WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

PASSION AND COMPOSURE

I am slowly becoming more skilled at working and resting at the same time, something I often see in nature. Trees, for instance, seem to be busily working when they sway in strong winds, tossing their limbs in a spirited manner, but they also seem absolutely stress-free. Perhaps their secret is that they don’t resist, but simply settle back and let the wind do most of the work, allowing them to sway tirelessly for hours. I see a similar situation now, in these days of autumn, when leaves are offhandedly floating to the ground in effortless ways, which enables them, in just a few days, to completely cover square miles of land with their colors.  This is an astonishing achievement, one that would take we humans a supreme effort, and yet the loose and untroubled leaves do it in a seemingly leisurely way. And of course there are the coming snowfalls, perhaps the most restful of nature’s activities, when whole crews of snowflakes float in perfect peacefulness across the landscape. Within a few hours, a sovereign state of snow can set itself up across a landscape, and it does it in the quietest possible way. A snowstorm has a way of combining effort and restfulness, something I greatly admire. Perhaps my goal in life should be to live like autumn leaves and snowflakes, with both passion and composure.

IN PATIENCE

In Patience, South Carolina, 
people show tolerance even for raving storms. 
Sometimes their self-restraint
when facing problems seems similar 
to trees kindly caring for high winds 
by waving to them. 
People in this uncomplaining town 
are almost imperturbable,
particularly when trouble blows through.
Somehow, they effortlessly find a way 
to welcome the trouble 
as an affable consultant 
able to advise on a new trail to take. 
You can't believe the calmness 
that almost constantly comes over 
people in Patience, 
as if calmness is a gift 
that keeps on giving in this town, 
as if serenity always streams through them 
like light breezes in trees. 
Doggedness doesn't come any tougher 
than in Patience, 
where even death is endured 
with indefatigable kindness.   
If you visit Patience, 
perseverance and composure 
will walk around town with you. 






Here are some scenes from our sunrise walk this morning on Napatree Point …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

STABLE

         We all search for something stable in life – a safe, solid ‘rock’ that can’t be shaken by even the worst of life’s storms – and actually, we all have one. It’s simply the ever-present, ever-sturdy present moment. Whatever happens today will happen in the now. I may think a lot about the troublesome past and the worrisome future, but all that thinking will happen in the immovable present. Try as I might, I will never be able to push the now away and replace it with the past or the future. After my strongest labor, the present moment will still be there, steadfast and serene – and smiling. All my ‘what ifs’, no matter how persistent and persuasive, will never remove, or even slightly shift, the durable and abiding present. My life – and all of life – rests on an unfaltering foundation that has no top, no bottom, no borders whatsoever – a basis bigger and broader than the endless sky – and the wonder is that it is simply the here and now, the ever-present present moment.  

         Today should be a day of perfect peace for me, for under me is an endless and stable basis that can never be broken – the long-lived and reliable present. 

STEADY AND STABLE

All days are steady and stable.
They always dance, one way or another,
throwing themselves into life 
like flowing rivers that love to drift.
There are forces in all days 
that think they’re beautiful, 
and they are,
so beautiful that they find 
small fortunes for us in every moment.
All days bring balance with them, 
and durability, 
which enables them 
to be available for us 
for 24 hours.

And here’s our chalkboard poem for yesterday …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, October 25, 2021

KINGDOM

         When I was a boy, I loved reading comics and books about ‘kingdoms’, those far-off realms of royalty and splendor, and now, at the age of 79, I see that I have always dwelled in the most glorious kingdom of all – the infinite domain of the present moment. I truly am surrounded, at all times, by boundless solemnity – the stateliness of brand new thoughts gracefully arising before me, the magnificence of fresh sounds and sights ceremoniously appearing as if out of nowhere, the majesty of new moments suddenly presenting themselves like shining personal assistants. I’m truly living a fabled, fairy-tale life, where the magic of peace and love rules all. 

         Trouble is, I usually don’t see this kingdom of quietness and accomplishment that surrounds me. For some reason, I usually see only troubles and worries all around me. Wickedness seems to shine far brighter than wholesomeness, and fear seems far more forceful than love. 

         But I know that the kingdom of the present moment – the kingdom of kindness and care – is the true realm of the real, and sometimes I am able to enter that blessed land. Then I feel like I’m once again reading a comic book, and it’s called Real Life In The Real Present – and I settle back to enjoy the adventure.  

GLORIES

These are the glories 
of getting up early: 

candles caring for you
in the morning darkness -

your thoughts 
journeying with joy
 through the day’s possible adventures -

lights across the street 
unfastening your life -

silence sending peace 
to the hours and centuries ahead - 

cinnamon spice tea 
making life fresh 
at five-thirty a.m.  


WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

ORDER

            Today, as usual, the present moment will give the orders. All I have to do is listen carefully and follow its instructions. I won’t have to busy my little ‘self’ to figure things out and give commands and directions, because the present moment will quietly do that for me. It will tell me how to sit at my desk, how to listen to the sounds of the furnace, how to tap the computer keys accurately, how to be present in a perfect kind of way. There will be order everywhere – in the position of the small hairs on my hands, in the way my coffee waits in the cup beside me, in the way sticky notes are situated on my desk. Tidiness will show me how to to live and love this day. There will be apple-pie order from breakfast to bedtime, if I can stay observant and see it. The world actually works in orderliness and symmetry, even though it sometimes seems in disarray. I just hope I can see through the mist of my own thoughts and recognize the discipline and peacefulness of the present moment, for it’s always there.

ORDERLINESS

He marvels 
at the orderliness of things. 
These days
the birds start singing
at exactly five-seventeen,
and the newspaper man
makes his stop at the house next door 
at six-o-six.
Stranger still, his breath
enters and leaves with precision,
his quiet heart
carries on its duties
in a dependable way,
and the stars stay
where they're supposed to stay.
It's astonishing
to consider this
as he eats his perfect
piece of toast
and dawn delivers
another ideal day 
at his doorstep. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

CAUSE            

I find it strangely comforting. even uplifting, to realize that I will never fully understand the cause of anything. With each passing year, it has become more clear to me that the universe is a place of unlimited and unfathomable mystery, a puzzle far too complicated for me – or anyone – to solve. The origin of each thought, each action, each event is lost in infinite obscurity. I often ask myself: Where did this thought come from? Why is this occurrence happening right here and now? Where did this feeling come from? None of these questions will ever have answers, and that realization – surprisingly – brings me comfort and inspiration. I breathe a sigh of relief to know that all searching is done. I no longer have to constantly root around in life looking for reasons and causes, because I understand now that reality – life – is a shoreless, bottomless sea, where there are no beginnings or endings, where everything is a cause of everything else, and where, therefore, everything flows together in harmony.  Of course, I often don’t see much harmony in this terribly troubled world of ours, but today I rest in the assurance that it is always there – underneath and within whatever is happening. I take comfort in that understanding, the way I would take comfort in swimming in an endless, compassionate ocean. Of course, I must always work hard to unveil the hidden harmony in life, and to help others see it, but it is definitely there. I will never know the cause of anything, but in this vast and marvelous ocean called life, I don’t need to. I just need to keep swimming and watching for the harmony that’s always arising.

CAUSES AND EFFECTS
 (In Spark SD,USA)

In Spark, South Dakota, 
dawn seems to always call forth friendliness, 
and mid-morning makes it easy
to be sincere. 
Even coffee is an occasion for kindness, 
and the simplest words can spark off 
the flames of affection. 
HIgh winds work the magic 
of amazement among the citizens,
but also engender the gentleness 
that’s needed in times of storms. 
Big sorrow always brings on 
big neighborliness, 
the kind the citizens see 
all around them - 
among breezes, and butterflies, 
and snowflakes in December, 
everything in Spark 
somehow producing 
more peacefulness, 
more harmony, 
even inside sickness, 
where harmony sways and whirls 
and helps the sickness feel fulfilled 
and ready to fade away. 


WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, September 27, 2021

AMOUNT

            I have spent far too much time worrying about amounts. Do I have a large enough amount of money? How much patience do I have? Will it be enough? What will be the amount of happiness in my life today? What’s the current quantity of positive forces in my life? How much? How many? How much? How many? On and on and on and on. It will be fun today to fully understand, and hold in thought, that all the important things in life are without boundaries – infinite – and therefore immeasurable and uncountable. I don’t need to worry about how much wealth or happiness or patience I will have, because all of those are already limitless in my life. I am literally overflowing – at all times and beyond measuring – with gifts like goodness and satisfaction. There is no way to calculate the amount of peacefulness that is always present with me, ready to offer its services. While observing the Grand Canyon from its rim, would we worry about ‘how much’ beauty is present? Why lose sleep over amounts, when boundlessness is always everywhere? 

FILLED UP FULL
(Bernice D., 61, Blessings, CT)

At 6:17 on October 10, 
she tried to find something in her life 
that was not filled up full, 
but she failed in the task. 
She saw that her wine glass was full,
and that the room was filled up with light, 
and then, in a flash, she found the truth
that that particular moment,
was as full as it could possibly be. 
She saw that 
if she tried to add something to that moment, 
it would instantly be the next moment, 
and would also be positively brimful.  
Plus, she saw that 
great crowds of kind and courageous thoughts
filled up her inner life, 
though she usually didn’t know it
because she had always believed 
she was small inside 
and could only hold 
a small amount of things like love and daring,
but on this stuffed and bursting evening
she saw that all of life was awash with possibilities,
chockablock with beautiful chances, 
and so she decided to take them all,
and to appreciate 
this constant and blissful congestion,
and therefore 
laugh a lot more.  

Yesterday, we took a beautiful early walk along the shore in Noank (CT), and came upon these stunning scenes:

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

OBSERVE

            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 

Monday, August 16, 2021

SOFTEN

            If I am open to it its gift, life has a wonderful way of softening the seemingly ‘solid’ things I come into contact with. When my world seems rock-hard and hostile, just a few moments of quiet contemplation can reveal a universe of endless ease and peace, a cosmos that cushions rather than frightens. I so often fall into hours and days of struggling with supposedly solid enemies like privation and pain and uncertainty, but just a glimpse of the  boundless vastness of life – which includes ‘my’ part of it – can immediately alleviate the stiffness of everything, and then I feel again the softening that the truth does so well and so beautifully. Hardness then subsides into universal ease and rest, and the solidity of my so-called ‘problems’ dwindles down to the smoothness of clouds and sunlight. Today I hope to feel the cushions that life creates, moment by moment, as its wonderful way of allowing peacefulness to always prepare the way. 

SOFTENING
(Braelynn J., 52, Blessings, CT)

She’s sometimes softened 
just by being around roses, 
or by rising up in the morning 
under a merciful and trustworthy sky. 
She gets soft by giving showers 
of herself to friends and strangers,
as if she sprays you with kindness 
when she’s with you, 
as if something silky has been suspended around you
and promises to protect you forever. 
Braelynn’s softened by finding, 
over and over again, 
the lightness and buoyancy of life, 
even when hardness happens,
which only makes her tenderness 
softer and stronger than ever.   


WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday, August 13, 2021

ASTONISH

         The word ‘astonish’ comes from the Latin word for thunder, so it could literally mean being thunder-struck, shocked like sudden thunder and lightning can shock. I’ve been astonished like this – ‘stopped dead in my tracks’ – countless times in my long life, but much more so in the last few years. In fact, it’s truly a daily, sometimes hourly, experience now. Life, more and more, seems like almost constant ‘lightning and thunder’, but in the best and happiest of ways. I am now, at the age of 79, truly amazed, stunned, and startled by almost everything. I know now that I have absolutely no answers, but only awe-struck questions, and I am loving the questions (as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke advised a young poet to do). “Why did this just happen? Where did this thought come from? How did I get here? Who the heck am I?” In these elder days, I walk around in an almost constant daze, but it’s a happy daze, a bewilderment that brings me grateful joy. I feel like I’ve reached the summit of a mountain where the view is both striking and mystifying, both beautiful and utterly baffling. And strangely enough, I am totally at peace with this astonishment I’m feeling in my 79th year. In fact, I am grateful for it, for I feel like I’ve entered a land of both constant surprise and absolute safety. Somehow, my bewilderment brings with it quietness and contentment. There’s lightning and thunder, yes, but it’s the kind that carries illumination and instruction and a smile. 

IN MAZE

In Maze, Mississippi, USA, 
the residents seem always thunderstruck, 
as if astounding thoughts 
are constantly ascending 
like stars inside them. 
They seem almost speechless,
like words couldn’t possibly describe 
the miraculousness of their lives. 
They see their lives as shoreless rivers 
flowing in a poised and imperishable way. 
As with all of us, 
they sometimes must take a trip
with sorrow, 
but they’re astonished that its hard road 
always leads to new kinds of light. 
They’re staggered by the freshness
of every single moment, 
as if life is always
starting over with a sparkle. 
They’re flabbergasted by the simplest sights – 
leaves moving in winds, 
a single bird sitting in grass. 
These folks of Maze often look totally lost, 
but somehow in a lovely, lucky way.





And here are some scenes from our recent walks, and roses outside our dining room window, and Queen Anne’s lace beside our patio, and two loving friends named Hammy and Delycia …