WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

CONTENTMENT

            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 

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, August 21, 2021

COMFORT

            The word ‘comfort’ derives from the Latin word for ‘strength’, and today, with Hurricane Henri hurrying toward us, I need a super kind of strength, and I’m finding it this morning, once again, in some simple words: Spirit is stronger than things.  Henri is a ‘thing’ – a material force of immense material power – but, because it is made strictly of material substance, its force, though very potent, is limited. Its windspeed has maximums, and its duration will be relatively brief as it swirls through New England. Our inner spirit, on the other hand, knows no limits – none. The power of ‘love’, for instance, has no boundaries, and is totally insuperable. No limited, short-lived ‘thing’ like a hurricane has a chance when faced with the power of boundless love. And ‘patience’: what storm, as wild as it might be, can overcome the quiet, unwavering power of patience? What mighty winds can disturb, even slightly, the endless equanimity of patience? And then there’s ‘acceptance’, which, like a bottomless, hospitable ocean, receives with open – and even grateful – arms whatever falls into it, including a howling hurricane called Henri. 

            The never-ending power of inner spirit will be available to me in these coming turbulent days, and I hope I can find strength in that simple, comforting truth.  

Comfort
(what Ellie G., age 42, Blessings, CT, said)

"I always say at least
I have a roof over my head,
and sometimes I see it up there,
the stretching sky, the consecrated stars,
the silent mystery that makes
my life seem small in an illustrious way.
I get comfort from finding strength
in small things, maybe mist among trees,
or the way curtains curl in breezes,
or the sounds of birds that rinse
my mind with songs.  My comfort
comes from the soothing earth,
the simple, reassuring sky."

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Friday, August 19, 2021

STORM

            A serious wind-and-rain storm called Henri will come close to Connecticut in the next few days, which actually gives me a great opportunity to consider storms of other kinds – storms that make Henri seem more like a fascinating spectacle to be studied and appreciated rather than a mighty monster There’s the storm, for instance, of patience – a soft storm that knows no boundaries and can absorb endless amounts of fear flowing from storms like Henri. There’s the storm called kindness, a storm that actually loves storms like Henri, because they give it the chance to spread its gentle helpfulness for boundless distances. Then there’s the silent, irresistible storm called acceptance, a bottomless and shoreless ocean of undisturbed tolerance that truly welcomes the Henri’s of this world, and by welcoming them softly turns their menace into coolness, serenity, and a source of wisdom.  

            So perhaps I should say, “Welcome, Henri. Storms you’ve never before imagined await your presence.”      

A MIGHTY FORCE
(about Bill M., 87, Blessings, CT, USA)

He trusts it, 
the present moment,
a force he feels 
will always stand beside him. 
The whole sky 
could sit inside 
the present moment,
and mighty storms 
of softness are stirring
inside each one. 
He walks in confidence,
for a friend
is always with him. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

August 17, 2021

CIRCLE

            I’m sure we all sometimes wonder: where does it all begin? Where is the origin of this experience called ‘life’? Right now, I’m sitting at my desk at 4:43 a.m. on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, and where did this situation begin? Where did these typed words on the computer screen begin? Where did the rising and falling of my lungs just now originally begin? What’s so amazing to me is that I realize, more and more clearly, that finding the origin – the precise starting place – of anything is like trying to find the starting place of a circle. It simply doesn’t exist. A circle does not begin – or end –  and neither does anything else. All of us – all people, things, and situations – are beginningless and endless, as infinite as a flawless circle. We like to pretend that everything has a beginning and an end, but that’s as silly as saying a circle starts right here and ends right there. Me sitting at my desk right now, at 4:54 a.m. on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, didn’t begin anywhere, just like a circle doesn’t begin anywhere. Situations don’t start or end; they just flow, like any circle wonderfully flows. 

            Lucky for me, I won’t be starting or finishing anything today. I’ll just humbly be part of the beginningless and endless flow of the infinite, beautiful circle called ‘life’.  


SOME PEOPLE SITTING IN A CIRCLE 
IN THE PARK ON SUNDAY MORNING

They said they were worshiping
what was – 
the trees turning in the winds, 
a few old flowers 
working comfortably to show off, 
a discarded spoon 
being restful in the grass, 
the thoughts that were given to them 
as gifts from the silvery moments.
That’s all, 
they said, 
just adoring dear life 
that was letting its light 
flow over and through them 
on this effortlessly 
lovely 
    morning.   

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

EMPTY (v.)

         I have spent most of my life gathering and hoarding, and now, at 79, it’s time to start emptying. I don’t mean this in a negative way, as if I want to start sadly giving things away because I’m getting closer to death. No, I’m thinking of emptying as a creative and liberating process, an opening-out to the boundless realms of the universe. Instead of always grabbing, I want to start giving, the way rivers give themselves to the seas.  I want to unload my longings and cravings, and feel the freedom of flowing instead of the captivity of clasping. I want to be a breeze that joyfully empties all of itself, moment by moment, into the infinite wind. 

GIVING GIFTS
 
One day,
a certain man was ready to give gifts.
First, he gave the fountain of his love
to a lonely-looking person
shopping among melons at a market.
Next, he gave some thoughts
that sounded like a song
to a little part of the sky
that seemed to shine in a thorough and thoughtful way,
the way he liked to live,
though his life often fell off cliffs of mindlessness,
which is mostly why
he decided to do some giving on this day,
just donating what he always has,
which is endless and bountiful,
as gifts to be found by the universe
as it floats and falls and rises, 
with him, forever.  


WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

DISCOVER

         The word ‘discover’ literally means ‘to remove the cover’, and, as the years have passed, I feel like a seemingly solid cover has slowly been removed from my life. Now, at the age of 79, I sometimes feel like I’m standing on a high mountain peak and staring at a boundless and beautiful land I’ve never seen before – as if a cover of clouds and mist has been withdrawn and a stunning scene has come into view.  I don’t mean that life has become perfectly pain-free and beautiful for me. I still face fears and sorrows and setbacks each day, and the daily news continues to present a world full of malice and mayhem, but I’m more able now to see that, right in the midst of the seeming disorder of daily life, there’s a peace that has no boundaries and can never be defeated. I think I’ve finally realized that all of the so-called problems I’ve struggled with for so many years are no more substantial or dangerous than the softest mist that sometimes covers vast valleys. I’m now able, at least sometimes, to see through the mist of  troubles and tribulations, and discover, again, the boundless, indescribable beauty that life is truly made of. It’s like discovering a brand-new world at least a few times each day. Perhaps, at 79, I’ve finally reached ‘the age of discovery’. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 9, 2021

FISHING

            In the gospel of John, after some friends of Jesus have spent an entire night fishing from one side of their boat and catching nothing,  Jesus simply tells them to throw their net on the ‘right’ side, and when they do it, they catch an overwhelming number of fish, so many that they can’t pull the net into the boat. Today, I can also make a similar easy choice. Moment after moment, I can consciously choose to cast the ‘net’ of my awareness on the ‘right’ side – the side where the inestimable, measureless gifts of the present moment are always waiting to be ‘caught’. It’s really as simple as that. I only have to turn away from the side of the boat where nothing but empty materialistic hopes and illusory fears seem to be thrashing around, and turn toward the side where the boundless power of patience and kindness and peace is always ready to be welcomed aboard. I hope to be a wise, observant fisherman today.