Saturday, June 10, 2017

refusing more






Sun also rises Saturday morning.

As does book shed thermostat to counteract dampness from night rain open windows.

But, then, the choice is to begin the move to meditation cabin.

The light. The airiness. The new season.

There will be silent sitting.

During which



Take place.

I know this because every Saturday morning nothing takes place in formal practice. Just thirty minute sitting, chanting heart sutra, reading fragment of dharma writing, each giving circle response,  a metta blessing, and final bell chant.

Even the bell monastic fresh into sixth day of 1st regimen performs duties with grace and sympathy for small spider trampolining inside meditation bell wondering who these interlopers might be in its environment.

Gassho and bow.




Gone beyond

Completely beyond




Friday, June 09, 2017

bewith: a universal prayer





the president and his republicans

It’s hard to imagine


in humans' name, 

they actually

believe in.

They seem so

alienating and


(I could be

Wrong, and


I am)

rain helps

Maybe all we have is rain on a Friday afternoon.

After a night of hard navigating.

Day five of 1st round of chemo.

A Mack truck of disagreeable illness hits and runs.

Another few hours in-dripping in oversized chair.

The rain helps, finally, sleep after iv’s and more iv’s.

It falls and mutes what passes by.

There are so many rules.


Thursday, June 08, 2017

splashing down

As when, sometimes, things get overwhelming and you’d rather things not be as they are.

There’s nothing to do but say it, feel it, and return to the walk, slowly and deliberately, where feet follow ground.

And dog offers constant gift of green tennis ball.

And day 4 slips into what dusk brings.

Maybe Caesar’s salad.

And, of course, glasses and glasses of water.


Choir mate Mourning Dove begins unresponded antiphonal at 4 AM in dooryard as white dog comes deeper into room and cat meows from somewhere downstairs.

Soft breeze carries chorus of mountain trees and waking birds supporting soloist Dove with wind chimes both wooden and aluminum.

Morning prayer. Listening obedience. Collation and recollection.

This is why we are alive.

To live a life of prayer,

Mere listening.

Importunate attentiveness.

The very fact of


Alive and




Wednesday, June 07, 2017


 Cart wheels wobble down hall.

Woman coughs in lab waiting room. A heavy cough.

Hospice training session ended 15 minutes early at Lighthouse Museum building in Rockland. On compassion fatigue. And can we have support gatherings?

Hardly anyone anyhere wants to leave behind someones they've spent meaningful time with.

And yet, it is the emptiness that shapes character and permits us to act with integrity in the moment.

(Sonnet 116)

William Shakespeare1564 - 1616 
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love ’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
Day three. Here in Rockport.

Reading John Dear’s preface on Dan Berrigan in the latter’s book, Testimony, The Word Made Flesh (2004).

Here’s why we both liked and disliked -- and a little intimidated by Dan Berrigan:
Advent Credo” by Daniel Berrigan, SJ 
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life; 
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly. 
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace. 
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world. 
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers.
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams. 
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth. 
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
– – –
From “Testimony: The Word Made Fresh,” by Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ Orbis Books, 2004. 
A half day.

And half again tomorrow.

What’s true and not true sit together in six chairs in the infusion room.

first light

Dove calls

Branches glance east.

Dog sleeps.

Cat leaps from shelf.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

seeds and probiotic

Day two

Nuts and raisins and yogurt.

A sort of grainy prayer.

And from chemo room down angled hallways this text:
"I'm love stench my to t nnhanh while last one drips"
The fog of being poisoned and the attempt to make sense!

I think she's listening to Thầy,

That's the title of teacher or master in Vietnamese. 

She's probably listening to a talk by Thich Nhat Hanh.

It's the end of her day.

And she's probably loopy.

It happens to monastics.

Monday, June 05, 2017


Then there’s the poisoning of someone’s body so as to extend life.

Hospital chapel/quiet room.

First day, first regimen.

Monday afternoon.


Sunday, June 04, 2017

real gift

Sunday morning. Pentecost. Coffee brewing. Divine Office playing from speaker. Cat looking out at seed feeder.

They say the Spirit of the Lord enters creation in new way. They say it created the known and unknown universe with its billions of galaxies billions of stars billions of human beings.
Mass movements, writes Hannah Arendt in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, are one of the core elements of totalitarianism. Arendt does not say that all mass movements are totalitarian; to take seriously President Trump’s claim to be the mouthpiece of a movement is not to claim that he is a totalitarian leader or that he is leading a totalitarian movement. He has not mobilized terror, concentration camps, arbitrary arrests, a secret police, and a party apparatus that rises above the state — all of which were essential parts of Arendt’s description of totalitarianism in power. Mass deportation of undocumented immigrants — disgusting as it is — is not the same thing as de-naturalization, imprisonment, and deportation of citizens. Common sense insists that we not abandon reality and imagine that the United States is experiencing totalitarianism. 
It is equally irresponsible, however, to ignore the important similarities that the president’s self-professed movement shares with totalitarianism. President Trump has repeatedly asserted he leads “a movement like the world has never seen before.” He has shown a willingness to assert his personal control over reality. And he has positioned himself as a Janus-faced figure who can present one version of reality to his followers and another version to the outside world. These are all characteristics Arendt attributes to leaders of totalitarian movements. 
There is always a temptation to rationalize what is happening in politics, to say: this has all happened before. There is a voice in each one of us, wheedling us with common sense, telling us that Trump is simply another instantiation of American populism. That voice is likely correct. But we should be wary of such voices, Arendt warns, for “the road to totalitarian domination leads through many intermediate stages for which we can find numerous analogies and precedents.”  (Why Arendt Matters: Revisiting “The Origins of Totalitarianism” Roger Berkowitz,   P LARB,)
Someone to speak for us. To speak within us. With us. Through us.

Someone who knows that reality has no opposite nor love any partiality.

The real gift of the Spirit is a listening heart.