Our survival adaptations are so tough, but our wounds are so delicate. To heal, we have to lift the armor carefully- it saved our lives, after all. It’s like moving your best friend off to the side of the path. You don’t trample on her, you don’t hit her with a sledgehammer. You honor her presence like a warm blanket that has kept you safe and sound during wintry times. And then, when the moment is right, you get inside and stitch your wounds with the thread of love, slowly and surely, not rushing to completion, nurturing as you weave, tender and true. The healing process has a heart of its own, moving at its own delicate pace. We are such wondrous weavers…
– Jeff Brown
TO STAND HERE
is to stand
at the center
after growing circle
in the mind
for a far circumference
that holds as focus
an interior so far in
we find ourselves
by looking out
at what looks back,
the lighted edge
of rock and sky,
over the horizon
to the night
beneath our feet,
where light cannot live
but whose darkness
makes a ground
on which to stand.
of those who
at the same horizon
and the same
who saw a world
that witnessed them
at a privileged
their lives caught
in the glance
of what lies beyond
for a fleeting
From LON’S FORT
From Pilgrim: Poems by David Whyte
Refuse to fall down
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you from lifting your heart
It is in the middle of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.
–Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
– Mahatma Gandhi
I’m not here to live up to your expectations and you’re not here to live up to mine.
You have to go through the falling down in order to learn to walk. It helps to know that you can survive it. That’s an education in itself.
– Carol Burnett
A KEY TO HAPPINESS — SPIRITUAL HUMILITY
So many religions and philosophies, ancient and modern, set forth paths to happiness, fulfillment and the end of suffering. Many of these paths are filled with great wisdom and deep spiritual insights that have helped countless people throughout the ages. I have been inspired by so many of these spiritual traditions; and I have learned so many hard lessons though my own inner struggles and challenges, as we all have. Consistent with so many of the spiritual traditions, I have found that one of the keys to happiness and finding a deep spiritual connection is cultivating a spiritual humility — reaching beyond our egos as best we can by quieting our minds with a bit of wisdom, by opening our hearts to a bit of unconditional loving-kindness, and by expressing a bit of gratitude for the light and wonder that has been given and that touches us even in the dark times.
1. WISDOM AND THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF ALL EXISTENCE. We — and all of life — are interconnected in a vast and boundless divine tapestry. Our belief that we have a separate, “fixed” self is a delusion that cuts us off from the flow of life and the interdependence of all things. We are nothing but a wondrous part of a larger, interwoven whole. To see all this, even a little, leaves us humble, but also touches us with a deep wisdom that we are connected at our core to something so much greater than we can imagine.
2. THE INNER SPIRIT. As a part of that greater whole, we are truly children of God, at one with the divine essence. Yet, when we come into this world at birth, we put on a limited and fragile ego mask that we wear throughout our lives, believing that the mask is our real self and forgetting our true, inner spirit that is a part of the greater divine radiance. So, we struggle to keep this mask-self safe, closing our eyes to the flow of the divine presence through our lives. Seeing all of this, even a little, we begin to see the futility and childishness of so many of our self-important dramas; and, with the resulting humility, we begin to let go of the ego games and begin instead to focus humbly and joyously on our connection to others and to the greater divine reality.
3. JUDGE NOT. Looking with an open heart at the cosmos, we may begin to see, even if dimly, the presence of a boundless divine power that supports all of existence, guiding the planets in their orbits, causing the flowers to grow, holding all of the law of physics in the palm of a hand, and supporting our very existence. But, when we grasp after our ego-mask self, and forget our own inner spirit and its connection to the greater divine presence, we begin to make judgments, limiting and defining God, ourselves and each other. We think that we know better — indeed, we think we “know” what is really going on — but the mystery and wonder of existence is beyond any knowing. We do not know, for instance, the truth of another person and where he or she is on the spiritual path. Indeed, we do not even know who we are ourselves. How, then, can we presume to judge others and where they stand in God’s plan? How can we truly judge ourselves? And, even more importantly, how can we judge God, the ineffable foundation of all existence and non-existence? Seeing all this, even a little, we can only begin to humbly let go of our limited, ego-based judgments and open our minds and hearts to a gentle faith in the divine, in ourselves, and in each other.
4. SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. So, how do we come to see all of the above and cultivate a joyous spiritual humility? Each must find their own way. For me, it come from a gentle spiritual practice:
(a) First, I try to be mindful of the interconnection of all life, as well as of the impermanence and transience of my own ego-mask self. Then, with a little inner quiet and stillness, I try to watch for the presence of ineffable wonder; I listen for the quiet whispers of my own inner spirit; and I open my heart to the rumblings and reflections of the presence of a boundless God beyond all knowing or grasping.
(b) Next, each day I try to practice a little kindness and unconditional love, as best I can and with as much wisdom as I can muster, quietly shining some light in the darkness on myself and those around me. We all can open a window in our hearts to the divine and let the divine presence shine through us, as if through a glass darkly — but we can polish that glass each day to let in more and more light.
(c) I judge God, myself and others so much. So, I practice not judging by being mindful of how much I do judge, and examining how much of that judgment comes from my own arrogance or insecurity. I then think about the the mystery and power of the divine presence — and the preciousness and miracle of all life, including my own — and stop for a moment and acknowledge, as best I can, that the divine presence is boundless in ways I cannot begin to fathom or judge.
(d) Finally, I try to find reasons to be grateful: for the presence of wonder, wisdom and light, even in the darkness; for the preciousness of my own life and that of others; and for the blessings, sometimes hidden, that grace my life. There are so many opportunities to express that gratitude to those around me through words and deeds; and to God in my prayers and in the songs of my heart. Finally, I try to express gratitude to myself in the words I use in speaking to myself. We all can begin to appreciate more our own inner, luminous spirits. Humility in the face of the overwhelming wonder of the universe may cause us to begin letting go of our ego games, but it also opens our vision up to the magnificence of the cosmos and to the luminous wonder of our place in it.
Simple Inner Truth by Steven Jay
and we burn as we adjust to this new space of being
the grieving takes us into different,
often difficult, spaces
where we get to (ok, have to) do a new thing
this is where life can reveal our best,
because, it’s always our choice!
My wish for us is that
this becomes a beautiful foundation
to rebuild our new ships –
the latest and greatest in technological wonders –
the kind which will catch the best wind
to take us to the next adventure
for which we set sail!
Where our very lives become
our grandest home ever!
The best is always yet to be!
Amy Lloyd (AL)
aka The Oracle of Hope & Happiness
When there has been too much pain, we often forget that we have the built-in capacity to move through it to another state. The Divine gave us tears to be cried, the capacity to express our anger, a vast range of emotional devices that, when healthily unleashed and expressed, can clear the toxicity out of us, and lead us to lessons of self-love at the heart of them. In our authentic vulnerability lies our greatest power—the power to re open our hearts after loss and disappointment. The idea that feeling the pain gives power to those who have hurt us is completely wrong. Feeling the pain is an act of self-empowerment and the only way to make a break from the prison of repressed emotions. Reach inside and unlock the door…
One of the greatest mistakes we make in this life, I think, is losing hope when we don’t get what we want RIGHT AWAY. It takes time to do anything that matters—to change, to learn to love, to build a business or grow a child or grow into ourselves.
Sadly, too many of us (myself included) lose heart when we don’t see results RIGHT THIS MINUTE.
And when we lose hope, we lose everything.
Hope is not this fluffy thing we sometimes think it is. Hope is dangerous. It’s radical. When we hope, we take a tremendous risk, waiting and waking our hearts to something that we know full well may never come to fruition. There are no guarantees in this life. We do not have 100% control.
Hope hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t hope.
And yet I am learning what it means to take LONG view. As I look back over the past 33 years of my life, I realize most of the things I have hoped for have taken DECADES to grow into themselves. It takes a LONG, LONG TIME for things to make sense.
Hope trusts the process—that even if we don’t get the thing we want right away, the story is not over. It’s not completely written.
Hope is steadfast and unwavering. It keeps going and gong and going.
Whatever you’re waiting for, hoping for, wishing for, don’t give up. Keep hoping. Most things don’t make sense until later. Hope is your lifeline. It is your only way home.
On Dec 3, 2014 (2 year anniversary of my living death in the dark night of the soul, I got a post titled Love never Dies from Jen Lemen at Hopeful World http://hopefulworld.org
Here’s a taste of what it said:
I am struck also as I write to you from this wintery desk, that building our capacity for stillness helps so much when the wild comes to our restless souls. Without that practice of being quiet, it’s easy to be scared when our wild, instinctual thoughts pop up. It’s easy to think that they are bad somehow or in need of corralling. But the practice of quiet and stillness helps us recognize our instinctual knowing for what it is: a call to our most true nature. A call to a kind of expression that is more vibrant, more textured, more passionate, more alive–even if it’s a little bit messy. Even if it kicks up a little bit of shame that we are this human, this raw.
So I invite you today to sit with me for three magic minutes. I’ll be right here with you, my own mind a rollercoaster of crazy, of frantic, of nonsensical worrisome things. I’ll sit with you and notice everything in my own soul, while you notice everything in yours and together we will begin to knit together an understanding of what’s underneath that noise: a gorgeous, exquisite tapestry of human longing designed to carry us to an awake magnificent place.
Will you join me?
Setting the timer now.
Let me know how it is on the other side.
With so much love,
It’s now 3.5 years later and Jen Lemen is still bringing all that, and more to me, to you, to the shaky, hoping world, to the edges of eternity…love never dies.
Today, in this crazy, brutal brutal place, where we ask…
how can these two people be our Presidential choices?
how can people keep killing other people?
how can I deal with the grief and the fear of this?
how can I help?
what is the solution?
what is my part?
Jen Lemen is doing her part. She’s offering Soul Snacks – http://www.thewayofdevotion.org/soul-snacks
Amazing gifts to all of of struggling, hungry, hurting, angry, frustrated pilgrims and poets.
Right now she has open enrollment and I have just this…
Don’t wait! http://www.thewayofdevotion.org/soul-snacks
Gobble this up, savor it a bite at a time, eat them from start to finish, or nibble from the middle to each edge of crust. Savory, delectable soul-spices involving all your most subtle senses. http://www.thewayofdevotion.org/soul-snacks
Keep wrestling, burn, scream, let go, melt, let your heart keep breaking for the sake of your heart, keep saying the names of your people, fiercely defend your tenderness, think, grieve, repair, renew, continue to do what’s in your heart to do…each thread matters…each color makes the world more beautiful…
in the end, only love is eternal, only love remains… http://www.thewayofdevotion.org/soul-snacks
We are God’s thread
weaving through the tapestry,
the masterpiece is slowly
Potential for beauty, we can’t know,
it makes the sun squint
and reach for sunglasses.
Brilliance so far beyond ourselves
we go shining into the gray
as we open to the new jewels appearing,
sparkling in the moonlight.
As we step into the needle’s eye
the angels catch their breath,
cheering our blazing garments,
dazzled by the vision
God is revealing through the creation.
As we surrender to the greatest mystery,
the beauty we inhabit
walking in humble clay
eyes out shining the stars
set in the heavens.
Until we totally disappear and all that’s left
all we can do
bow in wonder
and give thanks
as the silk thread
becomes liquid gold and silver
pure and simple
as we realize our place in the whole.
We are the temple of our creator.
The home of God.
As deftly and finally as one pulls out a thread
someone is weaving them, gracefully tying them,
minute and irreversible.
In the towering sky, even under the fortress,
root tendrils muscle in and bind ligaments
through an abyss we had been told was absolute.
No enormity of terror
can keep up
with the steady, unseen healing.
Before the assault, the horrible wound,
gaping and exposed,
the stitching has already begun.
Even as we sigh in our own world,
moving on, separate,
we are being sewn in.
In the earthquake, the collapsing mountains,
not a bit of rubble falls
on the path from the temple.
If you could hold your immortal soul
in your hands, you would hardly recognize it
from one moment to the next.
Your grave is already empty.
Yeah, so, the past month has been an intense one for me in every way. A bit emotionally brutal. We can all relate, I’m sure. It’s shown me a lot of new things about myself, also revealed some new glimpses of this mystical mystery named, so simply, “Love,” in our language.
I’ve been a student of the nature of Love for the past 7 years, which doesn’t seem very long, now that I write it down, but, I have to report, just this short time of study, it has changed me in every area of my life.
My studies are always, first and foremost, practical. To me nothing I ‘believe’ is worth anything if it does not actually work in my living to bring me healing, make me a better human, remove my baggage to reveal my highest and best self, lead me into paths of peace and load my arms with fruit to share with fellow pilgrims along the way…and, so, I began by asking God to reveal what love was and how love worked.
My first flash came in 2009, riding on a CT commuter train from New Haven to Branford, looking at the marsh fly by. I had been asking for some days, intensely seeking, when God showed himself to me as ‘LOVE.’ That brief instant changed everything for me. I experienced the Aleph of The Mystery and left that train, completely changed a flash or, in real time less than 30 minutes…
Many wonderful writers have helped me along this open-ended, unlimited path of discovery on this topic. I must give much beautiful credit to Henri Nouwen, who helped me early on in my excavation of this topic. His revelations, and life surrendered to this mystery, have inspired much learning in my own voyage on this simple, yet so radical, path.
Over these years, I felt lead to share some of my tiny bits of insight with others – it has just been so amazing! So beautiful! So everything – I just wanted others to open to it as well, to learn and heal along with me! Over these years I have learned to be a writer and a poet. Until recently I didn’t feel I could claim those ‘titles,’ but I do now, just another way love has changed me. I am so grateful.
This brings us to yesterday, which brings us to Frederick Buechner’s 90th birthday! Buechner is one of the best, most beautiful, writers ever. Sometimes I stop breathing when I read his words. I won’t say more, at this moment, as this is becoming a very long post, but here’s my best advice: read him!
Recently someone, somewhere, on Facebook, posted words by poet, Fred LaMotte. They deeply touched me and so I ‘friended’ him. Then he began posting his words and I found myself on Amazon ordering one of his books. I received it last week, and it has been moving me into some very deep waters.
Yeah, so, back to yesterday, I re-posted a happy birthday write-up about Buechner and then…
I got this comment from Fred LaMotte:
He was the reason I became a teacher and a school chaplain. When I was a 10th grader at Exeter Academy (near Boston) he was the school chaplain. It was before he became a writer. One dreary morning in late Winter, we were 700 half asleep boys in morning ‘Chapel’ (it was just an assembly really), and decided to read to us. He read the entire 7th chapter of ‘The Wind In The Willows,’ ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn.’ It was very long and I think I might have been the only one stayed awake. It was amazing. Not only did it show me my first real piece of spiritual writing, but I thought, “Wow! This is his job? Reading to people about the great God Pan? I want to do this!” Thank you Frederick Buechner.
WOW!! Then Fred LaMotte shared that chapter of the Wind and the Willows, ya know, the one that inspired some pretty intense poetry, which is, at this moment plowing up some new fields in my back forty…
I have not read The Wind in the Willows since I was a teenager, and, at that time I remember thinking it was rather stupid. My thoughts being something like, ‘Good grief, what in the heck is this about?’
Yesterday, I finally ‘got it!’ I broke down. I took my shoes off and bowed to the glory. Yesterday, a gift of love I offered was returned to me, unaccepted. I ‘got it!’ I broke down. I took my shoes off and bowed to the glory. There’s no right or wrong here, just gift. I choose to be only grateful to continue on in the, ‘yes and amen!’ of it all.
I have no idea what Love (God) will teach me next. I am a very humble beginner. No Master here. Just a girl who cannot believe how lucky I am to be on this narrow road. A very unlikely pilgrim, I. Always wearing inappropriate shoes for climbing these steep hills, but somehow, always getting the view of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable. I guess it’s true what Babe Ruth said, ‘You can’t beat a man who keeps getting up!’
Here’s a song I wrote for my children’s musical about my life of faith, named: The Fantastical Inside-Out-Upside-Down Journey of a Rich Little Poor Girl
You Otter Know (verses spoken in the style of Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant/choruses in Sinatra style)
I was walking in the forest
I was feeling all alone
The birds and bees were sleeping,
the weeping willow weeping
Then I heard a little creature
Start moving oh so slow
and the little brook began to play
music with its toes
the woodpecker was keeping time
upon that tall oak tree
and I could not help start dancing
cause I knew it was for me
and as I whirled and twirled about
I came upon a log
and the beaver and the otter (Frank Sinatra style Beaver. Sammy Davis Otter)
were acting more like hogs (pushing each other to get to the log stage with microphone)
and then they each began to croon
they’re words were oh so rare
I stood there for a moment
my foot still in the air
and they sang to me…
You otter know I love you
loved you from the start
(if you’ll beaver me
then I’ll beaver you
You never walk alone)
You otter know I love you
love your precious heart
(beaver me it’s true
I’ve always loved you
You’re never far from home)
and the band it just kept playing
and my happy heart did gasp
Cause this was so much better
than that silly talking a**
Then my heart it felt so happy
and my eyes at last could see
That though I hadn’t been aware
You’d never once left me
and as I danced on down that path
I swear I sang this song
The one my friends had written,
which had been there all along
and I sang…
You otter know I love you
loved you from the start
(if you’ll beaver me
then I’ll beaver you
You never walk alone)
You otter know I love you
love your precious heart
(beaver me it’s true
I’ve always loved you
You’re never far from home
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
New Living Translation
You don’t have to melt
until you are ready.
Each moil of your unoiled joints,
every numb stiff gristle of resistance,
cramp of anger, clabber of shame,
clot of envy, opinion or belief,
is simply a mass of refusal
contracted into “me,”
a particle afraid to waltz
with its field, a wave
that will not settle to its sea,
a sky who thinks it is a cloud,
Nothing happens by chance, no one goes on a quest without a reason, without the pull of the magnet there is no action.
When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.
Young and Old by Charles Kingsley
I lay and watched your final breath
Lay in a pool of steel, blood and nashing teeth
All knew your smile and humor
I saw the life you were to live
So much love you left behind
So much more you had left to give.
Every breath I took was fire
Not desire, No silent repose
That life I was given back was given to chasing ghosts
No action, no deed, nothing ever was my own
From reverie to taps, a life spent chasing ghosts.
In times such as this,
What is born of such circumstance?
Death gives birth to so much mourning
That spawns life and living.
Your death gave birth to me
Achievements you will never see
Tears, monuments, poetry and prose
You gave your life,
I gave you those.
Just another life spent chasing ghosts.
Chasing Ghosts by Charles Cooper
And then there comes a moment
when all you have suffered,
all you have learned,
all you have lost and found,
rise up and become.
and suddenly you are
who you dreamed of being,
so many years ago.
suddenly you have arrived
at what you caught glimpses of
for so many years,
and the search,
the free fall of broken dreams,
tumbling down rabbit holes,
stumbling over the feet
of your own lack of knowledge,
you find yourself on solid ground.
raising your Ebenezer,
those tributes to God,
for all the mighty stones of help,
building this foundation,
on the solid rocks of your soul
you know so well.
and though the pilgrimage may continue,
though the journey is definitely not over,
though life is fragile,
and security an illusion.
there is a new sureness to your step,
a trusting unshakable,
a calm in it all,
a new assurance of provision,
a new traveling song to be sung as you walk forward,
always pilgrim ready for new adventures.
forgetting the names of what lay behind,
you press on to your calling,
the prize set before,
reveling in the mercies, ever new,
for each new day.
there is no stopping now.
you have found something
which cannot ever be taken.
you have arrived here by your own determination,
reached a place,
both spiritual and physical,
a place of such magnitude
the light shines from every angle,
it has sealed up the oldest sores,
bound up the deepest wounds,
satisfied the deepest longings,
settled old scores with finality.
no longer will you settle for less than you deserve.
no more will you tolerate anything less than your own best and highest offerings.
you must be all you can be.
that is all.
gratitude fills you for this place,
a place so lovely,
it can bear up
even under the weight
of your hearts wildest desires,
with just this simple name
it resounds inside our souls like a bell –
you are home.
right where you belong.
This road is not for the timid or the faint of heart. not at all. But there is no other road. No one will simply wave a magical wand over you. It is a road of destruction and the question is, “How much are you willing to give up? How much can you endure?
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Love After Love by Derek Walcott
I want to make a poem
that slips into the heart stream
quietly, with no great splash
just a graceful entry,
with minimal ripples
which plunges deeply upon entering
and allows the mud to settle gracefully around it.
I want to make a poem
which allows the heart to trust,
to flower in it’s own time
knowing, for sure,
it is dependable,
Words written to last a lifetime,
through the fiercest storms,
though the world burn,
and the mountains crumble.
Words of love
they come to life
each time they are read,
and anyone who dares to read the poem I make
cannot help but
find within themselves
clouds of peace
wrapped up in thick blankets of joy
and will forever know for sure
I smiled at myself
in the mirror this morning
said, ‘good morning’
to the crazy haired girl
looking at me with happy eyes
I make happy coffee
and smile as the heaven-brew
hits morning tastebuds
I have many thoughts this morning
plans and inspiration
I smile at the fresh pink fuzz
on the backyard tree
at the birds hopping through grass
at the dirty pig statue
looking so perfectly thrilled
To be so dirty
I believe I will live this quote today:
The only thing that ultimately matters is to eat an ice cream
cone, play a slide trombone, plant a small tree, good God, now