Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Note: The Bookshop/Bakery is closed today, Saturday, and tomorrow, Sunday. We will reopen on Wednesday the 26th.


Surrender to Spring!

Winter has lost its spot on the calendar page. Snow melts into earth. Violent war shudders and shatters all opinion to the contrary. We are crowded with cheerleaders, with righteous acceptance of war, and crowded with disguises that hide a terrifying enemy in our midst. That enemy is forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is a crowd that excludes anything but the crowd. We must remember each individual. We must make room for each one of us. In our lives. In this country. In the world.

It is time to look at and listen to Meetingbrook’s motto:
Embodying the dwelling place of the Alone,
Stepping aside to make room for Another.


Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about...

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems to be dead in winter
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.


The speech of war is shrill terror. Do not believe soft cadences of explanation. Do not be seduced by confident tones promising beneficial outcomes. The language of war is the extraction of silence from the soul. Replacing it is incessant insinuation of success and “It’s just us, only us,” a signature mantra that numbs heart and mind
“Life is what it is about,” says the poet. Right now it is about war, bombs, bullets, suffering, and death in Iraq.

There is no acceptance of war. It is seen. It is heard. It is grieved over. But it is not accepted. It can’t be accepted.

War appears as “is not,” and takes away what is there.

“Is not,” like non-being, or evil as the absence of good, cannot be accepted. There isn’t anything there. There isn’t anything to accept. War, in this day and age, is failure camouflaging itself as ideology. Ideology is failure dressed for success. .

What is? What is, is. Or, as prayed worldwide, Only God is.

Surrender is what is! Surrender is a great gift. We can only surrender to what is. Being is. The antithesis of war is surrender. The government of Iraq will surrender. Soon, the government of the United States of America will surrender.

Iraq will surrender to war and the demands of war’s agents. America will surrender too. That surrender will be different. America will surrender to an inevitable awareness that war is failure. Ideology, like the one positing one country as model and matrix, is seductive. Like all who have used power to get what they want or believe to be true and profitable, this country too will learn that power and war are seeds of destruction infecting the hand sowing them.

There are deeper seeds to be thrown and cultivated. There is a need to surrender to what is. What is, what some call God, is all there is. No power, no war, no good intention, no blueprint for political success – none of these are capable of surrendering to what is, surrendering to God.

It is a frightening thing to claim to know the mind of God or attempt to bring about someone’s version of the will of God.

We are on fragile ground.

Count to twelve.

Keep quiet.

Surrender to spring.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Note: The bookshop/bakery is closed today, Friday. We'll reopen for Saturday Morning Conversation at 9:AM.

...

The temptation of the desert is strong.

Jesus said to them, ‘Go and learn what the text means, "I require mercy, not sacrifice."
I did not come to invite virtuous people, but sinners.’

(Matthew 9: 13 New English Bible)

Words, diplomacy, and international good faith have been sacrificed in America's action against Iraq.

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will proclaim your praise;
for you do not delight in sacrifices: if I offered you a burnt offering, it would not please you.
The true sacrifice is a broken spirit: a contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not refuse.

(--from Psalm 51)

There will be scant sincere praise for the actions of America. There was no praise for Saddam Hussein's rigid hold on his country. There will be little praise for George Bush's incomprehensible motivations for shunting sound and sensible means other than invasion and war.

Those who seek liberation for themselves alone cannot become fully enlightened. Though it may be said that one who is not already liberated cannot liberate others the very process of forgetting oneself to help others is itself liberating. Therefore those who seek to benefit themselves alone actually harm themselves by doing so, while those who help others also help themselves by doing so.
- Muso Kokushi (1275-1351)

But we are a poor and foolish voice calling for mercy, longing to praise but stuttering instead invective, and contrite for being overtaken by strong feelings of disgust and mistrust of the perpetrators of fear and violence.

It is an odd sacrifice called for by this war. Respect is bloodied by the steel edge of fear.

It is an odd mercy evoked by this war. With Saddam gone, someone, perhaps the slaying hunter, could very easily inherit his power.

In the Christian metaphor the Lord's Prayer ends with the words, "For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and forever." Whoever takes power, appropriating it to himself, has begun the process of deterioration that accompanies something cut off from its source. This is why "power" is best left in the hands of God. When someone says, "I am God," they draw all attention to themselves, like iron-bits to magnet. I fear those who reserve to themselves that which belongs to the participatory gathering of men and women of good will -- that is, to the presence of God felt in the assemblage with faith, trust, and love.

Mere mouthing of those three words 'faith, trust, and love' -- deserves skepticism. We are not meant to spin and finesse rhetoric like a salesman only interested in selling his wares. But we are meant to embody those words until the words themselves disappear from our vocabulary and emerge in clear eyes, serving hands, and feet that are unshod walking with us.

This is how lies are recognized. Lies have eyes that shift and mock, hands that slap and take, and feet that kick then walk away.

We already long for someone to replace the man that has tricked us into thinking he represents us in the world.

In the spiritual desert of Jesus, the struggle of Jesus was not to accept the offer put to him by the tempter.
In the political desert of Messer’s Bush, Cheney et al, our struggle is not to accept the offer put to us by them.

Like Jesus in his Near Eastern desert, ours, too, is not the world, the power, and the adoration of others. Jesus left the desert understanding only God is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Like Jesus, we'd best not leave the desert before learning to decline the offer being made to us by the leaders of this administration in Washington.

Rather, imperialism must give way to the kingdom paradise that resides within and around each one of us; super-power must give way to participatory-power-of-divinity that includes everyone in the conversation about its use, and; self-congratulations must give way to resplendent and glorious humility that lives, breathes, and has its being in the service of all beings in the world.

The temptation of the desert is strong. We have to decline the temptation of the desert.

Resist sacrificing others. Respond by being merciful to one and all. Refuse to accept the offer of fools. Rather, embrace counter-intuitive wisdom -- rendering to God the transmission rendered to us all.

Let there be 'No' to the sacrifice of integrity for fragments of wealth -- give it back!
Let there be 'Yes' to the rising spirit of conscience and consciousness, mercy for our broken spirits -- share it well!

Thursday, March 20, 2003

In the harbor a big gray barge completes replacing mooring blocks for finger floats where dredging took place through the winter. It rounds the outer channel marker buffeted by head seas and increasing wind on its way to Rockland Harbor.

A storm is coming. The cold sea is a deep darkness whose surface locks our attention. Across the planet in a desert country bombs and bullets battle the night in a deep darkness of war. We must learn to penetrate the surface of night, to surrender into the deep darkness, to confront the vast desolation that believes war is just, merely another tool to manipulate human consciousness.

War as tool locks down mind and heart.

Letter to a Wild Monk

Other than the birds,
Who watches over you?
Lordly peaks, your neighbors.
White head held pillowed on a stone.
Grey robe ragged, but not soiled
Chestnuts pile up on your path.
Monkeys circle where you sit.
If you ever set up another Zendo,
I swear I’ll be the one who sweeps the floors.

- Kuan Hsiu (832–912)

We need someone to open the doors and sweep the floors of our thinking and opinion about war. War is mud splattering and cloaking hearts and minds. Miring.

But now you have rejected and disgraced us; you do not march out with our armies.
You make us retreat before the foe; those who hate us plunder us at will.
You hand us over like sheep to be slaughtered, scatter us among the nations.
You sell your people for nothing; you make no profit from their sale.
You make us the reproach of our neighbors, the mockery and scorn of those around us.
You make us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us.
All day long my disgrace is before me; shame has covered my face
At the sound of those who taunt and revile, at the sight of the spiteful enemy.
All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, nor been disloyal to your covenant.
Our hearts have not turned back, nor have our steps strayed from your path.

( -- From Psalm 44)

Our hearts and minds lurch toward center ground between meditation and mockery. One by two all day they wander in. Refugees from combating sides of belief and opinion. Our door is open. We were going to close. Business should not continue as usual when so many are falling into deep darkness. But we are not a usual business. There's no need to explain or defend, take or not take sides, be cheery or despondent. Each arrives as, how, and who they are.

(Sign on door of bookshop):

War is terrible.

We sorrow with
all suffering the terror of war.

We pray for everyone affected by this war

Please care for yourselves,
whether active or at rest.

Be compassionate with
those with differing opinion.

Take some silence and stillness.

Our chapel/meditation cabin at the Hermitage is open & available for visiting.

Bill & Saskia
20March03


(Should we be closed, we will leave a message on answering machine, 236.6808, and post on www.meetingbrook.org, Today at Meetingbrook the date we’ll reopen)


Out of deep darkness we cry -- unmire our minds, sweep clear our hearts!

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

We are being asked to marry the present moment.

Right now there are many unfavorable and favorable circumstances asking for acceptance with a compassionate heart.

Foremost, for all of us, is the need to wake from sleep. No matter what political preference any one of us espouses, it is now vital to take all next steps with an awake heart and an awake mind.

In liturgical gatherings beginning Advent or Lent in the Christian tradition words are used to remind us, "Be reconciled to God.... Behold, now is the acceptable time" (2 Cor. 5: 20; 6: 2), And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Rom. 13:11)

At St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Rockland this morning a celebration of the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary mother of Jesus. Breads and other baked goods were placed on steps of alter and blessed. It is a sweet tradition.

"Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took Mary as his wife."
[Mt. 1:16, 18-21, 24a]

We, too, sleep through what is taking place in our lives and in the world.
Joseph awoke. We must awake. In an odd variation of the Matthew text, we are being asked to marry the present moment.

Since sky and earth are mindless,
They last forever.
What has mind has limits.
A person who has attained
The Path is like this too.
In the midst of no activity,
She carries out her activities,
Accepting all unfavorable
And favorable circumstances
With a compassionate heart.

- Yunmen (864-949)(dailyzen)

Contrary to black and white simplistic rhetoric and thinking, no one with right mind and heart sees war as good and desirable. War is awful. It pains, causes suffering and death, untold destruction, and a residue of bad memories in those undergoing its devastation. War is an option a nation takes only with deep and grave elimination of options other than war.

By days end we will be lost in the mechanism of war. We pray for everyone caught in that terrible machine.

Let not be listed as casualty in this war a compassionate heart. (And let no political position dare appropriate to themselves the word ‘compassionate.’) If killing be done, let our hearts weep. If destruction occurs, let our hearts be sorrowing. If victory be swift, let our hearts be sober. If uncertainty and dark times follow this incursion, let our hearts remain open to light and grace wherever it might be found.

Joseph was devastated when his wife became pregnant and he was not the father. He had to consider as option the practice at the time to have her punished by stoning unto death. The sleep of revenge and humiliation numbed him. He was being asked to accept something beyond his comprehension. He considered dismissing her quietly – not a death by stoning, but walking away, letting her be.

Rather, he awoke.

Life looked from him. He saw Mary. He took the next step.

For us as individuals that same confusion and request to enter compassionately into something beyond our comprehension is occurring. Something paradoxical and unsettling is awakening now within us.

Right now there are many unfavorable and favorable circumstances asking for acceptance with a compassionate heart.

We are being asked to marry the present moment.

Stones? Compassionate hearts?

Angels guide us!

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

War consciousness numbs that of God, conscience, and history.

The world waits. Diplomacy is swept aside.

The Pope opposes America's incursion into Iraq.
The papal spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Walls, said, "Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history."

We wait for common responsible sense to find its way back from what has been swept aside.

A deeper, more profound consciousness is what is being asked for.

And we, spectators, always, everywhere,
looking at, never out of, everything!
It fills us. We arrange it. It collapses.
We rearrange it, and collapse ourselves
.
( - Rilke, in Eighth Duino Elegy)

Some men have never seen out of anything. They can only look at.
War looks at, and tries to take away or destroy what it looks at.

Something collapses in this movement of war. What? Ourselves?

Soon, that which numbs will attempt reversion to life again. Victory will be declared. Victors will try to look suitably serious, but will smirk looking off camera. It is a perquisite of power to gloat when it is not impeded.

Some good will come. Liberation? It is hoped. Regime change? No doubt. Few deaths? We pray. An easy transition to American rule? Possibly.

There are worries too. Terrorism backlash? Resentment from European and Middle Eastern countries at American arrogance? New status as feared evangelical bullies? Cynicism, at home and abroad, at the motivations and deceptions of the President and his inner circle of democracy hawks?

With the good, so too worry. It is not enough to claim that evil is being defeated. Not enough that metaphysical balance of good and evil forces is restored. Nor is the soul satisfied with any other facile interpretation of the outcome. The soul seeks solace in silent watchfulness.

God, conscience, and history watch out of themselves.

The rest of us are restricted to looking at the frightening spectacle of war.

Watch we must. To remember.

And recount when asked.

Monday, March 17, 2003

In every heart, mind, mouth, eye, and ear -- right now -- may there be the longing and finding of peace that is beyond our abilities to comprehend! Today, in the midst of darkening clouds, we wear green.

Green, hidden under white snow, sends breath of fog to fill the air. Cars pass through this breath, dogs bark into it, and silent men and women prepare to step out into it.

Green is not sandy blanch. Green is not hot red fire. Green is not rhetoric of war, justified or unjustified, hanging in the air, gallows set to loose trap door.

Green is path of chickadee flight from vertiginous branch to half-filled feeder. Green is the clawing climb of curious cat to screened but open window over kitchen roof where birdcall bounces.

Green is Irish smiles of my family's women gone to places beyond death’s door. Green is table flowers and father’s beer saluting family men and ancestors hardly even imagined in New York City's fast hold of separation from one's country.

Green is hope this war will not be death too far and too many upon all the forces that converge to fight. Green is the sons and daughters of all the parents in all the countries that gather in harms way.

Green is not cold steel heating with fire, exploding and ripping soft flesh and fragile bone from the souls of those it shatters. Green is not all and any excuse explaining why we kill each other.

Green breathes through slowly melting snow in middle Maine, its foggy exhalation a silent prayer. Green stills trunk and branch on hillside trees climbing Ragged and Bald mountains to see farther than we can see.

This is our prayer -- May the paradise of Christ, the clear light seeing through of grace-filled now, save all from illusion and fear. And may we come to see through the dim necessity of war.

This is our prayer – May innerstanding and understanding of true relationship enter & fill each as breath fills and empties us. And may the loving freedom of what surpasses self permeate all, now.

This is our prayer -- It is Saint Patrick’s Day. In the joy of the feast, and in sorrow for the suffering we inflict on our brothers and sisters, we lift our hearts and minds, listening.

May we learn the deep meaning of ‘catching’ people. It isn’t the upstanding and erect that need catching, but those of us falling in this time of unsteady and uncertain launching plunge into deep waters.

When Jesus had finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. ( - Luke 5:4-11)

Or, in Gaelic:
Nuair a stad sé den chaint, dúirt sé le Síomón: "Tarraing amach san uisce domhain agus cuirigí amach bhur líonta ag iascach." D'fhreagair Síomón agus dúirt: "A Mháistir, thugamar an oíche go léir ag saothrú agus níor thógamar aon ní; ach i ngeall ar d'fhocalsa, cuirfidh mé amach na líonta." Nuair a rinne siad é sin, cheap siad clais mhór éisc. Bhí a gcuid líonta ag briseadh, agus sméid siad ar a gcomrádaithe sa bhád eile teacht i gcabhair orthu. Tháinig siad agus líon an dá bhád nó go raibh siad ar tí dul faoi. Nuair a chonaic Síomón Peadar é sin, chaith sé é féin ag glúine Íosa ag rá: "Imigh uaim, a Thiarna, mar is peacach mé." Óir ghabh alltacht é féin agus a chompánaigh uile faoin ngabháil éisc a thóg siad agus mar an gcéanna do Shéamas agus d'Eoin, clann Zeibidé, a bhí i bpáirt le Síomón. Agus dúirt Íosa le Síomón: "Ná bíodh eagla ort, as seo amach is daoine a bheidh tú a ghabháil." Agus tharraing siad na báid aníos ar an trá, d'fhág siad gach uile ní agus lean é. (-Lúcás 5:4-11)

Finally, this:

The Breastplate of Saint Patrick

I rise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confessions of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I rise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his coming for judgment.

I rise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In prayers of ancestors, In predictions of prophets, In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors
In deeds of the righteous.

I rise today
Through the strength of heaven
Light of sun, Radiance of moon
Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea, Stability of earth, Firmness of rock.

I rise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving rays,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep dark sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

Christ to shield me this day,
So that there come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I rise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye who sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me
.

(Celtic Daily Prayer, compiled by Andy Raine and John T. Skinner of the Northumbrian Community. http://www.osfphila.org/resources/pryr_svcs/prayer_st_patrick.html)

I greet each and all in this, prayer!

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Were we once one? And did we then become multiple? Is our current state of mind and heart a deep forgetfulness of former awareness of who we really are in unity?

At night deep in the mountains,
I sit in meditation
The affairs of men never reach here;
Everything is quiet and empty
All the incense has been swallowed up
By the endless night.
My robe has become a garment of dew.
Unable to sleep I walk out into the woods
Suddenly, above the highest peak,
The full moon appears.

- Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831)

War is multiple isolation. War is a terrible choice. Once the commander has ordered troops to fight, we are a divided mind and heart. We want the troops safe. We don't want war. We want the world a safe place. We don't want to perpetuate killing and destruction in the name of securing peace. We want freedom. We don't want to be manipulated and used in the name of freedom.

But I put my trust in you, Lord;
I say: “You are my God,
my fate is in your hands”.
Tear me from the grip of my enemies,
from those who hound me;
let your face shine upon your servant,
in your kindness, save me.

( -Ps 30 )

Were we once one? And is the multiplicity and forgetfulness we now experience able to be transfigured into a face we might see peace and truth and love shining through?

When Jesus was transfigured, his friends were terrified. They were made mute. They had no idea what they were seeing. Then Jesus says not to tell anybody what they saw until the son of man rises from the dead.

War is the face of death. It is where dead ideas and dead egos go to complete their disintegration. War is not the face of transfiguration and transformation. War disfigures and malforms multiples of peoples. Soldiers everywhere suffer war.

This war arrives. As war begins, through its duration, and when it lies exhausted in the sand -- suffering is the first salvo, the persistent wound, and the final breath of war.

What did those men see on the mountain with Jesus? What will the men and women see in the desert with war?

The full moon appears. Enough light to see one's face.

For all the terrified who face this war, we pray their prayer with them,
let your face shine upon your servant,
in your kindness, save me


Save us, all of us.
Face us.
Help us face you.