Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bells chime into solid cold. Firewood catches in kitchen stove.

If you understand the first word of Zen
You will know the last word.
The last word or the first word,
Is not a word.

- Wu-men

Ice collars stone in brook, pushes land at edge of pond.

He sends hailstones like crumbs -- who can withstand his cold?
He will send out his word, and all will be melted; his spirit will breathe, and the waters will flow.
(from Psalm 147)

This 7th day of Christmas is New Years Eve.

Mostly, it is Saturday night.

It is a matter of faith that waters will again flow.

Today we watch ice. In time, watch water.

Happy New Year!

Not a word.

Be, as is, is.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Chimes pause. Wind takes a breath.

Cold night, no wind, bamboo making noises,
Noises far apart, now bunched together,
Filtering the pine-flanked lattice.
Listening with ears is less fine than
Listening with the mind.
Beside the lamp I lay
Aside the half scroll of sutra

- Hsu-t'ang Chih-yu

I prefer mountain streams rather than mountain tops. Tumbling down Ragged Mountain, water dances just ahead of clutching cold fingers forming ice.

Watching what passes where you pause to be what is passed.

This 6th day of Christmas.

Water seeks lower ground.

Tonight, low ground.

Lowering water.

Chants in dark.



Thursday, December 29, 2005

They're not only words.

Woman from Bangkok visiting shop said she wasn't going to convert to Christianity. Her friend wants her to. She'll remain Buddhist, she says. She likes the shop. Her companion says to her on way out, "I guess I know where you'll be spending time tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning I'll be in prison, God willing, meeting with sixteen students in final interviews.

One glance at the morning star,
And the snow got even whiter.
The look in his eye
Chills hair and bones.
If earth itself hadn't
Experienced this instant,
Old Shakyamuni never would have happened.

- Daito (1282-1334)

It is the 5th day of Christmas. Rain drenches Maine. Snow trickles away.

The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: "You are a priest for ever, a priest of the priesthood of Melchisedech".
The Lord is at your right hand, and on the day of his anger he will shatter kings.

(-- from Psalm 109 {110})

Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by king's men carrying out what was perceived to be the will of Henry II. Edward Grim, a monk, observed the attack from the safety of a hiding place near the altar. He told, finally, what he saw and heard. In this country, we long for someone who has seen and heard to come out of hiding, tell from the inside the intrigue and hushed tones that have brought us to such a awkward resemblance of who and what democracy and republic longs to be.

Kings kill Archbishops and Bishops. They are killed in large English cathedrals and small Latin American country churches.

Becket, once close friend of King Henry, fell afoul averring he was now God's servant first and foremost. Kings don't like such standing. It sounds disloyal to them not to have their will first and foremost.
He had to take refuge in a French monastery for six years, and when he returned to his diocese four knights, inspired by careless words from the king, assassinated him in his cathedral on 29 December 1170 (St Thomas Becket, 1118 - 1170,

Playwright Jean Anouilh is quoted to say: "The only immorality is not to do what one has to do when one has to do it." And, "Propaganda is a soft weapon; hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way."
These are things kings must take into account.

Some in America worry that a king has insinuated himself into the nation's capitol. This king starts wars, orders torture, overlooks illegalities, assumes to himself whatever power available, has a fawning court, brooks no disloyalty, and carelessly uses words to rid his domain of troublesome opposition. At this year's end he busies himself cutting brush, riding bike, and putting into awkward words the 27th new explanation of exactly why he took us to war, why he expects all rights to be predicated on his discretion rather than on law or will of the people.

Novelist William Gaddis said, "There have never in history been so many opportunities to do so many things that aren't worth doing." It is troubling that so many are so distracted allowing this insinuating careless user of words the forum to say so little of value with so many foolish words.

Words are dangerous when spoken carelessly by kings and insinuation of king.

We pray for defusing sanity and sacredness to find voice.

We pray for new wording that will sound clear new perspective.

We pray for gathering of wise and visionary men and women who actually love the earth, love people, and love God -- who put their bodies where words are. Poet Daniel Berrigan said that, "Bodies belong where words are."

Let kings and rulers, pretenders and patronizers -- fade away as fades this year end.

No longer try to be rid of opposition. Rather, practice becoming free by entering words with care.

Words are that which fall from Word Itself.

Retrieve them.

Serve their origin.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We still kill innocents. When they are children, it breaks the heart.

To those with power to bring death -- it is a 'king of the hill' game they play. Except the game has taken on a different tactic since as children we played it on city street or farm mound. Now the game is not to care who is destroyed or killed. Those with power, guns, or bombs spray destruction on anyone in their way as they play their awful games of "This is mine" and "We are more pure" and "God has chosen me to kill you, because you are wrong."

From the Office of Readings:
Why are the nations in a ferment? Why do the people make their vain plans?

The kings of the earth have risen up; the leaders have united against the Lord, against his anointed.
"Let us break their chains, that bind us; let us throw off their yoke from our shoulders!"

The Lord laughs at them, he who lives in the heavens derides them.
Then he speaks to them in his anger; in his fury he throws them into confusion:
"But I -- I have set up my king on Sion, my holy mountain".

(from Psalm 2)

This 4th day of Christmas we remember with sorrow those innocents killed by kings who court visibility and adulation; and we watch with wary worry those who would repeat, endlessly, torture and destruction for ends they can measure and store away in vaults.

If we are to understand holiness, we have to come face to face with innocence. The metaphor of Christ the King feels awkward. Especially king of an invisible kingdom. And what do we make of innocence?

Mindful innocence (that is, aware unknowing) is not the same as willful ignorance (that is, arrogant certitude). To be certain, and not to question the point of view held -- is a recipe for prolonging suffering. Alternately, to be and remain open to the spirit of unfolding reality taking place right in front of us -- is to not know the direction we are being asked to follow until it is presented (suddenly, surprisingly) for our response.

Why remain open?

Why? This is everyone's favorite question. No one ever says:
Because our bags are always packed and we hear footsteps
on the stairs. Because the dark feels unwashed and incomplete
and Maimonides said, "When the Messiah comes war will end,
God's blessings will be on all men." Because we have a God
who never dies and never comes and it's three in the morning
and I'm walking a crying baby around, singing lullabies Grandma
sang to me. Because I expect nothing and what I expect defines me.
Because the world exists without us but without us it is nothing.
Because all my life I've been afraid of the next page. Because
nothing is explained and my old bedroom shadows are thriving
and the floor tilts west toward Lake Ontario where all the snow
comes from. Because it's getting late and I'm in bed, waiting
for Mother to come kiss me good night, like she promised.

(from "Poems No. 1, 56 and 80" by Philip Schultz from Living in the Past.

We remain open to honor the innocents who have gone before and those that will follow.

The kings of this world vie for hills and vaults. The king of that mysterious place called heaven dwells in open inner receptivity -- that is, within aware unknowing presence.

Heaven helps those who help their selves enter true Self.

Nan Merrill's transformational companion to the psalms words Psalm 2 in the following way:
Why do nations and people plot against
one another,
setting themselves apart and conspiring
against the Beloved and those
who follow Love's way?
They say to themselves, "We are free
of Love's law;
humility and service are for others."

The Beloved, who is ever present, can but
smile at their foolishness,
knowing that one day, they will
fall to their knees in regret.
They do not hear the Beloved's firm and
steadfast voice:
"I have set Love in your hearts,
my dwelling place."

(from Psalm 2, in Psalms For Praying, An Invitation to Wholeness, by Nan C. Merrill)

So much depends on wording.

So much, on where we dwell.

Love the open inner heart.

Broken, open.

Be innocent.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

John says God is light.

If so, every drop of water carries God.

Evening mountains veiled in somber mist;
One path entering the wooded hill:
The monk has gone off locking his pine door.
From a bamboo pipe a lonely trickle of water flows

- Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672)

And every sky narrates God's story.

The skies tell the story of the glory of God,
the firmament proclaims the work of his hands;
day pours out the news to day,
night passes to night the knowledge.

Not a speech, not a word,
not a voice goes unheard.
Their sound is spread throughout the earth,
their message to all the corners of the world.

--from Psalm 18 (19)

Creation conspires to breathe life through and through.

John is worth listening to:
Something which has existed since the beginning,
that we have heard,
and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched
and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life --
this is our subject.
That life was made visible:
we saw it and we are giving our testimony,
telling you of the eternal life
which was with the Father and has been made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard
we are telling you
so that you too may be in union with us,
as we are in union
with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.

This is what we have heard from him,
and the message that we are announcing to you:
God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.
If we say that we are in union with God
while we are living in darkness,
we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light,
as he is in the light,
we are in union with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin in us;
we are deceiving ourselves
and refusing to admit the truth;
but if we acknowledge our sins,
then God who is faithful and just
will forgive our sins and purify us
from everything that is wrong.
To say that we have never sinned
is to call God a liar
and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world's.

We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.

(1 John 1:1 - 2:3)

Let's settle sin for today. Sin is refusal to let light be seen in one another. Sin is the way we turn from works in the light to deceit in the night. Sin is intentional unawareness and willful unacceptance of what is of another.

God's commandments are simple. Only this: love transparency, serve transparently. Be alone what is true; only see with undivided heart, undivided mind.

John has always had a way with love and light.

Now it's ours to wake and wander with clear sight.

This third day of Christmas.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Stephen was murdered.

Some political religious group wanted their way -- and he was in it. Stephen was marked as traitor and terrorist by men who were really zealots and terrorists. It is considered good form to label others what you are and punish them while you stand aloof and behind their suffering. Anyone working to relieve poverty and equalize inequities -- then and today -- is considered unpatriotic, enemy, and dangerous. Trumped charges and false witnesses rendered him a doomed man. Rendition works.

Dissatisfaction concerning the distribution of alms from the community's fund having arisen in the Church, seven men were selected and specially ordained by the Apostles to take care of the temporal relief of the poorer members. Of these seven, Stephen, is the first mentioned and the best known.

He is a man for our time. He is a man for our country. His story should haunt Americans.

As should the Christmas story.

That the Christmas story is a protest against empire may not be noted much among us not only because of the blinding familiarity of the story, but also for another reason. We are the empire, the world's sole and reigning superpower, whose military and economic power stretches to every land. The American empire is, I hope and believe, more benign than many of its predecessors, but for Americans today, the Christmas story brings not only comfort and joy, but caution and challenge.

Our American story, whether told as the story of political freedom or of free markets, is not the only story. There are other cultures and peoples whose stories bear their own truth and power -- and which deserve our respect. Moreover, God has a story, too, and this story tells us that things are not always what they seem to be. Most of all, the Christmas story warns against the Achilles' heel of every empire, pride and pretension. In her song of ecstatic praise, the Magnificat, Mary sings of God who "has scattered the proud in the imaginations of their thoughts." "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly." If the Christmas story once again warms our hearts, as I hope it does, it is also a story that sends a chill upon every empire.

(--by Anthony Robinson, a pastor of the United Church of Christ, Published on Monday, December 26, 2005 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "A Story to Warm Hearts and Chill Empires," by Anthony B. Robinson)

The sweetness of the manger scene, shepherds, livestock, and angels is winsome story. The underlying power -- the poignant story that the surface story masks -- is told by master story tellers, with an eye to preserving the truth for future understanding, tucked away in plain sight.

I'm unsure Christians know what it means to be Christian.

Here's Stephen at end:
7:55. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

7:56. And they, crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears and with one accord ran violently upon him.

7:57. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.

7:58. And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

7:59. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not his sin to their charge: And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And Saul was consenting to his death.

(--from Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 7,

On second thought, maybe those who really understand the Christian vocation know that they are at odds with the political powers of this world, and they will not be assimilated. Rather, they hide. Sometimes, in plain sight.

Meanwhile, those who play at Christianity -- who conjugate political power with religious pretense, whoop up their faith and ready their ammunition to take out threats to single-minded belief in assimilation and moral superiority -- remain very visible, professing, and doctrinaire.

To long for the kingdom of heaven today is to long for the Jesus born to Mary -- to long for peace beyond understanding, and to long for reality that dwells in the midst of, but not subject to, mendacity, cynicism, and ruthless ambition.

It is the second day of Christmas.

Stephen's day.

Celebrate his warning!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

"Becoming One-Like, Us"
(from prayer, Christmas liturgy, punctuation added)

Near (ness)
Love (ing),

This day

Near (ly) accomplished;

Stranger) --

We are...


(What a sight to

And so it is...

(-- Poem for Christmas, 25December2005, by Bill Halpin, with gratefulness for each and all)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Walking path to brook over bridge knocking branches laden with fresh snow as dawn rises. In cabin woodstove sleepy sticks slip out of cold tightness stretching into valiant effort small flame embraces and devours with abandon.

In my middle years I love the Tao
And by Deep South Mountain I make my home.
When happy I go alone into the mountains.
Only I understand this joy.
I walk until the water ends, and sit
Waiting for the hour when clouds rise.
If I happen to meet an old woodcutter,
I chat with him, laughing and lost to time.

- Wang Wei (699-759)

Mute light rises from mist over fragile snow. Hosmer Pond bathes magical white. Fir pine trees hang limbs to ground.

Light rises, as it does, through old split apple trees.

Sits solitude.

Lauding resonates.

Day unfolds prayer.

Christ comes through this.

Friday, December 23, 2005


That's the name. Not a place; a presence.

The Lord is near to those who call on him,
to all those who call on him in truth.

--from Psalm 144 (145)

Truth, they say, is just like this.

Hence: presence this.

Near truth.

Go ahead...


Thursday, December 22, 2005

"The Spirit travels only through the open."

That's what Billy said. He thought the Spirit had been sent away from the Roman Catholic Church by them and has found an inspiring welcome elsewhere. "They thought they owned the Spirit because they made its words into true statements used exclusively by them at the mass."

In the car, idling in parking lot behind Pen Bay Hospital, Billy was speaking to Saskia and I about the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer. We'd been to morning service at St Peter's Episcopal Church in Rockland. (Megen took a ring, blessed by those attending, and said she did not want to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into heaven -- but wished to openly respond to the Divine Lover's invitation.) We sat in small, chilly room under bell tower where bell tolled in stately remembrance of what bells remember. They've been doing this Wednesday mornings since 9/11.

I thought (while driving route 1 east) of all the times I'd not said what Billy said while attending those true statements and feeling no sense of what was curiously absent. Spirit is not a hidden, legal, or dogmatic possession.

Lute Music

The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents --
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once --

Here at the year's end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts --
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses --
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

(Poem: "Lute Music" by Kenneth Rexroth from Sacramental Acts. Copper Canyon Press."

This is not to say that some victory is won in a denominational game of "Who's Got The Spirit?" (available for purchase in time for the holidays). Nor do I run from bath exclaiming "Eureka!" having solved an equation useful for moving the world. No, rather, it is a thought that has occurred many times while watching in silence the modes of meditative innerness and presentational exteriority in various churches over dozens of years.

The psalmist wrote:
But now, God, you have spurned us and confounded us,
so that we must go into battle without you.
You have put us to flight in the sight of our enemies,
and those who hate us plunder us at will.
You have handed us over like sheep sold for food,
you have scattered us among the nations.

You have sold your people for no money,
not even profiting by the exchange.
You have made us the laughing-stock of our neighbours,
mocked and derided by those who surround us.
The nations have made us a by-word,
the peoples toss their heads in scorn.

All the day I am ashamed,
I blush with shame
as they reproach me and revile me,
my enemies and my persecutors.

-- Psalm 43 (44), from Office of Readings, Vigils

Church and State might not be so separated after all. When politics and approved interpretation becomes the inserted text substituting for the open and living 'word' of What Is True, What Is Holiness Itself -- something is not only lost, but something unseemly, opaque, and divisive is erected to wall in and wall out.

Kenneth Rexroth said, "Man thrives where angels would die of ecstasy and where pigs would die of disgust." And "I've never understood why I'm [considered] a member of the avant-garde... I [just] try to say, as simply as I can, the simplest and most profound experiences of my life."
(from "The Writer's Almanac" for Thursday, December 22, 2005)

Kenneth Rexroth translated this Japanese poem:
I have always known
That at last I would
Take this road, but yesterday
I did not know that it would be today.

{Tsui ni yuku
Michi to wa kanete
Kikishi kado
Kinoo kyoo to wa
Omowazarishi wo}

(poem by Ariwara no Narihira 825-880ce, translated by Kenneth Roxroth in One Hundred Poems from the Japanese),

It is, indeed, today.

Finally, Rumi:
Creatures are cups. The sciences and the arts and all branches of knowledge are inscriptions around the outside of the cups. When a cup shatters, the writing can no longer be read. The wine's the thing! The wine that's held in the mold of these physical cups. Drink the wine and know what lasts and what to love. The man who truly asks must be sure of two things: One, that he's mistaken in what he's doing or thinking now. And two, that there is a wisdom he doesn't know yet. Asking is half of knowing.

Everyone turns toward someone. Look for one scarred by the King's polo stick.

A man or a woman is said to be absorbed when the water has total control of him, and he no control of the water. A swimmer moves around willfully. An absorbed being has no will but the water's going. Any word or act is not really personal, but the way the water has of speaking or doing. As when you hear a voice coming out of a wall, and you know that it's not the wall talking, but someone inside, or perhaps someone outside echoing off the wall. Saints are like that. They've achieved the condition of a wall, or a door.

(-Translated by Coleman Barks with A.J. Arberry, From Enlightened Mind Edited by Stephen Mitchell)

Wish every wall a door.

Rumi is a door. "An absorbed being has no will but the water's going."
Christ-child is adorable. "For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord..." (Luke 2)

Nativity longs to pass through.

This day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Inmates in prison write final projects for Ethics class.

I read them in a solitude of watchfulness -- their words, their studies, their lives. As usual, at end of course, my quiet vow never to teach again.

One broken often.

Once you suddenly smash through,
and go on to make the leap beyond,
you will find that everything
around you and all that you do,
whether active or at rest,
is the scenery of the
fundamental ground,
the original Mind.
There will be not a hairsbreadth
of difference between you
and other things;
there will be no other thing.

- Daito (1282-1334)

As I read, I am in prison. I share a space with cellmate, a space too small by half for one person. I negotiate every passing inmate as one would a minefield. I have fifty years remaining in this space, everyday, with no hope of release. I cannot afford to be weak-minded, weak-bodied.

If there was faith to be had, what good would it be? No one understands. If anyone did, what would they understand?

For he knows how we are made,
he remembers we are nothing but dust.
Man -- his life is like grass,
he blossoms and withers like flowers of the field.
The wind blows and carries him away:
no trace of him remains.

-- from Psalm 102 (103)

I fade. Molecule by molecule, dropping away.

I'm told it is December, that it is solstice, that in a few days, Christmas.

Tonight, nothing other than inmates, prison, time without promise.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The president says he is protecting us by violating our laws.

It is hard to believe him.

The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They're not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are illusions. They're no different from things that appear in your dreams at night, be they palaces or carriages, forested parks or lakeside pavilions.
- Bodhidharma (d. 533)

Something happened to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. They believed their own stories about how important they were, how they could do anything they wanted and no congress, no court, no press, and certainly not the people would dare try to stop them.

I am lonely as a pelican in the wilderness,
as an owl in the ruins,
as a sparrow alone on a rooftop:
I do not sleep.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
they burn with anger and use my name as a curse.

-- from Psalm 101 (102)

It has happened. A corner has been turned. Messrs Bush and Cheney have shown themselves contemptuous of law and constitution. How did this happen? How long will it be allowed to continue?

The Christian world prepares to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In this oft self-designated Christian nation how did it come to be that murder, lies, deceit, torture, war, and bullying are committed and tolerated in the name of Jesus? Christians are relegated to being either cheerleaders or mute bystanders.

Refuge is needed. Protection becomes a paradoxical koan: To protect our way of life based on laws, is it right to break the law to prove paramount the rule of law? Are our leaders asking us to accept a lawless way of life?

We need a more profound liberation than that offered us by our protectors.

We pray Night Prayer:
Come quickly and hear me, O Lord,
for my spirit is weakening.

--from Psalm 142 (143)

Be calm and keep watch. The Devil, your enemy, is circling you like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, strong in faith.
1 Peter 5:8-9

Let us pray.
Of your kindness, Lord, dispel the darkness of this night, so that we your servants may go to sleep in peace and wake to the light of the new day, rejoicing in your name. Through Christ our Lord.

May the almighty Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A young Jewish girl is about to give birth. Her mind is clear. She knows nothing other than what is to be is coming to be.

If you misunderstand your mind,
you are an ordinary person;
if you realize your mind,
you are a sage.
There is no difference at all
whether man, woman, old,
young, wise, foolish, human,
animal, whatever.
Thus, in the Lotus of Truth assembly,
was it not the eight year old
Naga girl who went directly
south to the undefiled world Amala,
sat on a jewel lotus flower,
and realized universal complete enlightenment.

- Jakushitusu Genko (1290-1367)

Our stories and myths are thresholds across which we step to visit awhile a place beyond space beyond time beyond cause and effect.

Some say drop stories, and they have a good point of view. Some say drop myths, and they, too, offer good advice. Still, these thresholds are invitations bypassing points of view and advice worth heeding. The danger is we will remember the stories and forget the present moment. The difficulty is we might entertain the myth but ignore the current reality longing to emerge with our clear and present attention.

For who else is for me, in heaven?
On earth, I want nothing when I am with you.
My flesh and heart are failing,
but it is God that I love:
God is my portion for ever.

-- from Psalm 72 (73)

Portion suggests part of a whole, or part separated from a whole. If God is my portion, then what is the whole of it?

The Jewish girl nears us in story and myth.

In her nearing we see that the question is the answer.

What is -- is -- the whole of it.

Birthing isn't portion. Birthing infuses what is throughout the whole.

Step carefully the threshold.

Pass through with care.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Omega Point. That's what Teilhard says. It approaches, Bede Griffiths says, as our consciousness changes. Reality appears different with new consciousness.

This mind, perfectly and fully realized, moves with a clear, tranquil spiritual awareness. It encompasses heaven, covers the earth, penetrates form, and rides with forbidding abruptness. It is a radiant light shining from the crown of your head, illuminating wherever you are; it is an awesome wind, rising up at each step you take, enveloping all things. If you are able to make this mind your own, then even though you do not seek excellence yourself, excellence comes to you of its own accord. Without seeking emancipation, you are not hindered by a single thing.
- Daito (1282-1334)

That's why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, called the Christ, each year. It's not a big thing. It's the only thing.

So many have such difficulty with Christmas. But, then again, so many have difficulty with any consciousness that sees into, through, and beyond what is, "what is" itself beyond our thinking.

What is it that enters this existence and births what is?

See that, and we see our own birth. See our own birth, and we see the birth and death of each and every being, of the earth and world within and beyond space and time, beyond cause and effect. See with this mind and resurrection is once again a wholeness of humankind/sentient beings, the earth and planets, and what we call God Itself.

"...[S]aid Mary 'let what you have said be done to me.' And the angel left her." (Luke 1:38)

The angel, as it must, departs.

Leaving Mary alone.

With her.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

"The play's the thing..." (-From Hamlet, II, ii, 633)

Not the players, nor the celebrities; not the professors, nor the athletes; not the CEOs, nor the elected officials and judges. There is entirely too much misidentification of the play (which is vital) with the players (who have become darlings and demigods of contemporary culture).

Students of today get nowhere because they base their understanding upon the acknowledgment of names. They inscribe the words of stone dead old guys in a great big notebook, wrap it up in four or five squares of cloth, and won't let anyone look at it. "This is the Mysterious Principle," they aver, and safeguard it with care. That's all wrong. Blind idiots! What kind of juice are you looking for in such dried-up bones!"
- Lin-chi (d.866)

Lin-Chi's fierce passion suggests looking at sometime more alive and perhaps something with more simplicity, modesty, and truth.

I am the Lord, unrivalled;
there is no other God besides me.
Though you do not know me, I arm you
that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
that, apart from me, all is nothing.

(from Isaiah 45:1 - 13 )

I'm fond of this "no other" God. This one reminds me of the Buddha's last words to his friends: "Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation."

So much depends on how we see and read the words "your own" -- and how we understand "salvation."

The "no other" God who sees, in the prophet Isaiah's words, "that, apart from me, all is nothing" -- is the God of (from, with) whom the Christ emerges.

The simplicity, modesty, and truth of what is itself disappeared into the reality appearing and playing out into everydayness -- this is for me, today, a glimpse into Lin-Chi's passion.

Not the person, but what is itself sounding through. Not the particular athlete, but what inserts itself into the play when they act. Not the spiritual teacher, but what reveals itself through their presence or words.

Have we forgotten how to play well? Not the outcome, nor the adulation; not the cult of personality, nor the pride of ego feigning "I did this!"

No other, nothing apart.

All together now:

Play well!

Friday, December 16, 2005

No need to call anything other than what it is.

There is a simple way to become a buddha. When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate to all sentient beings...not excluding or desiring will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else. (Eihei Dogen, in "Moon in a Dewdrop")

Don't even seek to be called what you are.


You are.



Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chocolate pudding with whipped cream.

Jewels are tested with fire, gold is tested with a stone; a sword is tested with a hair, water is tested with a pole. In the school of the patchrobed monks, in one word, one phrase, one act, one state, one exit, one entry, one encounter, one response, you will see whether someone is deep or shallow, you will see whether he is facing forwards or backwards. But tell me, what will you use to test him with?
- Yuan-wu (1063-1135)

Test him with chocolate pudding and whipped cream.

You, Lord, are my inheritance and my cup. You control my destiny,
the lot marked out for me is of the best, my inheritance is all I could ask for.
I will bless the Lord who gave me understanding; even in the night my heart will teach me wisdom.
I will hold the Lord for ever in my sight: with him at my side I can never be shaken.
Thus it is that my heart rejoices, heart and soul together; while my body rests in calm hope.

(- from Night Prayer, Psalm 15, 16)

Kalliopeia, that which "works to support the evolution of a world culture that honors the underlying unity at the heart of life's rich diversity," humbles us with a gift, out of the blue.

They say: "In devotion to the Essence that unites all as one..."

We say: Blessings of the day and quiet serenity of the night.

We are facing every way that You, O Honored Guest, appear.

With gratitude.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No wonder...we shun God.

John of the Cross' mystical experience, which he also called infused contemplation, meant a real experience of union with God.

Truth's naked radiance,
Cut off from the sense and the world,
Shines by itself.
No words for it.

- Pai-chang (720-814)

The idea we have of God is not God. Nothing but God is God. Itself alone is God Itself.

St. John implies that the experience of contemplation is an intersubjective experience. The person experiences God within him, not as an object or thing about which something is known, but simply as a whole, a subject. God is present to him in a way analogous to the way he is present to himself.

"At this time God does not communicate Himself through the senses as He did before, by means of the discursive analysis and synthesis of ideas, but begins to communicate Himself through pure spirit by an act of simple contemplation, in which there is no discursive succession of thought."

It is love in informing and vivifying faith that allows faith to attain to this sort of knowledge. Love of its nature is geared to the subject, and divine love lifts the person to a subject- to-subject relationship to God. Contemplation "which is knowledge and love together, that is, loving knowledge" is the beginning of the experience of this new relationship. In it love is strong enough that it draws knowledge with it, so there results an experience of the within, God present as a self in the heart of the limited human self.

(from St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung, Part II: THE DAWN OF CONTEMPLATION, Chapter 3: St. John and the Beginning of Contemplation, by James Arraj,

John of the Cross, (1542 - 1591), joined with Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582) to reform and deepen the religious life of Carmelites and the times they lived. He knew suffering. The words of Eckhart Tolle, if applied to John, cast curious light on his life:
"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment". (E Tolle)

John's consciousness was profound. As was his suffering.

"Man is a certain immensity. In his relation to the universe he is more than a part: he is a center, a totality, a culmination."
"(W)ithout man the universe is truncated and inexplicable: it has no center, no ultimate, no issue. It is nowhere conscious; therefore at no point does it take possession of its own being, and so it does not exist intrinsically... Man is the intrinsic end of the world, and is the relatively last end for the world."

(Arraj, quoting from -The Theology of the Mystical Body, by Emile Mersch, Herder, St. Louis, 1951,)

Man is center, God is center; man is end, God is end.

Shun man, shun God.

It's what we do without wonder.

Let's diminish our lack of it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

At 12:01am Tuesday another man will be killed. We know about this one. He's been convicted of murder himself, and been on death row since 1981.

LOS ANGELES - As word spread this afternoon that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had turned down Stanley Tookie Williams' last-ditch bid for clemency, reaction was muted on the streets where Williams launched the Crips gang 35 years ago.(San Jose Mercury News - online, By Patrick May. LOS ANGELES)

May he, and all those departing and departed, with the mercy that remains us of God, rest in peace.

What remains for us to do?

Would that God re-mind us!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Moonlight on snow during zazen in cabin. Soft candlelight inside. Kerosene lanterns on path from barn.

Woodstove a balanced harmony of heat and clear air.

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16)

I don't know why it is; I do know that it is -- at times everything falls into place and nothing is other than it is.

A wandering monk was climbing a mountain alongside a stream, on his way to the Zen monastery at the top, when he noticed a vegetable leaf floating downstream from the direction of the monastery. He thought, "It is just a single leaf, but any place that would waste it cannot be very good," and he turned to go back down the mountain. Just then he saw a lone monk come running down the path, chasing after the floating leaf. Immediately the wandering monk decided to enroll in the monastery at the top of the mountain.
- Hsueh-feng I-ts'un (822-908)

Around table in silence reading of Teilhard, Hildegard, and Berry -- the need to relieve the divine its burden of being God. Free humans their obsession of feeling enslaved. Allow nature release from rapacious progress in what erroneously is called economy.

Four shared the monastic ritual sitting, walking, chanting compline, reading as lectio, eating in silence, sharing reflections in words, departing in quiet appreciation. "Four harpies," we were, Jory said, "holding the space, preserving temple ritual."

In earlier versions of Greek myth, Harpies were described as beautiful, winged maidens. (Encyclopedia Mythica)

We read the New Zealand lecture on cosmotheandric spirituality and the feminine -- quoting Richard Tarnas saying the need for the feminine does not negate the work laid down by the masculine -- but a balanced harmony must emerge. A new creative act is called for.

So we act on our lives. Moon inspiring. Snow refreshing. Light revealing.

Not why we are, but that we are, here doing this. Tonight, it is enough.

Compline's end: That awake, we might keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

Now, Lord...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Transition day of Thomas Merton -- 37 years ago, 1968.

Cloud Barrier pierced, the old path's gone.
Clear sky, bright sun, my true home.
Activity's wheel turns freely beyond men.
Golden Kasyapa departs,
Hands clasped on his chest.

- Daito (1282-1334)

We like Thomas Merton. Something about him captures our attention, silence, and service.

Even when he performs some meritorious action, he scrupulously points out his mixed motives. Here he is on the way to hospital to be treated for appendicitis:
'In the Fourteenth Street subway there was a drunk. And he was really drunk. He was lying prostrate in the middle of the turnstiles, in everybody's way. Several people pushed him and told him to get up and get out of there, but he could not even get himself up on his feet.
I thought to myself: "If I try to lift him out of there, my appendix will burst, and I too will be lying there in the turnstiles along with himÂ?. With my nervousness tempered by a nice warm feeling of smugness and self-complacency, I took the drunk by the shoulders and laboriously hauled him backwards out of the turnstiles and propped him up against the wall. He groaned feebly in protest.
Then, mentally congratulating myself for my great solicitude and charity towards drunks, I entered the turnstile and went down to take the train to the hospital. As I looked back, over my shoulder, from the bottom of the stairs, I could see the drunk slowly and painfully crawling back towards the turnstile, where he once again flung himself down, prostrate, across the opening, and blocked the passage as he had done before.'
Thus he skillfully deflates the whole drama and convinces the reader that the act was at once infinitely unimportant and infinitely worth doing. This is, of course, true of everything we do; but the truth is easier to assimilate when you see it in action.


I think I like the ambiguity of the equation: In our nothingness, we matter; In our significance, we are nothing.

The Candlemas Procession

Ad revelationem gentium.

Look kindly, Jesus, where we come,
New Simeons, to kindle,
Each at Your infant sacrifice his own life's candle.

And when Your flame turns into many tongues,
See how the One is multiplied, among us, hundreds!
And goes among the humble, and consoles our sinful

It is for this we come,
And, kneeling, each receive one flame:
Ad revelationem gentium.

Our lives, like candles, spell this simple symbol:
Weep like our bodily life, sweet work of bees,
Sweeten the world, with your slow sacrifice.
And this shall be our praise:
That by our glad expense, our Father's will
Burned and consumed us for a parable.

Nor burn we now with brown and smoky flames, but
Until our sacrifice is done,
(By which not we, but You are known)
And then, returning to our Father, one by one,
Give back our lives like wise and waxen lights.

( - Poem by Thomas Merton, written in 1943)

I also like Nikos Kazantzakis:
Who were the two artists of ancient times who competed to see who could paint the visible world most faithfully? "Now I shall prove to you that I am the best," said the first, showing the other a curtain which he had painted. "Well, draw back the curtain," said the adversary, "and let us see the picture." "The curtain is the picture," replied the first with a laugh.
During this entire voyage of mine on the Aegean I had sensed with profundity that the curtain is truly the picture. Alas for him who tips the curtain in order to see the picture. He will see nothing but chaos.
I remained plunged in solitude's austere silence for many additional days. It was spring; I sat beneath the blossoming lemon tree in the courtyard, joyfully turning over in my mind a poem I had heard at Mount Athos: "Sister Almond Tree, speak to me of God." And the almond tree blossomed.
Truly, the curtain embroidered with blossoms, birds, and men - this must be God. This world is not His vestment, as I once believed; it is God himself. Form and essence are identical.
(In Report to Greco, p. 467, 468,

Outside kitchen window hillside resplendent with snow through bare branches.

Thomas Merton claims that silence is our admission that we have broken communication with God and are now willing to listen. We can be reduced to silence in times of doubt, uncertainty, nothingness, and awe. When we have exhausted all our human efforts, experience the limitations of human justice, or the finitude of human relationships, we are left with silence. Those who have experienced the sacrament of failure are more likely to know the emptying power of silence.
(From article, "Some Thoughts on Silence" by Kathryn Damiano,

Kazantzakis takes us through this sacrament.
No, the man who either hopes for heaven or fears hell cannot be free. (Report to Greco, p.332)

Kazantzakis' epitaph reads: "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free." (Δεν ελπίζω τίποτε. Δεν φοβάμαι τίποτε. Είμαι λεύτερος).

Merton's final words in public, after his lecture in Thailand on "Marxism and Monasticism" were, "There will be a question period after lunch, so I'll disappear." He did. He was electrocuted.

This afternoon, in public space of the shop, at one of the conversations, we'll renew our Meetingbrook Promises. (

Attentive presence. Root silence. Transparent service.

We promise; to practice.

Free; to disappear.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Waxing moon silver glow Bald Mountain's fresh cold snow. Cesco plows through several inches on night walk at Snow Bowl. Mu-ge comes in with us after 14 hours surrounded by white-fall.

The Way is basically perfect. It doesn't require perfecting. The Way has no form or sound. It's subtle and hard to perceive. It's like when you drink water. You know how hot or cold it is. But you can't tell others. Of that which only a tathagata knows, people and gods remain unaware. The awareness of mortals falls short. As long as they're attached to appearances, they're unaware that their mind is empty. And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things, they lose the Way.
- Bodhidharma (d. 533)

The men who are never held accountable smirk through sidelong comments as the spoiled fruit of their certainty falls blood staining to pieces in tired war. They plan retirement, lecture circuit, that place on the lake, lobbying income, memoirs and medals for their years of patriotic service. Give applause for the Secretary of Defense, for the President and cronies, for the smug know-it-alls who stick "think tank" on their lapels and pose as pedants to a dis-educated but appreciative audience.

The Ministry of Propaganda...

Retired generals in various cities
are interviewed nightly about the war.

The maps are shown and strategies
discussed with great enthusiasm.

Our troops are grabbing the bulls
by their horns. Resistance is soon

to be overcome. But resistance
to what is never quite defined.

The news anchors gaze upon
these guests with the admiration

until now shown only to movie stars.
There are no views represented

other than this gung-ho enthusiasm
for war. From every military base

intelligence and publicity personnel
fan out to offer their services to media

as part-time advisers and experts.
They explain and make palatable

all the President's policies, e.g.,
allowing no photos of flag-draped

coffins bound for Arlington or home
town cemeteries, though it would be

hard to find one that has not added
a few from overseas to its holdings.

Every technique described by Orwell
or practiced by Goebbels is in place,

but so far few have dared say so.

(Poem: "The Ministry of Propaganda..." by David Ray from The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars.)

I prefer Juan Diego meeting the woman in the mountains of Mexico. (Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" -- "the talking eagle" -- in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City, Mexico.)

I prefer Thomas Merton sweeping ashes in his hermitage. (And wondering why he is so public a monk and hermit.)

I prefer the appearance of humility and willingness to admit to what is real. (I'd rather disappear when arrogance starts pontificating its superiority.)

The technique of claiming the dependence of others then disdaining and dismissing those very people is the awkward skill of terrifying men.

War is terrible. It makes so many dead. It turns those who spawn it ugly.

We are being sold appearances

Turn away from them.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's 16 degrees. 8 inches of snow forecasted.

Having broken through Cloud Barrier
The living way is north, south, east, and west.
Evenings I rest, mornings I play,
No other, no self.
With each step a pure breeze rises.

- Daito (1282-1334)

Krishnamurti told some listeners his secret. He said, "I don't mind what happens."

That's wonderful!


There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons --
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes --

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us --
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are --

None may teach it -- Any --
'Tis the Seal Despair --
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air --

When it comes, the Landscape listens --
Shadows -- hold their breath --
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death --

(Poem: "258" by Emily Dickinson from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson)

In Florida an upset man made the mistake of being upset on a plane he wanted to exit from on a tarmac. Federal air marshals shot him dead. He got to be carried off the plane.

Mind such a thing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mary of Nazareth is conceived inseparate. Siddhartha Gautama sees morning star.

Truth's naked radiance,
Cut off from the senses
And the world,
Shines by itself
No words for it.

- Pai-chang Huai-hai (720-814)

John Lennon imagines twenty five years absence.

Su-Sane tonight said at conversation that when we see...something disappears.

See self.

This December 8th.

Conceive the intelligence of Life Itself.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Snowmaking over to snowbowl. You can hear the steady swoosh. They've decided cold is solid for a while.

Even if you can explain thousands of sutras and shastras, unless you see your own nature, yours is the teaching of a mortal, not a buddha. The true Way is sublime. It can't be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the Way, even if he can't read a word. Someone who sees his nature is a buddha. A buddha's body is intrinsically pure and can't be defiled. And everything he says is an expression of his mind. But since his body and expressions are basically empty, you can't find a buddha in words.
- Bodhidharma (d. 533)

The unitary is mountainside, snowmaker, quarter moon, and fragrance of red cabbage and roast pork gravy.

"I'm dishing," Saskia says.

Enough said.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I -- Prayer

Meetingbrook asks Itself for help.


What is Itself?

Let's say that the word "Itself" refers to God. Or to True Self. Or Authentic Being. Or, perhaps, the Ground-Fact of All Existence. "Itself" might refer to the Christ. Or the Buddha. "Itself" is even perfectly willing to drop its capital letters; even in lower case it retains its radiance.

Prayer and meditation are often annoying. During time engaging prayer and meditation one often asks, "What am I?" or "Who are you?" and even, "Is there any reason not to put an end to this particular existence?"

"Itself" is a word I came to love after reading Keiji Nishitani's Religion and Nothingness.

Carl Olson in his book published by SUNY Press, Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from the Representational, writes about Nishitani:
Thus, Nishitani refers to self-awareness as not-knowing, or knowing of nonknowing, which represents the self as an absolutely non-objective selfness that is only possible on the field of emptiness. After breaking through the field of consciousness and discovering oneself within the field of emptiness, one realizes the "in itself" -- ('jitai'), which is neither a substance nor a subject. This realization of the self-identity of things indicates directly the thing itself in its original mode of being. From within emptiness, one can grasp a thing in its original mode of being, which is neither a subjective nor substantial mode of grasping. The realization of the "in itself" ('jitai') is a nonobjective process that is entirely devoid of representation of any kind.
Nishitani disagrees with the postmodernists when they claim that the self cannot know itself. The self grounded in emptiness cannot only know itself, but can also know objects in the world, which is possible because the self is a not-knowing. Nishitani summarizes his position thus far: "Thus we can say in general that the self in itself makes the existence of the self as a subject possible, and that this not-knowing constitutes the essential possibility of knowing."
(p.124, Olson )

At Meetingbrook, the Itself, for the timebeing, serves as transparent and translucent way of seeing through what is now called God.

Wikipedia gives us a list of various ways God has been named:

Names of God

-- YHWH, the name of God or Tetragrammaton, in Phoenician (1100 BC to AD 300), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 0) and modern Hebrew scripts.
-- The noun God is the proper English name used for the deity of monotheistic faiths. Different names for God exist within different religious traditions:
-- Allah is the name used in Islam, although not exclusively so. "Allah" is Arabic for "the God", and is used by non-Muslim Arabs. Also, when speaking in other languages, Muslims often translate "Allah" as "God".
-- Yahweh Hebrew: 'YHVH', Elohim, and Jehovah are some of the names used for God in the Bible. Others include El Shaddai, Adonai, Amanuel, and Amen. When Moses asked "What is your name?" he was given the answer Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.
-- The name of God in Judaism for Jewish names of God. (Note: when written or typed as a proper noun, some observant Jews will use the form "G-d" to prevent the written name of God from becoming desecrated later on. Some Orthodox Jews consider this unnecessary because English is not the "Holy Language".)
-- The Holy Trinity (meaning the Father, the Son {Jesus Christ}, and the Holy Spirit/"Holy Ghost") denotes God in almost all mainstream Christianity.
-- God is called Igzi'abihier (lit. "Lord of the Universe") in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
-- Jah is the name of God in the Rastafari movement.
-- Some churches (United Church of Canada, Religious Science) are using "the One" alongside "God" as a more gender-neutral way of referring to God (See also Oneness).
-- The Maasai name for "God" is Ngai, which occurs in the volcano name Ol Doinyo Lengai ("the mountain of God").
-- The Mi'kmaq name for "God" is Niskam.
-- Ishvara is the term used for God among the Hindus. In Sanskrit, it means the Supreme Lord. Most Hindus worship the personal form of God or Saguna Brahman, as Vishnu, Shiva, or directly as the Supreme Cosmic Spirit Brahman through the Gayatri mantra. A common prayer for Hindus is the Vishnu sahasranama, which is a hymn describing the one thousand names of God. Ishvara must not be confused with the numerous deities of the Hindus. In modern Hindi, Ishvara is also called Bhagwan.
-- Buddhism is agnostic: When asked about a supreme God, Buddha remained silent on the subject. Buddha believed the more important issue was a way out of suffering. Enlightened beings are called Arhats or Buddha (e.g, the Buddha Sakyamuni), and are venerated. Bodhisattva is an enlightened being that has chosen to forego entering into nirvana until all beings are enlightened. Buddhism also teaches about the devas or heavenly beings who temporarily dwell in states of great happiness.
-- Jains invoke the five paramethis: Siddha, Arahant, Acharya, Upadhyaya, Sadhu. The arhantas include the 24 Tirthankaras from Lord Rishabha to Mahavira. But Jain philosophy as such does not recognize any Supreme Omnipotent creator God.
-- Sikhs worship God with the name Akal (the Eternal) or Onkar (See Aum). Help of the gurus is essential to reach God.
-- In Surat Shabda Yoga, names used for God include Anami Purush (nameless power) and Radha Swami (lord of the soul, symbolized as Radha).
-- Ayyavazhi asserts Ekam, (The Ultimate Oneness) as supreme one and Ayya Vaikundar the Incarnation of Ekam. There are also several separate lesser gods who were all later unified into Vaikundar.
-- Orthodox Jews believe it wrong to write the word "God" on any substance which can be destroyed. Therefore, they will write "G-d" as what they consider a more respectful symbolic representation.

What is Itself?

For this contemplation, Meetingbrook asks Itself for help.


II -- Practice

We’ve changed several parts of Events at Meetingbrook.
• We added Sunday Upstairs/Downstairs Open House at Bookshop. A sit-down meal is part of the drop-in of a Sunday, 1pm.
Friday Evening Movie Night with Pizza or Spaghetti follows the regular conversation at 6:45pm
• Saturday conversation Many Faces of Death returns at 12:30pm.
• All conversations are now open to the possibility of someone making opening remarks about their practice, a current concern, a sudden insight. Articles, excerpts from books, or other material will be used as spontaneous inspiration to the evening’s theme. Books service conversation.
• Ecospirituality and nature find a home on Friday Evening Conversation.
Saturday Morning Practice at the Hermitage retrieves and includes Lectio.
Prison Conversations are listed as part of our Friday practice. We’ve pledged to share insights between the two communities in and out.

We no longer know what kind of community Meetingbrook seeks to be. We just practice with an open heart and mind. At times that mind is cranky, and heart uncertain of what it feels.

We attend Mass these Advent mornings. We chant Heart Sutra Sunday evenings. When we work we try to work. When we study we try to study. We try to be patient with ourselves and with other people. We try to learn what each is teaching us.

We’re happy not to be formally affiliated with any religious or spiritual organization. We’re happy to live somewhere between semi-hermits and semi-monastics.

This December 8th we’ll celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as well as Buddha’s Enlightenment Day. On December 10th – Thomas Merton’s transition day -- we’ll again renew our promises for the 8th time.

Meetingbrook Hermitage Monastics hold three promises: Contemplation, Conversation, Correspondence.
As held by Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage “m.o.n.o.” (monastics of no other) --

Contemplation is the promise of simplicity.
It is a gift of poverty inviting open waiting, receptive trust, attention, and watchful presence. It is a simple Being-With.
It is attentive presence.

Conversation is the promise of integrity.
It is a chaste and complete intention to listen and speak, lovingly and respectfully, with each and all made present to us. It is a wholeness of listening and speaking.
It is root silence.

Correspondence is the promise of faithful engagement.
It is responsible attention and intention offered obediently to the Source of all Being, to the Human Family, to Nature. It is a faithful engagement with all sentient beings, with this present world, with existence with all its needs & joys, sorrows & hope.
It is transparent service.

We’d like to run the bookshop/bakery completely by donation and subscription – no fixed price on anything at the shop, just freewill goodwill donations. We’re inching closer and closer to implementing such an economy of grace and gratefulness.

The federal government lists us as a non-profit vocational school – which describes our notion of the Schola Gratiae et Contemplationis. The State of Maine says we are a religious house of prayer and exempts us from certain taxes. The larger community considers us a benign curiosity of no particular moment or import. A woman published a book with a cover photograph of the altar in the chapel/zendo. The stats counter says the total number of visits in November to the website was 7,050.

Winter nears. Cold scouts for it. Ground hardens. Light snow falls.

What we’ve noticed is everything belongs to itself, and itself lets each thing be its own.

We are learning to see each thing as itself.

Doing so, gratefulness abounds.

Gratitude abides.

Et verbum caro factum est.
And the word is made flesh.
Christus natus est.
Christ is born.

Dwelling among us.
Silently, still.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

What does it mean to say we are alone with others?

Know the essence of mind.
Its intrinsic essence is
Pure clarity.
It is essentially the same as a Buddha.

- Tao-hsin (580-651)

When there we are there. When gone, gone. No residue. No expectation of return.

You who are threshed,
you who are winnowed,
what I have learnt
from the Lord of Hosts,
from the God of Israel,
I am telling you now.

(from Isaiah 21:6 - 12)

Tell us now, Isaiah.

Is Christ here?


Thursday, December 01, 2005

I saw a picture of a child dying of AIDS.

Winter, in the eleventh month
Snow falls thick and fast.
A thousand mountains, one color.
People of the world passing this way are few.
Dense grass conceals the door.
All night in silence, a few woodchips burn slowly
As I read the poems of the ancients.


What poem reveals the hope behind hopelessness?

Dried sand. Rainless gaze. Desolated street.

Mother of God, Light in all darkness...

Pray for us!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bread gives itself.

Berry went to a high school one day to talk to the students, wanting to convey to them a sense of our current spiritual predicament. The term 'autism' came to mind, and he asked if anyone in the class could define what that meant, unsure if he would get a good answer. A student jumped up and explained clearly: "People being so locked up in themselves that no one and nothing else can get in." Exactly, Berry thought. "That is what has happened to the human community in our times. We are talking only to ourselves. We are not talking to the rivers, we are not listening to the wind and stars. We have broken the great conversation. By breaking that conversation we have shattered the universe. All the disasters that are happening now are a consequence of that spiritual 'autism.'"
(From "Thomas Berry" By Rich Heffern, in National Catholic Reporter, August 10, 2001)

Wine gives itself.

In other words, caring for our planet and ascertaining where we are in the universe goes to the heart of what it means to be a faithful Christian. Nothing is really itself without everything else. Christianity's task, if it is going to survive, will be to place itself within the context of science's new story of our human origins and the evolution of the universe.
The best hope for a renewed earth, many feel, is reawakened belief in the Spirit as the divine force within the cosmos who continually indwells everywhere and works in amazing ways to sustain all forms of life. This renewal is happening on many fronts today, thanks to advance work done by Berry, to his sweeping synthesis, realism, imaginative insights and courage to confront the narrowness of traditional theology. This priest with the tousled hair and sly grin raised the challenge; it will be the work of others to move churches and communities forward toward Tom Berry's dream: all of us honoring the earth as the epiphany of God, making a prayerful event of every dawn and dusk.

(From "Thomas Berry")

Only say the word -- and each shall be heard. Only hear each as itself -- as what it is -- and all will be healed.

"This" is the body of Christ.

Do this.

Be this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When priest says, "This is my body," I bow.

Mystic understanding of truth is not perception or cognition. That is why it is said that you arrive at the original source by stopping the mind, so it is called the enlightened state of being as is, the ultimately independent free individual.
- Nan-ch'uan (748-834)

When he says, "This is my blood," I bow.

Doing this, I remember.

Changing everything.

At home-ground.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is there some place, something, some time we can fix?

Inwardly strive to develop
the capacity of mindfulness;
outwardly spread
the virtue of uncontentiousness.
Shed the world of dust
to seek emancipation.

- Kuei-Shan (771-854)

Right here? This? Now?

Only the Dreamer
Can Change the Dream

Riding on his bike
in the fall
or spring Fel-
lini-like twilight
or dawn, the boy
is moved in some way
he does not understand.
A huge gray or green, long porched house
(he's partly color-blind)
crowns a low hill: rise-
s silent as a ship does
before him.
The vision makes him yearn
inside himself. It makes him mourn.
So he cries
as he rides
about the town.
He knows there are other great homes
and other beautiful streets
nearby. But they are not his.
He turns back.
He gets off his bike
and picks
up three fragments of unfinished pine
adrift on the green
(or gray) lawn
thinking -- hoping - that perhaps
there is something some place he can fix.
(Poem by John Logan)

If, as Advayavada Buddhism says, there is not two and thereby not one, but shunya (obvious zero) -- perhaps nothing fixes and is fixed by itself.

Acceptance of the moment is allowing the moment to live, which, indeed, is another way of saying that it is to allow life to live, to be what it is now (yathabhutam). Thus to allow this moment of experience and all that it contains freedom to be as it is, to come in its own time and to go in its own time, this is to allow the moment, which is what we are now, to set us free; it is to realize that life, as expressed in the moment, has always been setting us free from the very beginning, whereas we have chosen to ignore it and tried to achieve that freedom by ourselves.
(from The Meaning of Happiness, by Alan W. Watts, 1940, New York 1970)

That is interesting:

Life is

this moment

setting us


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Coming to.

It is time to wake from sleep. Orange sun jumps from cabin stovepipe, to red van window, finally (stretching arms overhead) yawns above horizon of Atlantic Ocean -- at same time climbs down Ragged Mountain. Time for us to wake -- to come to this perspective of earth.

Attain the center of emptiness,
Preserve the utmost quiet;
As myriad things act in concert,
I thereby observe the return.
Things flourish,
Then each returns to its root.
Returning to the root
Is called stillness:
Stillness is called return to Life,
Return to Life is called the constant;
Knowing the constant is called enlightenment.
- Tao-te Ching

Advent enlightenment and Buddhist awakening invite ordinary engagement as pathway through trinitarian new year. For those gathering within and without their-selves, the orange sun climbs and descends all at once -- what is called "church" is that gathering, within and without, ascending and descending, all -- at once.

Lao Tzu calls it "root," "stillness," and "constant." Trinity by any other designation.

This morning, en route church in Belfast, the descriptive phrases that call me in are: The ground-fact of God; the realization of God, and; the intuition of God.

Inside out? Outside in? The process and structure of this triadic interplay is the practice of meditative and spiritual life.

Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!
No ear has heard,
no eye has seen
any god but you act like this
for those who trust him.
You guide those who act with integrity
and keep your ways in mind.

(Isaiah 63:16...)

Acting with integrity -- with wholeness -- suggests allowing no thought to separate us from that which there is no separation.

This Advent, as with each circular re-presentation, we prepare waking the appearance and realization of Jesus in both historical and real time. We also prepare a descent to the ground-fact through and out of which our lives pass and stay, stay and pass in a glorious invitation to disappear. Thirdly, we prepare to conduit the intuition of the breath of what-is-whole as it makes way into, through, and around this earth at this time with our assistance and service.

The trinitarian form of the later Christian baptismal confessions (the starting point of which can be seen in the Scriptures of the early church, Matt.28:19) can be understood as the development of the confession of Christ, as the development of the implications of a personal confession of Jesus in terms of what he meant, specifically in reference to his unity with God, which assured believers of community with God. But it is also to be understood as the development of the ecclesiastical nature of Christian confession. Henceforth the individual could confess Jesus only by taking over the confession of the congregation of its Lord, and also thereby confessing the work of the Spirit of Christ in this congregation.
(p.74, in The Church, by Wolfhart Pannenberg, 1977 trans. 1983)

Christ confesses.

He did it.

Jesus realizes this.

This gathering -- of all nature, all beings, all around.

It is Advent. We are coming to.

Wake up!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Periodically head pain winces. When I am still able to speak and walk afterwards, everything is as it is. When I am no longer able to speak and walk, everything then will be as it will be -- namely, as it is.

If you were able to put a stop to the mentality in which every thought is running after something, then you would be no different from a Zen master or a Buddha. Do you want to know what a Zen master or a buddha is? Simply that which is immediately present, listening to the Teaching. It is just because students do not trust completely that they seek outwardly. Even if they get something by seeking, it is all literary excellence; they never attain the living meaning of the masters.
- Lin Chi (803- 867)

The "Teaching" and the "teaching" are probably not two things. Whether they are sutra and commentary, or they are snowflake and lightning storm, whether capital "T" or lowercase "t" -- if immediately present, then it is time to listen.

Wet wood hissing in 20-degree morning cabin does not stand up to cold. Sunrise pink then orange over Melvin Heights and Hosmer Pond urge on paper kindling and soaked sticks from heavy rains even under tarp. Pile will have to find its way into barn. By time final Lauds psalm is chanted, final prayer said, fire has found its legs and runs around interior of iron stove.

We sit a bit. And say in Lectio conversation -- God is that profound place beyond feeling, emotion, and mind where faith has found experience. In that experience there is only fact. And kindness, love, and compassion are the facts it finds. There is no outside nor inside to God.

Blue blanket apologized for its unwillingness to remain wrapped to prevent through-floor cold climbing up legs. It is folded neat, draped over kneeling bench and husk cushion in front of window where gray cloud tucked pink and orange into zippered vest.

Cesco's eyes say "mountain walk." So we go up to brook, over bridge, to western run crunchy ice over to parking lot of waiting-for-snow ski area. Five dogs bound from pickup truck. Carousel of sniff and bark enswirls on open ground.

Open ground -- that's to ponder. Sometimes the only place there is, the only faith found worth attention, is the open ground of whatever appears. It is relational experience. Like Bishop George Berkeley's. Only here the koan asks: No God but the appearance of kindness, love, and compassion -- what is to experience?

Experience: [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin 'experientia,' from 'experins,' 'experient' - present participle of 'experr,' to try. See per-3 in Indo-European Roots.]

Try God. Or, try seeing. Try kindness; try love; try compassion.

The experience of God is trying.

Faith says there is something to kindness, love, and compassion.
Hope says it's worth trying.
Service says "Why not here?"

Nothing esoteric. Nothing, and emptiness, and wide as all space -- the open ground where relational reality longs to be tried.

God is not tried up.

God is us trying God trying us.

Back over brook bridge, Cesco carries stick.

Conductor of morning mountain!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It is a wonder to have spent today alive and free.

People who study Buddhism
Should seek real, true
Perception and understanding for now.
If you attain real, true
Perception and understanding,
Birth and death don't affect you;
You are free to go or stay.
You needn't seek wonders,
For wonders come of themselves
- Linji (d. 867?)

I read a recent article about two men in my Ethics class in prison. One has a sentence of 59 years, the other of 70. The two men were convicted of a murder committed during an interrupted burglary ten years ago when they were 23.

Facts are facts. A husband and father stopped home from work for a change of clothes to go to his son's soccer game. They were in the house. A shot. A death. A loss of life and presence of father and husband. A sorrow.

Facts are facts, too, in that 59 and 70 years are a long time to spend in prison. They were found guilty, sentenced, and live day by day the result of that errant day in that tragic house.

It is a wonder every time I go through the security check points and heavy doors -- in and out -- of the maximum security prison. The wonder is the fact of it. I am able to go in -- for meetingbrook conversations, tutoring, teaching; and I am able to leave out from the razor wire, alternate universe of incarceration, and particular faces of men just like me as I am of them with the grace of God.

When we converse around a table -- we just converse. When we explore Kant, Pannikar, Berry, Oliver, Milosz, Bok, Confucius, Plato, or Nishitani -- we just explore. We speak each name, we speak one another's name, and we try to fit name, face, idea, and personal experience into a context that invites insight and understanding.

To face a fact, look into a fact, or see through a fact -- these acts require practice and courage.

Out Here

I know why he killed himself.
You know, the old man
who spent thirty years
trying to break out of prison
and his last two
aching to get back in.
I know him, how he missed
that cold comfort of gray.
I too, have seen colors be scary.
I know why he carved his name
in the headboard at the boarding house
before he swallowed the stolen pills.
For thirty years they barked his name.
He hasn't heard it since. After living
the same day over and over,
regimen and routine,
now he wakes without schedule.
There are no friends here.
There is no family.
He left all of that behind.
Though he didn't know it then,
prison gave him purpose.
It's lonely out here.

(Poem: "Out Here" by Robin Merrill from Laundry and Stories. Moon Pie Press 2005.)

The fact is ten years ago a man was murdered. The fact is two men are in prison.

The fact is that in the Confucian philosophy the following is said:
"Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you." (Analects 15:23)
"Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" (Doctrine of the Mean 13.3)

Out here, we're trying to see one another through these facts.

To live with them.

Each one of us.

A blessing.

Of itself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

At weekday mass church in Rockland has new cross behind altar. Gone is figure of Jesus clothed in garb of his time affixed nowhere extending arms in welcome gesture. In is traditional figure of Jesus nailed to wood head slumped body near naked crucified.

No doubt you're in a Catholic church now. The corpus unambiguous is unmistakably back on cross. No refreshed resurrection motif here. Suffering and death takes center wall.

My teacher said to me,
The treasure house
within you contains
and you are free to use it.
You don't need to seek outside.

- Dazhu (487 - 593)

Resurrection is ambiguous. Crucifixion is straightforward. No confusing symbolism about being beyond death in some afterlife proscenium. Rather, all we know is we will suffer and die. What comes next is the stuff of theologians sipping cocktails at conferences and mystics sweating fear in the night. For bread and potatoes common folk -- simple unsubtle torture and murder.

The clarity of habeas corpus separates conservators from protestors.

In prison today we had lengthy discussion about what is good, why be good, free will, and God. Language reveals most conceptualize God out there and knowing ahead of time what will happen, mostly holding back instead of righting things. Standard issue placement of God is like scapegoat (albeit an all-knowing all-powerful scapegoat) sent out into desert wasteland of not-me not-us so as to die a death of detachment.

The view from where I sat was different. From where I sat God was the voice of every inquiry, every reach for understanding, and every attempt to speak into being ways of seeing that honor each of the assembled. God was voice seeking embodiment dwelling place near and nearer.

And maybe it is easier to identify with a man (or men) so obviously affixed by their acts to a place of suffering -- that the cross with corpus takes center gaze.

There it is. Here we are. With one another, as God is, with one another -- it was a good day.

"Every day is a good day," Un Mun Zen Master said.

I agree.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The original literal meaning of the word "absurd" is more interesting than any definition given it. [Latin absurdus, out of tune, absurd : ab-, intensive pref.; see ab-1 + surdus, deaf, muffled.]

I am often out of tune. In all respects.

Becoming a buddha is easy
But ending illusions is hard
So many frosted moonlit nights
I've sat and felt the cold before dawn.

- Shih-wu (1272-1352)(

I do not feel this is the best of all possible worlds. Nor do I suspect it isn't. Sometimes, in silence, the world is a chickadee flying to feeder. What it hopes to find there is beyond me. Still, I fill feeder with seeds. Chickadee takes one at a time.

Garrison Keillor on "The Writer's Almanac" tells us:
It's the birthday of the man who helped spark the enlightenment in France, writing under the name Voltaire, born Francois-Marie Arouet in Paris (1694). He wrote so much in his lifetime that his collected works are still being assembled and edited by French scholars. He's known to us for a single short novel: Candide (1760), about a young man who follows the philosophy of Doctor Pangloss that no matter what misfortunes befall us, this is the best of all possible worlds. (

It is the world I find myself in. No matter what I hope for, when I arrive where I am, I feel exactly how I feel. Nor do I wish it to be other.

November 21, 2005 in the Catholic tradition is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary
Mary's presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.
As with Mary's birth, we read of Mary's presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.
Though unhistorical, Mary's presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.
It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God's saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary redounds upon her children. They, too, are temples of God and sanctified in order that they might enjoy and share in God's saving work.


I like the phrase "God came to dwell in her." Whatever is believed about "God" in our contemporary world, this phrase should be considered. Not just Mary -- though she's as good a beginning as anyone -- but by dint of anyone embodying the reality of God, each of us is opened to that singular experience of reality as it is.

It is not absurd that God dwells within and through us. In the silence of crisp moonlit nights there is a harmony of presence that transcends any grasp of it.

What is, however, absurd is the noise made by men and women claiming they speak for God, they are the instruments of God's power in the world, and that they are acting to bring down God to this world to destroy it, eliminate sin, and purge the unworthy from the face of God's everlasting, spitspot kingdom.

Voltaire wrote, "People who believe in absurdities will eventually commit atrocities."

Listen for a more profound, more loving tune.

Present yourself -- with bare attention-- to a conferred holiness worth the sound of God.

Hear, see, touch, and share this loving-kindness. you are.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The liturgical year ends. Everyone looks around not knowing what to say. That's it, the Church says, curtain. Oh yes, it says, Christ is The King.

The King? Is that it? Everyone looks a little unconvinced. The king, you say? Yes, they say. And that's that.

And I will give him the Morning Star. (Apocalypse 1)

Gautama the Buddha got the morning star. He looked up, and there it was -- the morning star. That's what Jesus the Christ gets as well. He will be given the Morning Star.

Fits. Eh?

The mind of a Wayfarer is plain and direct, without artificiality. There is no rejection and no attachment, no deceptive wandering mind. At all times seeing and hearing are normal. There are no further details. One does not, furthermore, close the eyes or shut the ears; as long as feelings do not stick to things, that will do.
- Kuei-Shan (771-854)

Yes. It fits.

The Promise of the Morning Star

Thou father of the children of my brain
By thee engendered in my willing heart,
How can I thank thee for this gift of art
Poured out so lavishly, and not in vain.
What thou created never more can die,
Thy fructifying power lives in me
And I conceive, knowing it is by thee,
Dear other parent of my poetry!
For I was but a shadow with a name,
Perhaps by now the very name's forgot;
So strange is Fate that it has been my lot
To learn through thee the presence of that aim
Which evermore must guide me. All unknown,
By me unguessed, by thee not even dreamed,
A tree has blossomed in a night that seemed
Of stubborn, barren wood. For thou hast sown
This seed of beauty in a ground of truth.
Humbly I dedicate myself, and yet
I tremble with a sudden fear to set
New music ringing through my fading youth.

(Poem by Amy Lowell, 1874 - 1925)

We'll sit again this Sunday Evening Practice. Wood fire warms cabin.

The fructifying power of honest doubt and simple faith in what is taking place.

It is time for change.

Some things fit, some have no need to.

Buddha is Buddha.

Morning star is morning star.

Christ, also, has no predicate other than itself.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I'm rethinking my life.

Rethinking the world requires investigating evidence of what the world has been, is, and might become. That's too large for the majority of us. So we look at something more limited, smaller, nearer to us.

Two weeks ago at Texas Book Festival a panel discussion on US/Mexico border issues, author Charles Bowden said it was odd in our prozac nation of self-medicators that we would imprison so many for so long who try to self-medicate without the blessing of pharmaceutical/governmental powers. I visit self-medicators every day -- on the streets of my town, in the confines of my shop, and between the razor wires of maximum security prison.

Maybe the goal for all of us is to change one letter and, thereby, change our lives.

From self-medicators to self-meditators. From medicate to meditate.

Some In Pieces

In World War Two
the oldest
of my uncles
picked up
dead bodies
dead weight
some in pieces
and threw them
onto the beds
of trucks.
His work spread
far as he could see.
When he came
home he poured
salted peanuts
into a Co-Cola
and prepared
for life
with folks
who could
never know
some things
as long
as they lived.

(Poem:"Some In Pieces" by Darnel Arnoult from What Travels With Us LSU Press. )

What we could never know is limitless. What we might experience is closer to hand.

In a talk about The Tender Bar : A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer, the author talks about his uncle Charlie -- who died yesterday -- as having disappeared for a number of years, who had the ability of disappearing, as it were, right before your eyes.

I know what he means. A woman wrote yesterday trying to track down some group of hermits in Maine. Not us, I decided. Too visible.

But then I remembered calling meetingbrook "hermits in the open," I like the notion of being invisible in plain sight.

I listen to the voices that visit the shop by the harbor. I listen to the voices of the men in prison. I listen, at times, to my own voice. We all speak into visibility what serves to keep invisible so much that cannot be known or shown. Who can present their first kiss? Who can present the last dream before dawn yesterday morning? Who can present verification we live alongside others in parallel existences that unfold hour by hour in untellable silence over long distances in vocabularies specific to the alternative life?

We pour salted peanuts into tops of jars and pick our way along visible moments others vouch as our life.

It is easier to toss one by one the peanuts into our mouth, chew, swallow, and smile into the gathered faces -- than to ramble aloud maddened mantras that traverse brane upon brane (which, in physics, is any dimensional or extended object in string theory ). The hollow echo crossing sound chambers of varied places, faces, and excruciating attempts to locate oneself where one simultaneously wishes they could be -- what do we call that?

Perhaps we call that "poetry."

Czeslaw Milosz in his poem "Ars Poetica?" wrote:
And yet the world is different from what it seems to be
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings.
People therefore preserve silent integrity
thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

What I'm saying here is not, I agree, poetry,
as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,
under unbearable duress and only with the hope
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument.

( -- Czeslaw Milosz)

There are many places we try to avoid -- most our lives.

Yes, there's a phrase to meditate, "Most our lives."

I don't know where my life is.

I'll take a line from Lloyd --"I'll have to think about that, I'll do some research."

And so, for a spate of a Saturday afternoon, I re-search my life -- sitting on porch, sipping coffee, watching chickadee, sun on smoke flavoring brisk November air.

I rethink it all.

As it is, after all, invisibly full of joy.