Saturday, January 25, 2003

If we are meant to be intimate with the world, we must be intimate without holding or grasping. How is it not to be attached? Not detached?

For the world in its present
form is passing away.

(1Corinthians 7:31)

To live in intimacy with the world is to live in the world in a way that doesn't hold tight to it, but lets go. Not grasping fast to that which is passing on and changing, but surrendering to the transformation of the world.

What is transforming the world?
What Is Itself transforms the world.

Cover your path
With fallen pine needles
So no one will be able
To locate your
True dwelling place.

- Ikkyu (1394-1481)

Our true dwelling place is What Is Itself.

Where is that true dwelling place? Perhaps Ikkyu is suggesting that true dwelling place is not the same for everyone. Each must find their own. There is no duplication.

This is why in a Laura of travellers to their true dwelling places they pause temporarily dwelling in radiant circumference to each other. They see each others' smoke rising from chimney. They hear footsteps crunching cold snow in passing. They greet the other, mostly in the silence of their eyes, when nearing the others' dwelling.

To dwell lightly in this world is to dwell intimately on the earth, near each other, letting go and surrendering to What Is Itself.

Our true dwelling place is right here right now revealing Itself.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Ed goes to walk dog. He doesn't like what Rumsfeld is doing or saying in Washington. He says he'll send me something from a German paper decrying recent comments by the secretary of defense.

Last night Dick brought in a Peanuts cartoon. Linus is poised to throw a snowball. Lucy approaches with finger raised, saying "Here's a Gentle Reminder...If you throw that snowball at me, I'll break every bone in your stupid body!" The final frame shows Linus dropping the snowball, saying, "Saved by a Gentle Reminder." (Published 1/23/03)
Dick says is sums up perfectly the situation with Iraq.

I let mind and body go
And gained a life of freedom
My old age is taking place
Among ten thousand peaks
I don’t let white clouds
Leave the valley lightly
I escort the moon as far
As my closed gate.

- Han-shan Te-ch’ing (1546-1623)(

A woman is looking for book by Theodore Roethke. I tell her of my fondness for his poem The Manifestation.
His koan in the final three lines:
What does what it should do needs nothing more.
The body moves, though slowly, toward desire.
We come to something without knowing why.

Many worry what we will come to should war occur with Iraq. It's good Ed and Dick aren't in the shop at the same time. There is something to be said for not having a dictator ruling with iron fist in disregard of his country's people. Ed would refer this statement to Mr. Bush, Dick to Mr. Hussein.

Hughie and Sam talk boats and submersibles with Peter and Joan. Joan opens letter from grandson with a picture from Chateau d' Oex of a cow hot air balloon. Susan reads letters from stepmother and the major in Florida. "Hello everybody --- Life is good in USA," is how he opens the letter.

Wind chill is still below zero. Tom the mailman doesn't remember such a long spell of piercing cold. "It's going to get warmer, right?" he asks. "Don't you think?" is the response.

Laughter and vying to carry the narrative rebound off brick fireplace as Sam pokes and adds wood to stubborn fire.
Life, at least in this small space, carries on in stories, remembering with coffee and tea, the telling of ourselves in the company of others.

"It's always more comfortable to stay where you are more comfortable," says Hughie. Some nodding follows.

The UPS man brings latest issue of Maine Boats & Harbors, The Magazine of the Coast. In the magazine, Peter H. Spectre, in an article "Mal de Mer," ends his story about a ferry crossing with the following:
Or, as the humorist Josh Billings once wrote, "One of the best temporary cures for pride and affectation is seasickness; a man who wants to vomit never puts on airs."

The nautical solution to the current winds of war might be an invitation to Mr. Bush and Mr. Hussein to take a ferry ride together and talk about how to humanely and sensibly conclude their uncertain travels with each other.

They, like Roethke’s final line, might come to something without knowing why.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Dredging is finished. Harbor is bare. And deeper.

The unwillingness to live sharing who we are and what we have is crippling the human race. This is the Christian secret: God and humankind are not two, not one. Each is itself. The Christ has realized the secret. The Christ shows there is no secret. All is revealed from the beginning. Do we see?

The contemporary view of abundance and the attainment thereof needs revisioning. Intention doesn't accomplish riches.

Rather, abundance is the reality of all creation. It's all there. But for one thing. That thing is the necessity for humankind to let go what they grasp onto as their personal and sole possession and enter empty into the fullness of all things.

Each belongs to itself. No one owns anything. We can only exercise right of use. Proper exercise and use of what is right – this is what keeps us healthy.

For us today, poverty is an enemy to destroy. To Francis and Jesus poverty was a grace. What is ungraceful is our penchant to sequester and hoard what is necessary for the lives of others.

There is nothing wrong with wealth. Many claim much good is accomplished by wealth. And it is.
What always surprises is a belief system that suggests poor people are either undeserving or undesiring of abundance.

Sunlight streams on the river stone.
From high above, the river steadily plunges.
Three thousand feet of sparkling water,
The Milky Way pouring down from heaven.

- Li T’ai-po (701-?)

If tomorrow a catastrophe demolishes with the force of cataclysmic destruction, and all material financial wealth is eradicated in this apocalypse, then who is richer than another? Who is neighbor worth anything? Who shares water? Who shares bread? Who comforts the suffering? Who clothes broken bodies? Who heals splintered spirits? Who has words of solace? Who walks with another to safety? Who pronounces our name with love?

It escapes me how we can so easily forget who we are in each other's lives. Is devastation our only wake-up stick? Are the final gifts we receive following the loss of everything else: 1) our realization we’ve been ignorant, and, 2) our recognition we’ve forgotten why we were born?

Will our realization and recognition result in simplicity of awareness and remembrance at the end?
Allowing each to be itself, acknowledging each as itself – these are gifts.

We can practice now, if we choose, the simplicity of final gifts.

Is this, finally, how heaven pours out from us?

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Wait and see!


The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again,
I heard them say,
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

The wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again;
the dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed,
the marriage spent;
the widowhood
of every government--
signs for all to see.

Can't run no more
With that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned up
a thundercloud
They're going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
There is no drum.
Every heart
To love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

(-- From: "Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs," by Leonard Cohen
McClelland & Stewart, 1993)

It once seemed that 'wait and see' was a lukewarm delaying tactic phrased by skeptical speaker. Now 'wait and see' means just what it says.

Wait -- be patient, attentive, and willing to sit or stand for a while. In fact, the notion of ‘waiting’ is not really waiting. It is being patient, that is, allowing what is there to be there. It is attentive, which is alert, present, and watchful. And it is willing to be still in mind and/or body, a stillness that does not try to solve or chase away the matter at hand.

See -- just see. Allow the hidden connections to reveal themselves. Permit what is revealing itself to emerge in its own manifestation. Let the fact and reality display its full shape and form inch-by-inch, piece-by-piece.

So, to wait and see is an act of profound faith that what is there is there, and what is not there is not there. No lukewarm delaying, no skeptical doubt. Rather a trust that whatever reveals itself is the will of God at that instant in that form. To wait and see is no longer wary doubt. It is joyful hope at what is coming in our midst.

Some ask whether God wills evil. I don't know. I'd prefer to wait and see whether the evil being done will crack open to reveal a light through it that will heal and transform. Leonard Cohen’s words suggest the crack in everything is how the light gets in.

In the ultimate stillness
Light penetrates the whole realm;
In the still illumination,
There pervades pure emptiness.
When I look back on the
Phenomenal world,
Everything is just
Like a dream.

- Han-shan Te-Ch'ing

At Meetingbrook, light searches for the crack in our thinking. If we pray, is that the crack? If we wait and see, is that a trusting which reveals what we need to know and do?
Stay where and as we are? Speak with others about a fuller, more consolidated expression of three interests:
1. A Laura Common, (that is, A Loosely Knit Community of Individuals Practicing Spirituality in The Thin Place).
2. A Schola Contemplationis et Gratia, (that is, An Open Ongoing Place of Community and Hospitality of Contemplation, Conversation, and Correspondence) to practice with others, speak and learn with others, and enter into engaged service with others.
3. A Community Cafe, Bakery, & Bookshop, that is, a meeting place for the intersection of generations (young with older), perspectives (spiritual, intellectual, personal experience and stories), and service (engaged extension into prison, nursing home, shut-ins, and other places of human need and caring.)

Would this place be in a former Inn that could house and serve these and other events? A place with room for chapel, meditation hall, library, cafe, rooms for retreatants, visitors to area? A place for conversation, poetry, music, art, exploring new expressions of healthy meaningful neighborliness? And would there be enough generosity of vision, spirit, and finances to create a solid and simple community resource that is self-sustainable?

Whether war or community, we wait and see. There are so many reasons for human beings to go their own way, grab what they can, and hoard their fears, talents, and loneliness. Is there heart enough to travel together to a still quiet place of joyful engagement and aloneness with each other?

We watch and pray.

Will you too watch and pray, wait and see?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

A cranky friend writes,

Wrong again. It's not George Bush or Saddam Hussein. It's the thoughts of people that are causing all the problem. The leaders just out picture the
force that's already there. When we as a people can learn to control our thoughts and out picture all that's good then peace will come; meanwhile join
the race, human that is...


Returning from southern Maine it is hard not to be surprised by the crowdedness and busyness there.

Still, one's hermitage is one's heart.
The old timers say, "Don't leave your hermitage!"

I have discarded the world of fame and profit.
How elegant is the morning sun
Shining on the rafters and eaves.
How cool are the terrace and pond after the rain.
I burn incense to break the deep silence,
And drink the spring water and relax in joy.
I penetrate into the wonders of Tao,
And chant ancient sutras.
When my mind is at ease, my spirit is gay.
When understanding is gained,
There is nothing left to comprehend.
Who can say that the realm of Tao is far from us?
How tranquil it is;
As at the beginning of Heaven and Earth.

- Ni T'san (1301-1374)

What howling winds shriek between the mountains! Wind chill will average -25degrees tonight.

Heaven and earth begin in our thoughts and come to reside in our hearts.
It is there we pray. It is there we ponder. It is there we attempt to say, "Father! Mother! My home!"

There may be nothing left to comprehend.

Still, one's heart is one's hermitage.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

If solitude is the teacher, silence the teaching – then we are students just beginning the practice of learning.
If silence is the language of God, creation God's body -- then we are words filled with breath and emptiness.

If we are not deep listening, not loving speech -- then no other prayer can emerge from this human existence to reveal to us the Holy Spirit of Love and Truth.

Divination showed my place
among these bunched cliffs
where faint trails cut off
traces of men and women.
What’s beyond the yard?
White clouds embracing hidden rocks.
Living here still
after how many years
over and over
I’ve seen spring and winter
Get the word to families
with bells and cauldrons
empty fame has no value.

- Han-shan

Who will deeply listen to George Bush as he talks war? Who will lovingly speak to Saddam Hussein as he listens for drones of destruction?

Who knows silence and the ways of silence?

Perhaps if we weep for the imprisoned and terrified peoples everywhere, Saddam Hussein will look off to the distance where our weeping sounds itself.

Perhaps if we weep for the privileged and wealthy elite everywhere, George Bush will pause listening to see where the sound of sorrow faces itself.

We are losing the Catholic Christian Church; it has forgotten Christ. We are losing the United States of America; it has forgotten the unity of we the people.

Christ is not wanted in the church, and is let go. Liberty and justice for all is not wanted in America, and is buried under mounds of money tagged with the words 'private, corporate interest.'

To those who want war rather than justice, and to those who prize institutions over ordinary people, Han-shan says, "empty fame has no value."

Solitude is the body of God. Silence is the language of God.

Stillness reveals what forgetting conceals. It is time to remember.

Pray for remembrance!