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

A hope that can never be taken away

In the practice of conscious love you begin to discover...a hope that is related not to outcome but to a wellspring... a source of strength that wells up from deep within you independent of all outcomes... It is a hope that can never be taken away from you because it is love itself working in you, conferring the strength to stay present...
~ Cynthia Bourgeault, in LOVE IS STRONGER THAN DEATH

I am left only with hope

So in the end I am left only with hope.
I hope the nights are transformative.
I hope every dawn brings deeper love,
for each of us individually and for
the world as a whole. I hope that
John of the Cross was right when
he said the intellect is transformed
into faith, and the will into love
and the memory into – hope.
~ Gerald May in THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

A future not our own

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision...This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, know that they hold future promise...We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities...We are prophets of a future not our own.
~ FR. Ken Untener

Hope is an embrace

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don't know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act...Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable.

~ Rebecca Solnit in HOPE IN THE DARK

This deeper level of hope

...If we can stay in touch with ourselves, if we can find the connection to our deeper selves, we can find this deeper level of hope that truly should be called imagination...in the depths of each person there is a greater self and a core imagination that is truly the source of one's life.
~ Michael Meade in LIVING MYTH podcast, Episode 167, "The Second Level of Hope"

To reject false hope

Is it possible to see the future as dark and darkening further; to reject false hope and desperate pseudo-optimism without collapsing into despair?...if you don't feel despair, in times like these, you are not fully alive. But there has to be something beyond despair, too; or rather, something that accompanies it, like a companion on the road....I am going to pick up [my scythe] and go and find some grass to mow. I am going to cut great swaths of it...I am going to walk ahead, following the ground... I am going to breathe the still-clean air and listen to the still-singing birds and reflect on the fact that the earth is older and harder than the machine that is eating it—that it is indeed more resilient than fragile—and that change comes quickly when it comes, and that knowledge is not the same as wisdom.
~ Paul Kingsnorth in DARK ECOLOGY, Orion Magazine

The hope that truth may be of use

It is because I reject lies and running away that I am accused of pessimism; but this rejection implies hope—the hope that truth may be of use.
~ Simone Beauvoir in ALL SAID AND DONE

An orientation of the spirit

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope within or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.
~ Vaclav Havel in SHARE INTERNATIONAL #3, Vol. 25

Hope is what sits by a window

Hope is what sits by a window and waits for one more dawn, despite the fact that there is not one ounce of proof in tonight's black, black sky that it can possibly come.
~ Joan Chittister in SCARRED BY STRUGGLE, TRANSFORMED BY HOPE

Active hope

Active hope is a practice...It is something we do rather than have. Since active hope doesn't require our optimism, we can apply it even in areas where we feel hopeless. The guiding impetus is intention; we choose what we aim to bring about, act for, or express.
~ Joanna Macy in ACTIVE HOPE

Hope and Love

Hope is the hardest love we carry.

~ Jane Hirshfield in THE LIVES OF THE HEART, "Hope and Love"
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