July 10th, 2007

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Good Morning!

The decks are wet this morning with a thick coat of fog, but the wind has stopped and all is silent, except for the running of the heater.  Where I live, the rates are reduced in summer because it is perceived, even by PG&E, that there is a need for heat.

I read the book Broken yesterday.  It is by William Cope Moyers, the son of Bill Moyers, and is about his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, specifically crack cocaine.  It is a sobering tale, made even more powerful by the revelation of the number of seemingly functional people around us who are addicted to drugs.  He asks that we treat drug addiction as we would cancer, give it that kind of emotional and financial support.  There is still a stigma, still the belief that the person is weak in some way, when really the body/mind is so changed that only groups of support can get one through and even then, William entered rehab four times.  He had a loving family of support who continued to seek him out and provide the needed care.  Most do not.  It is a sobering book, literally, and I think one we all should read.  It goes along with the movie Sicko in a way, as to the importance of caring for everyone without judgment as to their means and the possibilities set before them.

There is a good editorial in the NY Times on how well NATO does, and yet, we excluded them from Afghanistan, until the situation was desperate and then we let them in.  The article points out that NATO is about cooperation between countries and that is why it works.  Why would the US become some arrogant as to say we could do it ourselves?  In a way, we are like the addict with ego ruling the roost, instead of the understanding that we are all connected, with each one here with noble purpose in hand.

I have read many books on the subject of the US as unaware of its shadow side.  Certainly that is true.  Proclaiming one's self "good" and other's "bad" shows a lack of understanding as to the wholeness we all share.  It is also one of the leads to addiction, as a desire for "perfection" leads to failure, and the drug goes for the ego and feels so good for awhile until it doesn't, and then, the cycle begins again.

I think when this country recognizes all sides of itself, we will be on the way to a great healing for the country as a whole and the people within.  As long as we are soon to re-vamp our health care system, perhaps, we can also add a new compassion for addiction and mental illness.  

Here is to healing today, in all ways, for each of us, and the planet as a whole.  IMAGINE!

"Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world."

- Blaise Pascal

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Let Evening Come -

Jane prepared a brochure for a memorial service for her uncle this weekend.  She placed this poem by Jane Kenyon on the back.

It seems like a poem to read every day to remind us each day what comes, what is here.

Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon

shine through chinks in the barn, moving

up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing

as a woman takes up her needles

and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned

in long grass. Let the stars appear

and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.

Let the wind die down. Let the shed

go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop

in the oats, to air in the lung

let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't

be afraid. God does not leave us

comfortless, so let evening come.

From Otherwise: New & Selected Poems by Jane Kenyon, published by Graywolf Press.  Copyright © 1996 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.
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That leads to -

A Clear Midnight
by Walt Whitman

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,

Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson


Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the

themes thou lovest best,

Night, sleep, death and the stars.
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and there is this -

Moon Gathering
by Eleanor Wilner

And they will gather by the well,

its dark water a mirror to catch whatever

stars slide by in the slow precession of

the skies, the tilting dome of time,

over all, a light mist like a scrim,

and here and there some clouds

that will open at the last and let

the moon shine through; it will be

at the wheel's turning, when

three zeros stand like paw-prints

in the snow; it will be a crescent

moon, and it will shine up from

the dark water like a silver hook

without a fish--until, as we lean closer,

swimming up from the well, something

dark but glowing, animate, like live coals--

it is our own eyes staring up at us,

as the moon sets its hook;

and they, whose dim shapes are no more

than what we will become, take up

their long-handled dippers

of brass, and one by one, they catch

the moon in the cup-shaped bowls,

and they raise its floating light

to their lips, and with it, they drink back

our eyes, burning with desire to see

into the gullet of night: each one

dips and drinks, and dips, and drinks,

until there is only dark water,

until there is only the dark.

From The Girl with Bees in Her Hair by Eleanor Rand Wilner. Copyright © 2004 by Eleanor Rand Wilner. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.  All rights reserved.

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One poem leads to another -

Just as it is hard to eat just one potato chip, this morning it is hard to pause with just one poem.   They keep coming to lead me through this day of fog and to open wands of sun.  May we each find and feel our worth.  

Marvin Bell

Dark Brow

The dark brow of the creek wrinkles over time
as if something had been born there.
Scavenging all night, the water that runs there
brings things from time past.
Some of these things are the wrappers, the coats,
of what it meant to say, "I tasted"
or "I felt." And this, whatever it is, is not that.

All of us have felt the fatigue of dark water,
the burden massed at yard's edge,
and in the line of the garden
beyond the onions, there are fresh tears.
I do not say we should live forever,
for who could bear it,
only that we should one day enter completely into life.

In the beginning, as at the end, there was nothing,
though "was" is the psychic's verb,
the one that proves the existence of a current
by rising after it has passed
and shaking its head furiously, spraying water.
"I was," we say. "Therefore, I am." We also believe
a piece of us has washed away and may be worth something.

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from the book "Broken"

A disciple asks the rebbe, "Why does Torah tell us to 'place these words upon your hearts'? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?"

    The rebbe answers, "It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay, until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in."

       - from "The Politics of the Brokenhearted," by Parker J. Palmer

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Spirit -

We picked up Michael Moore's book, Downsize This in Point Reyes, probably because it was on the discount table.  Somehow I thought it was about weight, but it is about downsizing companies and the subsequent elimination of jobs and what that does to the psyche and pocketbooks of the American people.  I want to understand this man who makes the movies that question the establishment and force us to think.   Here is a paragraph about Michael Moore.

"As I sit offstage listening to the introduction, I think about how I, too, was raised to believe in an America where everyone had the opportunity to achieve a decent life. I was the all-American boy, an Eagle Scout.  I won my Marksman certificate from the NRA. I was religious, attending the seminary in high school to become a Catholic priest. I obeyed all the rules (to this day, I have yet to smoke a joint) and worked within our political system (at the age of eighteen, I  was elected to public office in Michigan). Until the 1990's, I never earned more than $15,000 a year.  I have stood in the unemployment line at least three different times in my life and was collecting $98 a week in "benefits" when I decided to make Roger & Me."

His movies may be, at times, a bit over the top, but he is the one who pointed out in Roger & Me how the world's richest corporation, General Motors, detroyed Flint, Michigan by firing 30,000 workers during a time when the company was making record profits.  Of course, now, we see the results of corporate greed and lack of innovation, but Michael Moore continues to be the canary in the mine asking us to pay attention, speak up, and vote.

I am also reading Design on the Edge: The Making of a High-Performance Building.  It is by David W. Orr and is about the building of "one of the first, if not the first, substantially green or high-performance buildings on a college campus."  The Adam Joseph Lewis Center is on the campus of Oberlin College.  Orr points out that in 1980, the Carter administration introduced The Global 2000 Report which was more than ignored and we see the results today.

Umberto Eco wrote that:

    Architecture is the art that most tries, in its rhythm, to reproduce the order of the universe, which the ancients called Kosmos.

Perhaps, after all, architecture is the place to begin.  

The book introduces with this:

Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit

We are made of earth and to earth we all return
We are deep-air mammals living at the bottom of an ocean of air
We live by the slow fire of oxidation
In landscapes shaped by fire, air and water
We are creatures more water than solid; eddies in one watershed or another
All part of one great watershed
We are spirits made matter, but we are spirit and that matters
We are sojourners in a mystery called time

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Angeles Arrien -

Periodically I check out the website of Angeles Arrien.  www.angelesarrien.com.

Here is her July reflection on gates and thresholds.

July 2007 Reflection                        
Symbols of Transition: Thresholds and Gates

Perseverance is a great element of success.
If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate,
you are sure to wake up something or somebody.
––Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Throughout history, images of thresholds and gates have served as symbolic passageways into new worlds. Imprinted on the human psyche, they herald the possibility of a new life, a new experience, or a new identity. They offer an opportunity for communion between different worlds: the sacred and profane, the internal and external, the subjective and objective, the visible and invisible, waking and dreaming.

Symbolically, there is a marked distinction between a threshold and a gate. A threshold suggests the place or moment where transformational work, learning, or integration occurs. The gate suggests protecting and testing that must occur before we are allowed entry and permitted to do work at the threshold. Gates are often considered places of initiation or entryways into holy places, sacred grounds, or spiritually significant transitions. Deep archetypal feelings may surface when we are “at the gate.” Instinctively we recognize that we are required to let go of what is familiar, and prepare to enter and open ourselves to the unknown. Our passage through the gate is irreversible. We cannot go back. After we open the gate and stand upon the threshold, we must do the work of transformation.

To thresh literally means to pound cereal grain to remove the husks and separate out the seeds. Figuratively, the threshing floor is where we tread, turn, twist, or flail as we do inner work. It is the place of the soul’s own threshing, where what is no longer necessary or aligned with our essential nature is released and discarded. We repeatedly come to the threshing floor to deliver ourselves to our final and holy excursion, in which we approach the opening to a hidden existence and discover a second grace.

--excerpt from The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom,
Winner of the 2007 Nautilus Book Award for Best Book on Aging