Saturday, January 04, 2003

Snow seems sweet and soft this Saturday. All day.

We move things around kitchen.
Saskia finishes at sink. "Ready to go?"
What a choice! Go out to shovel snow? Or, move daybed and table in kitchen?

See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. (Isaiah 60)

If God were to show up, what would we see?
The Feast of Epiphany comes near.

The Magi in the Gospel were looking for something that had been revealed to them. They knew a spiritual truth and they followed it. There is no indication in the Gospels that they ever follow Christ. Their task in the Gospel is simply to point to the divinity of this small child. So it is with many of us: our task is to point to the divine at work in our world without becoming caught up in strife or useless religious arguments.

Christ is born for us! Christ is revealed to us this day. Let us open our eyes and our hearts.

(-- from Epiphany Homily, 2003 The Monastery of Christ in the Desert) (

Appearance with recognition.
What would God see?

What is being revealed to us?
What would any of us be seen as?

Friday, January 03, 2003

At prison Charlie, Shane, Ed, Mike, Paco, Andre, Sonny, Saskia, Vaughn, and I read the Canadian writer's story aloud in circle for 35 minutes.

"I know, Ma," says my father, "I know that and I appreciate it all, everything. It is just that, well somehow we just can't live in a clan system anymore. We have to see beyond ourselves and our own families. We have to live in the twentieth century."
"Twentieth century?" says my grandmother spreading her big hands across her checkered apron. "What is the twentieth century to me if I cannot have my own?"

(p.88, in The Return, (1971), story by Alistair MacLeod in his book Island The Complete Stories, c.2000).

We sit in silence 5 minutes. We let conversation carry us from the writer's Cape Breton to Montreal, then take side trips from New York City to the island of Jamaica, from towns in Maine to Holland, jail cells to childhood everywhere remembered.

I’ve always loved friends of the Way,
Always held them dear.
Meeting a stranger with silent springs;
Greeting a guest talking zen;
Talking about mysteries on a moonlit night;
Searching for truth until dawn,
The tracks of our inventions disappear,
And we see who we really are.

- Han-shan (dailyzen)

Andre's poem, It's Too Late, caps the two hours we spend in Meetingbrook Conversation at Maine State Prison. Poem begins with lines,
I get this gift called life,
but it's like my every breath is through
a shattered wind-pipe,
my speech is quite a whisper,
it's hard to get a listener,
it's hard for insight,
angles of angels get it twisted,

The ten of us are tourists. We travel by word across the table to each other's country. We stay as long as we can. Return fare is letting go what we think we know about the other, paying opinion and prejudice's ticket price back to one's chair, looking out over the landscape passing us, and sorting through what we've become enroute.

I'm so confused in my movement for direction,
I'm so lost, I lose myself, where am I headed?
Good question,
where's my head at, it spreads in sections,
along with my flesh,
never forgetting life and death,
they're both conception.

(from chorus in It's Too Late, poem by Andre H.)

Alistair and Andre convey us through their written words to places we visit with them in our conversing words. We feel a familiar memory. Have we been here before?

Life and death, / they're both conception -- Wherever we arrive, we have been here before.
The grandmother's words bring us to wonder what it is we conceive if we cannot have our own.

This is our own, this is the path we take, where we meet each other.

Charlie said it's something he's been reading about, "empathy."

Thursday, January 02, 2003

The sign on door of shop still says, "We're closed a few days. Happy New Year."

"Stormstay," was the word used in a story about Cape Breton in a book about Nova Scotia.

We stormstay at hermitage for rest.

Dew and the moon,
Stars and streams,
Snow on pine trees,
Clouds hovering on the mountain peaks;
From darkness, they all become glowingly bright;
From obscurity, they all turn to resplendent light.
Infinite wonder permeates this serenity;
In this reflection all intentional efforts vanish.
Serenity is the final word of all teachings;
Reflection is the response to all manifestations

- Hung Chih (1091-1157)

Bach plays.We stay put.
We look at things that have been still for a while.

Ice over everything.

If anything moves, it must move carefully.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Old year eve sitting with snow fog surrounding cabin wood. New year morning sitting with sunlight permeating cabin windows. This is how the mountains stay so quiet -- they sit looking across each at each.

Happy in the morning
I open my cottage door;
A clear breeze blowing
Comes straight in.
The first sun
Lights the leafy trees;
The shadows it casts
Are crystal clear.
In accord with my heart,
Everything merges
In one harmony.
Gain and loss
Are not my concern;
This way is enough
To the end of my days.

- Wen-siang (1210-1280)

Hugh C. from Surry sends this invocation:


Let us invoke our ancestors,
And our spiritual ancestors,
for we are the sole reason for their existence.
Let us also invoke our children, and their children,
for they are the sole reason for our existence.

Let us invoke the mountains and
the rivers of this great Earth,
and realize that we and they are
part of the great wheel of being
of sentient and insentient life.

The gift of Life is more fragile than
the dewdrops on the morning grass.

So let us vow to heal & nourish,
to love & share,
To alleviate suffering & bondage.

May we come to know Peace & Joy,
wisdom & compassion in the New Year.

(Adapted from the Mayan New Year Invocation)

Each bird and squirrel takes seed, whether from feeder or what is scattered on snow.

So it is to all Mary’s, all mothers, all expressions of God's light -- praise and gratefulness this day!

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

With two dogs we walk across Hosmer Pond. Shroud of moist air clouds Ragged and Bald Mountains as daylight lowers to white gray silhouette.
"Do you think the ice is thick enough?" is often asked by one of the four.
"Yes!" the repeated answer.

Another year about to end
In my empty mountain abode;
Rivers and clouds,
Their trails indistinct;
Pines and cedars,
Their natures the same.
I arise from my nap
To find the taro roots done;
As the incense fades out,
I finish a scripture.
Who knows that real pleasure
Lies within stillness and silence?

- Wen-siang (1210-1280)(

Sign on shop door says, "We're closed a few days, Happy New Year."

Smoke rises from house and cabin chimneys.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Body and breath. Carnal and spiritual. And the dissolving of all that is seen into the unseen.

As calendar year ends, so does all time transmute into no time. In brief: beneath the story we tell about life is life beyond story, among and within what is itself no story.

Have you not seen the idle person of Tao
Who has nothing to learn and nothing to do,
Who neither discards wandering thoughts
Nor seeks the truth?
The real nature of ignorance is
The illusory empty body
Is the Dharma body.

- Yung Chia Hsuan Chueh (665-713)

The story is history. What is now is what?
The open is God Mothering/Fathering. The body is God Christing. The breath is God Spiriting.

Let's call it a day. Let's call it a year. Let's call it a silence.

The words Di sent apply. "Beyond, among, within, beneath" -- is everything -- silence, stillness, solitude, and sanctuary.

In the beginning was the word. At end will be the gaze.

For now, only the open alone invites and conveys body and breath.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

As we live and breathe!

In Murder in the Cathedral about the killing of Thomas a Beckett in 1170 in Canterbury cathedral, the chorus intones,
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right thing for the wrong reason."

(--T.S. Eliot)

Jonathan Mondaldo is on New Dimensions Radio talking of Thomas Merton with Michael Thoms this 29Dec., the date Thomas a Becket is traditionally celebrated. Montaldo reads from the Asian Journal a prayer by Merton to God which includes the phrase, "because our being is in your being."

Is our last temptation to do the right thing for the wrong reason? To pretend to be God is most often recognized as madness. To disappear into God is holiness. But the middle path, to recognize what God is recognizing, engaging and enacting our being within the being of God, what is that called?

There is no need to pretend we are God. We are not mad.
There is no need to disappear into God. Everything is revealed as it is with God.
There is no need to look for the middle path. We are the middle path. We are only to look as what is traversing the way of God.

The right thing is to be what, where, and who we are.
The wrong reason is to think we are trying to become, do, or accomplish something else by pretending or practicing that which we aspire to.

As we live, and breathe, we come to see our being in God's being. Merton's prayer in Asia was one he embodied.

No temptation. No treason.

Live. Breathe.