July/August 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 7)

Dear Friends ~ Years ago, a friend made us a gift, a calligraphed beginning of a prayer attributed to Pierre Teilhard de Jardin: "Above all, trust in the slow work of God." From a central spot in our dining room, these words reached out to me often while raising a large family and working with kids. The prayer calls to me now as the heat of July and August arrives on the tails of righteous anger, fires of social unrest, and the terrible toll and world-wide anxiety surrounding Covid-19. What can we parents, grandparents, educators, pastors, ordinary humans do for our world's children?

In the child is much knowledge

In the child is much knowledge, much wisdom. If we do not profit from it, it is only because of neglect on our part to become humble and to see the wonder of this soul and learn what the child can teach.
~ Maria Montessori in THE THEOSOPHIST

We feel at one with nature and the realm of dreams

As infants we enjoy an intimacy with everything around us: tiny stones, butterflies, flowers, birds, animals both stuffed and real. We live in a world of beauty and imagination. Ecstasy comes easily. We feel at one with nature and the realm of dreams...The past, the future, the present: these are meaningless to us, for we have the ability to blend them into one. We can be anything we want at any time...Then at some point in our lives, that awareness changes...adults convince us that we are not all one.
~ John Perkins in THE WORLD IS AS YOU DREAM IT

What our Children Need Most Right Now

"I encourage you to spend as much time with your family as your time allows, whether it's dancing, playing, walking, cooking, cleaning, being silly, or just hanging out. This can be a scary time for kids, and nothing will help ease their fears and encourage their cognitive and social development like spending time with you." ...This same teacher is also emailing us [parents] a daily photo of a bird to identify...and sharing out-of-the-box ideas for the students' unit this month on an appropriate topic: survival...but the words above are the words I will treasure as a parent for a long time. They will remind me to take a break from refreshing the updated coronavirus map, checking my school email, and cursing Amazon's multitude of out-of-stock items.

~ Justin Minkel, an elementary school teacher in Arkansas, "What our Children Need Most Right Now": in Education Week., March 2020

The moment of the eternal now

If I am slavishly attached to the previous moment
Or if I'm already living
tomorrow's moments,
Then I am not free for
the moment of the eternal now
~ Macrina Wiederkehr in WALK IN A RELAXED WAY

Patient Trust

"Patient Trust"

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don't try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)

To live life in radical amazement

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement...get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
~ Abraham Joshua Heschel

The miraculous in the common

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson in Nature, Chapter VIII, 1836

Something not looked for

Joy is the by-product of something not looked for.
~ Nan Merrill

One whole unity

We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.

~ Maria Montessori in TO EDUCATE THE HUMAN POTENTIAL

June 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 6)

Dear Friends ~ We started our seeds inside, lining the south-facing windowsills, the same week that a pandemic made itself known to the collective body of the world. Tomatoes, kale, peas, carrots, lettuce, sorrel, beets...each seed tucked into the soil like a sort of prayer for health and a future. In early January, when I made my ritual list of intentions for the new year, I mystified myself writing simply, "tend food". Not "plant" or "grow" or "preserve", as much as tend. My sister-in-law once told me that the actual planting of a garden is the "glamorous" part because it's noticeable and satisfying in the immediate. But growing food also requires long months of patient attention: weeding, watering, waiting, hoping, pruning, tying, waiting, hoping...tending.

Oremus

...Let us listen to the sound of breath in our bodies.

Let us listen to the sounds of our own voices, of our own names, of our own fears.
Let us name the harsh light and soft darkness that surround us...
The world is big, and wide, and wild and wonderful and wicked,
and our lives are murky, magnificent, malleable and full of meaning.
Oremus.
Let us pray.
~ Pádraig Ó Tuama, from "Oremus," in DAILY PRAYER WITH THE CORRYMEELA COMMUNITY

Become immense inside

Cultivate personal rituals of solitude. Learn to be with it all. Become immense inside. Set your prayers on fire.
~ Mary Ellen Lough

You are my shepherd

O my Beloved, you are my shepherd,
I shall not want;
You bring me to green pastures for rest
and lead me beside still waters
renewing my spirit,
You restore my soul.
You lead me in the path of goodness
to follow Love's way...

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of all my fears...

and I shall dwell in the heart
of the Beloved
forever.
~ Nan Merrill, excerpt from Psalm 23 in PSALMS FOR PRAYING

I was not alone

Being alone — physically alone atop a mountain — reminds me of how seldom one is alone in the sort of urbanized life we live nowadays. As I sat, there was a certain peace which I was able to capture for a moment. This physical aloneness is by no means the same as loneliness — not even close kin to it; for I was not alone. On occasions when I am able to get to a mountain top, the realization of the nature of the "mountain-top experience" returns anew.

~ Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, from BALM IN GILEAD

I only went out for a walk

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
~ John Muir, from JOHN OF THE MOUNTAINS

Answer the door

You might as well answer the door, my child, the truth is furiously knocking.
~ Lucille Clifton, from GOOD WOMAN

Claim your silence

Claim your silence...We—a society so obsessed with noise, news clips, action, arguments, debates, anger, confrontation, stimulation and busy-ness—must recreate ourselves and re-carve a place of silence (some might call it prayer) in our lives. It is a great healing measure for the wounded world outside of us, and the wounded world within us.

~ Lyla June Johnston

Growing down

Until the culture recognizes the legitimacy of growing down, each person in the culture struggles blindly to make sense of the darkness that the soul requires to deepen into life.
~ James Hillman

The desert will suddenly blossom

If you wish to love you must learn to see again...You must tear away from your being the roots of society that have penetrated to the marrow. You must drop out. Externally everything will go on as before, you will continue to be in the world, but no longer of it...And in your heart you will now be free at last and utterly alone...There is no one there by your side, absolutely no one. At first it will seem unbearable, but that is only because you are unaccustomed to aloneness. But if you manage to stay there for a while the desert will suddenly blossom into Love.
~ Anthony De Mello, from THE WAY TO LOVE

What we need is here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry, excerpt from "The Wild Geese" in THE SELECTED POEMS OF WENDELL BERRY

Dawn is coming

Be patient where you sit in the dark...Dawn is coming.

~ Rumi

May 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 5)

Dear Friends ~ The willow stump, cracked and gray, has sprouted fresh fronds. They wave brightly above the old tree's broken trunk like a vibrant pennant. Meanwhile, the long-unpruned pear tree is grandly and boldly attired in abundant white blossoms. Brilliant yellow finches and glossy cowbirds adorn the feeder once again. Such heralds of Earth's faithful renewal, of the cycles that are always ending and beginning again, cry out profound and essential news. In this time of climate crisis, cultural turmoil, and now the coronavirus, hope takes on a deeper, more intense hue. I wonder if it is the moment now to dig in soul ground, in the bowels of what we know. Ancient wisdom from every spiritual tradition beckons us to kneel down into the mystery of that dark hummus and dig with open hands. Who knows what we may find? A tap root, an anchor, a wellspring, a seed that one day will grow? ~ Lindsay

Hope for the future

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
~ Nelson Mandela in a Message at Healing & Reconciliation Service, December, 2000
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