ASSUAGE

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

         When I am faced with what seems to be a problem, it’s always a relief to realize that the distress caused by the problem – any problem – can easily be assuaged. The word ‘assuage’ comes from the old Latin word meaning ‘sweet’, so the word originally meant ‘to make sweet’ – and how good it is to get the news that any ostensibly sour situation can easily be sweetened. And how is this done? Well, simply by settling into peaceful stillness and remembering, once again, that all problems come from thoughts about situations, not from the situations themselvesEvery situation is like a healthy piece of bread. I can either make it horrendous by spreading a red-hot sauce on it, or I can experience the inherent strength and sweetness in it by simply biting into it. It’s my choice – always. There’s health, somewhere and somehow, in every situation, even the truly awful ones, and any distress I might feel in facing a situation can be assuaged by looking carefully for the freshness and newness and strength and sweet wisdom somewhere inside it. At the very center of every moment, even unpleasant and smelly ones, there’s a secret sweetness that can easily assuage any sourness. I hope to be a better searcher for this sweet magic. 


HANGING ON

When sadness visited her,
he said to just hang on,
but she didn't understand
what to hang on to,
so she tried hanging on
to a favorite thought,
but soon the thought broke
and the breaking
almost broke her as well.
Then she tried
hanging on to happiness,
but it was wispy
and couldn't be grasped,
and always slipped away.
So then she decided
that hanging on
didn't help her,
so she stopped hanging on
and simply floated free
and found that relief and love 
were everywhere,
as long as
she didn't hang on.

VIEW

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

         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?

a view of the Mystic River on our early morning walk yesterday

In the Driver’s Seat

An Old Saying for a New Day

Saturday, October 16, 2021

            Today, fortunately for me, I will not be in the driver’s seat. I will not have to operate my life as if it’s a small, multifaceted ship in a mysterious ocean. Luckily, another power is in charge, a power that’s more immense than the starry sky and more harmonious than the most perfectly performed symphony. The minutes of this day will be steered in a serene and flawless way by a force that’s been flowing since before time. The manager of all things will be bigger than countless oceans, and brighter than the brightest sunrise. It will be like riding in a limousine with an astute chauffeur, or perhaps like hiking steep hills and billowing valleys with a meticulous and sagacious guide. Luckily, I won’t be the the pilot today, just a passenger prepared for surprises and fresh wisdom. 

A PONY TO RIDE
(what Joe K., age 43 and homeless, said)

I show drivers a sign that asks for money
and also shows 
that I’m a shameless disappointment.
I guess I should stay under a rock somewhere,
since I’ve made an absolute mess of my life
for forty years. 
I’m sure love is something special, 
but I never learned how to do it, 
how to hold life lightly and gently, 
instead of always warring with it. 
I thought life was a fight to be fought, 
but now I see it’s maybe
just a river to follow, 
or perhaps
a pony to ride wherever it wishes to go.
I hope I still have time to learn.
I used to love pony rides as a kid.
… on a late-afternoon walk yesterday around the circle of our neighborhood, with the Mystic River just beyond the trees

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

CHILDLIKE

            In my youth, I was taught that it is important to ‘grow up’ and gradually learn how to ‘act like an adult’, but now, in my 79th year, I understand a different truth – that ‘growing down’ is actually the best way, the way of wisdom. It’s good to get younger as you get older. If I was advising fellow elderly folks, I would encourage them to grow down, and to truly live, as best they can, like a child. In one of his most shocking – and wisest – statements,  Jesus told his followers that, if they want to enter ‘the kingdom of heaven’ – to feel the pure joy of life – they must become like little children. I now think that what he meant was that they must accept the fact that they actually are little children – actually are innocent, inexperienced, and naive  – and that they should rejoice in that fact. Perhaps that’s what I mean when I say that we elders must learn to ‘grow down’. We need to realize that we actually know very little – that life is a constantly astonishing and mysterious miracle, and we should gaze at it – as a toddler does – in absolute amazement.  Like a 3-year-old, I should live today in a state of continuous wonder and surprise. I should understand, at all times, that I truly understand almost nothing – that life is a non-stop, wondrous, and pleasurable puzzle, and that I should simply revel in it instead of trying to ‘figure it out’. Like a child, I should trust this miracle called life, instead of – like most adults – trying to grasp and control it. And, like a child, perhaps, today, I should leap and skip sometimes, and chase seagulls at the beach, and stare in astonishment at the simplest things – ants on our patio, toast on my breakfast plate, a pen beside me now as I type like a lucky little boy at my desk.

WHAT SHE LOVES
(about Sharon Z., 82, Blessings, CT, USA) 

Sharon loves to sit just about anywhere.
There is a grassy space beside 
the sidewalk where she sits and sees 
the stores rising up at sunrise. 
She sits on the steps of the library 
because ideas reside inside 
and she listens
for their whispers and disputes. 
She sits on the childlike earth 
as it slowly rolls, 
as the sunshine brushes away worries,
as the rain runs kindly along. 
Feeling the fullness of life,
she sits on the floor at the nursing home, 
in silence, as her skin 
stretches with satisfaction. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Monday, August 23, 2021

PRAISEWORTHY

         It’s reassuring to remember, at the start of each day, that the entire day will be praiseworthy. Every single occurrence – every sight I see, every thought that presents itself, every breeze across my arms – will be commendable. Even situations that seem repulsive – some shock, some frightening incident – will, in some perhaps concealed way, be worthy of praise, since they all will contain a quiet but wide-ranging kind of wisdom, just for me.  It’s like treasure lies in wait for me in every golden moment, which is all of them. 

         The coming hours will be exemplary in countless ways. I had best be ready to bow and receive and praise.  

WHO KNOWS?
a poem about Bill M., 87, Blessings, CT

He used to love to answer questions 
with excellent answers, 
but now he responds with questions, 
especially "Who knows?",
and he loves those two words - 
since who knows 
where wind comes from? 
and who knows 
if the sky has an end?  
and who knows 
when silence started?
and hey, who knows 
who he or she really is?
and who knows 
if all power isn't present 
right here and right now?  

Bill now knows 
that he truly knows nothing, 
and that's why he loves saying
"Who knows?" 
and then smiling.