life is falling down and getting back up

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The process of growth is, it seems, the art of falling down. Growth is measured by the gentleness and awareness with which we once again pick ourselves up, the lightness with which we dust ourselves off, the openness with which we continue and take the next unknown step, beyond our edge, beyond our holding, into the remarkable mystery of being.

stephen levine

photo emilio labrador

Things could be otherwise

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A day when I am aware of the gift of life.

This poem was written by Jane Kenyon shortly before she died of leukemia at age 47, aware that things would soon change for her.

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Jane Kenyon, Otherwise

photo harald hoyer

When things are dark in our lives

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In Buddhism, a definition of faith is the ability to keep our hearts open in the darkness of the unknown. The root of the word patience is a Latin verb for “suffer,” which in the ancient sense meant to hold, not to grasp but to bear, to tolerate without pushing away. Being patient doesn’t mean being passive. It means being attentive, willing to be available to what is happening, going on seeing, noticing how things change. When we aren’t wishing for something to be over, or when we aren’t freezing around an idea about what it is we are seeing, we see and hear more. We notice that nature has cycles, that each day is not the same length and quality, and that darkness passes. The meaning of life, the real purpose of our presence here, is being attentive, being willing to go on seeing and keeping our hearts open — not just for our sake but for the sake of others. We make ourselves available to life, opening our hearts to the passing flow of it, knowing we will blunder and get it wrong but sometimes right.

Tracy Cochran (with thanks to make believe boutique) 

photo NCCo

The gift of presence

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Some reflections on love, for the day that is in it…

The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved.

It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.

When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

Parker Palmer, The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice

There is no way into presence except through a love exchange.

Rumi

photo Ian McKenzie

Don’t let passing things get under your skin

We cannot always control what happens in a day, but we can control how it affects us:

Just like a drop of water on a lotus leaf,

or in the same way as water on a red lily does not stick,

so too a wise person does not get hooked by

the seen, the heard, the sensed

The Buddha, Jara Sutra: Old Age

photo H.Zell