Breathe out gratitude

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.

Wendell Berry,  Sabbaths – 1993, I


This poem is not first and foremost about aging and dying. It’s about generosity, one of the most life-giving of all virtues. Generosity does not require material abundance. When I think back on the many people who have been so generous toward me, I never think of money or “things.” Instead, I think of the way they gave me their presence, their confidence, their affirmation, support, and blessing — all gifts of “self” that any of us can give.

And where does generosity come from? Perhaps from another life-giving virtue, the one called gratitude. When I take the time to breathe in my life and breathe out my gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given, only one question arises: “How can I keep these gifts alive?”

I know only one answer: “Become a giver yourself, pass your gifts along, and do it extravagantly!” As Wendell Berry says, “Every day you have less reason/not to give yourself away.”

Parker Palmer, Breathe In My Life, Breathe Out My Gratitude

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

Four principles for creativity

1)Whoever comes is the right people, which reminds us that getting something done is not a matter of having 100,000 people and the chairman of the board. The fundamental requirement is people who care to do something. And by showing up, that essential care is demonstrated.

2) Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, keeps us focused on the here and now, and eliminates all of the could-have-beens, should-have-beens or might-have-beens. What is is the only thing there is at the moment.

3)Whenever it starts is the right time alerts us to the fact that inspired performance and genuine creativity rarely, if ever, pay attention to the clock. They happen (or not) when they happen.

4) When it’s over it’s over. In a word, don’t waste time. Do what you have to do, and when its done, move on to something more useful.

 The Four Immutable Laws of the Spirit, Harrison Owen

What if

What if you stepped into the shower
each morning only to be baptized anew
and sent forth to serve the grocery bagger,
the bank teller, and the bus driver
through simple kindness?
And what if the things that make
your heart dizzy with delight were
no longer stuffed into the basement
of your being and allowed out to play
in the lush and green fields?

There are two ways to live in this world:
As if everything were enchanted
or nothing at all.
There is no in between, although you
keep trying to live this divided life knowing
deep down something is awry.
You have lived long enough
with this tearing apart.
Come out into the wide world
and discover there companions and guides
at every turn, and even those who summon
curses from your heart have
a divine spark within them bright enough
to invite wonder.

Christine Valters Paintner, To Invite Wonder