“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
On a recent visit, my daughter found a box of truly random photos. These were the odd pictures that hadn’t made it into albums, the ones I’d tossed into the box for safekeeping. We sat together looking at them one by one. How strange to find in the same shoebox an 8th grade school photo of me (at my most awkward teenage moment) with an 8th grade school photo of her (at her most awkward teenage moment). There were black and whites of Christmas past. There were yellowing polaroids of smiling unlined college faces, new babes in arms (who now have babes of their own), her college roommates, my high school boyfriend, a picture of my mother and grandmother laughing in the kitchen, my father in a crew cut, her in a plastic backyard swimming pool, my grinning husband with his grandmother at his graduation, me as a camp counselor, her first dance recital in a yellow duck suit, photos from shows in India, a festival in NC, and a dive bar in Indiana. There she was in braces and lipgloss, there I was with Stevie Nicks hair. I named the people she did not know, she told me stories I had not yet heard. We looked and laughed, gave one another sly smiles, sighed and remembered. I kissed the one of my grandmother and mother and we closed the box.
Autumn is a time when great heart splitting joy sits side by side with the deep wistfulness of leave taking. I know that the bone bare trees of winter are coming…and soon. But right now, while the autumn foliage is as bold and blooming as any bank of summer flowers, I will take it all in. I will create in my heart and mind images of blazing maples, poplars and oaks. I will not be sad that the leaves are gone, I will be grateful that I got to see them in full riotous color. It is the same with all those random photos. Drink it in my friends, Every Little Bit Of It.
Here is a link to Every Little Bit of It Video - http://tinyurl.com/p2l3fh7
"I’m a stranger here, I’m only passing through,
But every place I go leaves its own tattoo.
That’s how it is laying stone on stone,
Building little altars by the side of the road.
-Carrie Newcomer (From “Writing You A Letter” - A Permeable Life)
On my daily walk in the woods, there is a bend in the creek where I build cairns. Occasionally, a great storm will flood the creek and carries all the cairns away. And yet, I keep building more. Building cairns, my little altars in the woods, feels like a grateful nod to the journey, an acknowledgement that someone has passed this way, a bow of the head to the daily presence of something sacred out there in the woods. It is good to remind myself what great joy there is in simply creating something for the Now. I love having a new song that I can sing out into the world. But songs (not recordings, but the songs themselves) are ephemeral things, little more than air. They are carried mostly with the hearts of the listener. Songs are like cairns, we create and recreate them every time they are sung.
We are only passing through, but how important it is stop, to catch the presence of something shining in the world, to place one stone upon another stone in gratitude, in acknowledgement, in joy, in the Now.
"You have come to the shore. There are no instructions." — Denise Levertov
Because we live, we navigate the unknown. Because we live, we will stand at again at another new threshold. We may have seen this particular threshold coming, or it may have come unbidden and unexpected. Some thresholds can come with great excitement and anticipation, some come with unsure or uncomfortable feelings, and we find ourselves saying, “Idon’t know how to do this, no one gave me the memo.” But because we live, we step out and muddle our way through, doing the best we can. When I consider this, I cannot help but feel very tender for us all. At any given moment, all around me, most folks are braving one thing or another.
When I look around me I see that we are all rowing our little boats, reeling in the silver threads that connect us to our finest guiding stars. Be kind as you can to those around you, the person next to you is navigating too. Today we share the good muddle, we are row above silent waters, silver threads of starlight guiding our way. -Carrie
"All who wander are not lost." Tolkien
"What you seek, is seeking you." Rumi
It is easy to get impatient along the way. Do not despair, just pay attention. What you long for is continually offering itself in moments of love embodied, presenting itself in every unexpected kindness. It flashes daily at the corner of your eye, and fills our hearts when we need it most. What you are looking for, is looking for you. - Carrie
I learned to type on my father’s old Royal Deluxe,
A reliable heavy as hell 1940’s manual.
I remember the ratchet sound as you rolled in the paper,
The snap and tap of the type bars as they hit,
The little square type guide mechanism,
Raising and lowering the ribbon.
On my father’s Royal you had to hit the keys hard.
Pre electric typing was not for the faint of heart or timid fingers.
I recall the pleasing
As you neared the right margin,
And the satisfying whack and thunk
Of the manual return.
I like having spell check and easy edit functions.
I don’t think I could ever hit return
And roll the page completely back.
But I do miss a workspace
Without several modes of instant communication,
Without a virtual desktop of open applications,
All vying for my attention as I write.
I miss a world when you did one thing.
And then you did the next.
I miss the pleasing elegant rhythm,
The single focus of moving thoughts and ideas
Into words and sentences.
I miss how the rhythm was broken ,
When the arms jammed,
Or the ribbon wore out,
Or the Liquid Paper needed to dry.
I miss the pause these glitches created,
The break from the headlong,
My mind coming up for air and perspective.
I miss my comfortable relationship with imperfection.
Ink was never completely smooth,
You could tell if the ribbon was getting used up,
Or if the typist was pissed off.
I miss a first draft marked with pencil lines and arrows,
And the blessed chance to think hard before calling it done.
Our current world has become less tolerant of imperfection.
These days, we hear only recorded voices
Manipulated into unnaturally perfect pitch,
Guitars and drums digitally aligned
Into perplexingly perfect time.
Magazines run computer correct photos,
Perfect skin, teeth, shaved waistlines and enhanced eye color.
We see only surgically sculpted news anchors and actresses
Presenting only the most presentable standards of youth and beauty,
We expect our children to perform perfectly,
On tests that measure the perfectly measurable.
But no so long ago,
The humble typewriter,
Reminded us daily how to be in relationship,
With letter that always sticks,
And how to be grateful for the bell
That keeps you from going totally over the edge,
Reminded us that interesting things happen
During an unexpected
And that even the fastest most capable typist,
Occasionally had to pull out a page,
Crumple it up,
And start again.
by Carrie Newcomer
”I believe in kindness, also a mischief.Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” - Mary Oliver
Most of our great spiritual teachers did not encourage us to maintain the status quo or the current domination system. The call has almost always been to live out a different understanding of abundance, welcome the stranger, and to live out lives of radical love. When we lean into the Light and try to make kindness our first reaction, we are are upsetting the prevailing models of fear, scarcity and cynicism. This kind of living can be considered mischief or trouble making by some. So today, live into a life that is grounded in kindness….and create a little mischief.
what do you think about this quote?
My dog has five sweaters.
I am too old now to die young.
In spite of all my mistakes, she turned out fine.
I still do not know the answers to the most important questions,
Living with more questions than answers feels comfortable.
Lets throw some tofu on the grill.
I have a foot long albino catfish named Whitey Ford living in my pond.
I make my living on the meanderings of my mind.
I can afford the name brand Cheerios, but I stopped eating Cheerios.
I have five long time friendships that I haven’t screwed up.
I found a copperhead snake on my porch and dispatched it with a shovel.
I miss gathering with friends to listen to both sides of a new album.
I kissed a giraffe.
I don’t have to be afraid of that now.
I get a little weepy when I smell Vic’s Vapo Rub
Mile wide tornados happen regularly.
I know the names of hundred’s of wildflowers, trees and bird calls
And yet, there are more to learn, which does not feel like a failing,
But a wonderment.
My two beautiful lesbian friends are legally married.
I don’t have to wear a slip.
It’s not my parent’s fault.
The most intelligent news on television is presented by late night comedians
They ended the space program.
Our president is an African American.
I don’t have to hold my tongue.
I don’t have to speak.
I don’t have to finish every book I start.
The man I married twenty years ago still surprises me.
My inner teacher can be trusted,
It is still completely possible.
Hank was a retired carpenter, a mystic and a poet. He attended the Bloomington silent Quaker meeting for over fifty years and passed this spring at the age of ninety-five. I always meant to spend more time with Hank. We talked about meeting for coffee or lunch at the Hob Knob Cafe, but I never followed through. I got to know Hank through sitting together for twenty-four years in the silence of a Quaker meeting for worship. I knew the companionship of his kindred spirit as our souls clasp hands across the room. I knew him through hearing him speak out of the silence in the manner of friends; a brief story or phrase that a person feels pressed to speak out loud to the gathered community. It takes a long time to get a true bead on when to speak and when to be silent, in a Quaker Meeting. Eventually most of us learn to listen deeper and speak less. Eventually we experience not trusting our inner voice, decide not to speak, and realize later we should have. First, you let go of speaking, then you let go of the silence, and then you let go of judgment and have patience with yourself and the process. Over his long years, Hank had learned the art of this kind of patience and discernment. When he stood to speak, we all leaned in. He sensed the unseen world everywhere, especially in the natural world. He caught something luminous from the corner of his eye and would put it into language. He often spoke of an aging oak tree and a red tailed hawk that always seemed to appear in the most meaningful moments. He quoted Whitman and Emerson and his beloved Edna St. Vincent Millay. “Oh world, I cannot hold thee close enough.” He embraced the world, loved the world and could never get it quite close enough. He told circular stories, starting at point A and often visiting B, C, Q and 11 before coming back to A. But I found that if I hung with the story, if I listened with my heart instead of my linear mind, when he finally brought the story back to A, I would sit awash with wonder. It was always the journey I needed to take that day. I heard over the course of twenty-four years, small details of his daily life, large experiences that shaped him. I heard about morning coffee with his wife Mardi. I heard about small shining moments with his daughters and grandchildren. Occasionally, he would speak of his experiences as a conscientious objector in WW II. He had been sent away and interned in several northwestern work camps. They needed the soldiers. Hank was dangerous and many believed he was wrong or cowardly. War haunts everyone it touches. There are different kinds heroes, and more then one kind of courage. I heard the phrases that had followed him for years and the things he still had not figured out. I heard the small nuances of this man’s spiritual life shared with humility in a quiet room. After meeting, we would find one another. Often one of us would say, “Friend, you speak to my condition.” Which is Quaker short hand for “Today you spoke what my heart so needed to hear.” Sometimes we would chat over an oatmeal cookie, or during an after meeting potluck. We talked about poetry and our shared love of the mystery of language. Reveling in how poetry works at a slant; inferring what cannot be spoken at all, creating a container for our longings and for all things of shadow and light. I miss him.
In some ways, I’m not sure I could have known him better if I’d had that cup of coffee with him at the Hob Knob. But, I think I would have cherished those conversations and that feels like a missed opportunity. But Hank taught me that there are different ways of knowing one another. It was Hank who showed me that I could feel closer to him in the silence then I did with people with whom I spoke everyday. I learned that knowing someone primarily through his or her soul’s journey is a privilege and incredibly personal. I don’t believe that the kind of friendship and knowing that I shared with Hank was greater or lesser than our more common ways of being in relationship. It is a lateral kind of knowing. We experienced friendship as if it were based in poetry instead of prose, side by side in the quiet, centered in the wordless, the daily and luminous. We were very close friends in the manner of Friends and that has changed forever how I think about speaking, listening and the true nature of knowing.
"Hate can never end hate" MLK
No, hate can only combine and make more of itself, multiplying as the hate deepens over time. It is only love that matters in the end, only love that makes any true and long lasting change, only love that can transform something that seems impossible. Yes, the love we live and manifest in the world are small acts, but these tiny rebellions do shift the balance toward the Light, changing us as we change the world. Thats why we keep trying.