About That Hard Rain

That's right: it is gonna fall. And @PattiSmith delivers the message in this elegant squib from The New Yorker; Find a few minutes to view her performance at the Nobel ceremony. Oh, The struggle of mastery, the call to performance, the flat out truth that we will stumble  alongside those 12 misty mountains.  She says "I felt the humiliating sting of failure, but also the strange realization that I had somehow entered and truly lived the world of the lyrics." She risked so much to honor the work, to serve its creator, to share its difficult message. And that is all any of us can do. Thank you Patti and kudos to Carolyn Patierno who riffed off this message in today's sermon at Fourth U. 

Between Slave and Robot

Erich Fromm said "The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots."  I've been thinking about the ways in which my life is automated, the simple choices I make without a deeper awareness. How I have become enraptured by my virtual life, the endless stream of e-mail, all the bits I must respond to. What do I initiate? What time do I set to create, to absorb good writing, to witness art, to gather in deep community with others? Guess I'm back to that "one wild and precious life" query; it continues to stir me up. 

Famous like a pulley? A buttonhole?

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

 Naomi Shihab Nye's words stop me in my tracks. What would it mean to achieve "fame" by honoring our own given truth? Following our essence back to its source and sitting with that, knowing we can tie things together or fasten what seems ruptured or that we can lift lift lift our spirit flag and let it unfurl?

The Lyf So Short...

Chaucer (c. 1343–1400) observed "The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." I'll say. I've been wrestling with a story for more than a decade. One day I awoke with something braiding into my heart center; a genie had visited and dusted me with pixie droppings. Did I have the wazoo to bring it forth? So 15 years ago I began to follow it, to listen to it, to tame the story into submission. Abandoned it after seven years.  It's still there, gnawing at me like a squirrel in heat. Maybe it will be like the miracle of bamboo growing underground all those years  - sprouting forth with confident victory? Or not. Elizabeth Gilbert: surrendering to Big Magic. 

A blind child

Four years ago, I found myself on a rooftop in Pune India getting ready for yoga practice. Our leader read us the words of Kikakou: A blind child/ guided by his mother, / admires the cherry blossoms...  These words, captured in Mark Nepo's handy "Book of Awakening," pierced my jet-lagged heart. In 11 words, Kikakou reveals a mystery: To what are we blind? How do we guide someone who cannot see what we see? What beauty is offered to us every day, expecting nothing in return? Four years later, still a blind child finding my way. 

About That "One Wild and Precious Life"

Mary Oliver's poem about prayer and promise just gets to me. I am learning that prayer is not about asking for things but listening for the Spirit and exploring its questions. Lost a dear friend this year. Wasn't the first. Know it won't be the last. And yet absorbing the loss, weaving it into a shawl of comforting memory is elusive. It hurts, big time. So before me is that question about that one wild and precious life, more poignant than ever. I am going to work on memorizing this poem. And call on it in the days to come. http://maryoliver.beacon.org

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver