Endings and beginnings

In the Christian liturgical calendar tomorrow is the last day of the year, with a new year starting on Sunday in Advent. All wisdom and religious traditions give guidance on how to work with the passing of time, how to celebrate fully and be complete in each moment which we have. This text is from the Stoic philosophical viewpoint: 

Let us prepare our minds as if we had come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books every day..The person that puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.

Seneca,  Moral Letters, 101, 7b – 8a


How do I see the world

What way do I behold the world?” Do we see the world through fearful eyes, where everything and every person is perceived as a threat? Do we see the world through greedy eyes, where everything can be possessed at a certain price? Do we see the world through judgmental eyes, where everything and every person is rigidly defined and limited by our prejudices and preconceptions? Do we see the world through resentful eyes, elevating our own entitlements while condemning others for theirs? Do we see the world through indifferent eyes, where our capacity for compassion is trumped by cynicism and despair? Do we see the world through inferior eyes, where everyone is perceived as superior to ourselves? Or can we remove the lens of fear, the lens of greed, the lens of prejudgment, the lens of resentment, the lens of indifference, the lens of inferiority — and then begin to see the world through eyes of love? Can we ever accept St. Augustine’s profound but simple advice: “Love and do what you will.”

John O’Donohoe, Anam Chara

When life bruises us

This morning the storm is fully evident, cutting electricity, disrupting ports and airports, blowing people and things astray, and causing damage. Storms of life…

One afternoon as I folded laundry, we heard a terrible thud against the patio door. I turned in time to see blue wings falling to the ground. A bird had flown into the glass. The children followed me outside. I half expected the bird to be dead, but she wasn’t. She was stunned and her right wing was a little lopsided, but it didn’t look broken – bruised maybe.

The bird sat perfectly still, her eyes tiny and afraid. She looked so fragile and alone that I sat down beside her. I reached out and brushed her wing. I sat beside her, unable to resist the feeling that we shared something, the two of us. The wounds and brokenness of life. Crumpled wings. A collision with something harsh and real. I felt like crying for her. For myself. For every broken thing in the world.

That moment taught me that while the postures of stillness within the cocoon are frequently an individual experience, we also need to share our stillness. The bird taught me anew that we’re all in this together, that we need to sit in one another’s stillness and take up postures of prayer. How wonderful it is when we can be honest and free enough to say to one another, ‘I need you to wait with me.’ or ‘Would you like me to wait with you?’

Finally she was finished being stillShe cocked her head to one side, lifted her wings, and flew. The sight of her flying made me catch my breath. From the corner of my eye I saw her shadow move along the ground and cross over me. Grace is everywhere I thought. Then I picked myself up and went back to folding the laundry.

Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits


Very wet and windy this morning, the beginning of of a storm. The news today is full of agitation and uncertainty, including Brexit, Ukraine, migration and the lack of vision of  our “leaders”. Where can we find a firm ground?

O to be self-balanced for contingencies,
to confront night, storms, hunger,
ridicule, accidents, rebuffs,
as the trees and animals do

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Learning to bend

The first very cold night of the year here and strong wind and rain expected later today.  Ancient wisdom for dealing with the changing weathers of life: 

All things, the grass as well as the trees,
are tender and soft while alive
When dead, they are withered and dried.

Therefore the stiff and the rigid are companions of death
The gentle and the kind are the companions of life

Lao Tzu