DEVOTION

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Sunday, September 11, 2022

         I should be able, fairly easily, to practice devotion today, since life itself will be practicing it all around me. The present moment, to take the most wonderful example, will be constantly devoted to staying right beside me at all times, fair weather or foul. Every sight I see will also stay steadfastly there, as long as I’m seeing it. Sounds, even our clothes-washer swishing and whooshing, will be faithful in presenting themselves precisely as they are, and thoughts will come to me with quiet carefulness, committed to giving me the perfect thought for that moment. Outside, butterflies will bend their wings with attentiveness, and sunshine will faithfully give itself to trees and homes and lawns. Devotion will truly be everywhere today, so living with dedication should be fairly easy for an old and delighted 80-year-old boy. I could make each and every moment an object of devotion, even perhaps worship. I could show attentiveness even to my steps across the carpet in our house, and sometimes I could pause and observe my sacred breath, and maybe even make a dutiful bow to its miraculous performance. Living with devotion doesn’t get much easier than this!

A BELIEVER
(Harrison P., 61, Blessings CT)

He’s a believer
in living with devotion.
Every day, he revels
in all the living moments
as they evolve and revolve
through the infinite levels of his life.
He constantly feels revived
just by swerving into the next second
in the uneven but devout way
the universe – and he – lives.

REALLY

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Monday, August 22, 2022

         Today, I hope I can keep in mind what is really true about life, even though this truth sometimes seems unbelievable. Throughout the day, I need to occasionally say to myself that, yes, it is really true that the present moment is the only moment that ever exists. In reality, there is only the wide-ranging and far-reaching present, never the past or the future. We often ‘think’ about the past and future, but the thinking definitely always takes place in the ever-present present. I should also constantly remind myself today that, since there truly is no past and no future, but only the limitless present, then the present moment is actually, in point of fact, always brand-new. This moment, right here and now, each of them, is genuinely fresh and first-hand, the very latest in moments. Each and every moment today, in truth, has never existed before, which means that I will be present with new-born wonders, over and over again, all day long. And, finally, I hope I can often remind myself today that, since the present moment is, in truth, all there ever is, then each moment actually has no beginning, no end, no boundaries, no limits. The real truth is that I am always living in a boundless, brand-new, mind-bending heaven, right here in our small home in our small town on our small planet in a universe that is, in plain fact, way beyond my meager human understanding. I guess, if truth be told, I am a very lucky old dude!

REALLY WINNING 

Really winning could be
studying the words of a book 
so they switch on like lamps, 
or chewing a bagel you've chosen 
with boldness and sincerity, 
or sitting in any chair in your life 
like it's a throne, 
or writing a sentence 
with juice in its words 
and power and its punctuation, 
or even making a mistake 
and seeing the miracle inside it.

PLAY

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

I have always heard it said that life should be taken seriously, but perhaps it would now be better for me to take it playfully. Maybe I should think of life as a hobby that I can enjoy coming back to each morning, just a pleasant pastime that could bring me sometimes smiles and sometimes mystifying but sweet confusion. Maybe I could find more sportiveness in life than drudgery, more lightheartedness than hard labor. It all depends on how I see life – as a battle to be fought, or as a dance to be danced. Now that I am a ripening 80-years-old, perhaps I can have more friskiness in my life, more of the easy horse-play I seem to see among dragonflies and breezes and mischief-making squirrels. I see so much solemnity in human life, so many people with frowns like they’ve fallen into far-down wells, so many instances where seriousness has far surpassed playfulness. Yes, there is work to be done in our lives, tasks that we must undertake each day, but surely these can be undertaken with a feeling of sprightliness and even rascality, rather than boredom and dispiriting duty. Life, maybe, should be a joy rather than a job. At 80, it’s time for me to take some hops and skips and see where they lead.

PLAY

ATTENTION

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

(written on 11/22/02, when I was still teaching)

Paying attention to something always makes that thing clearer and deeper. This is a truth with magical powers. If I am attentive to a book as I read, the book invariably becomes better, richer, more powerful. If I am attentive, really attentive, to my students, they grow stronger and more capable before my eyes. If I am attentive to the present moment, that moment – any moment – grows stronger, more intense, and more exhilarating. Attention is to anything what sunlight and rain is to plants. Attention feeds and energizes whatever it is focused on. Today, I will try to be attentive to each moment, and therefore I will have the pleasure of watching each of them sprout and spread and blossom.

Below, a scene from this lucky morning …

… our very tall shadows on the beach …

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
(Sharon Z.,82, Blessings, CT) 

At her age, she says she has 
more scraping-the-heavens kinds of days 
than she ever had in younger years. 
She has little money, 
so she’s always surprised 
by the grand scale of her life, 
the way, over 8 decades of years
she seems to have slowly
come from a cave into sunshine,
and finds herself now 
on the spectacular summit
of old age, 
with a trove of young talents inside her,
and all her worries fallen 
into a silent and bottomless hole. 
It happened, she says, 
when life, not she,
became the center of attention
and this galloping good life 
took her for a ride
and shouted 
This is what it’s all about!



WAIT

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday,  July 22, 2022

         Today, I want to practice the fine art of waiting. I want to wait, as often as possible, for my thoughts to settle down at the start of a fresh moment.  Each moment makes a brand new beginning – a new life, really – and I need to patiently wait and watch it quietly unfold. If I just linger awhile, taking a few deep breaths, my ambitious and sometimes obsessive thoughts will surely loosen and relax, and the magic of the moment will slowly appear. But it does take waiting – patient, easygoing ‘staying put’ right where and when I am. Maybe I’ll be a good ‘loiterer’ today, just cooling my heels, all day, in the refreshing comfort and wisdom of the present. That might actually be the best way to get a lot done!

IN STAYING
, KS, USA

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.  

SPRINKLE

­­WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Thursday, July 7, 2022 

         Whenever I feel uncomfortably warm on these summer days, I can always sprinkle some cold water across my face, and luckily, life itself does something similar when I get lost on the sweaty trail of worries. All I need, when cares and concerns are closing in upon me, is a sprinkle of presence – the boundless freshness of each present moment. Perhaps I will feel it every so often today – the splash of newness that’s always available, the soft shower of inventiveness that life is always ready to spray me with. In the heat – real or metaphorical – of any day, I hope I can feel the soft drizzle of cleanness in each feeling and thought, the way each new moment is bespeckled with dashes of cleverness and resourcefulness. Like the best friend it is, life is always ready – especially in the heat of doubts and qualms – with its rejuvenating sprinkles of freedom and refreshment.  

THE FOUNTAIN

She found a fountain one morning, 
and made it something 
she could carry 
and care for,
an everlasting spring, 
a spray she could use
to sprinkle stillness and acceptance 
on everything,
especially on herself, 
this restless person
who forgets that she's a fountain herself,
an unfailing flow of  life, 
and now she carries
the quiet fountain she found 
and is starting to see 
that she simply found 
herself.

INSIDE

­­WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, July 4, 2022 

         Today, I hope to keep in mind that there is no outside anywhere. All of reality today will be on the inside, because the inside is everywhere. In a universe that truly has no boundaries, everywhere is inside, and everywhere is actually at the center of the inside. I have spent so much of my life trying to cope with what I saw as ‘outside’ situations –  events and circumstances that seemed to be separate from me and sometimes threatening me – but now, at the truly awe-inspiring age of 80, I see clearly that everything is on the inside, and that the inside is a boundless and harmonious wonderland. For a large part of my life, I struggled to find peace somewhere outside of me – in people and material things and situations – but now I see there is no outside anywhere, and the inside is endless and everlastingly peaceful (even though I often don’t see the peace anywhere). Today, like all days, the kingdom of serenity is inside everything, including me – and every moment, including me, is inside this quiet kingdom.

Could be a pretty sweet day! 

Below, two best friends in their 80’s enjoying a lovely walk on the beach this morning …

HOLD

­­WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Thursday, June 30, 2022 

         Today, like all days, will hold me carefully in its friendly arms. I may sometimes feel adrift in a sea of concerns, but all the while this day – part of the life that started cradling me 80 years ago – will be safely enfolding me. Throughout the day, the present moment will always be with me, embracing me within its everlastingness, spreading itself out to its infinite distances so that I can feel the fun of having no boundaries at all. There will probably be moments when confusion may seem to be clasping me tightly, or when fear may appear to be following me, but always – always – the dependable present moment – life itself – will be enveloping me in its vast and trustworthy way. I may even sometimes feel the gracious squeeze of life as it holds me in its welcoming, inescapable arms. 

LAW

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, June 27, 2022

         I have always tried to be a law-abiding citizen, but, in this very instructive eighty-first year of my life, I’m finally realizing that, in one sense, I have no choice in the matter. There is one law that I must obey – the most important law of all, the only eternal and shatterproof law. This is the law that says the present moment must be obeyed, because it is the only moment that exists, is without boundaries, and has all the power in the universe. In moments of clear thinking (which, I’m afraid, are still fairly rare for me), I realize that this law is indeed unbreakable. Each day, each moment, I actually have no choice but to obey this law – and why should I ever resist obeying it? This law surrounds me with comfort and fearlessness, reminding me that all is always well inside its reassuring certainty. It says that whatever is happening, be it scary or soothing, can be successfully dealt with because it is happening within the limitless present moment, where I also am ‘happening’, and therefore the situation and I can smoothly work together to unfold the wisdom it is bringing. As has always been the case in the history of human civilization, frightening events and situations – for nations and families and individuals – are occurring across the globe these days, and the only way to weather these storms is to meet them in the boundless present and roll with them through the troubles and toward wisdom and healing. It’s an unbreakable law: every present moment is large enough to contain both distress and restoration, both sorrow and understanding. I just need to recognize and appreciate this unassailable principle of reality.   

Below are some of Delycia’s beautiful early summer flowers …

and here are two healthy breakfasts ready on the patio table this morning …

TIMELESS

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Friday, June 3, 2022

How strange, and wonderful – to realize, at the age of 80, that reality is timeless – that this ‘time’ thing that I’ve been a slave to all my life actually has no true reality! The concept of time is based on a belief that there’s a separate past and a separate present and a separate future, and that reality can be measured by comparing this past, present, and future, but the truth is that there is only the present. I can never be anywhere but the present. The present moment is ageless and always abiding – and therefore, so is everything. Nothing ends, because the present moment never ends. And nothing begins, because the present moment never begins. Time is an artificial measurement that does, for sure, help us live constructive daily lives, but it is simply a concept. It is not reality. This moment, right now, as I’m sitting at McQuade‘s café drinking excellent coffee and eating a ‘Kind’ candy bar and writing these words, is dateless and boundless and undying. And so is this moment. And this one, too. It’s all and everywhere – the timeless and astonishing present!

Below is a scene on the beach yesterday morning, at a pause on our lovely walk, with Delycia quietly contemplating the sea …