Today, like all days, the universe will live simultaneously. I and all people and sliding snakes and well-prepared breakfasts and little yellow flowers will be existing in the present moment, at one and the same time. At the exact identical instant, several billion people, including me, will take in a new breath. Thoughts will flow in unison – kind ones and confused ones – in every nation, and feelings will roll along shoulder-to-shoulder everywhere, at the very same time. Whether we want to or not, we earth-dwellers live as a synchronized family. The universe is a vast and harmonious chorus, and today, as always, whether we know it or not, its song will be sung simultaneously, by one and all.
Harmony helps us breathe,
brings the sky its newness,
and knows how sorrows sing
with well-balanced wisdom.
Old trees harmonize
with the freshest sunshine,
and the youngest houses
help winter’s days
seem beautifully arranged.
There are magnificent designs
In breezes and noisy storms,
and also in the clumsiness
of our mistakes
and the occasional zigzagginess
of our days.
Harmony will always
quietly come to us
if we quietly ask.
I live with my wife in a small house on a small lot in a small town, but sometimes it becomes clear to me that my true home – my dominion, you might say – is far larger than that. The word ‘dominion’ stems from the Latin word domus, meaning ‘home’, and my real home is a vast one, stretching from the most distant stars to the deepest depths of the ocean. The truth is that, like all of us, I am an inseparable and essential part of a measureless universe. My home is not Mystic, Connecticut, USA, but the universe itself, a universe where all things, from new-born babies to massive spans of mountains, are of equal importance. We all share dominion in this dominion of ours, this universe that knows no end to its territories and provinces. From infinitesimal insects, to trees in forests, to presidents, to poor wanderers — we’re all kings and queens forever and everywhere — if only we knew it. This morning, lucky for me, I’m knowing it.
THE EMPIRE OF BLESSINGS
(about Patricia F., 46, Blessings, CT)
She calls the village of Blessings
a majestic empire,
a dominion administered
by each magnificent moment.
it’s the realm of royal trees
and their noble leaves,
of sovereign thoughts
and endless regal feelings.
Blessings is the territory of friendliness
and the province of conviviality.
Even small stones are kings and queens
and specks of swanky dust
on tables and chairs
call it their precious nation.
she’s one of countless rulers here,
along with princely winds
and stately sparrows
‘Waiting’ is a wonderful word. It implies so many things. If we are waiting for something, then we are expecting it to happen, to come to us. We don’t have to do anything ourselves; we just have to ease up and wait, because we know it will come. If we are waiting, then, in a sense, we are relaxing, because we are totally confident that what we are waiting for will arrive. Waiting does not imply worrying and fearing. Rather, it implies being patient, because we know that what we wait for is definitely coming. Today I want to wait patiently for the power of the infinite universe to exert itself and to control my life. Of course, I don’t really have to wait for that, because it’s already happening at every moment today. What I have to do is resist the temptation to start doing things to bring happiness into my life. The happiness is already in my life, because I am an inseparable part of the peacefulness of this vast and marvelous universe. What I have to do is simply realize that, and wait to see this peacefulness effortlessly disclose itself each and every moment.
WAITING ON THE PHONE
She enjoys waiting
on the phone
for a human being’s voice,
because for her,
nothing is better
She loves waiting
for her breath
to bring a rise to her lungs
and then a comfortable fall,
and she feels fortunate
to wait faithfully for thoughts
to flow into and through
and then out of her,
like an always helpful river.
She waits for wonder
to arrive for her,
as it always does,
and she delights
in waiting for fear
to shrivel up
and float away,
waving and smiling
like a friend.
What, I wonder, will my view of things be today? Will I see scenes of smallness and limitation, as I so often do, where everything is separate and frail and struggling? Will my life look like something small and defenseless in a universe of restrictions and constraint? Or … hopefully, will I see the truth – that today will unfold, moment after moment, spectacular views of immeasurable possibilities? Will I be able to see each hour revealing a panorama of opportunities – this simple day in July showing me spectacles never before seen in the history of the universe? Will I see the landscape of love that will always encircle me? Will I notice the scenery of cosmic wisdom that’s always present … if I simply open my eyes and heart?
This morning, a strange question came to mind: Is there an adequate supply of stars in the sky? I don’t know why I thought of that, but it brought to mind the large and wonderful topic of ‘supply’, and I began to realize how truly vast life’s supply is. For instance, every moment is made by the same boundless forces that formed the cosmos eons ago. There’s an endless reservoir of immaculate moments and pristine feelings awaiting me, and all of us, today, and we have, in a sense, as many thoughts available to us as there are stars in the universe. Powers like kindness and patience and acceptance are piled up in limitless repositories, ready to be dispensed for our use and pleasure today. Somehow, miraculously, I, and all of us, will be outfitted with shining newness each and every moment. Sadly, though, based on past experience, I’ll probably seldom be aware of it.
But … perhaps today will be different. Perhaps I will see and understand the prodigious storehouse of life that is far more vast than the stars in the sky – and always stands ready to benefit me, and all of us.
Here are two happy 80-year-old bike riders on the Kingston (RI) rail trail this morning …
I am surrounded by partners. I have my wife and family as loving and loyal comrades, and I’m also encircled by countless unseen, silent colleagues. For instance, I have my reliable lungs, those small, gossamer co-workers that lift and fall in fidelity as my life flows along. There’s my heart, too, a teammate as sure and steady as they come, faithfully performing its good service, no matter what worries and fears I may be feeling. And then, of course, there’s the air around me, extending out for endless miles, and entering my life through my breath, moment after moment, day and night, in the steadiest and calmest way possible. Even if I’m swept away by the worst of worries, the vast universe of air, my loyal companion, keeps sending me its gift of breath.
I hope I can always be grateful for these trusty companions.
Sometimes, it seems almost fanciful to believe that a power like patience can truly overcome any difficult circumstance and level out the roughest of roads – and that’s when I need some proof. Sometimes, I just sit quietly and try to ‘see’ patience and its powers, and soon it seems clear to me, once again, that it is not a physical, material entity – not a ‘thing’ I can measure and weigh. I can’t ‘study’ patience the way I might study a car engine, seeing how all its parts fit and work together. No, I soon realize that patience is as immeasurable as the wind, as boundless as the sky, and thus is able to easily show hospitality to, and work with, any situation that arises in life. It’s like a shoreless, bottomless ocean that heartily welcomes even enormous stones thrown into it. And it is always present for me – always waiting and willing to show me how to be an easygoing host to whatever arises, be it triumphs or fears, sorrows or wonders.
IN PATIENCE, S.C.
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.
This morning I’m thinking of the wise men of the Christmas story, who saw a special star in the sky and decided to study it and follow its movements, which led to an astonishing discovery for them in a barn in the small town of Bethlehem. In a sense, I see stars every day, all day long. These stars are the thoughts that endlessly rise and shine inside me, and then set and disappear. I’m like a traveler in a vast universe of thoughts that shimmer marvelously as they come and go in the boundless sky of life. What’s truly astounding is that I don’t have to do any ‘work’ in order to enjoy these star-like thoughts. All I have to do is carefully observe the thought-filled sky inside me, and choose and follow the brightest and the best thoughts, and let the others – the less reliable ones springing from fears and worries and self-centeredness – slip away into the darkness. Like the wise men of the Christmas story, I must trust, each moment, something besides my own small and separate mind. I must get the wider, higher view, see the limitless vastness of existence itself , and then simply follow, each moment, the brightest star, the thought that shines with the most inspiring brilliance. There’s always a lit-up barn in Bethlehem waiting for me, if I just yield to the light and follow.
(about Philip M., 89, Blessings, CT, USA)
Philip seeks harmony
by setting his sight on starry thoughts
and then studying and following them,
and sometimes he finds himself
standing in places of powerful light,
and just looking and listening in wonder,
and he always names the places 'Wonderful'
and rejoices with exceeding joy,
and sets gifts down in these special places,
and worships them,
and knows they are everywhere.
Here’s a sunrise scene on the Mystic River during our morning walk today …
… and here’s my best-of-all friends reading the essays of the classic American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson …
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Friday, August 13, 2021
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, 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
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
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.