July 7th, 2008

wildwood retreat center

My words for the wedding -

These are the words I shared at the wedding amidst the wisdom of the redwood trees.


My Words for the Wedding:


My teacher Charlotte Selver used to say that, “A moment is a moment.”  It took me years to understand what that meant, and I won’t say that I fully do now, but what I see is that Chris and Frieda embody those words, “A moment is a moment.”   The beauty that these two share, the laughter, love, acceptance, intellect, and joy is beautiful to watch, and that is not to say that they don’t embrace the fullness of life, the horror, the terror, the pain, because they do.  They are both involved in changing the world for the better.   They are workers who know how to play.  They embody the best of the ant and the grasshopper.   I listen to them giggle, see them snuggle, and I share in the joy that these two people, these two who have learned and worked to be complete and whole on their own, have also found their other half.


What so inspires me is how much alike they are, how compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic,  how they both reach out and out and out to be there for others, and to unite them in an atmosphere that, yes, accepts the pain, and reaches fully for the joy.    They don’t back off.  They delve.  Their life is rich, both separately and together, and together, they power a knock-out punch.


People often prefer one person in a couple to the other, but, again, what is so astounding to me is that Chris and Frieda so completely embody beauty, beauty in the truth of John Keat’s words, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”  The joy of each one, and the bubbling of the two of them together truly is a warm cauldron in which we all can seep, and we do. 


Their words today, “I do,” include us all.  We do love, these two.  






wildwood retreat center

Morning -

It is morning and day begins.  I will talk to Jane at seven as I usually do on morning weekdays.  I feel rested and I am with the beauty of the place, Wildwood, the bride and groom, and all those who helped.   I have now seen Wildwood in all four seasons and it is beautiful in each one, and was especially spectacular while we were there.  I will return to the town of Guerneville. 

This event was well-orchestrated and well-planned, ten months of it, and, as we all know, life provides its own entertainment.  We may be the bowling ball, pins, or alley, but no matter how one looks at it, our final score card shares gutter balls, spares and strikes.  Chris and Frieda are exuberant, happy, and thrilled and probably exhausted this morning.

It has been suggested back in December that they marry for tax purposes, but they chose not to and created what they wanted and worked hard to bring family and friends together and they did.

Now, a new day dawns for us all, as it does each day and it is up to us to know what to do with it, to orchestrate and choose.

I met Rhett in my first moments at Wildwood.  He is a volunteer who believes in the beauty and honoring of the place.  Though when we arrived there was still a great deal to be done on the place, and the staff seemed a bit concerned that all would not complete, he was walking around smiling.  I asked him about his joy.  He said he had open heart surgery five years ago.  He went "under" listening to Chopin and Handel's Ode to Joy.  He woke six or seven hours later filled with joy and vowing to live each moment choosing joy.  He realized he had a choice.

I have said before that I think the world is influenced by the vast number of people who might have died but were "saved" by modern medicine.  I am aware that the most interesting and delightful people go through chemo, and that is so but maybe it is that we are all delightful and interesting and we uncover it a little bit more throughly when we go through something like chemo or surgery.  Of course, then, there is Dick Cheney who doesn't seem to be affected by his medical procedures.  His heart is not softened, by what, for many,  is a life-change.

The point is to enjoy this day and see how many smiles your heart can contain.   Peer out with Beauty and Joy!

alan's beach photo

rest -

There is nothing like rest.  I am back to my routine and thrilled that Chris and Frieda are now happily married after so much work and planning.

I believe Big Sur is still threatened.  I came home to a dire email from Esalen, and so consider these words of Henry Miller.  His home there is now a museum in Big Sur.

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

            — Henry Miller
alexander calder

Thomas Merton -

The basic and most fundamental problem in the spiritual life is this acceptance of our hidden and dark self, with which we tend to identify all the evil that is in us. We must learn by discernment to separate the evil growth of our actions from the good ground of the soul. And we must prepare that ground so that a new life can grow up from it within us, beyond our knowledge and beyond our conscious control. The sacred attitude is then one of reverence, awe and silence before the mystery that begins to take place within us when we become aware of our inmost self. In silence, hope, expectation, and unknowing, the man of faith abandons himself to the divine will: not as to an arbitrary and magic power whose decrees must be spelled out from cryptic ciphers, but as to the stream of reality and of life itself.

Thomas Merton. The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation. William H. Shannon, editor. Sam Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004: 55.

Thought for the Day:

The sacred attitude is, then, one of deep and fundamental respect for the real in whatever new form it may present itself.