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Archive for April, 2007

“Chaos is a friend…”

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Today I happened upon 95 Theses for the Third Millennium by Matthew Fox. As I’ve said, I like little nuggets of wisdom to swish around in my consciousness.

Now, I can’t say that all 95 speak to me–here are a few that do:

#61 Interconnectivity is not only a law of physics and nature, but forms the basis of community and compassion.

#86 Chaos is a friend, a teacher, and a prelude to new birth, so it is not to be feared or compulsively controlled.

#91 Three highways into the human heart are silence, love and grief.

#92 The grief in the human heart needs to be attended to by rituals and practices that, when practiced, lessen anger and allow creativity to flow anew.

#93 Two highways out of the heart are creativity and acts of compassion.

#95 True intelligence includes feeling, sensitivity, and beauty. Humor is a gift of the Spirit and paradox is its sister.

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Meet my instructors in The Endless Discipline of Wonderment. That’s Ethan on the left and Blake on the right. We practice at the playground, at the sink, in the yard, on the floor. They are Black Belts. I am learning.

Here they are “up close and personal”…

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And, here’s what they left behind…

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Tonight we gather for Arlene…twelve women…Chai tea, gingersnaps, pound cake, brownies, cantaloupe and candied ginger slices.

After tea, we invite the bell of mindfulness and sit on our cushions. We sit for healing, we sit for wholeness, we sit for life, we sit to surrender, we sit to listen. Arlene who has begun chemotherapy; Arlene, a Hospice nurse; Arlene with Stage 4 cancer; Arlene, our friend.

We think of healing simply as support. As the capacity to deeply witness all of who Arlene is in this moment…her thoughts, her feelings, her beliefs, her dreams, her desires, her ambivalence, her doubts, her exhaustion. She’s happy; she’s sad; she’s afraid…she’s been afraid to make contact, to connect. Tonight, she allows us to touch her.

Arlene speaks of acceptance–her acceptance of her cancer. She tells us she feels real; she feels loved. We agree to face the unknown together…with impermanence at our backs. It is a beautiful evening.

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Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

THICH NHAT HANH

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A grey day…disjointed…unproductive…clients rescheduling…old friends–dear friends from Mexico stop by…too cold and wet to do much outside.

A perfect day to stop at Windsor Farms and imagine gardening. But, with the exception of impatiens, geraniums and marigolds, everything looks like groundhog, deer or rabbit food…(for a better understanding of this, read “Snow like cherry petals…“)

The Lupines outside collect raindrops…

 

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In the greenhouse, the daisies are just beginning to bloom…

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There is a carpet of marigolds…

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I feel altogether happy standing in the midst of profuse flowering and think of Stanley Kunitz, at one hundred, in his garden…his wisdom pouring out…his experience of near death deeply informing him…

“The garden instructs us in a principle of life and death and renewal. In its rhythms, it offers the closest analogue to the concept of resurrection that is available to us.”

“When an individual dies, the web connecting all life remains. It is reconstituted. The whole construct is renewed; the individual creatures who inhabit the web keep changing.”

“…I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.”

STANLEY KUNITZ

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FROM BLOSSOMS

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

from laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background, from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

LI-YOUNG LEE

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Another sure sign of spring! Suddenly the skunk cabbage is up and open and so green. This afternoon, a gentle rain and the incredible smell of greening earth and fleshy buds.

My horoscope in this months’ Vanity Fair says this: “Although it can be extremely unsettling for someone who likes to plan tomorrow’s agenda this evening, and this evening’s menu yesterday, there are periods in all of our lives when we must throw away the maps and the guidebooks. Eleventh house planetary transits are teaching you to acknowledge that you are part of a greater plan–one that you can’t figure out. So even if you have to sever associations that once sustained you, be happy that you are exploring new avenues of personal discovery and fulfillment. In other words, stop trying to control everything.”

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I have to say, it rings true…I don’t know about severing associations…I do know that any effort on my part to control anything lately…fails brilliantly.

I think of Suzuki Roshi’s Dharma talk on Control: “To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”

“The true purpose [of Zen] is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. This is to put everything under control in its widest sense. Zen practice is to open up our small mind. So, concentrating is just an aid to help you realize ‘big mind,’or the mind that is everything…

To live in the realm of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves, we grow. Whatever we see is changing, losing its balance. The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony. This is how everything exists in the realm of Buddha nature, losing its balance against a background of perfect balance. So if you see things without realizing the background of Buddha nature, everything appears to be in the form of suffering. But if you understand the background of existence, you realize that suffering itself is how we live, and how we extend our life. So in Zen sometimes we emphasize the imbalance or disorder of life.”

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Ahhh…it is completely Spring! I wake up next to my husband for the first time in almost two weeks. Darlene has been placed in a nursing home and for the moment we are free–no longer suspended in a timeless morphine world. The air is rich, the sky is flat cloudless blue.

After yoga class I inspect my sadly overgrown garden. The hyacinths are so fragrant that I can smell them from the upstairs window. I am filled with gratitude for my life, my family, my excellent health, my friends, my practice, my clients.

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My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river to tears,
so vast, it fills the four oceans.

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow—
Even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
To be a bud on a Spring branch,
To be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
Learning to sing in my new nest,
To be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
To be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
To fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all the is alive.

THICH NHAT HAHN

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