June 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 6)

Dear Friends ~ I have been involved in Fourth Way inner work for many years. Nan Merrill and I exchanged many books during the years of our monthly phone calls with each other. The first book she sent me was Meditations on the Tarot and the first book I sent her was Volume 2 of Maurice Nicoll's Psychological Commentaries.

This body is made from energy created from choice

People have always wondered at the saints, that they are able to walk around serene, whatever happens. But that is because they can choose where they'll be. They don't have to be angry. You see the difference between having scattered emotions and having a fully vibrating, controlled emotional body. This body is made from energy created from choice, from the effort involved in making choices. But it is necessary to practice; then something is possible.

~ Beryl Pogson in THE WORK LIFE

Please Come Home

Please come home.
Please come home into your own body.
Your own vessel, your own earth.
Please come home into each and every cell,
And fully into the space that surrounds you.
~ Jane Hooper from "Please Come Home"

To live deeply in the spirit

Deeply spiritual persons experience the suffering in the world as their own suffering. Their skin is like a dividing membrane through which events flow into each other. But they do not let it overtake them and destroy their spirit, their ability to choose life. To live deeply in the spirit is to be able to see beyond the immediate evidence of brokenness. It is to seek the not yet, but possible future. To live deeply in the spirit is to find the courage to create in the midst of darkness.

~ Patricia Mischo in WHOLE EARTH PAPERS

Life is simple

Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it – it's just easier if you do. If you have a problem, it can only be because of your unquestioned thinking. How do you react when you believe that the past should have been different? You scare yourself stuck because what you resist persists. You get to keep your stressful world, a world that doesn't exist except in your imagination; you get to stay in the nightmare. It hurts to oppose reality because in opposing reality, you are opposing your very self.

~ Byron Katie in A THOUSAND NAMES FOR JOY

What makes one wise

"What makes one wise?" asked the disciple.
"Wisdom," replied the Master.
"What is wisdom?" was retorted.
"It is simply the ability to recognize," said the Master.
"To recognize what?" the disciple asked.

"Spiritual wisdom," the Master answered, "is the power to recognize the butterfly in a caterpillar, the eagle in an egg, the saint in the sinner."

"Only a silent mind is capable of this recognizing power."

~ Raimon Panikkar in THE RHYTHM OF BEING, THE UNBROKEN TRINITY

We always think that

We always think our negative emotions are produced by the fault of other people or by the fault of circumstances. We always think that. Our negative emotions are in ourselves and are produced by ourselves. There is absolutely not a single unavoidable reason why somebody else's action or some circumstance should produce a negative emotion in me. It is only my weakness. No negative emotion can be produced by external causes if we do not want it. We have negative emotions because we permit them, justify them, explain them by external causes, and in this way we do not struggle with them.

~ P. D. Ouspensky in THE FOURTH WAY

I slept and dreamt

I slept and dreamt
that life was joy.
I awoke and saw
that life was duty.
I worked – and behold,
duty was joy.
~ Rabindranath Tagore, as quoted by Victor Frankl in YES TO LIFE

Psalm 13

How long must I bear this pain in my soul,
and live with sorrow all the day?
How long will fear rule my life?

Notice my heart and answer me, O my Beloved;
enlighten me, lest I walk as one dead to life;
Lest my fears say, "We have won the day";
Lest they rejoice in their strength.

As I trust in your steadfast Love;
my heart will rejoice, for in You is freedom.
I shall sing to the Beloved,
who has answered my prayers a thousandfold!
Come, O Beloved, make your home in my heart.
~ Nan Merrill from "Psalm 13" in PSALMS FOR PRAYING

Conscious labor

Conscious labor and intentional suffering are not so much separate practices as twin pillars of what amounts to essentially a single spiritual obligation.

Conscious labor is basically any intentional effort that moves against the grain of entropy, i.e., against that pervasive tendency of human consciousness to slip into autopilot. It means summoning the power of conscious attention (in our era perhaps more widely known as 'mindfulness') to swim upstream against that pervasive lunar undertow drawing us toward stale, repetitive, mechanical patterns, the siren call of World 96.

~ Cynthia Bourgeault in EYE OF THE HEART

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good...
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
~ Teresa of Avila

We receive the light

We receive the light,
Then we impart it.
Thus we repair the world.

~ from the Kabbalah

The heart that breaks open

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.
~ Joanna Macy

The winter is cold

The winter is cold, is cold.
All's spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy's gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life...

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is melting joy.
My heart beats once again.
~ Madeleine L'Engle in THE ORDERING OF LOVE

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth...

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing...
~ Naomi Shihab Nye from "Kindness" in WORDS UNDER THE WORDS

I enfold your cities

I am, you anxious one.

Do you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?...

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy in A YEAR WITH RILKE

The whole world sparks and flames

After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn't flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames.
~ Annie Dillard in PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK

Psalm 80

Eternal Listener, give heed to
your people...

Restore us, O Holy One;
let your face shine upon us,
teach us to love...

You companion us through the wilderness,
through the shadows created by fear.
You plant your Seed into each heart...

Restore us, O Holy One!
Let your face shine upon us,
teach us to love!
~ Nan Merrill from "Psalm 80" in PSALMS FOR PRAYING

The only way it knows how

I see that life's uphill
From here on out. My tiny art,
Circling its grief, will have to grow
Joyous the only way it knows how.
~ Frank Steele, quoted by Martin Shaw in A BRANCH FROM THE LIGHTNING TREE

The Gate

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world
would be the space my brother's body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man
but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,
rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.
This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I'd say, What?
And he'd say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I'd say, What?
And he'd say, This, sort of looking around.

~ Marie Howe from "The Gate" in WHAT THE LIVING DO

May 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 5)

Dear Friends ~ May, the month of spring in its fullness, a lovely midway point in the journey to the glorious long hours of summer light. The season is one of blossoming and resurgent life. There is much to be grateful for, to celebrate, to love. Yet as I walk in the greening forest so dear to me, I hold the knowledge that nothing stays: I have left my daily, intimate acquaintance with this place. The forest, for her part, is passing too: already the bluebells by the river's edge have vanished; the dogwood blossoms have fallen. Moreover, the changing climate is putting its own mark on many of the places and beings I have cherished. This is the exquisite melody of mortality. Mary Oliver hums it in giving her well -known advice on living from her poem "In Blackwater Woods":

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing

To love what death can touch

'Tis a fearful thing
To love
What death can touch.
To love, to hope to dream,
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
Love,
But a holy thing
To love what death can touch.

~ 12th century poem quoted by Francis Weller in THE WILD EDGE OF SORROW

April 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 4)

Dear Friends ~ Here in the Northern Hemisphere it is Spring. The earth re-covers herself in the iridescent greens of emerging grasses. Bulbs push their stems to light. Carpets of tiny, illusive flowers herald the season. There are hints of recovery in both local and global news as Covid vaccines become more available. Questions abound: Will our children recover from learning lost? Will lost livelihoods ever be found? Will we ever recover from losing loved ones, over 500,000 in the U.S alone, my 93-year-old mother among them?

Our lives have seasons

As spring and summer follow... winter, so our lives have seasons. Help us to live in the eternal moment, awaiting your perfect timing in all things.
~ Nan Merrill in "Psalm 105" from PSALMS FOR PRAYING

Changing is not just changing the things outside of us

Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
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