It’s consoling to realize that I don’t ever have to ‘try’ to be part of a group, a community, because I, and all of us – all people and trees and flowers and flowing rivers – are naturally and necessarily part of an uncountable number of groups or communities. The very fact that I and all things and people are part of an infinite universe means that we all belong to that group – the everlasting community called The Universe. I have no choice, actually. I don’t have to want or try to be part of this group; like it or not, I  am part of it. And what’s wonderful is that this group – this community – that I belong to is always doing wonderful activities, and doing them all together. When I breathe in and out, I’m participating in an exciting and enjoyable activity, and – wonder of wonders – billions of other creatures are doing it with me at the very same time! When I see with my eyes, I’m taking part in an adventure called ‘sight’ with numberless other living beings. We’re side by side, in a sense, in partnership across the earth and sky, savoring the experience of seeing. How fortunate – to be part of an endless number of boundless groups and communities! How lucky, to be seamlessly united with others in so many wonderful ways!

I thought of writing about ‘community’ after our walk this morning, during which we passed this ‘community’ of old stones sitting in peace -a solid group of friends for probably centuries.

And here we are, a community of two shadows, striding along through a local neighborhood …


  My wife and I have a small home beside a river in a small town, but I wish I could more often feel like I’m home no matter where I happen to be. Home is our white stone house in Mystic, but home should also be the sidewalk I’m walking on, or the store where I’m browsing among beets and cabbages, or the forest in which we’re walking together on a summer day. Home, as we say, is where the heart is, and shouldn’t my heart be wherever I happen to be, whether floating on a river in a kayak or driving on a crowded interstate? Shouldn’t I feel just as “at home” pumping gas at a station miles from our house as doing the dishes in our kitchen? I live in little Mystic, but I also live in the limitless universe, so perhaps my real home is as vast as galaxies. It could be there are countless doors in my real home, all leading to moments that could be called miracles, all opening to places as comfortable and kindly as our living room on Riverbend Drive.  

This morning, we took a walk around some nearby neighborhoods, and it was fun to see the various homes along the way, each one expressing its cozy homey-ness in its own special way . I love walking on woodland trails with Delycia, but this morning I found joy in just appreciating the various homestyles, the different kinds of comfort, that we saw along the road.

He comes home each time
a happy thought comes home to him.
Happiness has its home all around him
but he doesn't know it
until one of its thoughts
lets itself quietly down to him
and he shakes with happiness,
and there he is,
home in happiness,
where he's always been
but didn't know it.

Patterns and Peace

When things seem stirred up in my life, sometimes all I have to do is see more clearly. I’ve found that if I can simply notice the usually unnoticed things around me, life feels lighter and more leisurely. If, for instance, I take some time to tour my wife’s garden on an abundant summer day and actually see the assorted shades of the blossoms, actually notice the slight shifting of the flowers in the faintest winds, I almost always come away with a quieter feeling about life. Problems seem simpler after I’ve studied the colors of clouds for a few seconds, or seen the different ways two houses shine in the sunlight, or observed the movement among millions of leaves in windy trees. Even taking the time to notice the patterns in one of our colorful plates or bowls, or the way a sunroom window shows the shades of early morning light, might make a day seem effortless, its potential problems powerless and easy to solve. 

And this morning, on our walk in the Peace Sanctuary, I happened to notice these lovely patterns along the trail –

– the stones and moss and leaves and roots all stylishly set in their perfect places. I paused for a few seconds and studied them, and perhaps that pause has brought even more of my usual peacefulness to this day.

R  emember its gift, the 
A  lways satisfying song it sings
I  n the trees and inside you, because 
N  ow, all of life is wet and wonderful.  

Storms and Wonders

Here in Mystic right now (5:30 pm on August 27) we are hearing the rumbling of thunder and seeing an occasional streak of lightning, and it has me thinking about storms of all kinds – not just storms in the weather, but storms inside and around my personal life. Like all of us, I have lived through countless emotional storms, sometimes far scarier than a thunderstorm, and the mystery for me is that the ‘sunlight’ that started shining inside me soon after a storm had passed somehow always seemed a bit brighter than before the storm. Strangely, it seems like storms have always brought better vision, a brighter inner light.

On stormy days,
set your mind loose inside the storm
and let it socialize
with winds and thunders
and do the dance
the storm is doing.
You might be surprised
to see your mind as mighty
as the storm,
the two like sisters,
swirling together,
thoughts and winds
and dreams and downpours
flowing from far away
and fading off
with peacefulness
and friendly waves.

Yesterday morning, we took another restful and fulfilling walk in the Canonchet Preserve in Hopkinton, RI, and, as usual, I was fairly mesmerized by the beauty of the place right from our first steps. There’s a sort of dark and unexplainable loveliness along those trails. I felt like we were walking in a faraway fairyland, and the sounds of our shoes on the soft and sometimes stony trail were the sounds of words whispered by two people passing through. Lucky, as usual, to be alive – that is exactly how I felt.

Here is a slide show of some of the wonders we saw …

and here are the quiet, carefree walkers …

and a quick video …

And finally, here are the shadows of the same wonder-filled walkers as they walked the hills of seaside Noank village this morning …


Whenever I recall a friend telling me, years ago, that he was recently hiking in a forest and soon found himself, as he said, ‘in the middle of nowhere’, it reminds me of a somewhat strange hope I always have when I start reading a work of fiction. As surprising as it may sound, I hope I will feel sort of startled and dumbfounded by what I am reading, even somewhat lost inside the pages. Delycia and I are currently reading Moby Dick for our book club, and whenever I feel like I’m ‘in the middle of nowhere’ (which is quite often in this book!), I say good for me, for then I might have the stirring experience of finding my way to ‘somewhere’. I often forget that in order to experience illumination I have to first experience darkness, and that the contentment of new knowledge can only come after the discontent of confusion. If I’m never ‘in the middle of nowhere’ when I’m reading a story, never utterly puzzled by the words I’m reading, how can I ever feel the thrill of stumbling upon the story’s true meaning?

These days I am often totally puzzled by this jigsaw puzzle I am trying to decipher.

Sometimes I feel as lost in this puzzle as I often do when reading Melville’s abstruse sentences and paragraphs. Staring at all the unsettled pieces still without a home in the puzzle, I sometimes sigh with a sense of hopelessness, but it’s often right then that a single piece somehow shines like a signal for me, and I set in its special place, and smile, knowing that even the strangest puzzle – on a puzzle table, in the pages of a book, or in life itself – will always come together – often in beautiful ways – for a patient and persevering person.

SNOW, FLAMES, AND A PUZZLE (written on January 21, 2014)

Outside, a billion big snowflakes are floating down on our neighborhood, while inside our snug house, the flames of an inviting fire are fluttering and leaping in the fireplace. There’s a similar and lovely randomness in both – the snow sailing here and there and wherever, and the fire doing its dance in a thousand ways. There’s also a jigsaw puzzle on the table not far from the fire, and lately the pieces have seemed as haphazard as the flames and the snowflakes. I know, though, that they’ll all eventually fit together, just as the flames will eventually settle together into one smooth pile of ashes, and just as the snow, by sunrise, will be spread across the streets and yards in a single dazzling sheet.


I would like to learn to ‘stay’ more often – remain right where I am without wandering off to some other place or task. There’s something special, I think, about ‘staying put’. Stones do it constantly, and easily, just sticking to where they are for months and maybe years and centuries. The stones in our stone fence have stayed there for years, precisely where they were placed, and stones in fields have been sitting in the same places in, I might say, a pleasant peacefulness.

And these stately, distinguished trees I passed on a walk in Elm Grove Cemetery this morning – how patient they seem, how single-minded, just staying right where they are day after day, year after year!

Perhaps I’ll try a little ‘staying’ each day – just letting myself be left somewhere to sit silently, to persist in simply being where I am, to suspend all stirring and rushing, and just stay, a senior-citizen stone or tree, sitting in peace. 

In Staying, Kansas, 
staying is a popular pastime. 
Trees usually stay standing 
precisely where they are,
almost as if they think
they are lucky to be there, 
and laughter lingers longer here 
than in other towns.
Pillows wait patiently
for people’s heads to finally find them, 
 and happiness,
in Staying,  
insists on hanging around, 
hoping someone will notice. 
Towels in bathrooms stay put, 
well prepared for people’s hands, 
and the sky continues, 
day after day, 
to be the sky.
Best of all, in Staying, 
peace persists, hangs on,
continues, and carries on.  

Hamilton and Delycia, staying put …


Yesterday and today, we did three-mile walks in beautiful Denison Pequotsepos Nature Preserve, in the early morning as the sun was just starting to spread its light. As usual, I felt stronger and more loosened up with each step. Somehow, life seemed larger and more aglow as we made our way along the lovely trails. Below is a slideshow of scenes we saw along the way …

Walking can work miracles, 
can make leaves leap up
and grass give its gifts 
to your feet. 
Walking can make you wonder 
why sunlight lives on certain tree limbs, 
on silent stones, 
on sticks that seem precious. 
Walking can carry you,
like a cloud 
that will never disappear. 
Walking can be where you live 
and why you laugh. 
Shoes passing over stones 
seem to always be smiling.  

This Is It

I guess like most of us, I have been searching for wisdom for most of my life – searching for some sense of who I am and what this thing called life is all about. Sometimes – often on silent, unblemished summer mornings like this one – I realize, to my dismay, that my search has been wasteful and silly, since true wisdom doesn’t have to be searched for. It’s wherever I am, as ever-present as air and as immeasurable as the sky. To find wisdom, I simply have to stop searching for it, open the door of my small, cautious self, and walk out to where boundless wisdom is always making its miracles. It’s truly as simple as that.  Like the confused Buddhist student monk in this cartoon, I have to wake up and realize that ‘this is it’ – that ‘right here and now’ is absolutely all there ever is.


 He’s always backed-up,
which brings him an easy, consoling feeling,
like flying in an infinite sky
with never-failing, always-helpful winds.
When worries assail him,
simple presence has his back,
reassuring him that now
will never be any better than it is now,
which means it’s matchless
right at this moment,
and that miracles can arise
even from fear and fretfulness.    
He gets help from the happiness 
he sees in old, simple streets 
and in stones that sit in peace. 
His support is always present
in every spreading-out 
and restfully soaring 
new moment.  


Here are some ‘right here and now’ moments from our walk in the Peace Sanctuary this morning …

… the paved path leading into the Peace Sanctuary, with Delycia up ahead …

… early light on the Mystic River

from the trail high above the river …

Commonplace Miracles

This morning, while Delycia walked along River Road, I walked in St. Patrick’s Cemetery overlooking the Mystic River, and I was fortunate to see these marvelous scenes:

swirls and cushions of clouds above the cemetery …

the river in its glassy distance …

and sunlight displaying its matchless skills …

However, later in the day, at home, I noticed other miracles – more commonplace ones that I usually overlook. Here’s a simple but miraculous scene in our bedroom …

nothing fancy or unusual, just some simple furniture and a lovely lady taking a nap in lovely, everyday light. As my favorite poet, Walt Whitman, wrote,

“Why, who makes much of a miracle? As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle.”


When I lived for a few years beside the slow-moving Wood River in Rhode Island, I sometimes stirred up the water in the shallows just to see it slowly settle back to its usual clearness, and now, occasionally, when my life seems blurred and unsettled, I still think of how, given time, that river always returned to its accustomed stillness. I guess I need to give my so-called problems time to smooth down and settle, like the river always did. I sometimes need to do nothing but sit on the ‘bank’ of seemingly bad situations and let them loosen and slowly resolve themselves. All too often I only stir up the problems by making anxious attempts to fix things, when sitting in stillness might be a better way. Storms always, in due course, lessen and sail off in front of the sunshine, and my difficulties might do the same if not whipped up more by my fretfulness. Perhaps I should see a problem as simply a short-lived fuss and splash in the nonstop Wood River of life, and look with confidence to see things settle and sparkle once again. 

I thought of this today because, this morning, Delycia and I floated once again on the always loose and relaxed Wood River, not far from where I used to live. As always, the river seemed absolutely settled and serene. Wherever I looked, I saw tranquility, even in gangs of water striders skating speedily across the surface.  Below is a slide show of some of the quiet scenes we saw .

And here is our guide, Delycia, relaxed and settled …

and here is a brief video of her, leading the way …

… and a little poem from several years ago …

One day,
it seemed like all of life 
started to settle down 
into a well-rounded society. 
There was an easygoing system 
in all things,
and all was strange 
in a spectacular way.
It was as if the spirit 
of spring 
was felt even in struggles,
and even sicknesses 
started to have 
the sunshine of summer
inside them. 
On this day, 
any shallowness in life 
had a freeing spirit inside it, 
and suffering was sometimes superior
to happiness 
in the wisdom it shared. 
All the people
felt like satellites
circling through the universe,
and satisfaction was so sticky 
no one could escape from it.