July 24th, 2007

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Good Morning!

The fog is in, though it is the kind that soon will dissipate.   Warmth is predicted.

I pick up Galway Kinnell's book Strong is Your Hold and open to a poem called The Quick and the Dead.  It is about the amazing recycling of a vole he caught in a trap and thrown out into the yard.

Kinnell ends the poem like this:

But when the human body
has been drained of its broths and filled
again with formaldehyde and salts
or unguents and aromatic oils, and pranked
up in in its holiday best and laid out
in a satin-lined airtight stainless-steel
coffin inside a leakproof concrete vault -
I know that if no fellow creatures
can force their way in to do the underdigging
and jiggling and earthing over and mating
and egg-laying and birthing forth, then for us
the most that can come to pass
will be a centuries-long withering down
to a gowpen of dead dust, and never
the crawling of new life out of the old,
which is what we have for eternity on earth.

    - Galway Kinnell

When my father died in 1969, we proudly chose the best, and yes, the extra vault was essential to keep that odd, waxed body intact.

With my mother, the decision was easy, and we scattered her ashes in joy and ease.   They both play now everywhere, but it is odd to realize that my father's waxed form may still be preserved in vault and coffin under the ground.  We did not know then the isolation in which we placed that body.  We wanted to preserve.  Now, when I die, I want this collection of elements loaned to me to return quickly to the earth and change of form.   I welcome the guide.

Jane calls and though I read that the weather at Squaw Valley is sunny and clear, she informs me that it is pouring rain.  Hmmm!

I am blanketed in fog.

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Morning Poems -


July 24, 2007


How softly the long grasses

lean as they grow

tapping a tune

of one world

and the next.

They connect earth and sky,

spur lungs to fruit,

lie down

as owner and guest.




I love to sit on my father’s grave

near a tree looking up at the sky.

I don’t know why I don’t find it sad,

but I see him as always outside,

never inside working, only out playing,

his new life

a water-sky slide.




Measured Content


I might not use the word longing.

I feel unfamiliar with it -

but others use it, and so I step into what it might mean

to long and stretch -

I tend to live like a roly-poly bug,

rolled into a self-contented ball.

So, now, I lean into the wide reach and bend of caterpillar segments

lined up to munch one leaf and the next,

building steam for cocoon and wings,

preparing for a greater rest

where long and short, ball and stretch

have no context or boundaries -

no content, content.  




Step Into Your Own Longing



What is it to step into one’s own longing?


Is this the fairy tale story of over the sun

and behind the moon,

an elaborate tale of east and west, north and south,

looking for a feather or a grail?

Is this Dorothy dropped back into Kansas?


I work hard to open up to no possession,

or possessive,

no me, or mine - the mountain - thee,

and thou - ah, thou,

a mine.


I delve now to know

the river’s flow, the mountain stacks of gold.

In a rural part of England it is said

that a burning drake opens the night sky

to reveal a vein of gold down below.


Last night the moon traced a path,

burning bright coins

answered inside

a life in time.


Coins spent and given,

round edges of longing,

even as the exchange,





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Letting the world in, or, perhaps be -

I struggle sometimes with understanding acceptance and therefore telling myself it is okay to not be working every moment of my life to stop outer and inner wars, and that it is okay to cultivate this level of peace of which Gangaji speaks.   I know it is to accept all, and sometimes it is hard when we read and see children soldiers and so much suffering and death.

Words of Gangaji:

When you experience "other" as self, you experience deep pain and hurt. And you choose to either close to that or to open even more. When you recognize that there is no other, the pain of the world that you have denied is experienced as the pain of your own self. You can invite that universal pain into your heart. Then that very pain is revealed to hold the treasure, to hold the reality of the deepest, most profound truth. We think that the realization of truth is all about lightness, bliss, and ecstasy; but if that were so, realization would not include all. True realization is the doubtless certainty that you and all can never really be separated.


Are you ready to experience the naked, raw truth of the fragility of life forms and how quickly they can end, unexpectedly, even horribly, and the suffering that reverberates from that ending? To directly experience that fragility and suffering is to welcome the whole truth. To accept the invitation is to be still in whatever is arising and to tell the truth about what remains permanently here, in peace and in love.


In this moment in time, we can finally recognize how much is unknown politically, economically, culturally, and globally. We can seize the opportunity to meet that unknown-ness and discover the indefinable fulfillment that is forever unknowable.


Never in the history of the world have so many people been aware of what is happening on the other side of the globe while it is happening. Never have so many people been aware that the pattern of war is not new. And never have so many people been willing to say, "Stop."


Wherever you find yourself, you are invited at this moment to stop and recognize the sublime truth of who you are. This truth can always be found in surrendered unknowingness, but it is often covered by the concept of me or mine. The choice then is to be true to truth or to turn from it once again.


You can actually experience the fullness of peace in this moment, here, right now, regardless of circumstances. You can discover the joy that includes pain, the love that includes hate, the peace that includes war.

The selection above is a part of Chapter 49 from Gangaji's new book. The Diamond in Your Pocket, published by Sounds True.


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More Gangaji - More Heart!

You can never discover how big the heart is until you are willing to let everything in. That's the possibility of a human lifetime. We know or somehow we are mature enough to tell the truth of how miserable it is to shrink the heart down and then to try to keep out all the threats. At a certain, mysterious moment you are just willing to say, 'Okay, I surrender. I give up. Let it all come in.' In that moment, what a revelation of the capacity of your heart to include everything. Everything. All the pain of the world, all the pain of the past, all the pain to come, the necessary pain that is part of life, the unnecessary pain that is part of avoiding pain. All of it. All of it. Then your heart is not just your heart and it's not the beautiful muscle of your body, or even your emotional heart. It is the core of the world. It is the universe itself. It is life itself, knowing itself as the capacity to hold all of life. That's the possibility.





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Galway Kinnell -

Galway Kinnell has a poem called When the Towers Fell, about, obviously 9-11.   Amazing, isn't it, how we know which towers are meant.  It is a marvelous poem but I give only the last stanza which relates to what has just been said.

In our minds the glassy blocks succumb over and over,
slamming down floor by floor into themselves,
blowing up as if in reverse, exploding

downward and rolling outward,
the way, in the days of the gods, a god
might rage through the streets, overtaking the fleeing.

As each tower goes down, it concentrates
into itself, transforms itself
infinitely slowly into a black hole

infinitesimally small: mass
without space, where each light,
each life, put out, lies down within us.

- Galway Kinnell

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Heroism -

The hero's will is not that of his ancestors nor of his society, but his own.

This will to be oneself is heroism.

Life is a desperate struggle to be in fact that which we are in design.

       - Ortega Y. Gassett

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Evening -

The moon is again a presence in the sky.

I leave tomorrow at 5 AM, yes, AM, for Squaw.  I understand from Jane that the local Starbucks is not very successful with the internet, so I may be out of touch until Saturday. 

Until then, ...

"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt."

- Frederick Buechner