WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

IMAGINATIVE

         I am lucky to be part of a very imaginative universe. Indeed, it’s impossible to comprehend the magnitude and vastness of  its inventiveness. Each moment today – for every person, animal, object, and action – will be an ingenious and brand-new creation.  Winds will blow in original ways, sunshine will show its glories in unconventional ways, and breath will enter my lungs in always whimsical ways. Every step I take with my 79-year-old legs will be an act of absolute brilliance, as artistic as the first toddling steps of a child. Flowers in Delycia’s garden today will wave and bend with finesse, as always, and squirrels will bounce and skip across trees with astuteness. It will be a day of originality for stars and planets and schools and meadows and old, retired teachers, one of whom just turned his head with absolute resourcefulness. 


WORKING SONGS

He's a construction worker,
but he's also a serious song writer.
He writes songs because songs are stored
inside his modest life
and spring out unannounced.
His jobs are not easy at the sites,
but he knows his life
is actually a cushion to rest on,
even when the work is the hardest.
As he measures and fastens,
he settles back on his thoughts
and the songs start
launching themselves superbly,
his flourishing melodies that love to fly.
His tools seem to loosen up
in his hands as he's working.
A whimsical screwdriver twists
like its listening to something.
A saw sings as the harmonious house arises.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

PARTICIPATE

            Each day – each moment – I am lucky enough to participate in the eternal unfolding of the mystery called ‘reality’. It’s happening continually, this miraculous emergence of brand-new, moment-by-moment marvels, and I have an important part to play in this phenomenon. Whether I realize it or not – and I usually don’t – I enter into a vast, new creation each moment, a creation that involves all the oceans and mountains and stars and ants and fellow humans, a creation with more power than numberless nuclear weapons. Each moment today, I will have a hand in waves washing up on shores, in families falling into sorrow or happiness, in sunshine showing its goldenness across the earth. I may not notice my active participation in these wonders, lost as I usually am in daydreams about ‘me, me, me’, but nonetheless, it’s always happening – me and the whole universe intermingling to make endless miracles. I am no more separate from everything else than a drop of water is separate from its ocean, or an atom of oxygen from the boundless air. Each moment today, I will enter into a celebration with planets and people and trees and butterflies. I just hope I can wake up and enjoy it. 

IN GIVING

If you go to Giving, Oregon,
you’ll see sharing everywhere.
The air lets you have a hand in its good life
by freely giving you breath for your body,
and sunshine divides itself equally among everyone.
Any wind generously lets all
the trees participate in it equally,
and peacefulness finds a way
to divide itself up among flowers and vivid birds
and even noisy streets and sorrowful folks.
When you visit here, you will also see
fun measured out uniformly
among the young and the sick and the old.
Even stores seem pleasantly amused
as they share their goods in Giving.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

ENTHUSIASTIC

            It’s fun to think of each day – each moment, each thing, each event, each thought – as being enthusiastic. The word ‘enthusiasm’ derives from the Latin word enthusiasmus which means’inspiration’ or ‘frenzy’, and the Latin comes from the Greek word ‘theos’, which means ‘god’ – so I like to picture each day as being inspired, and in a frenzy, about opportunities to show off the sacredness, the godlikeness – of absolutely everything. I see each moment as eager and lively, excited to present some brand-new miracles to me. I picture everything as being enthusiastic. The chair I’m sitting in is passionate about keeping me comfortable, and my desk is wholeheartedly committed to securely holding my computer and keyboard as I type these words. Even these words seem passionate as they parade across the computer screen just now. And thoughts – how vivacious they are as they throw themselves around inside me, while my feelings spiritedly sway and spin. I like to think of life – or Life, with the nickname of ‘Now’ – as a zealous adventurer, and I love the thought that I am its constant companion, an exuberant follower of a dynamic and hearty hero.

THE GIFT OF 'AGREEABLE'

One day, 
the word 'agreeable' 
gave its best gift
to a sadly quarrelsome man,
and the man suddenly saw 
the wisdom of assenting.
He turned to his wife 
and wished she would speak 
so he could agree,
and he gave his enthusiastic consent 
to the wheezing in his lungs. 
At breakfast, 
the lukewarm coffee 
gave him the chance 
to be courteous to it, 
and he greeted a pain in his foot
in a chivalrous manner. 
He made some mistakes that day,
which made him mad, 
but he simply smiled 
at his anger, 
and it softly disappeared. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, September 6, 2021

HELPFUL

         Today, I hope I can keep in mind how helpful every present moment always is. Somehow, our very considerate universe has designed reality so that each and every present moment is friendly and eager to please. Strange as it sounds, even those moments that make me afraid or forlorn are useful, though usually in veiled ways.  All I have to do is get quiet (which is not easy for me to do!) and remove the veil, and the neighborliness of even a seemingly luckless moment will be revealed, helping me to see the hidden value in such moments. Each waking moment today – each of the approximately 57,000 of them – will be a thoughtful and supportive friend, eager to help in any way. When I hear or read the word ‘God’, I think of the always beneficent present – or perhaps I should use the upper-case – Present – because, to me, the boundless, user-friendly present moment is the only truly super-power – the only God – in the universe, and it is by my side at all times! Jesus told his followers that ‘the day of salvation’ that they were waiting for was right here and now, in the thoughtful and friendly present – and today I hope to be watchful – and grateful – for its neighborly help.  


AN UNUSUAL DISPLAY
(Bill M., 87, Blessings, CT)

The night gave him a lingering hug
and then helped him see the daylight coming, 
and soon there was an unusual display 
of comfort and everlastingness,
as though it was the start of spring
in everything, as though even 
the radio beside the bed was fresh and new
and had just seen him for the first time, 
how lovely he looked beside it,
and how fortunate it felt 
to be his radio. 
The only thing he knew, though,
was the thoroughness of his life just then, 
and he wove his thoughts 
in and out of the sunlight and the sounds of birds 
and the big life he had just been given. 
It felt like freedom had no end, 
and his radio hoped he would lean in 
and touch it and turn on music
to make its soul and his be helpful
to this revolutionizing new world
whose hands brushed his and it
and was transforming everything
moment after moment after moment.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

FAR-SIGHTED

         Today, I hope to live as if life is unfolding for me as I stand on the summit of a vast mountain – which, in a very real sense, I am. The simple and wonderful truth is that there are absolutely no limits in life – no starts and finishes, no here and there, no past and present, no theirs and mine. All is present, right here and now – and right here and now goes on forever, and belongs to everyone and everything, and can never be damaged or destroyed. It’s so easy for me to fall into the opposite view – the near-sighted view of things that sees life as limited rather than limitless, as insecure rather than unassailable, as unreliable rather than everlastingly trustworthy. Today I hope I can hold in view the vastness and soundness of life. In the midst of fears, I hope I can see the shoreless ocean of calmness, and when anxiety surrounds me, I hope I can sense, all around and inside me, the security of limitless peace. I confess that, for most of my life, I have been small-minded and short-sighted, seeing life as frail and confined, but now, nearly 80, I am finally opening my inner eyes. I now see the wonderful fact that I am always – always – on a mountaintop with astonishing views, and in these elder years of mine,  I’m finally enjoying the views. 

IF WE LOOK CAREFULLY

If we look carefully,
we'll see there's a fresh path
to travel each day, 
and something that amazes us
wherever we are, 
and time enough to feel
 the flow of life. 
There are always inner mountains
 to ascend, 
with surprising views, 
and brand new,
 out-of-the-blue friends 
to widen the roads
 we have to travel. 
We'll notice improvements
in the universe -- 
a bird's wings that seem startling,
water that works smoothly with our hands
to wash them, 
clouds that sway as they drift
on their untroubled trips --

if we look carefully.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

EPIPHANY

            One definition of an epiphany is “a moment of sudden revelation or insight”, something that I’m sure happens to all of us more times than we realize. I’ve had thousands of epiphanies over the last 79 years, everything from suddenly realizing, one April day back in 7th grade, that I was in deep trouble with Sister Virginia Marie, to unexpectedly understanding, one morning several years ago, how to securely install a bracket for a flag to an outside wall. I suppose we have these epiphanies almost constantly – these sudden understandings, unforeseen eye-openers, “aha!” moments that make some part of life instantly comprehensible. Strangely, one of my most common epiphanies is the out-the blue understanding that I don’t really understand much of anything – that this life is ultimately a beautiful but unsolvable mystery, of which I am a small but essential part. These are instructional epiphanies that, in a flash, make clear to me my safe and lucky place in this hugely puzzling but relentlessly perfect universe. I’m always grateful when they make what have become their regular daily visits.  

A WONDERFUL ACCIDENT

Every moment
his life reaches a peak.
It's like everything
is food for his heart,
like he can see the heat
of the center of his life,
like a wonderful accident has happened
and cast him into a paradise
where he can sit in peace
and play pitch-and-catch
with both joy and disappointment.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday, September 3, 2021

EQUANIMITY

            I often think I should try to have more equanimity in my life – more calmness and even-temperedness – but sometimes it becomes clear to me that equanimity is always present with me, because it’s always present throughout the entire universe. All of creation is always unruffled and mellow, rolling along in the smoothness that’s part of its nature, even though I am sometimes unable to discern that smoothness. This vast universe is like an endless ocean, and similar to the oceans of earth, it can sometimes appear to be wild and out-of-control, but its seeming wildness is simply its eternal calmness working in what seems to us to be a wild way. The universe – including what I call ‘my life’ – is actually a limitless wilderness of peacefulness, in which everything flows together with poise and aplomb. If there seems to be disruption, I need to remember that beneath the wild waves there is ever-present stillness . Behind and under and within every seeming disturbance is the everlasting restfulness of the universe, including ‘my life’. What is called ‘Hamilton Salsich’ is an easygoing stream within the shoreless ocean of the universe, and today that stream will flow as peacefully as ever, even if sorrow and disappointment are present. I don’t need to try to have more equanimity in my life. It’s always there, flowing along in its unfathomable and universal smoothness. I just hope I can notice – and understand – it more often. 

SMOOTH SWIMMING
(at the Mystic Aquarium)

Big and small fish
flow along together,
taking no concern for the cold
outside or the shrieking
of politicians and voters.
There's a smoothness here,
a helpful kind of quiet,
a calm among many kinds
of creatures that keep quietly
floating even while fear
fights its way through
cities and countrysides,
where people live
who could learn
from these restful, confident fish.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

WEALTHY

            In terms of dollars, I don’t have money to burn, but in terms of real riches, I am a wealthy man. I am actually an heir – a beneficiary of assets that can never be exhausted. I have access, 24/7, to funds that can keep me continually healthy and happy. These funds are not dollars, not coins or cash or any kind of material currency. No, my wealth is the wealth that all of us share – the wealth of intangible – and therefore inexhaustible – qualities, like caring and calmness and quietness and patience. Like all of us, I have a bottomless ‘bank account’ of these qualities. I can withdraw them at any time, and amazingly, the account instantly refills with more than I withdrew. I get wealthier with kindness the more I spend it, and patience produces more patience the more I practice it! 

IN WEALTH

In Wealth, WA, USA,
there's prosperity in every moment, 
even in sorrow, 
which makes mounds of wisdom 
for those who wait for it. 
Even confusion has riches to bestow
when clarity comes back, 
and hard work always shows 
where treasures lie. 
In Wealth, the true valuables 
are kindness and caring,
of which there are mountains 
in this little town's treasury, 
and patience always produces resources
 folks had never noticed before. 
This town has cash hidden 
in breezes and sunshine and shadows, 
there are stacks of securities 
called 'quietness'
in every resident's portfolio,
and every street is called 'Easy'.

If you visit well-off Wealth, 
you're in for a surprise, 
for you'll discover how filthy-rich 
you, too, have always been! 
 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

HUMBLE

            In these very elder years of mine, I hope I can be more like the ground beneath my feet, the earth that so quietly and steadily remains my loyal supporter. Wherever I am, the ground stays where it is, provides my underpinning, and keeps silent as it does its job, and I would like to do similarly. I would like to be the ‘ground’ for my wife and family and friends – a respectful, unpresuming supporter, someone who stays in the background but is always there as an advocate and ally. The word ‘humble’ comes from the Latin word ‘humus’, which means ‘earth’, and that’s what I want to be as I approach the start of my 80th year on earth – a modest supporter of all the life I have around me.  In Delycia’s garden, all the lovely flowers are rooted in the inconspicuous, silent soil, and I hope to be an inconspicuous and silent friend for everything around me. My pot of petunias needs my modest service of daily watering, and my family and friends need a similarly humble service from me – just being there to provide whatever might help them. I want to be the plain and simple ground beneath them – unobtrusive, but solid, strong, and deep, and always ready to securely support them as they walk through their lives. 

FOR HIM AND FOR YOU

For him, comfort comes in a cup of tea,
or in talking with his wife, or when 
restful snow settles down on their small, 
nourishing  home. He knows comfort 
can be found on a bike that brings him 
up a heartening hill and settles to a stop 
for rest and for the wisdom that comes 
from stopping and seeing scenes as new 
as this moment, when you're reading 
this poem, pleased to be finding comfort, 
he hopes, in humble words that somehow 
spun down distant roads to him and 
stopped to rest on his computer screen 
for comfort for him and for you.  

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

CHILDLIKE

            In my youth, I was taught that it is important to ‘grow up’ and gradually learn how to ‘act like an adult’, but now, in my 79th year, I understand a different truth – that ‘growing down’ is actually the best way, the way of wisdom. It’s good to get younger as you get older. If I was advising fellow elderly folks, I would encourage them to grow down, and to truly live, as best they can, like a child. In one of his most shocking – and wisest – statements,  Jesus told his followers that, if they want to enter ‘the kingdom of heaven’ – to feel the pure joy of life – they must become like little children. I now think that what he meant was that they must accept the fact that they actually are little children – actually are innocent, inexperienced, and naive  – and that they should rejoice in that fact. Perhaps that’s what I mean when I say that we elders must learn to ‘grow down’. We need to realize that we actually know very little – that life is a constantly astonishing and mysterious miracle, and we should gaze at it – as a toddler does – in absolute amazement.  Like a 3-year-old, I should live today in a state of continuous wonder and surprise. I should understand, at all times, that I truly understand almost nothing – that life is a non-stop, wondrous, and pleasurable puzzle, and that I should simply revel in it instead of trying to ‘figure it out’. Like a child, I should trust this miracle called life, instead of – like most adults – trying to grasp and control it. And, like a child, perhaps, today, I should leap and skip sometimes, and chase seagulls at the beach, and stare in astonishment at the simplest things – ants on our patio, toast on my breakfast plate, a pen beside me now as I type like a lucky little boy at my desk.

WHAT SHE LOVES
(about Sharon Z., 82, Blessings, CT, USA) 

Sharon loves to sit just about anywhere.
There is a grassy space beside 
the sidewalk where she sits and sees 
the stores rising up at sunrise. 
She sits on the steps of the library 
because ideas reside inside 
and she listens
for their whispers and disputes. 
She sits on the childlike earth 
as it slowly rolls, 
as the sunshine brushes away worries,
as the rain runs kindly along. 
Feeling the fullness of life,
she sits on the floor at the nursing home, 
in silence, as her skin 
stretches with satisfaction.