little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

Archive for the category “Purposeful Presence”

The Truth about Morning

I have been in love with mornings all my life.  However, after reading Mark Nepo’s meditation from The Book of Awakening this morning, I feel like I finally know why. In his eloquent, real, accessible, and inspiring way, Mark translates into deep truth the sacred presence of morning and how with it, we begin again with an opportunity to shed the shadows of what was and open to what is — like dawn.

Read and re-read with me his entry entitled “The Truth about Morning”:

“There is a vastness that quiets the soul. But sometimes we are so squarely in the midst of life’s forces that we can’t see what we’re a part of.”

The truth about morning is that it is the small light of the beginning breaking through, again and again. It is a wisdom so large and clear, one which carries us through our lives so quietly and completely that we seldom see it.

Day after day, we are covered with the dust and grit of what we go through. It tends to weigh us down, and then we think and scheme and problem solve. Then we worry if it will all really work, and if it is the right thing to do. It all makes us dark and cluttered.

But despite our stubbornness of concern, we tire and must turn what has happened over to the hammock of night. This is a good thing. For no matter how unfinished we seem, the letting go into sleep is nothing short of a quiet miracle.

This letting go into sleep is an innate, reflexive form of meditation, no different than a fly rubbing its face or a doe licking its fawn. Sooner or later, without discipline or devotion, despite our resolutions and mistakes, we each must sleep. We must surrender to the quieting of all intent and regret, so that the small light of the beginning can rise in us, again and again.

There is no escaping this profound simplicity: what happens covers us like dirt. It covers our hearts and minds, till, at the shore we call exhaustion, we slip into the waters of sleep in a daily sort of baptism, so we can begin again.

So whenever you feel urgent or overwhelmed, whenever you feel pressed to figure things out or to rethink the unthinkable … rest … so that the endless beginning – which some call the voice of God – might break through what has happened. And you will wake feeling like dawn.

  • This is a bedtime meditation. Breathe slowly, and bring to mind one intention you had today as well as one regret.
  • Breathe evenly, and let your breath blow the intention and regret far enough away that you can see them clearly.
  • Center yourself, and realize that though these thoughts and feelings come through you, they are not who you are.
  • Leave these thoughts and feelings outside of you, and use each breath to bring you closer and closer to the letting go of sleep.
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“We are all meant to shine”

Here is a deep, liberating truth that wakes, holds, and roots me today; may it be and do the same for you:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

“…can only come from Love…”

Even though I saw Carrie Newcomer in concert well over a month ago, I woke up with an unforgettable tune of hers in my head and heart: I Heard an Owl.

Give a listen when/if you have a chance and follow along with her moving lyrics. Methinks it’s an anthem for today and everyday.

I Heard an Owl

I heard an owl call last night
Homeless and confused
I stood naked and bewildered
By the evil people do.

Up upon a hill there is a terrible sign
That tells the story of what darkness waits
When we leave the light behind.

Don’t tell me hate is ever right or God’s will
These are the wheels we put in motion ourselves
The whole world weeps and is weeping still
Though shaken I still believe
the best of what we all can be
The only peace this world will know
Can only come from love.

I am a voice that’s calling out
Across the great divide
I am only just one person
That feels they have to try
And questions fall like trees or dust
Rise like prayers above
But the only word is “Courage”
And the only answer “Love.”

So don’t tell me hate is ever right or God’s will
These are the wheels we put in motion ourselves
The whole world weeps and is weeping still
Though shaken I still believe
the best of what we all can be
The only peace this world will know
Can only come from love.

Light every candle that you can
For we need some light to see
In these times of deepest loss,
Treat each other tenderly
The arms of God will gather in
Each sparrow that falls
And makes no separation
Just fiercely loves us all.

So don’t tell me hate is ever right or God’s will
These are the wheels we put in motion ourselves
The whole world weeps and is weeping still
Though we’re shaken I still believe
the best of what we all can be
And the only peace this world will know
Can only come from Love.

Kindness

 

This. This poem. To heal wounds. To hold hands.

For hope. For humanity. For today and each day that may come.

 

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.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

 

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.

Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

 

Peace and kindness to you, dear reader, whoever and wherever you are.

The House of Belonging

THE HOUSE OF BELONGING

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
day
like any other.

But
the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
and
I thought

it must have been the quiet
candlelight
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And
I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close-grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housefly
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

– David Whyte
©1996

The Peace of Wild Things

IMG_1050

This is a portrait of my Gran Edie, a woman with the strength and beauty of wildflowers.

And a poem posted for her (and for new friends found in the Granite State):

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

 

As Terry Tempest Williams says, “I want my life to be a celebration of s l o w n e s s.”

Yes.

And today, may we slow and stop long enough to count the miracles growing from the ground.

Words and Wings

I have just finished reading Paula McClain’s brilliant novel Circling the Sun, which chronicles the fascinating life of Beryl Markham, a courageous and daring woman, who navigates the turbulent skies of relationships, loss, love, and finding one’s true self. While there are a host of reasons why I would recommend this book and far better, more convincing reviews out there to read, three passages in particular stopped me in my tracks, and their truth begged posting:

“The trick is learning to take things as they come and fully, too, with no resistance or fear, not trying to grasp them too tightly or make them bend.”

“How our lives turn and turn. Things come that we never would have predicted for ourselves or even guessed at. And yet they change us forever.”

“There are things we find only at our lowest depths. The idea of wings and then wings themselves…And whatever suffering has come is the necessary cost of such wonder…the beautiful thrashing we do when we live.”

 

Thank you, Paula, for these words, and for the characters who speak these words — words that teach of both surrender and freedom.

May this opening into a new month — and a new season of summer — welcome in opportunities to see and feel life deeply, to surrender to its beauty and suffering, and to have the courage to try on and use the wings each of us has — wings that are constantly growing — wings that can sprout unimaginably like new shoots from rubble.

40 years…

Today, my dear parents celebrate 40 years of marriage.

40. years.

Hmmm…

All thanks be to God.

It is miraculous to say, to write, to ponder — in so many ways, but especially as the years they have seen together — the years that have witnessed their growth side by side — have been beautiful and anything but easy.

In honor of the joy and sorrow that have left marks on their 40 incredible years and that do the very same in each of our lives, I will post this powerful excerpt from Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet. It is aptly titled “On Joy and Sorrow”:

“Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorry,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.”

 

Thanks be to God for the life of my parents,

their journey together,

and for the sorrow

and joy

that give meaning

to our paths —

the fullness of life.

Miracle

AdventMoon

Photo captured while on a mid-December “moon walk”…

 

Night falls.

Moon rises.

And beneath this miracle

whose ingredients are

star

and dust,

light

and darkness,

life

and death,

joy

and pain,

we go on

singing —

the low notes,

the high notes —

into the rest

of our days.

 

p.s. Thank You

for the miracle

it is

to see,

to feel,

to wonder,

to write,

to love,

to remember.

Amen.

golden bees of Advent

“Last night, as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvelous error! –

that I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

were making white combs

and sweet honey

from my old failures.”

-Antonio Machado

————————————————————-

Isn’t this the message of Advent –

the autumn version of Lent –

the very tilling ground

for grace in our lives?

I so desperately need this.

We so desperately need this.

Sweet honey from failure.

Light in darkness.

Green shoots of hope bursting forth from the stump.

All things new.

Meanwhile we must wait,

as the bees tend to their magic:

quiet transformation

in the heart’s comb.

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