Drop the knife

Once a young woman said to me, “Hafiz, what
is the sign of someone who knows God?”

I became very quiet, and looked deep into her
eyes, then replied,

“My dear, they have dropped the knife. Someone
who knows God has dropped the cruel knife

that most so often use upon their tender self
and others.”

Hafiz, Persia, 1315 – 1390

Being led

I think of Gloucester, blind, led through the world
To the world’s edge by the hand of a stranger
Who is his faithful son. At the cliff’s verge
He flings away his life, as of no worth,
The true way is lost, his eyes two bleeding wounds–
And finds his life again, and is led on
By the forsaken son who has become
His father, that the good may recognize
Each other, and at last go ripe to death.
We live the given life, and not the planned.

Wendell Barry,A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 

Self-balanced

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

Our monastery

Our hermitage is the act of living with attention in the midst of things; amid the rhythms of work and love, the bath with the child, the endlessly growing paperwork, the ever-present likelihood of war, the necessity for taking action to help the world. For us, a good spiritual life is permeable and robust. It faces things squarely, knowing the smallest moments are all we have, and that even the smallest moment is full of happiness.

John Tarrant, The Light inside the Dark

Demented gardeners

[Even some] lovely people feel that their real identity is working on themselves, and some work on themselves with such harshness. Like a demented gardener who won’t let the soil settle for anything to grow, they keep raking, tearing away the nurturing clay from their own heart, then they’re surprised that they feel so empty and vacant. Self-compassion is paramount. When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do.

John O’Donoghue, Anam Chara