I often think of the way the Dakotah Indians responded to a small wrong. When, for example, a young person walked between an elder and the fire – an act of profound impoliteness in their culture – the young person said, simply, “Mistake”. It was an honest acknowledgement of an error of judgment, devoid of any self-recrimination or self-diminution. All present nodded in assent, and life went on.
How healthy such an attitude seems. We all commit mistakes in judgment and we all need forgiveness. If we had the option of making a simple acknowledgement of our mistake and then going on with affairs, how much clearer and gentler life would be. And how healthier would our own hearts be if we looked on the injuries caused us by others as simply the mistake of human beings who, like us, are struggling to get by in a complex and mysterious world.
Kent Nerburn, Make me an Instrument of Your Peace
We can feel the possibility of balance in our lives,
when we recognize that life is not in our control
Sylvia Boorstein’s wise way of working with her heart when she’s worrying or anxious
“Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath.
Let’s pay attention to what is happening.
Then we’ll figure out what to do”
It’s true, I think, as Kenko says in his Idleness,
That all beauty depends upon disappearance,
The bitten edges of things,
the gradual sliding away
Into tissue and memory,
And dazzling impermanence of days we beg our meanings from,
And their frayed loveliness.
Charles Wright, American poet, 1935 – , Lonesome Pine Special
(Kenko, 1284 – 1350, Buddhist monk, author of Essays in Idleness)
Once or twice a year the abbot at the San Francisco Zen Center, Tenshin Reb Anderson, comes to speak with the hospice volunteers.
One night he gave a talk that included the best advice I’ve ever heard on caregiving.
He said simply, “Stay close and do nothing.”
That’s how we try to practice at Zen Hospice Project.
We stay close and do nothing. We sit still and listen to the stories.
May we all grow in grace and peace,
and not neglect the silence that is printed in the center of our being.
It will not fail us.
Thomas Merton, Letters