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 …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

MASTERFUL

         Today I hope to remember, all day, that I am not in command of my life, but that a much greater and higher power is the true ruler of everything. I’m not talking here about the power traditionally called ‘God’ – a supposedly superhuman being who sits somewhere above us and runs the show, both the tragedies and the triumphs. No, the imperious power I’m speaking of is more like an infinite wind than a super-person. Throughout our limitless universe, this non-material, highly skillful ‘wind’ flows and drifts and controls all things, including the infinitesimal but indispensable ‘breeze’ called Hamilton Salsich.  I often laugh to think of my endless efforts to control my life, to be the boss and master of everything, like a wisp of a  breeze trying to supervise the limitless wind. I can imagine the big wind saying to the little breeze, “Hey, relax and let go. I am the captain. I can take you on wondrous adventures today. Just relax and let go and let me do the work.”  I hope to do that today. A masterly force will be always at work, moving me through thoughts and feelings and events the way the boundless wind moves its countless gusts and drafts. A grand adventure awaits me today. I just have to release my hold on the reins and let the immeasurable spiritual ‘wind’ of the universe do its wondrous work. 

ALL IT TAKES  

He saw some branches shaking in a breeze,
and then he understood: the force that frees

the branches isn't in the branches, but in
the breeze itself. The trees receive the spin

and whirl of a wind, and it remakes
their lives. For patient branches, all it takes

is letting breezes do their swirling dance
with them, and soon the branches start to prance.

He saw, like in a dazzling light, that he
could do the same, could be a patient sea

that rolls or sleeps as wisdom blows across
it in the storms of life or in the gentle toss

of daily living.  He saw that he is not the one
who does the work of life, but that the fun

of living comes from letting go and letting
endless spirit do the work. The art of getting

free involves allowing forces larger than
the universe itself to swirl and roll and fan

his life. Like branches in a breeze, he's in
the best of hands, and cannot help but win.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, August 9, 2021

AWARE

         I hope to stay truly awake – and aware –today. I want to be totally conscious of each arising moment, the way I might be conscious of an amazing sunrise. I want to get quietly acquainted with the sights and sounds of today – the whisper of raindrops, the bubbling of water on the stove, the click of keyboard keys. Today could be a day to begin to get deeply familiar with life, like it’s a newfound, wonderful friend.  I hope to be mindful of the miracle of my breathing, of the graceful flow of my feelings, of the thoughts that will softly throw themselves around in the limitless realm called my mind. I want to stay alive to the gifts I’ll be getting moment after moment today, always aware of the breathtaking life I am lucky to be living.

JIMMY HARVEST

One day
a man named Jimmy Jones
went to the Social Security office 
and said to a person named Nancy 
that he wished to change his name to 
Jimmy Harvest. 
He said he finally saw, 
at 79, 
what a large yield life had produced for him, 
that quite a bountiful crop lay spread around 
and inside him, 
and he needed to start gathering it in. 
There was goodness in great fields, 
he said,
and patience was spread from east to west,
and wisdom lay out as wide 
as winter and summer together - 
and it was time to garner and glean. 

So,  Jimmy said, 
don't you think my name should be 
something like Jimmy Harvest?

Nancy stared at him, 
and then something shined from her eyes, 
and then she stared some more. 

ENORMOUS

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

 

Sunday, August 8, 2021

ENORMOUS

         For so many years, I thought of ‘my life’ as something small and separate and fairly defenseless, just a wee speck in a senselessly swirling universe, but now, in my 79th year, I see how completely wrong I was. Now, I  understand that ‘my life’ is actually not mine at all, but is simply an infinitesimal ripple in the stupendous and boundless life called the universe. And ‘infinitesimal’ is not the right word, because in a truly boundless universe, there are no boundaries at all, and so there are no boundaries to what is called ‘me’. I am truly as immeasurable as the starry sky. My thoughts come from infinity, and my feelings flow from the one limitless and universal ocean of feelings. Like the universe, I – Hamilton Salsich – am cosmic, king-sized, and colossal, and so is every person, petunia, and bumblebee. Reality itself is unbounded and unfathomable, and I am a vital part of that reality – and always will be. My material body – my brain and bones and blood – will someday disappear, but only because it will all shift and transform within the always reshaping universe. In a measureless universe, nothing – including ‘me’ – truly dies, but just swaps and switches and always stays the course on the incalculable journey called life.  

         How did ‘I’ get so lucky to be a part of this vast adventure?  

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.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 8, 2021

WHIRLPOOL

            On our kayak float yesterday on the Wood River, I occasionally watched the small whirlpools started by Delycia’s paddles just ahead of me, and it got me thinking about the mysterious whirlpool I call ‘my life’. This life I’m living is not the solid, separate ‘event’ it so often seems to be.  As I watched a whirlpool swirling around beside my kayak, it seemed like the perfect symbol of the endlessly revolving movement of what I call ‘my life’. What is labeled ‘Hamilton Salsich’ is actually a continuously transforming swirl in the shoreless river of life. I seem to be a separate and self-governing individual, but in truth, I am a fluidly spinning twirl in a universe that knows precisely what it’s doing and where it’s going.  I need to simply slacken and loosen and learn to appreciate the marvelous  circles and spins life does with me as I swivel around in a river that’s infinitely more amazing than the scenic Wood River.

WHENEVER

Whenever you see a dish 
with crackers and cheese,
listen for a robin's voice. 
Whenever you hear an airplane
looking for its home, 
listen for the songs 
your heart sings. 
Whenever you hear the highway
saying its prayers in the distance,
look up 
and see your life arriving 
like a new friend. 

 

And here are some scenes from yesterday’s kayak float …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 7, 2021

HOME

            Delycia and I have a small home beside a river in a small town, but I wish I could more often feel like I’m home no matter where I happen to be. Home is our white stone house in Mystic, but home should also be the sidewalk I’m walking on, or the store where I’m browsing among beets and cabbages, or the forest in which I’m walking on a warm July day. Home, as we say, is where the heart is, and shouldn’t my heart be wherever I happen to be, whether at the beach beneath the soft ceiling of a summer sky, or in  a grocery store with shoppers whose thoughts and feelings are lit-up like lamps. Shouldn’t I feel just as ‘at home’ holding the door for a friend miles from our house as doing the dishes in our kitchen, and shouldn’t speaking to the clerk at a store be, in a way, as pleasant as passing words back and forth at home? I live in little Mystic, but I also live in the limitless universe, so perhaps my real home is as vast as galaxies. It could be there are countless doors in my real home, all leading to moments that could be called miracles, all opening to places as comfortable and kindly as our living room on Riverbend Drive.  

MAKING

A bird and a blossom 
making friends, 
a rooster helping morning 
make its entrance, 
a lawn mower making music 
across a lawn:
it's a joyful time in July,
when even an airplane passing over 
can make music 
in a happy heart. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 5, 2021

NURTURE

            Each day – each moment – I am nurtured by our compassionate universe. All the countless atoms in my body are continuously nourished by a soft, persistent force that’s beyond understanding, and somehow my heart and lungs are taken good care of by a ‘mother’ that’s steadier than the endless sky.  Today, I will be attended to by breath, by thoughts, by unfolding feelings, and by the warm words I will read and hear. Breezes and sunshine and vast distances will administer to my needs. I will be fed by every pampering moment. Sustenance will be as close as the quiet air. 

COMING BACK 

This morning 
I came back to my life. 
Cars came back  
to the streets of our town. 
Sounds that love our homes and lawns 
came back. 
A flag on a store 
came back to the wind 
with a rush,
and words I sent out walking yesterday
came back this morning
to this poem.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Saturday, July 3, 2021

PROSPEROUS

            The life that I usually think of as ‘mine’ actually belongs to the infinite and infinitely prosperous reality that we call ‘the universe’. Though it usually seems to be separate and small and enclosed within the limits of the body labeled ‘me’, in fact, what I call ‘my life’ truly ranges out to boundless, timeless, and ever-prospering realms. Scientists estimate there are somewhere near 1082 atoms in the universe – of which ‘my’ 1027  atoms are a teeny tiny part – and all of the universe’s atoms are constantly prospering, as they have been for countless gazillions of years. Yes, there is constant change occurring, but it always occurs in a vigorous and flourishing way. Yes, there is what we call ‘death’, but it is simply part of the always changing and ever-thriving energy of this permanently productive universe.  Today – like every day, and including me – will be exceedingly well-off, overflowing with liveliness. If there is gladness, it will be boundless, and if there is sorrow, it will be bottomless. Happiness will constantly spring up and blossom, and so will sadness. Every single moment today will be successful, in immeasurable and often unseen ways. Saturday,  July 3, 2021, will be an affluent, ‘stinking rich’ day, and I will be a lucky part of this opulence.

WHAT TO DO TODAY

1. Figure out the flight of moments. 
2. Make piles of feelings 
and watch them float away. 
3. Love winning and losing the games of life.
4. Give to the wind
and watch what it gives back. 
5. Be brave like sunlight and life. 
6. Let your heart lift you up 
and up. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Thursday, June 24, 2021

WINGS

            Quite often, life feels heavy to me, like it’s a load that I have to lift and carry, but the truth is that it’s as soft as birds’ wings, and is able to glide and give me remarkable rides. Today, Delycia and I will be floating again in kayaks on the Wood River, and I’ll bet we’ll feel as light – and lighthearted – as life itself is. Any sense of heaviness will be left on the riverbank, and we’ll drift along the river’s surface as freely as life itself flutters from hour to hour and day to day. I don’t mean to suggest that life doesn’t feel burdensome at times, especially when fears weigh me down, but that sense of burden actually derives from my own thoughts, and I can always simply set those weighty thoughts down and feel my inborn freedom again – the wings of my inner spirit – and soon I’ll be hovering above those fears and seeing them for the powerless nobodies they are.  I will love watching the birds soaring smoothly above the river today, and I’m sure it will help me better understand how life itself is a glorious glider. Each moment today will move smoothly and carry me along, and if I stay alert, I will feel the lightness and buoyancy of it all. Even if distress makes an appearance, as it often does, life can lift me lightly up so I can see the vastness of everything and the relative smallness – the tinyness – of my distressful  thoughts.  In that way, whatever problem that seems to be there will easily work its way free and fly away with a wave.   

            To all of us, life can seem horrendous and burdensome, but today, as I float on the friendly river, I hope I can feel the floating ability of life’s wings, and let my little sense of self be lifted up into the limitless spaces of here and now.  

QUESTIONS THE EARTH ASKS US 

Are you tired of me?
Do my miracles seems stale now?
Do you not hear 
my harps in the trees and fields?
Do you not see 
the wings of snow white doves?
Do you not know 
my pure, sweet love? 
Have you forgotten the flower 
that leaned toward you last summer,
and the sunlight that likes 
the way you walk and talk,
and the thousand sacred minutes 
of each day? 
Does nothing come into your heart 
from my hands? 
Have you waved your hands 
goodbye?