Sunday, September 24, 2006

loops, links, and thanks

The first weblog I heard about and started to read regularly was Chris Corrigan's parking lot. I am pretty sure that I found the way there via the flurry of connection and information that came out of the Practice of Peace conference in 2003, but it's a post of his in 2004 that I remember as one of my first "ways in" to the what blogs were about. That post referenced the (short and excellent) book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland which is now one of the dog-eared books on my bedstand. Chris has continued to be my favorite source for a huge array of great and diverse music, contemplation, books, articles, provoking questions & conversation, weblogs, and other stuff he finds or makes, and shares.

Some months ago, Chris added 37days ("what would you be doing today if you had 37 days to live?"), written by Patti Digh in Asheville, NC, to his recommended reads. Always beautiful, inspiring, surprising, always poignant, and so often hilarious, it's become one of my favorites, too. So, last month, Patti wrote that she would be coming here to Seattle to do some work with her business partner David Robinson, would be attending a poetry reading by David's friend Sam Magill, and invited any 37days readers in the area to come say hi and listen to Sam read from his new book "Fully Human."
Reading that post, written from 3000 miles away cluing me in to something just up the road from me, I realized that Sam is the same Sam that my friends David Matteson and Dan Leahy often talk about, the Sam who headed up the Fetzer Relationship-Centered Care project and who has been much influenced by the 5-Element philosophy he learned through Tai Sophia (which is where several of my mentor teachers were trained). Sam and I have a number of other mutual friends, but I had never gotten to meet him before.

I was so pleased for the opportunity to meet Patti, who is as funny and charming and generous as her writing, and to meet Sam, whose poetry is insightful and kind and wise, as well to meet more in their overlapping circles of friends and relations. And, to finally meet David M's wife Debbie, who, like David is full to the brim with very bright, very clear qi. It felt like when you are standing in a circle holding hands with people and then your circle opens up to join with other circles of people (or as David says, "cousins who haven't met yet").

So, Chris: I am sure I am not the only person whose mind and heart and web of relationships has been spectacularly expanded by your continual and open-handed sharing--it would be fascinating to see a map of your wide and deep connectedness (and if it were a map that could light up--it'd be blinding!) Big, on-going thanks, my friend.

And by the way--Patti often recommends the book Art and Fear, too.
each flower containing reflections of all the others
Clematis Drops
by Steve Wall

Saturday, September 23, 2006

reaching in three directions

Rabbi Tsurah August, a wonderful Renewal rabbi here in Seattle, sends this quote with her wishes for a sweet and good new year:


A person reaches in three directions:
Inward, to oneself
Up, to the Eternal
Out, to others

The miracle of life
Is that in truly reaching
in any one direction,
one embraces all three.

by Hassidic master Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlov

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

days of awe and forgiveness

Below is an excerpt from this week's edition of Rob Breszny's Free Will Astrology Newsletter, always packed with nuggets of insight and delight. The message fits perfectly with the energies of this time, during the Jewish Days of Awe (the Yamim Noraim): forgiveness (S'lichot), creation (Rosh HaShanah), and atonement (Yom Kippur)):


"Experiments and exercises in becoming a rebelliously kind, affably unpredictable, insanely poised Master of Supernal Mischief.

"Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don't love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.

"And then do a dramatic reading of this proclamation by the playwright Theodore Rubin: 'I must learn to love the fool in me—the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.'"

Monday, September 18, 2006

touch the angel's hand

Letter to a Friend

~Fra Giovanni Giocondo

I am your friend and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty - beneath its covering - that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

~written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo, priest and architect, to the Countess Allagio Aldobrandeschi in 1513

Sunday, September 17, 2006

to be burned up with beauty

the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself


Don Marquis, "archy and mehitabel", 1927

Monday, September 11, 2006

democracy requires visibility

"We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world's resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them.

"How to defeat terrorism? Don't be terrorized. Don't let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared."

Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

song for the soul returning

My friend and teacher, Dr. Maureen O'Keefe z''l*, was the first Chair of the Counseling Department at Bastyr University, beginning when it was still a College. She taught solid counseling skills to a generation of medical students, but of all the courses she taught, my favorite by far was an Advanced Workshop in Esoteric Healing that she did over a weekend in a luxurious home right on the shore of Lake Sammamish. A few of the workshop syllabus items: Clearing Thoughtforms with the Soul Star; Singing and Chanting; Radiating Soul Energy in The Healing Process; Miasm, Constitutional Pictures, and the Personality Ray.

Maureen died peacefully in her sleep earlier this year, at her home in Colorado. On Sunday we'll be gathering together on campus to honor and remember her big deep laugh, x-ray insight, and all the amazing things she gave us and taught us.

As I read through my copies of poems and songs and prayers she gave us, I'm listening to a song that she loved, that we'll play on Sunday:

Leonard Cohen (kd lang's version)

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well, it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well, your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and cut your hair
And from your lips she drew Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room, and I've walked the floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
But I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Our love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who out-drew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not someone who's seen the light
It's a cold and broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallulujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

(these two verses that aren't in kd lang's version are my favorite verses:)

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Here is something else that was in the syllabus packet for Esoteric Healing:

Song for the Soul Returning

~David Wagoner

Without singing, without the binding of midnight,
Without leaping or rattling, you have come back

To lodge yourself in the deep fibers under my heart,
More closely woven than a salmonberry thicket.
I had struck the rocks in your name, but no one answered.
Left empty under the broken wings of Sun,
I had tasted and learned nothing. Now the creek no longer

Falters from stone to stone with a dead fishtailing
But bursts like the ledges of dawn, East Wind and West Wind
Meet on the hillside, and the softening earth
Spreads wide for my feet where they have never dared to go.

Out of the silent holts of willow and hazel, the wild horses,
Ears forward, come toward us, hearing your voice rise from my mouth.
My hands, whose craft had disappeared, search out each other
To shelter the warm world returning between them.

*z''l is an abbreviation for "zichrono/zichronah l'vracha"--"may his/her memory be for a blessing"

Monday, September 04, 2006

artful alternative to obsession

"...a temple is not an art gallery. It is not a place to view pictures but to venerate them. If we could understand this difference, we might grasp the contrast between the spirit and the soul of religion: the spirit seeks enlightenment while the soul seeks connection.

"To be in the presence of a sacred image is not to be instructed, to know something one didn't know before, but simply to be the receiver of a transforming radiance. The effect on the devotee can hardly be seen, measured, or explained, and yet veneration is the quintessential religious act.

"...The religious traditions can return us to a proper idea of what devotion, sainthood, and sacred image are all about. They teach us veneration, which is the artful alternative to obsession."
~Thomas Moore, The Soul's Religion