Monday, November 12, 2007
"Your life journey is not a race or a competition, nor is a boring highway without exits that you must trudge along for eternity. Embrace the unpredictable and go exploring for things that inspire you. Take time to enjoy the view… The fact is that one day, instead of waking up for breakfast, you will find yourself drawn down a long, dark tunnel towards a bright and beautiful light, and your journey will have come to an end. In that moment, when your entire life passes by before your eyes, I really don’t think you will care too much about the amount of money you made, the frequent-flyer points you accrued, the awards you won, the car you owned, the value of your stock, or the number of times you got your picture in the newspaper. Instead, I believe the most important things in your life will probably be the smooches you shared, the nights you spent gazing in wonder at the stars, all the funny looking snow angels you made, the first drops of summer rain caught on your tongue, and the time that someone special whispered, “I love you”. Don’t waste the present worrying about the future. It will come soon enough – I promise. In the meantime, I suggest you keep your chin up, put your walking shoes on, and follow your heart to the ends of the earth. As you make this journey, always remember that each day is a precious gift. If you can enjoy it for what it is and make the most of it, then believe it or not, there is another extraordinary gift waiting for you. Tomorrow.”
Saturday, November 10, 2007
It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
THE PLACE I WANT TO GET BACK TO
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
and first light
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting
on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
their hoofprints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night
under the pines, walking
like two mute
and beautiful women toward
the deeper woods, so I
got up in the dark and
went there. They came
slowly down the hill
and looked at me sitting under
the blue trees, shyly
closer and stared
from under their thick lashes and even
nibbled some damp
tassels of weeds. This
is not a poem about a dream,
though it could be.
This is a poem about the world
that is ours, or could be.
one of them--I swear it!--
would have come to my arms.
But the other
stamped sharp hoof in the
pine needles like
the tap of sanity,
and they went off together through the trees. When I woke
I was alone,
I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.
I have a picture by O'Keeffe up on my wall in Cairo. It's a landscape of New Mexico. I love the way it reminds me of the open spaces of the West of the US - and the red canyons that come alive in the morning or evening light. These memories are certainly a wonderful and spiritually-sustaining contrast to the dust and noise that await me outside!
I love one story about O'Keeffe told by a biographer, T.T.Williams. He describes how, "in her search for the ideal color, light, stones, parched bones that contained more life in them than living animals, [she] transformed her forays into desert country into a communion with the perfection around her. Once, in a canyon bottom, she was so enthralled by the sight that she laid her head back Coyote-fashion and howled at the sky, terrifying her companions nearby who feared she was injured. "I can't help it — it's all so beautiful," was her response."
I would love right now to be standing in the middle of a canyon and howling up at the sky! What an incredible release....
This struck a chord with me because I am definitely someone who finds it hard when I am not busy. I'm gradually trying to just sit with myself and be more comfortable with contemplation, but it's tough!
Martin Luther King has also emphasised the importance of prayer and quiet thought. He reportedly said: "I pray for 2 hours each day, and on days when I really have a lot to get done I pray for 4 hours."
Let's see if I can manage to get that type of spiritual balance in my life!
Information taken from http://quakeroatslive.blogspot.com/2007/11/contemplative-life.html
My friend's mother read the posting on my other blog about my feelings of loneliness in Cairo. I have never met this woman, or even spoken to her. I have just heard many wonderful things about her from her daughter. I have heard that she is the type of woman who is surrounded by loyal friends who love her dearly. The type of woman that will go out of her way to help someone in need. I am deeply honoured to have been pulled into the circle of this incredible woman's love.
"I was touched by what you wrote regarding your loneliness because that is a feeling I have known myself and that seems to be common to those of us that have lived in cultures that are foreign and unfriendly towards us. I lived in England for too many years (without knowing if or when I was going back home), where I felt discriminated against for being different; from reading your blog I think you can relate to this feeling.
Sometimes I think loneliness is a very personal condition, meaning that we can be as lonely as we want to be. Some people can be in the company of family, friends and loved ones and feel at the same time very alone. Others can be far away from those that love them and still perceive their love and their company. I know from my daughter, that you are a much loved person and so, I think that maybe you are in the second group of people. Perhaps, instead of loneliness, you are bored and frustrated by your circumstances that, after reading your experiences, would try anyone’s patience.
I sometimes catch myself feeling lonely, bored and frustrated, especially given my current circumstances, where I feel like I have no control over my life. But when I take a step back and try to put things into perspective, look around at all that I have and focus on my future plans, however small, I feel lucky, grateful and eager to make the most of every single day
I hope that I kept you company, at least for the while it took you to read this e-mail.
Good luck and remember to always lay the table, sit down and serve yourself a glass of something when you eat – even if you eat alone. In my (too long) stay in England I learned that one must not abandon etiquette, even if there is no one to appreciate it. :) ..."
This woman certainly did keep me company, and her companionship will stay with me beyond the simple act of reading the email. I am deeply grateful for that.
Friday, November 9, 2007
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.