Today, I want to appreciate what life gives me moment by moment. The word ‘appreciate’ derives from the Latin word for ‘price’, and so to appreciate means to understand the price, or value, of something. Since we’re planning to sell our house sometime fairly soon, Delycia and I often talk about its value – what price we can set on it -, but what about the value of the precious daily occurrences in my life? Do I fully appreciate the value of each breath that comes to my lungs? of each thought that arises inside me? of feelings that flow through me moment by moment? of the swirl of our soft curtains as I sit at my desk on this warm September morning? Indeed, there is no way to set a price on these occurrences, because they are priceless. Their value is absolutely inestimable, as is the value of the friendship Delycia and I enjoy, and the value of sunshine, and September rain, and books on an old man’s bookshelf. It’s impossible to set a price on these miracles in my life, but at least I should make an attempt – at least do my best to appreciate them. After all, I’m surrounded, and filled, each moment, by wonders worth more than many millions of dollars.
a man suddenly understood
how prosperous he was.
His thoughts, for instance, were thriving,
throwing themselves around like lightning bolts
from faraway, and his feelings
were flourishing inside him,
where they were as numerous and as spirited
as stars in the sky.
He saw that his heart was very successful,
producing profitable results through his body,
and that his old lungs were more lucrative than ever,
yielding profit-making freshness moment by moment.
on this burgeoning day,
that he was wealthy beyond belief.
He was beyond well-off
in his ability to wonder and welcome and appreciate,
and was opulent in his capacity to say please and thanks.
Oh, and he also saw
that he had substantial wealth
Here are two best friends pausing yesterday on a lovely bike ride on the Kingston (RI) rail trail …
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Life is always ebullient. The problem is that I am not often aware of it. I go through my days as if life is more like a miserable mess than a high-spirited jaunt. Today, leaves will be rustling in vivacious ways in the trees in our yard, sunshine will be brushing lawns and houses on our street in wondrous ways, my heart will be falling and rising in lovely rhythms – and yet I’ll probably, at least some of the time, be lost in wandering, worrisome thoughts. It’s like living in a beautiful home on the rim of the Grand Canyon, and yet never really noticing the sparkling beauties of the canyon. Every present moment today will be, in a very real way, enthusiastic to give me countless new gifts – new breath, new sights, new sounds, new thoughts, new feelings – and I just hope I can stay alert and graciously receive these moment-by-moment gifts. Yes, there may be sadness and even sorrow in the coming hours, but even then, the natural buoyancy in life can keep me afloat and free right in the center of the troubles. Even in my darkest times, winds will still be exuberant, light will still glow and gleam, and hearts – including my own – will still irrepressibly beat. I just have to wake up and be aware of this endless enthusiasm of the amazing marvel called ‘life’.
Bobby L., 37, Blessings CT
He continuously sees spontaneity -
in the enthusiastic swirls of his thoughts,
in the way rhododendron leaves leap
and tremble in winter’s winds, in
the blustering words he hears in stores.
The blueness of skies in all seasons
seems almost impulsive, as if fresh
azure colors are constantly being created
above him. Spontaneity enables all things
in his life to live in a flexible way - stable,
but always blowing and tumbling - durable,
but humbly able to rumble and roll,
like the thoughts that are always
happily jumbling inside him
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
There is only one truly irresistible force in my life – the eternal present. Other powers come and go, arise and disappear, seem strong and then dwindle down, but the present is always irrepressibly steady. It’s constantly and permanently right here, right now. There’s no way for me to escape from the Present. (The uppercase ‘P’ seems appropriate.) And if it’s always here, then it’s infinite – without boundaries, limitless. There’s no place where the Present doesn’t exist and have power. The past and future may seem to have separate, persuasive existences, but the truth is that nothing exists – or has power – but the inexorable Present. No doubt it would be good for me to stop resisting this unavoidable, imperative force. It is right here, right now, in all its enchanting ways. The compelling Present is holy ground. Perhaps, like Moses (Exodus 3:5), I should take off my shoes.
FINDING THE PRESENT
a man found the present.
It had prepared itself for him
by holding its usual lights
in its lighthearted way,
and waving to him
like it loved him,
as it always has.
He held its hand,
and all of life
lifted up and let itself loose
inside him and out to the stars.
He stood in silence
and a new and endless sky spread out,
and then another,
* below, a scene from Delycia’s garden yesterday – a sparrow atop a sedum blossom, while St. Francis quietly contemplates the birdbath *
And some scenes from a lovely walk yesterday on the Beebe Pond Trail in Groton …
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
In these days of apparent worldwide disorder and skepticism, my goal is to be trusting. After all, I am part of an infinite universe that has been unfolding beautiful miracles for billions of years, so why shouldn’t I step back, set aside my personal wishes and preferences, and trust this miraculous universe to proceed with its plans? I guess I need to be more childlike – more willing to simply stare in wonder at the amazing mysteries that disclose themselves each moment. I want to be an ingenuous 79-year-old guy who gives his complete trust to whatever happens. This doesn’t mean I will always like what happens, or that I will weakly stand aside and let hardship have its day. On the contrary, trusting the universe means standing – and staying – right in the center of whatever’s happening, thereby finding the cease-fire and victory that is always available in every situation, no matter how grim. The truth is that ‘I’ don’t really have to do anything today, since this inestimable universe of ours will be doing everything that needs to be done – giving me new breath each moment, new feelings and thoughts, new and spectacular scenes to see, new adventures to share in. I should be wide-eyed with wonder all day as the shoreless and imperious river of the universe tirelessly moves me along.
BE AND LET AND TRUST
(Andy H., 70, Blessings, CT)
the universe works well
without his help.
The trees in winds can work their waves
and bends with no input from him,
and clouds float soft and light
without his crackerjack advice.
Good breath lifts up his lungs
with ease and poise,
and he’s amazed
to feel them rise and fall.
he never has to take control,
since life does all the work.
He only has to be,
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Monday, September 20, 2021
This day – like all days – will be talented beyond measure. Indeed, I might want to simply stare in astonishment, all day long, at the brilliant accomplishments of each moment. Take the skillfulness of my eyes, for instance. In some miraculous ways, they are able to reveal marvelous scenes to me moment by moment. Right now, at 4:27 a.m., my old but somehow always newly gifted eyes are allowing me to see my small desk and yellow notes and one blue-and-white pen and one yellow pencil and scattered specks of dust – a scene that blind people would fall on their knees to praise if they could suddenly see it. And then there’s the masterly work of my ears. How can I even begin to appreciate the first-rate work they do in bringing beautiful sounds into my life each moment. Today – all day – I will hear the simple but sensational sounds of everyday life – gurgles and bubbles and wheezes and clicks and rattles and hisses – and I hope I can give them the attentiveness and thankfulness they deserve. Even as semi-deaf as I seem to be at 79, my still artistic ears will give me gifts of sound all day today. Even now, as I sit at my desk and type, I am blessed by the smooth rolling and tumbling and swishing sounds of the clothes washer performing its early-morning services. How did a grizzled old guy get so lucky?
Listen up, this light-hearted day says,
and you'll hear the harmonies
of thoughts as they sing inside you,
and the songs of water from faucets,
and the winsome sounds
of soft shoes on carpets.
Listen up, this daring day says,
and let the blessed sounds
of the melodies of cars passing
and praising the streets
prepare you for steady celebration.
Listen up, this gracious day says,
for your lovely lungs
are welcoming the music of breathing
into your lucky life.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Friday, September 17, 2021
Each moment today, the universe will totally fulfill its duties. Sunshine will show up precisely where it should, winds will blow in all the best ways, dust will sit on my desk in satisfactory patterns, and now will always be exactly right here. Today, my heart will carry out its duties as carefully as it possibly can. Each breath – even those with gasps and shortness – will be managed with proficiency, and all my thoughts will succeed in being just what they should be. This will be a fulfilling day, in every way. Success will be flawlessly present in every present moment. Even disappointment and sorrow, if they show up, will be as perfect as possible, and thus will lead my life in a perfect direction. It will be a day of steady accomplishment. Each moment will succeed in amazingly impeccable ways.
ALWAYS COOKING UP GIFTS
(about Make McGuire, 79, Blessings, CT)
Make says he’s always been fascinated
by how much is accomplished around him
-- how water constantly adjusts itself
to various glasses and bowls, how light
is always arranging and rearranging itself
among the trees in the yard. He calls
to his wife to come and see the clouds
assembling new displays above their house,
and they both love the way the weather
is constantly brewing something new
for them. Each day is constructed perfectly,
he says, even though he sometimes fails
to see the perfection. It’s like the day
is always cooking up gifts for Delycia
and him, always dreaming up some
new surprises for them. Make says life,
to them, is a highly skilled designer,
always fashioning wonders as they watch.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Thursday, September 16, 2021
What can lighten any day for me is the realization that the most precious powers in life are invincible. Something as simple as kindness, for instance, is absolutely indestructible. Nothing – no ‘thing’, no material supposed power – can even slightly weaken the power of kindness, consideration, and helpfulness to create peace in my life and the lives around me. And gentleness – what hardness or meanness can make gentleness wither away? And the power of patience – even the worst disaster bows in humble subservience to patience, which simply stays where it always is with quietness and confidence. And, of course, love. Whenever I let love loose in my life, it spreads like a soft, unassailable ocean, unfailingly flowing over any seeming obstacle.
How lucky can an old fellow get!
Tell me why a gray day
can give me wisdom.
Tell me how happiness
can drive down my street
at the last possible second.
Show me silence
and how it speaks.
Show me the inside
of sincerity and kindness
so I can stay there.
Tell me about the rolling world,
and the stars that sigh above us.
Give me truth
to be beside me.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Sunday, September 12, 2021
I am usually a doer and a thinker, but I realize more clearly now that I can also be an observer, and that observing can bring me more peace than I have ever known. As an observer, I can quietly watch, as if from a vast distance, whatever my thoughts are doing. I’ll feel like I’m sitting atop a sky-scraping mountain and simply witnessing these small, frisky thoughts as they fly around in their crazy ways. As an observer, I won’t judge or manipulate the thoughts; I’ll just watch and realize and learn – and what I will love learning most of all is that all these thoughts are absolutely harmless. They are not ‘things’ that can hurt me. They are infinitesimal, harmless wisps of energy with no more power than the smallest housefly, and the more carefully I observe them, the better I understand their innocuousness, and the more peaceful I feel.
Today I hope will be a day of observing. I want to spend hours and hours on the mountaintop inside me, just peacefully watching the wondrous – and harmless – workings of my thoughts. I’ll probably grow calmer by the minute.
WATCHING - AND LETTING GO
Jimmy Lee H., 38, Blessings, CT
He loves considering the look of skies,
the way they stay so soft and yet so vast.
He watches all the ways of bees and flies
as they enjoy their little lives and pass
his windows with the sounds of songs and hums.
Considering the work of winds is fun
for him, the way they sometimes sound like drums
and sometimes sing to comfort everyone.
When he sits back and sees the way things flow,
he marvels at each moment’s mysteries.
The whole of life appears to be aglow,
and all things work in partnership with ease.
This life, to him, is something to be loved,
not ruled, or fought, or made just right for him.
He loves to see himself be softly shoved
by life till glory fills him to the brim.
Just letting go is what he does for fun,
which makes life almost dazzle like the sun.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Saturday, September 11, 2021
In a human world seemingly scattered by disruption and dissatisfaction, it is reassuring to remember that, in nature, contentment is everywhere. Trees are perfectly at ease where they are, no matter what the wind or weather is like. They simply stand at peace, whether bent over by winds or smothered in soft snowfalls. And the squirrels in our yard seem to find gladness in getting up as high as possible in trees, or scraping the soil in pursuit of nuts, or simply twisting their heads here and there. They seem to be saying life is precisely what it should be right here and now – sometimes dangerous, yes, but always full and fulfilling. And high above, the sky goes about its boundless business in peace and restfulness. When it’s all blue and still, it seems content, but it appears just as restful when clouds are clashing and lightning is streaking around. I always see serenity when I’m outside and look up.
I can learn a lot from trees and squirrels and skies. I need to stay still more often and listen to their lectures!
A SKY HERSELF
(about Braelynn J., 51, Blessings, CT, USA)
She shoots for the sky every day,
daring to send thoughts
soaring as high as happiness.
Her whole life
seems like a boundless sky to her,
and so she sails rather than works,
ascends rather than toils.
People tell her she always
seems to be smiling,
and she knows that's because
she's a sky herself,
and can a sky
be down and discouraged?
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Friday, September 10, 2021
SOFT AND STRONG
I need not worry about being able to endure the difficulties I may face in the future, for I am an inseparable and essential part of an immeasurable universe that knows no boundaries to both its powerful softness and commanding strength, and which constantly shows me examples of both. There’s water, for instance, one of my greatest instructors – both lovingly soft and insuperably strong. Like water, I am soft enough to calmly accept whatever ‘falls’ into me, and also strong enough to easily carry duties and tasks as heavy as the heaviest ships. And there’s air – able to both softly flow around obstacles in its path and also hold up massive airplanes as they flow through its softness. Like air, I can smoothly stream through and around any problems, and also hold up – support, provide for, and take care of – families and friends and strangers who need my help.
I am indeed fortunate to have Professor Universe for my teacher, showing me – every moment – how to use my boundless inheritance of softness and strength.
A SOFT TOUCH
(about Shay M., 91, Blessings, CT, USA)
Shay's become a soft touch in his elder years.
He softly touches problems
and they easily dwindle away,
and fears always fall victim
to his easy-going touch.
He lightly strokes his worries
as if they're his friends.
and they slowly fade off with smiles.
If he smoothly rubs a sorrow,
it whispers its wisdom to him,
and sometimes stays for weeks
as his special instructor.
At the gentle age of 91,
Shay's spoken words have a soothing touch,
as if you could stroll with them
and softly toss away your worries.