceive as open or closed?    Maybe I could install more cat doors in my life.  They are cute, easy, and fun.

I read this editorial today in the NY Times, and think of secrecy in all its forms.  We can attempt to change history, and the Bush administration does.   They are also, paranoid, and, as the book, The Sociopath Next Door points out, sociopaths.  Perhaps, it is time to admit that this administration is mentally ill.  I read today of the disparity of income that has been created in the last few years.   The rich have gotten richer, the poor, poorer, and the middle class has shrunk.  Perhaps, it is time to look more clearly at what is going on right now, and not, time to wish for something to be different than it is.   Maybe in the clear look, we can shift, and gain a new response.   Certainly we will feel better in looking honestly at what has been going on.   I read that the American people blame corporations more than the government.   Perhaps, it is time to let the elephant out of the closet, and, allow everyone in this country a better life.  I understand that we determine what we see.  I think it is time to see this administration for what it is, and vote new blood in the fall.

The Buddha said we suffer because we want things to be different than they are.   Perhaps, it is time to see things as they are, while still being the change we want to see in the world, but we must see things as they are, in order to bring about the change we want to see.  It is time to step more firmly on the ground, and see robes and sandals as different from what they wrap around.    See your perspiration rise and make clouds in the sky.   Honor what falls and the cycles we share.   Your breath is mine.   Mine is yours.   We bathe in the sanctity of  water and air.     Live aware of all we share, the love abundantly  borne, for all.  

Editorial in the NY Times -

A Fixation With Secrecy

Published: August 28, 2006

In 1971, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird punctuated his plea to Congress for more cold war appropriations with a graphic display of information that revealed the nation on guard with 54 Titan and 1,000 Minuteman nuclear missiles, plus 30 strategic bomber squadrons. In making his case, Mr. Laird exemplified the idea that a little transparency is no drawback in a democracy.

Thirty-five years later, the Bush administration, which has consistently demonstrated an extraordinary mania for secrecy, is blacking that public information out of history. That’s right: it has reclassified the number of missiles and bombers from the Nixon era as some fresh national security secret, even though historians and officials in the old Soviet Union long have had it available on their research shelves.

What strange compulsion drives such “silly secrecy,” as it is aptly described by officials of the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research library at George Washington University? The archive published a report on how retroactive the administration has become in its obsession with creating secrets out of interesting information. The blacked-out missile and defense policy information dates to the 1960’s. Soviet numbers are left untouched on the open record, while the old American armada is freshly cloaked. What’s next? Classifying Civil War ironclads and cannons?

The missile blackout is the latest symptom of a deepening government illness. National security has become the excuse for efforts to crack down on whistle-blowers and journalists dealing in such vital disclosures as the illicit eavesdropping on Americans. Last spring the director of the National Archives objected to a reclassifying initiative undertaken by intelligence officials that caused 55,000 decades-old pages to vanish from the public record. The process itself was labeled an official secret.

Public recourse has become more difficult: enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act has become slower and more burdensome. The one thing the administration has made no secret is its antipathy to government transparency. The secrecy fixation is a threat to democracy and an insult to honest history.

Book Cover

food -

There is an article in the Chronicle today on healthy foods coming to our schools.   There is a new emphasis on what we ingest, and eating locally produced and organic foods.   I feel today how important it is to notice what we ingest, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  May each of us be a little more healthy at the end of this day.
Book Cover

Mental Discipline -

from Mary Rose O'Reilley's book,  The Love of Impermanent Things:

    "Simone Weil, the great twentieth-century French philosopher and mystic, taught that, given any statement, we should go through the following mental process: "Suppose this is not true:  list the consequences."  All French school children cut their teeth on this Cartesian methodology.  But Weil went a step further: "Suppose this is true; list the consequences."  Such good mental discipline."

    Can we do it?   Do we want to?  

    I read of the unhappiness of so many of our children, especially in affluent areas.   How do we lead them into areas of weeds and unpruned trees?

Book Cover

Rilke -

Rilke, in the Sonnets to Orpheus, writes:

    Don't be afraid to suffer; return
    that heaviness to earth's own weight;
    heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

    Even the small trees you planted as children
    have long since become too heavy; you could not
    carry them now.  But the winds .....  But the spaces .....

Book Cover

connection -

Mary Rose O'Reilley writes:   "This morning on the radio, I heard that a threatened leaf knows how to call up a scent that will draw a wasp to attack its preying caterpillar."

I am still with why it feels harder for me to say someone is mentally ill than physically ill.   There is so much we don't understand.   Is that what we touch here, our own fear of our own instability?   Do we fear our unused powers and where they might lead?   What does it mean that the leaf and the wasp communicate through scent?   What more can I do today than I realize?  I know that each time I ask, an amazing support comes in for me.   Perhaps, I can come to trust the lift of the wave, and the emerging trough, the continuing support, of the land and the sea.  
Book Cover

Expansion -

Richard Hibberthorne, an eighteenth-century Quaker minister:

    "Do not seek to hold me, for it is too strait for me; and out of this straitness I must go, for I am wound into largeness."
Book Cover

Letting go -

Luce Irigaray wrote:

    "If anything divine is still to come our way it will be won by abandoning all control ... it is through risk, only risk, leading no one knows where."

                Can I stand on those words today, stand as on a rock, and look around?   

                            Can I stand in a trust that wings abound?

                                            I can stand, sit,
                                                        fold, roll,

                                                        lie deeply down. 

                                I am held as I pound.    Silence molding, mounds.   
Book Cover

Intent -

Mary Rose O'Reilley asks if we aspire to,  "a condition of pure intent."

Yes,  I think we do.  I think we need pure intent, presence, flow.   I think also we need to watch for intention that is pure, and not, rescuing of another.   Can we keep our flight on migratory time, while still holding our place in the flock?
Book Cover

Miracles -

In Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather wrote that:

    "Miracles ..... seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing powers coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always."

It is what I was trying to say about the cat door.   Perhaps, they are all around, or perhaps I can put them in space around me, and step on through, where I never thought to do, until now.   
Book Cover

Ah, awe!! Tis fall!

Mary Rose O'Reilley:


    “The elm is full of goldfinches today on the fall migration, not as bright as the spring passage; they are outdone by the yellow-turning leaves.  Yet each bowl of a body is formed to contain its desire.  I feed them black seeds and white grain.  They gather on skeins of air.  They fly as the soul flies out of the body’s knotwork, as the soul takes off from a knob on the spine.”