Sunday, December 09, 2018


Wood burns in stove

Soup warms in silver pot

We recite contemplation, conversation, and correspondence promises

Someone cries at table over losses

We listen

Saturday, December 08, 2018


Dec 8 — the day of no barriers.

Buddha’s enlightenment day. Immaculate Conception of Mary.

John Lennon’s death.

Hannakah lights.

Wholeness is not reduced by parts.

mulling such a thing


Every request could be seen as the ask of reality to engage it unfolding what is to come.

Or, another perspective: 

“As Bokonon says: 'peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from god.”  Kurt VonnegutCat's Cradle)

The silence moving through barn at 4am, temperature 9°, out to winter zendo, bowing, raising thermostat, ringing Tibetan bell, pronouncing (bubba, richard, rob) names of only three of our departed sangha. As earlier in poetry circle, we pronounce Anne, Walt, Maggie, Lydia, and Sheilah’s names — whose physical presence we no longer see nor hear on Friday’s at poetry, tea, and thee.

The separation between those of us seen and those not seen seems less and less apparent.

As poet Robert Lowell told us — 
We are poor passing facts, / warned by that to give / each figure in the photograph / his living name.     (— Lowell, end-lines of poem “Epilogue”)
 In wohnkuche, woodstove warms, green woolen Irish fedora placed back on shelf, brown cloth Franciscan  zucchetto placed on head, and stairs climbed back to room, 

Soon enough, our stoic friends at prison remind, there will by no one here to remind we are mortal, therefore deserving of kindness and compassion as we mull such a thing.

Friday, December 07, 2018

the pundits are straining at the bit

Your move, mr president.

I’m sorry for your troubles.

one form is formless

Getting wood from barn, thin layer of snow covers ground, points of starlight passing earth toward infinity’s edge.
The cosmos] is fundamentally and primarily living. [1] Christ, through his Incarnation, is interior to the world, rooted in the world even in the very heart of the tiniest atom. [2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 
As Paul saw Christ as a single “New Human” (see Ephesians 2:15), as Duns Scotus saw Christ as the Alpha point of history, so Teilhard saw the same Divine Icon as the Omega point of cosmic history—both the archetypal starting point and the alluring final goal. The end was therefore already contained in the beginning. History is both emanating from and also seduced by the same force: Divine Love. Do not confuse this with any sentimental notion of love. Teilhard uses the word “love” to describe the cosmic allurement of everything toward everything, a structural, metaphysical shape to the universe, most visible in the basic laws of gravity, the inherent structure of every atom, electro-magnetic fields, and sexual reproduction. 
And yet everything is also fragmented and fighting this very process of reunification. For Christians, this resistance is symbolized by the cross. There is a cruciform shape to reality, it seems. Loss precedes all renewal; emptiness makes way for every new infilling; every transformation in the universe requires the surrendering of a previous “form.” This is the big fly in the cosmic ointment! 
(—from, Growing in Christ, Friday, December 7, 2018, by Richard Rohr)
One more  breath. One additional morning. One more prayer to the unknowable and unknown.

This is what we are — one more than not.

Thursday, December 06, 2018


when nothing
seems right —
it is

after watching GHWB funeral at national cathedral



Кобаяши Исса. Kobayashi Issa. year unknown.

добрее добродетели // прекрасней красоты... // цветок мака

zen tsukushi bi wo tsukushite mo keshi no hana

virtue beyond virtue
beauty beyond beauty...
just a poppy!

translated by David Lanoue

добрее добродетели

прекрасней красоты...

цветок мака

(—Haiku by Kobayashi Issa (小林 一茶, June 15, 1763 – January 5, 1828)

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

haiku by Issa

all we say or speak about
is autumn wind

(—Kobayashi Issa (小林 一茶, June 15, 1763 – January 5, 1828)

wait, then, wait

We sit in a room with compassionate people.

We speak about our time with the dying.

A good place, someone says, to exhale.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

that was a colorful sunset

It's hard to imagine the American presidency will be anything other than a parody of the current president in years to come.

If someone's goal was to discredit America and its fragile democracy, they have succeeded.

Sundown comes early these days.

Darkness lingers longer.

Monday, December 03, 2018

standing down

A tweet from cbs news:

Former President George H.W. Bush's service dog Sully lies in front of his casket. The image was posted on the dog's Instagram account with the caption "Mission complete." 

Mr. Bush died Friday night at the age of 94.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

why we’re here

From a Trappist monk blog:
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2018Life in the Kingdom
Too much is happening, too much is falling apart everywhere. And it’s not the time for us to hide from one another or from Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a time to be vigilant and come together, for Jesus our Lord beckons us and leads us forth into battle. On one side are those forces within us and without that sow division, discord and isolation. On the other side there are all those forces that nurture attachment, connection and solidarity. And that’s where he wants us to be, that’s where his kingdom is going to happen. It’s a showdown between cynics and optimists, a war between “rippers and weavers,” that runs down the middle of every heart.With Jesus we need to be weavers, creating a tapestry of loving relatedness and bonds of trust. This is why we’re here in the monastery, this school of the Lord’s service, this school of love - to practice connecting and reconnecting, obeying and deferring to one another out of love. 

The Lord of gentleness and compassion is leading us forward in hope; someone who leads by falling down, being spat upon, shoved and tortured. Not to teach us how to be doormats; that’s not what his kingdom is about. It is about refusing to live by fear and rivalry, in an us vs. them kind of world, where there always must be winners and losers. It’s about absorbing hurt because of hope and trust in One who is at our side, Christ Jesus our Master. 

God is with us, God among us; God like us in everything but our sinning. We may call him a king if we remember that his sovereignty is realized in his littleness, his nothingness, his emptying out, his self-forgetful love, his sin-bearing. He only wants to be loved; our promise to compassion and mercy one another is our pledge of devotion to him. Life in the kingdom doesn’t tolerate individuals, anybody on the fringes. His mercy always gathers, binds up, heals and connects; it never excludes. That is his truth. God always wants to wash our feet and entice us to go and do likewise. And so, we live and rejoice in the “hard truth and ridiculous grace”(Tauren Wells) that abusers and abused, demagogues and peacemakers, well-heeled, solid citizens and weary refugees and migrants, bigots and oppressors and terrorists along with their victims, are all being invited with us to have a change of heart and come together to the feast in the kingdom. of Abbey glass by Brother Daniel. * Insights from an editorial column by David Brooks in The New York Times, October 30, 2018. 
  It is Advent in the Christian metaphor.

What is


To be



Saturday, December 01, 2018

for saturday morning practice

This​ ​is​ ​in​ ​​Anguttara​ ​Nikaya,​​ ​4.49:
"These​ ​four,​ ​[that​ ​follow,​ ​below]​ ​O​ ​Monks,​ ​are​ ​distortions​ ​of​ ​perception,​ ​distortions​ ​of​ ​thought, distortions​ ​of​ ​view: 
[1]​ ​Sensing​ ​no​ ​change​ ​in​ ​the​ ​changing,
 [2]​ ​Sensing​ ​pleasure​ ​in​ ​suffering,
[3]​ ​Assuming​ ​self​ ​where​ ​there​ ​is​ ​no​ ​self,
 [4]​ ​Sensing​ ​the​ ​unlovely​ ​as​ ​lovely— 
Gone​ ​astray​ ​with​ ​wrong​ ​views,​ ​beings
Misperceive​ ​with​ ​distorted​ ​minds. 
Bound​ ​in​ ​the​ ​bondage​ ​of​ ​Mara,
Those​ ​people​ ​are​ ​far​ ​from​ ​safety.
They’re​ ​beings​ ​that​ ​go​ ​on​ ​flowing:
Going​ ​again​ ​from​ ​death​ ​to​ ​birth. 
But​ ​when​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​of​ ​darkness
Buddhas​ ​arise​ ​to​ ​make​ ​things​ ​bright,
They​ ​present​ ​this​ ​profound​ ​teaching
Which​ ​brings​ ​suffering​ ​to​ ​an​ ​end. 
When​ ​those​ ​with​ ​wisdom​ ​have​ ​heard​ ​this,
They​ ​recuperate​ ​their​ ​right​ ​mind: 
They​ ​see​ ​change​ ​in​ ​what​ ​is​ ​changing,
 Suffering​ ​where​ ​there’s​ ​suffering,
 “Non-self”​ ​in​ ​what​ ​is​ ​without​ ​self,
They​ ​see​ ​the​ ​unlovely​ ​as​ ​such. 
By​ ​this​ ​acceptance​ ​of​ ​right​ ​view,
They​ ​overcome​ ​all​ ​suffering.”
That​ ​is​ ​the​ ​​Anguttara​ ​Nikaya’s​ ​Vipallasa​ ​Sutta​,​ ​or​ ​the​ ​distortions​ ​of​ ​perception,​ ​thought,​ ​and view.

Friday, November 30, 2018

, (comma)

Something I remember:
The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena 
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen. 
An Advent-Long Devotion The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is often called simply the "Christmas Novena" or the "Christmas Anticipation Prayer," because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas. It is an ideal Advent devotion; the First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.
While the novena is tied to the Feast of Saint Andrew, it is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas. You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once; or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal). 
 It was when time seemed ordinary, its plodding pace distinct steps. Not like now, when time is an encircling recurrence upon itself, a swift emptiness with no before no after, the face of awareness in every bare tree limb as dawn and dusk manifest that which has no name.
God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. (Genesis 1:5, NIV)
Should there be a comma after “God” in Genesis 1:5?

Today is the first day. 

That which has no name reveals itself as and within each and every moment each and every occurrence emerging as being within being.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

an inn on loan to us

Some of the men at the prison observed Stoic Week. Tomorrow there will be a debriefing
A Stoic must remember, Epictetus teaches, that the material possessions we come to own can be taken away from us.  They don’t belong to us forever.  Moreover, our spouses and children are mortal, and so they do not belong to us permanently either.  As long as other people and possessions are with us, we must daily remind ourselves that they are only on loan to us.  Therefore, we ought to take care of them as travelers treat an inn (Ench. 11; cf. Disc. 4.1.107 and Ench. 7).  The people we love are mortals and a Stoic is convinced that we should love them on these terms. 
(—from, A Stoic Approach to Travel and Tourism by William O. Stephens, by Gregory Sadler
Things are on loan to us.

We are on loan to one another.

As is breath to each and all of those of us that breathe. 

may, be, ‘hen‘

If love

has any place

in this

It is this


...   ...   ...
Note: As far as "Eyeh Asher Eyeh" is concerned, this is simply a transliteration of the Hebrew text of Ex.3:14("I will be/can be/may be/keep on being what[ever] I will be/can be/may be/keep on being"; see Bible Basics part 1: Theology, note #1 and note #6). 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

a companion

He breathes

His last

Breath —

No Volvo


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

buddhist boast

I have


To say

Monday, November 26, 2018

woman looking at outdoor chapel in Rockport


Trying to

See through

What is

Not there


Rohr has a way of opening insight. Here he speaks of  St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217–1274):
He starts very simply: “Unless we are able to view things in terms of how they originate, how they are to return to their end, and how God shines forth in them, we will not be able to understand.” [1] For Bonaventure, the perfection of God and God’s creation is a full circle, and to be perfect the circle must and will complete itself. He knows that Alpha and Omega are finally the same, and the lynchpin holding it all in unity is the “Christ Mystery,” or the essential unity of matter and spirit, humanity and divinity. The Christ Mystery is thus the template for all creation, and even more precisely the crucified Christ, who reveals the necessary cycle of loss and renewal that keeps all things moving toward ever further life. Now we know that the death and birth of every star and every atom is this same pattern of loss and renewal, yet this pattern is invariably hidden or denied, and therefore must be revealed by God—which is “the cross.” 
Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant or angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He sees humanity as already being included in—and delighting in—an all-pervasive plan. As Paul’s school says, “Before the world was made, God chose us, chose us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). The problem is solved from the beginning. Rather than seeing history as a “fall from grace,” Bonaventure reveals a slow but real emergence and evolution into ever-greater consciousness of Love. He was the Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) of the 13th century.
(—Richard Rohr,  The Franciscan VisionMonday, November 26, 2018) 
Good for him!

And Good for us!

right into the wall

Of course power corrupts. QED, the current American president.

The question is whether any return to “normalcy” is a possibility after him.
The presidency is an institution invested with enormous power and enormous leeway for how to use that power. Trump’s two years in office have revealed how few legal and political tools there are for curbing a chief executive who does not feel constrained by norms — or, for that matter, by shame, ethical standards or fear of public backlash. 
Nowhere is the potential for overreach more dangerous, however, than in the application of our laws. Using that power to reward friends and punish adversaries marks the dividing line where a president becomes a tyrant — and it is one that Trump seems determined to cross. 
(—from,  Trump wants to interfere with the scales of justice. These policies could curb him. By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, 25nov18)
Yes, the man worries and frightens many. And, yes, he is crude and ludicrous and a craven con man.  His attraction — the nosethumbing, middle finger saluting, impertinent denigrating namecalling that is his calling card — titillates and rouses the residual dislike, hell, hatred, crouching within any of us toward anyone in a position of authority over us.

Something there is that doesn’t dislike a blatant breaker of rules and laws done in bold and public fashion!

He will prevail.

We ain‘t seen nothing yet.

We broke it, we bought it!

Time to ride this bronco right into the wall.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

or maybe not

I am not writing this. This is writing me.
Every story is a fictive narrative intended to motivate an audience to care about the telling. Composition is decomposition of expressed reality grounded in recomposition of original longing to influence creation of something to hold on to in an impermanent and chaotic existence.
(—after reading kirkus review of book, DECIPHERING THE GOSPELS Proves Jesus Never Existed, by

abdication, abjuration, finally a common arete*

When quiet


of a sudden

the place

it arrives

bows low

to its



...   ...   ...

                        Arete (Greekἀρετή), 
                               in its basic sense, 
                               means "excellence      
                               of any kind".[1]]

  • Robert Pirsig uses "arete" as a synonym for Quality in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This includes an extensive discussion of Plato's "Phaedrus" and the historical contrast between Dialectic and Rhetoric. "And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good—Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" Pirsig's line plays off a line in the Platonic dialogue The Phaedrus which reads: "And what is well and what is badly—need we ask Lysias, or any other poet or orator, who ever wrote or will write either a political or any other work, in metre or out of metre, poet or prose writer, to teach us this?"[12]
— Wikipedia, “Arete

Saturday, November 24, 2018

not finding fault, not fleeing

Here is the reason we practice.

And this:
I often say that there should be just two words over the door of our temple in Santa Fe: Show up! Yes, suffering is present. We cannot deny it. There are 65.3 million refugees in the world today, only eleven countries are free from conflict, and climate change is turning forests into deserts. Economic injustice is driving people into greater and greater poverty. Racism and sexism remain rampant. 
But understand, wise hope doesn’t mean denying these realities. It means facing them, addressing them, and remembering what else is present, like the shifts in our values that recognize and move us to address suffering right now. “Do not find fault with the present,” says Zen Master Keizan. He invites us to see it, not flee it!
The Czech statesman Václav Havel said, “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” We can’t know, but we can trust that there will be movement, there will be change. And that we will be part of it. We move forward in our day and get out the vote, or sit at the bedside of a dying patient, or teach that third grade class.
(--from, Yes, We Can Have Hope, BY  )
Saturday Morning Practice -- Mainers, New Yorkers, Marylander (via phone).

If we learn to trust what is happening before us and within us -- not finding fault, not fleeing -- we begin to learn what faith is.

Seeing what is there.

Moving through whatever fear might arise.

Listening to the healing sound of what is here, hearing into the silent revelation of things being exactly what they are.

Friday, November 23, 2018

merely told

are neither true
nor false — they
are merely told

The telling narrative
is it’s own truth
neither connected
nor disconnected


like this

Where did the time go?

Such a silly question.
Every moment in life is absolute in itself. That's all there is. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this.            — Charlotte Joko Beck
There’s no time now; and nothing like this.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

as thanksgiving goes

It’s 10 degrees outside.

Find warmth, my brothers and sisters, find warmth!

The night is advancing.

nowhere else

I remember where I was when president Kennedy was shot and killed.

I was right here.

Then, now, and always.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

his superlative slog

 As it is, this poem, saying it so well:

I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260)                            
                      Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886 

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know! 

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Listen carefully and hear the  — c r o a k — echoing all day long from the odd one’s bog wallowing in his superlative slog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

no thank you

I agree with her:
In a single day, POTUS turns a blind eye to the barbaric murder of journalist and we learn that he tried to order DOJ to go after his political adversaries. Is there no depth to which he will not sink? We can’t let him drag America down with him. 
(—@SallyQYates, 11/20/18, 20:14)
I cannot imagine he will be allowed to continue his destruction of decency and democracy.

What a disaster he is for this country at this time!

Ant. Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace. 

Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have given your followers an example of gentleness and humility, a task that is easy, a burden that is light. Accept the prayers and work of this day, and give us the rest that will strengthen us to render more faithful service to you who live and reign for ever and ever.  Amen.
(—from Compline) 

Monday, November 19, 2018

a particle of love

A man I know has died. His wife had been reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to him all summer. In the last week she had whittled the novel down to the final 20 pages. They remain.

He died yesterday morning.

They’d just gotten to, she wrote, Prince Andrei’s death and Pierre’s experience on the battlefield and his thoughts on death.

I find this excerpt:
“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”
Leo Tolstoy -  (from War and Peace, thoughts of Prince Andrei)
Nor had we finished reading Charles W. Eliot’s John Gilley, One of the Forgotten Millions (1899).

We left Mr. Gilley on Baker Island.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

six from saturday hospice



A hearing presence
Is what I heard —
She might have said healing



End-room is
Vacuumed is
Room end


Smart phone

Rings on table
Of man nearing death
— no one answers



Pink doggy at head of bed
White Minerva in unclutching hand
Just watching, only being held



She’s left the room
I sit with who she’s been
Where she was


Not now

When it happens
It will
H will happen

Saturday, November 17, 2018

saturday morning practice

God is the profound and intimate connection between all beings.

Then, two quotes from Rohr’s blog:
In Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, “Enlightenment for a wave is the moment the wave realizes that it is water. At that moment, all fear of death disappears.” [1] 
And in Stephen Levine’s:
But water is water, no matter what its shape or form. The solidity of ice imagines itself to be its edges and density. Melting, it remembers; evaporating, it ascends. [2] 
So do not be afraid. Death to false self and the end of human life is simply a return to our Ground of Being, to God, to Love. Life doesn’t truly end; it simply changes form and continues evolving into ever new shapes and beauty.
(—Friday, 16nov18, Richard Rohr)
So too, the voice and ear from Maryland attends with us today this practice.

urge for going

The lyric, as sung by Joni Mitchell or Tom Rush said: I get the the urge for going. Here, Richard Rohr quotes Kathleen Dowling Singh:
I have come to believe that the time of dying effects a transformation from perceived tragedy to experienced grace. Beyond that, I think this transformation is a universal process. Although relatively unexamined, the Nearing Death Experience has profound implications. Dying offers the possibility of entering the radiance, the vastness, of our Essential Nature, at least for a few precious moments. . . . 
The Nearing Death Experience implies a natural and conscious remerging with the Ground of Being from which we have all once unconsciously emerged. A transformation occurs from the point of terror at the contemplation of the loss of our separate, personal self to a merging into the deep, nurturing, ineffable experience of Unity. 
My experience is that most people who are dying have no conscious desire for transcendence; most of us do not live at the level of depth where such a longing is a conscious priority. And, yet, everyone does seem to enter a transcendent and transformed level of consciousness in the Nearing Death Experience. . . . It is rather profound and encouraging to contemplate these indications that the life and death of a human being is so exquisitely calibrated as to automatically produce union with Spirit.  
Reference:Kathleen Dowling Singh, The Grace in Dying: A Message of Hope, Comfort, and Spiritual Transformation(HarperOne: 2000), 14, 15. (From Richard Rohr 12nov18
The lyric muses that although we get the urge for going — returning, while alive, to the ground of being — we never seem to go.

Friday, November 16, 2018

snow, here

In maximum security prison, of a Thursday, we read and speak of Berry’s poem:

        by Wendell Berry

Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest. 

Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight. 

                            The sky
is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite. 

                      What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased.

(“VII" by Wendell Berry from This Day. © Counterpoint Press, 2013) 
Even in me, carrying wood in from barn, the echoes of Schubert’s Ave Maria. I am thinking of the lad who will travel back to Vermont through the storm in a few hours.

I am thinking of the man whose hospice room I left, his family gathered, no longer struggling to say the simplest phrase, nearing his death.

Here is what has always been.

And here is what will always be.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

no, really



no names


what is


no more than this

 From St Joseph’s Abbey blog:
I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. 
Whatever you may do, I thank you: 
I am ready for all, I accept all. 
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. 
I wish no more than this, O Lord. 
Into your hands I commend my soul; 
I offer it to you 
with all the love of my heart, 
for I love you, Lord, 
and so need to give myself, 
to surrender myself into your hands, 
without reserve, 
and with boundless confidence, 
for you are my Father.
It is 14° degrees outside.

I chant into frigid air at barn door a blessing of name and loving kindness.

I bow to the possibility — the already here and yet to be.

I bring wood in for firebox.

“We are poor passing facts” — wrote Robert Lowell.

We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name. 
(—from poem, Epilogue)