November 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 10)

Dear Friends ~ It is the season of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, when the creatures slow and burrow into the Earth. The plants allow their chlor ophyll to drain from their leaves and their sap to sink into the roots. Everything seems to be moving inward, releasing, and letting go. There is comfort in observing that quiet and sure return, a balm for us who are facing so much loss and death. The late autumn with its sense of cycles and transformation softens me to reacquaint myself with a dark angel, one whom I seldom have the heart to acknowledge. There is an ancient song that speaks of the intimacy of our formation in the dark cottage of our mother 's womb, of the deep connection with the Holy that is our birthright. We are cradled in an immense and personal belonging, in a loving communion that wheels and wheels.

You formed my inward being

...You formed my inward being,
You knit me together in my mother's womb...
Your mysteries fill me with wonder!
More than I know myself do You know me;
my essence was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
intricately fashioned from the elements of the earth...
~ Nan Merrill, "Psalm 139" in PSALMS FOR PRAYING

You are not going somewhere strange

...May you know in your soul that there is no need to be afraid...You are not going somewhere strange. You are going back to the home you never left. May you have a wonderful urgency to live your life to the full...May your going be sheltered and your welcome assured. May your soul smile in the embrace of your anam cara.

~ John O'Donohue in ANAM CARA: A BOOK OF CELTIC WISDOM

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn...

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what will it be like, that cottage of darkness?...

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement...
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real...

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
~ Mary Oliver, excerpts from "When Death Comes" in NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, VOL. 1

Life, too, is probably round

I am done with talk of death except as it is a part of life, one side of a sphere whose roundness would otherwise be incomplete. In a letter van Gogh wrote, "The earth had thought to be flat... science has proved that the world is round... they persist nowadays in believing that life is flat and runs from birth to death. However, life, too, is probably round."
~ Fenton Johnson in THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART

Love is revealed as the great currency

What I've seen on my rounds is that if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to reflect at the end of a life, then love is revealed as the great currency. It's the thing. The treasury. It's what mattered...

How well did I love? whom did I love?, and how was love central to the life that I made for myself?

...When the lots are counted, when we are gathered in, we will find that it was love that mattered. Love expressed, given, received, fought for. So for those of us fighting right now, I say; keep going. As a culture, as an individual, believe in the full life that is your bequeathed inheritance, not the subterranean half-life that terror and impoverished minded bullies will try and spike your wine with. You are too good for that.

~ Martin Shaw in A COUNSEL OF RESISTANCE AND DELIGHT IN THE FACE OF FEAR

Turn your dying into a question

What if your dying is an angel? And what if your dying job, should you choose to accept it, is to wrestle this angel of your dying instead of fighting it? ...Wrestling isn't what happens to you. It is what you do. And you will not be alone in it...Living your way of life wrestles the way life has of being itself: That is how meaning is made...That is what the news of your death could mean: It could mean the beginning, unadorned, common, and singular, of your one true life and its work...

Come to your death as an angel to wrestle instead of an executioner to fight or flee from and you turn your dying into a question instead of an edict: What shall my life mean? What shall my time of dying be for? What is it going be like, that cottage of darkness?
~ Stephen Jenkinson in DIE WISE

For Death

...when destiny draws you
into these spaces of poverty,
and your heart stays generous
until some door opens into the light,
you are quietly befriending your death;
so that you will have no need to fear
when your time comes to turn and leave,
that the silent presence of your death
would call your life to attention...
to the urgency to become free
and equal to the call of your destiny.
~ John O'Donohue, "For Death" in TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Whisperings of release in the air

It is the most supremely interesting moment in life, the only one in fact when living seems life, and I count in the greatest good fortune to have these few months so full of interest and instruction in the knowledge of my approaching death. It is as simple as one's own person as any fact of nature, the fall of a leaf or the blooming of a rose, and I have a delicious consciousness, ever present, of wide spaces close at hand, and whisperings of release in the air.
~ Alice James in THE DIARY OF ALICE JAMES

Toward the opening awaiting me

So I turn my head and look towards death now. Feeling my way through the tunnel with the space of emptiness and quiet. That shimmering silence that awaits me...
A breath...A pause. I relax, and then float on toward the opening awaiting me...
This is my direction now; inward to the green pastures, to the great light of divine love, the great peace of All Knowing.
~ Karen Paine-Gernee, quoted in LIFE PRAYERS

Abide with me

Oh, abide with me, where it's breathless and it's empty
yes, abide with me and we'll pass the evening gently
stay awake with me and we'll listen more intently
to something wordless and remaining sure and every changing
in the quietness of now.
There are things I cannot prove, and still somehow I know.
It's like a message in a bottle that some unseen hand has thrown
you don't have to be afraid, you don't have to walk alone
I don't know but I suspect, that it will feel like home.
~ Carrie Newcomer & Parker Palmer, "Abide"

October 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 9)

Dear Friends ~ What does it mean to be a Friend of Silence? Our practice must not just be in the artificial conditions of a morning quiet time. We must find a way of working in the noisy conditions of our life. When the clamor and chaos of our ordinary life overtake us, if our friendship with Silence is strong enough, we will find a way to stop and be still -- still enough that the noise does not see us, silent enough that we can find a way back to ourselves. The noise of our life need not be an obstacle to our presence. When Silence finds a home in our body, we can come back to our own inner sensation of "I am" even when everything around us and within us is loud and falling apart. Night and day, noise and silence are both alike to the One in whom we live and move and have our being.  ~ Bob

Read Email Newsletter

 

Engaged and awake

When a person is poised in all three centers (mind, heart, and body), balanced and alertly there, a shift happens in consciousness. Rather than being trapped in our usual mind, with its well-formed rut tracks of issues and agendas and ways of thinking, we seem to come from a deeper, steadier, and quieter place. We are present, in the words of Wisdom tradition, fully occupying the now in which we find ourselves.

This state of presence is extraordinarily important to know and taste in oneself. For sacred tradition is emphatic in its insistence that real Wisdom can be given and received only in a state of presence, with all three centers of our being engaged and awake. Anything less is known in the tradition as "sleep" and results in an immediate loss of receptivity to higher meaning. To return to that favorite Wisdom metaphor, it is like the disciple Peter suddenly sinking beneath the surface of the waters.
~ Cynthia Bourgeault from THE WISDOM WAY OF KNOWING

Fully present to what is happening in the world

The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.
~ Joanna Macy

Blessing in the chaos

Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be a calming of the clamoring,
a stilling of the voices
that have laid their claim on you,
that have made their home in you

that go with you even to the holy places
but will not let you rest,
will not let you hear your life with wholeness.
~ Jan Richardson from THE CURE FOR SORROW

The quality of consciously being here

We have subtle subconscious faculties we are not using. In addition to the limited analytic intellect is a vast realm of mind that includes psychic and extrasensory abilities; intuition; wisdom; a sense of unity; aesthetic, qualitative, and creative capacities; and image-forming and symbolic capacities. Though these faculties are many, we give them a single name with some justification because they are operating best when they are in concert. They comprise a mind, moreover, in spontaneous connection to the cosmic mind. This total mind we call "heart".
~ Kabir Helminski from LIVING PRESENCE

Degree of presence

Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.
~ Alan Watts from THE WISDOM OF INSECURITY

This very moment is the perfect teacher

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we'd rather collapse and back away. They're like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we're stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are ... The greatest obstacle to connecting with our joy is resentment.
~ Pema Chödrön from WHEN THINGS FALL APART

The practice of inner stop

One of the first conscious efforts you can make after you have observed some wrong work or negative I in you is the practice of inner stop. It means to become absolutely still within yourself. You are not trying to stop your thoughts. Stopping all thoughts are not possible. But you can hold yourself inviolate against any particular thought that wishes to grab your attention by being entirely motionless inside. It has nothing to do with stopping the I itself. I's will continue to move in and out of your awareness but in your stillness, you have become invisible to them like a rabbit that freezes when it senses a predator. You notice an encroaching negative I or negative state and instead of trying to banish it you become silent and still inside yourself and therefore are invisible to it. You don't talk to it or contend with it in any way. You simply stay still within yourself which will give you the time to proceed to the next movement.

~ Rebecca Nottingham from THE WORK: ESOTERICISM AND CHRISTIAN PSYCHOLOGY

The whole world falls in

May God break my heart so deeply the whole world falls in.
~ Mother Teresa

The beginning of counscious love

I will also tell you a secret. We have to will one another: this is the beginning of conscious love.
~ Maurice Nicoll from PSYCHOLOGICAL COMMENTARIES ON THE WORKS OF GURDJIEFF AND OUSPENSKI

I must see that I am asleep

In order to wish to be present, I must see that I am asleep. "I" am not here. I am enclosed in a circle of petty interests and avidity in which my "I" is lost. And it will remain lost unless I can relate to something higher.

I need to understand that by myself, without a relation with something higher, I am nothing.

I can escape only if I feel my absolute nothingness and begin to feel the need for help. I must feel the need to relate myself to something higher, to open to another quality.
~ Jeanne de Salzmann from THE REALITY OF BEING

When we live superficially

When we live superficially ... we are always outside ourselves, never quite 'with' ourselves, always divided and pulled in many directions ... we find ourselves doing many things that we do not really want to do, saying things we do not really mean, needing things we do not really need, exhausting ourselves for what we secretly realize to be worthless and without meaning in our lives.
~ Thomas Merton from LOVE AND LIVING

Be awake

It is important that awake people be awake. The darkness around us is deep.
~ William Stafford from "A Ritual to Read to Each Other" in THE WAY IT IS
Syndicate content