February 28th, 2008

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Morning -

I read Zelulon's blog this morning and I see even more clearly that not every place in the country is yet experiencing this glorious spring.  The blossoms are like cotton candy.

I lift this from his blog.  It seems like the way to begin and continue the day.

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. 

-Thomas Merton

I ask myself these two questions.   What do I think I am living for?    What is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for?   I will take some time with this today.   For some, the answer may be right there.  I need time to contemplate.

The WSJ yesterday reported on a study that shows that daylight savings time wastes energy.  No wonder Bush made it start earlier and last longer.  Let's use more energy, not less.   Maybe the study will reverse it.  I prefer natural time.

I'm refreshed this morning after a wonderful dinner last night with my friend Karen.  I walked down to meet her at Frantoio, and sat on a bench and watched a sunset beyond anything I could ever have imagined.   The colors are still with me as I enter in to this day.

I post a picture of a sunset, as the light bursts forth, wildly clear today.  


blue jellyfish

Breathing -

Karen mentioned last night how much the following post was helpful to her, and I realized that sometimes I post and forget to honor my own advice, so I am placing it here again, and may keep pasting it here, until I feel my breath is fully honored, and my diaphragm knows the bequest to rise and fall with the ease of jellyfish in the sea. 

Eckhart Tolle:

    "Being aware of your breathing takes attention away from thinking and creates space. It is one way of generating consciousness.  Although the fullness of consciousness is already there as the unmanifested, we are here to bring consciousness into this dimension.

    Be aware of your breathing.  Notice the sensation of the breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body.  Notice how the chest and abdomen expand and contract slightly with the in - and out breath.  One conscious breath is enough to make some space where before there was the uninterrupted succession of one thought after another.  One conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day is an excellent way of bringing space into your life.  Even if you meditated on your breathing for two hours or more, which some people do, one breath is all you ever need to be aware of, indeed ever can be aware of.  The rest is memory and anticipation, which is to say, thought.  Breathing isn't really something that you do but something that you witness as it happens. Breathing happens by itself. The intelligence within the body is doing it.  All you have to do is watch it happening.  There is no strain or effort involved.  Also, notice the brief cessation of the breath, particularly the still point at the end of the outbreath, before you start breathing again."

inside matisse

Taxes -

It is tax time and though I grumble about doing my taxes, I actually am happy to pay for safety, education, infrastructure, communication and nature.

Jon Carroll in his column today makes a good point, and I wonder if it is true that we would turn away from the candidate who says he or she will raise taxes.   How can we do anything else at this point?   Surely we all recognize this can't go on.

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Another Night in the Ruins
How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren't, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
to open ourselves, to be
the flames?
~ Galway Kinnell ~
(A New Selected Poems)
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Angeles Arrien

Karen studies with Angeles Arrien and she mentioned last night that "Angie" suggests each day that we perform three acts of self-care.

Hmmm!    Have you performed your acts of self-care yet today?   Do you notice when you do and when you don't?   Three acts seems like a great deal, but I suppose it is how we define them.  Perhaps it is just noticing as we brush our teeth, chew our food, look out on the changing light.  

I went to the website of Angeles Arrien, and I post the words from the first page.  I would say just click on the link but these are February words and may change with March.

Her website is: http://angelesarrien.com/

February 2008     

Listening to the Call

“How do we listen for, as well as distinguish the calls that are raining upon us constantly, as often they are obscured by our inattention? As the sculptor Auguste Rodin once said, “We need to listen as if to hear from behind the wall, the songs of birds who populate the secret garden.” If we don’t listen, the callings go unnoticed, and we are the worse for it. Our lives become absurd––ab-surdus, meaning to be absolutely deaf. We must listen like someone in love. As the theologian Paul Tillich once said, the first duty of love is to listen.

Listening is hard work, whether we are in love or not. The discipline of paying close attention to ourselves, to others, to the vital signs that come across the screen of our lives informs us through dreams, intuitions, feedback, and longings, which help us know or awaken to what our calls are. The practice of listening will tell us what is true and what is not, when to proceed and when to postpone, what to trust or not, which directions to take at the crossroads, and what’s right for us and where we are willing to be led.

In discerning a call, we must use good judgment. Effective judges understand that the truth is not simple. Discernment helps us reach a wise decision and to act upon it. Which is perhaps the best way to practice discernment. Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, says that the great sacrilege in not paying attention to the call, or our hungers, or our bliss. In terms of the soul’s integrity, that sacrilege is of “inadvertence, of not being alert, not awake.”

As someone kept asking Buddha, are you a god? Buddha’s answer was “no”. “Are you an angel?” Buddha’s answer was “no”. “Who are you then?” And Buddha’s answer was, “I am awake.” When we are awake, we become a good tracker. In Tom Brown’s book, The Tracker, he says “The first track is the end of a string. At the far end, a being is moving. A mystery that leaves itself like a trail of breadcrumbs, and by the time your mind has eaten its way to the maker of the tracks, the mystery is inside you.”

The healthiest response to a calling is to take a consistent action that supports the next step. Am I listening? What am I hearing? Do I know? How are we being called? Individually and collectively at this time? What is the response and wise action that would support the call?”

––Adapted and synthesized by Angeles Arrien 
from small portions of Gregg Levoy’s book, Callings


Monthly Practice:

bulletFebruary is the month most associated with the heart, given that Valentine’s Day is celebrated widely. During this month, practice what Paul Tillich calls “the first duty of love is to listen”. Take time everyday to deeply listen to whoever is speaking, and notice what takes you out of listening. Remember that life becomes absurd (absurdus, meaning to be absolutely deaf), if we don’t listen to where we are being called internally, as well as externally.

bulletWhat is calling you at this time, and what is the response and wise action that would support the call? Take at least one action every day that will support any calls, longings or inspirations.

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Kara -

I now have a clearer picture of what is going on with Kara, and I request more prayers.  Let's really blast the universe with prayers for 12 year old Kara, and while we're at it, let's throw in 6 year old Sydney, and everyone else, too.  I think we could all use some prayers said in our behalf.

The world is beautiful, and painful, too.

deep sea turtle

Comfort in a Poem -


    - Frank X. Gaspar

And so I swam out to where the turtles live,
about a half-mile off shore where the bottom
is lava and coral and struck with canyons of white sand.
The turtles are green and as big as the wheels
on an automobile or a truck.  They like to glide
about twenty feet down, where they are sovereign
and agile and untouchable, but I was raised on the ocean
and I still know how to go down deep and stay there:
You float for a minute and go limp, and you breathe deeply
through the tube you hold clenched in your teeth.
Then you let everything out and slip under.
You move with the languor and sorrow of turtles.
You practice their ease, their cumbersome grace.
What is the mind of turtle?  In one moment I saw two
come together and appear to kiss. I guess they were saying,
Come on down, let's see if you've got anything left. I kicked easy.
I blew the pain out of my ears more than once. I chased
one in simple play, in a spiral, tighter and tighter. Maybe
they were amused. Maybe they wanted to kill me.
An old bull came by, aloof, a beard of barnacles on
his hangman's head. How many times down for me?  Ten?
Thirty? How long like a stick on the choppy water?
Well, I admired how the turtles watched me over their shoulders,
I appreciated their curiosity and their disdain. When you are
down like that, you get two signals. The first is a quick
need to breathe. You let that one go, blow out a little,
and the urge passes - or you get used to it. Then you
are empty but touched with dementia.  Then you can speak
with the god of the sea in his crown of weeds or his goddess and
her many shells.  Then you are amphibious and immortal and you
can join the turtle dance again, or just hold to a piece of coral
and hang like a tail of kelp in the eddies.  When you
understand that you are in your home and need never leave,
you'd better look up.  Then you can see how far that old world is
and how much work you have to do. And so
I pulled my way up from the deep, kicking and kicking,
and the turtles just watched, not caring much.  I lay
on the surface and breathed and rested until I could lift
my head to see where the current had set me.
The sun was red and swollen and low behind me,
and the long clouds were purpling under their hems and edges.
Now there was so much I had to leave.
And now there was so much I had to get back to.
The beach was a blur of tiny palms, the ocean was windy and warm.
And so I stroked, slow and easy.  And so I kicked and kicked.

cirque du soleil

Taser parties -

From the New Yorker I learn that Tupperware parties have been replaced by Taser parties.   Though the woman organizing the events and idea, says that being shot with a Taser is "the worst pain I've ever felt," she still seems to think  we each need to be carrying one, right next to our cell phone.  Oh, good, another little pocket in our purse.

The Lost Children -

There is an article in the New Yorker by Margaret Talbot on immigrant-detention facilities in America that house families.  I suppose we would not have had Charles Dickens, if he had not had to go to debtors prison when his father went bankrupt, so perhaps we are creating future writers, but putting innocent children in jail in this country is unfathomable.  The article is astonishing and deals with a great deal with Hutto, a private prison company. 

I thought the writings of Charles Dickens changed things.   Who would have thought we would be back there again.  The article is horrifying. 

Maybe I will just quote a little.  "Children were regularly woken up at night by guards shining lights into their cells. They were roused each morning at five-thirty. Kids were not allowed to have stuffed animals, crayons, pencils, or pens in their cells.  And they were not allowed to take the pictures they had made back to their cells and hang them up.    When Hutto opened as an immigration-detention center, children attended school there only one hour a day.  Detainees, including children, wore green or blue prison-issue scrubs."

This prison is built for profit.  The children are innocent, and their parents may be too.   How is this not torture, and how can it be allowed?

Charles Dickens.  We need you now.
alexander calder

Change -

There is an article in the Chronicle on the movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and how controversial it was when it came out in 1967.  It was a bold step.  Here is an excerpt from the article by Ruthe Stein.

    "But the 1960s were a different time. When Poitier and Houghton smooch in the back of a cab from SFO, it was the first time a white actress and a black actor had kissed in a major motion picture. Laws against miscegenation were on the books in 16 Southern states. A movie that couldn't be shown in one area of the country was a bad investment. Between the time the film was shot and released, a Supreme Court ruling, Loving vs. Virginia, overturned laws against interracial marriages.

    But they remained a sensitive issue not just in the South. In September of '67, a few months before "Dinner's" release, Secretary of State Dean Rusk offered to resign from the cabinet after his daughter, a Stanford student, married a black man."