How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
is to open ourselves, to be
Galway Kinnell, Another Night in the Ruins
This evening we celebrate Halloween which is based on the most important Ancient Irish and Celtic feast, that of Samhain. The Celtic year was divided into two parts, the bright half from the 1st of May until today, and the dark half, starting tomorrow. Today stood in-between, when Summer not quite fully over, but the old year was dying and winter was about to begin. On this in-between day it was felt that the normal barriers between the visible and invisible worlds were less strong. The normal Celtic sensitivity to the hidden world – their awareness that the other world was always there right beside them – was heightened, So for us too, it can be a day to be more aware of deeper dimensions, by not rushing past the “ordinary” or the routine, by not expecting real happiness to be elsewhere, but by tuning in to the “bits and pieces of everyday” as poet Paddy Kavanagh reminded us.
One comes to know the interior of the exterior. One comes to know the inside of every outside. It’s not only human beings that have an interior or an inside, but that the world around us as well can be known inwardly. Life is dense with those levels of experience, but we need to calm ourselves, get clear, get quiet, direct attention, sustain the attention, open up to what is normally invisible, and certain things begin to show themselves. Maybe gently to begin with, but nonetheless it deepens and enriches our lives. If we are committed to knowledge, then we ought to be committed also to exploring the world with these lenses, with this method in mind and heart.
Arthur Zajonc, Professor of Physics, Amherst College
Our culture is so focused on … youth, that we don’t have a good model for what aging and dying could be like. All we feel is the lack of things: we’re not as youthful as we were, we’re not as limber as we were, we’re not as this, we’re not as that. Almost everything that we hear and see in the media is about how to maintain your youth as long as possible. All this focus on stopping aging implies that someone made a big mistake in the universe. It’s as if we should be getting younger instead of older.
But we’re missing a very important point. There’s something beautiful about quiet and peace. There’s something beautiful about not trying to do anything, but simply, in some way, your heart joining the whole world. There’s a time in life for building something up in this world: a family, an institution, a business, a creative life: there’s a time for that. There’s also a time for becoming quiet, a time for slow conversations with people that we love, and a time for reflecting on all the things that we’ve seen in many years of living. When the time for those things comes, it’s beautiful.
Norman Fischer, Suffering and Possibility
photo ian mckenzie
Try pausing right before and right after undertaking a new action,
even something simple like putting a key in a lock to open a door.
Such pauses take a brief moment,
yet they have the effect of decompressing time and centering you.
David Stiendl Rast
Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.
We will not perish for want of information,
but only for want of appreciation
The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding
that life without wonder in not worth living.
Abraham Heschel, God in search of Man