November 25th, 2006

Book Cover

Good Morning!!

As I read in the morning paper of fist fights in shopping malls, I am grateful that I don't need anything.  I find it curious.  The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day to shop and yet, it seems out of all proportion this year.  I am also surprised since it seems that on-line shopping is so easy.   Jeff and Jan's wedding gifts were delivered here, and it appeared that almost all were ordered from their on-line registry.  There was no need to go to the mall for a fight.  Most odd.

We are cozily settled today, and soon will beckon out into this embrace of green trees and blue sky.  I am reading William Stafford and I sink into this poem of his this morning.

    The Discovery of Daily Experience

It is a whisper.  You turn somewhere,
hall, street, some great event: the stars
or the lights hold; your next step waits you
and the firm world waits - but
there is a whisper.  You always live so,
a being that receives, or partly receives, or
fails to receive each moment's touch.

You see the people around you - the honors
they bear - a crutch, a cane, eye patch
or the subtler ones, that fixed look, a turn
aside, or even the brave bearing:  all declare
our kind, who serve on the human front and earn
whatever disguise will take them home.  (I saw
Frank last week with his crutch de guerre.)

When the world is like this - and it is -
whispers, honors or penalties disguised - no wonder
art thrives like a pulse wherever civilized people,
or any people, live long enough in a place to
build, and remember, and anticpate;  for we are
such beings as interact elaborately with what
surrounds us.  The limited actual world we successively
overcome by frictions and by the mind's inventions
that cannot be quite arbitrary (and hence do reflect
the actual), but can escape the actual (and hence
may become art).

    - William Stafford

Book Cover

To think about -

Steve and I were discussing our ten favorite, or perhaps, the ten books that most influenced us.  It is a difficult choice, to narrow to ten.  As a child, I was heavily influenced by Little Women.   As an adult, Middlemarch and Howard's End are two biggies.  I just read French Lieutenant's Woman and really enjoyed that.   In my book group, we have learned that what may impact at the age of twenty, may slide like drool at the age of forty.   We had a different response to Anna Karenina after we had children.    Anyway, it might be fun to take some time today to re-visit some of your favorite books and see if they still hold water and force.   
Book Cover

Of course, Pride and Prejudice -

Like that, an email comes.  Someone is re-reading Pride and Prejudice.  Of course, Jane Austen heads the list on valuable, entertaining, and enlightening books.   That language.  Those characters and situations.    Oh, my!
Book Cover

Prayer and loving thought -

Jan, who made my quilt for me, informs me that she will have surgery this Monday to have a lump removed from her right breast and possibly lymph node removal.  This is hard news to hear, and I am glad she shared it with me, and I, now with you, so we can be there for her as she goes through this.   These are challenging times, and perhaps, they always have been, and I am just more observant and aware.   Prayers for Jan, and her family and loving care!

Today, I watched the clouds.  I saw a Tyrannosaurus chasing a chicken, though they were both the same size.  I think the chicken will be fine in the race across the sky.   What is the connection, you might ask.   I'm not sure, but I feel there is one.   Perhaps, I feel a need to imagine lumps dissolving like clouds, and dropping only the softest rain on those they seem determined to affect.

Jeff went to University High School, and the UHS Journal arrived today.  I enjoy reading it, and found these words from the Head of School Mike Diamonti at the 2006 commencement ceremony especially important for all of us to take to heart.

    "A number of studies have shown that when we are totally absorbed in what we are doing, we are extremely happy.  You must do your life's creative passionate work, whatever that may be.  The creative act is the secret of joy.  You must ask yourself what is it you really, really want to do.  You figure this out by asking what is meaningful and important to me?  What do I enjoy doing ... If you do not do this and you submit to the expectations of others or society, then at some point in the not too distant future you will find yourself with a job where you are only motivated by your paycheck, and where you see work as a chore and a necessity ....

    The truly fortunate, however, see their life's work as a calling because they are motivated to do it by its intrinsic worth.  They see their work as a passion and a privilege and they expect to be fulfilled and to make the world a better place.  And they look forward to continuing to do it every day for the rest of their lives.  You will never be able to find your life's calling unless you are very still and listen to your imagination and not to the voices around you ... You also will not be able to find your life's calling unless you have a strong sense of belief, not in religion, but in the power of your mind and in yourself.  I say this to you because we have ample proof that beliefs shape reality.  As the Buddha stated, "We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.  With our thoughts we make the world."

    May this knowing and doing,  be so, and love and prayers for All!!
Book Cover

thoughts -

"We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think.
                Words are secondary.

                                Thoughts live; they travel far."

                                                        -- Swami Vivekananda

Book Cover

Sensory Awareness -

As part of the Sensory Awareness study group, we do check-ins.   One woman offered this today.  I think it is worth sharing more broadly.

As background, Elsa Gindler is the founder of the practice that is called Sensory Awareness in this country.  She discovered her work in Germany when she had TB and healed herself, and is considered by many the "mother" of the breathing practices that have evolved from her work.    You can read more about her and her work and the work of those who followed in the book, Bone, Breath, & Gesture, Practices of Embodiment, which is edited by Don Hanlon Johnson.  Elsa Gindler worked with Heinrich Jacoby, who is also mentioned here. 

Also, Elsa Gindler is responsible for saving the lives of many Jewish people during WWII.  She not only continued to work with them, though it was forbidden, but she hid them and taught them how to be calm, so that they when they were questioned by the SS, no nervousness or perspiration gave them away.  

This is a part of a transcribed conversation between two older Sensory Awareness leaders, Mary Alice Roche and Ruth Veselko, on the topic “Emotions and Sensory Awareness.":

MAR:  I remember when I first wanted to do a bulletin about Elsa Gindler and asked Johanna Kulbach how it was to work with her, Johanna couldn’t describe what went on.  But what she said was, “Gindler took away the fear.”  When I asked her to explain, she said, “We had plenty to fear in Berlin in the War.  You never knew when a bomb was going to hit you, or the Gestapo was going to pick you up, but with Gindler I learned to stop being afraid when there was no immediate danger.”  When actual danger is present, fear comes, and helps you to do what is necessary.  But as soon as the immediate danger is over, one can stop being afraid of what is not happening at that moment.  That is trusting  yourself, and trusting life.
Gindler tolder Elfriede Hengstenberg that when she was curing herself of TB by paying attention to each thing she did in every waking moment, she discovered that calm in the physical field equates trust in the psychic field.  In this state of attention she was no longer disturbed by her thoughts and worries.  Thoughts and worries (emotions) would subside.  Do you suppose Gindler was free of them all the time after that?
RV:  I think you can’t be present all day.  I remember Fred von Almen, my meditation teacher, saying that he couldn’t be present all the time.  And Jacoby said, “If you would be present only five minutes in a day, that would change your whole situation.”  Not to want to be present every moment of the day.
* * * * * *
Book Cover

something to try -

    I came to believe that every book should be read in the most incongruous surroundings possible, for then it imposes its own unity that startles the reader when he has to emerge again into his own world.

           - Vita Sackville-West
Book Cover

Listening -

    If you put your ear close to a book you can hear it talking.

    A tiny voice, very small, somewhat like a puppet, asexual.

                    -  Anne Sexton