Sunday Quote: Hold things lightly

Aeschylus says, “There is no effort in what is divine.” There is an easiness in salvation which is more difficult to us than all our efforts.

In one of Grimm’s stories there is a competition between a giant and a little tailor to see which is the stronger. The giant throws a stone so high that it takes a very long time before it comes down again. The little tailor lets a bird fly and it does not come down at all. Anything without wings always comes down again in the end.

Simone Weil, Waiting on God


Stilling the mind’s questions

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.

Mary Oliver, What Gorgeous Thing

No destination in mind

The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 59, translated Stephen Mitchell 

On seeing the tree blossom

I was reminded of these texts – one Christian, one zen – driving to work on Monday and seeing the blossoms and buds return to the trees. Both speak of profound inner experiences – one when just 18, the other after 30 years of searching – just on seeing the blossoms bloom, the leaves fall, the branches grow, and the new leaves appearing. Miracles in everyday life which we rush past each day. 

In the winter I saw a tree stripped of its leaves and I knew that within a little time the leaves would be renewed, and that afterwards the flowers and the fruit would appear. From this I received a profound view of the care of God which has never since left my soul. The view I grasped that day freed me completely and kindled in me such a love for God that I cannot say that  it has increased during the more than forty years since that time.

Brother Lawrence, 1693, The Practice of the Presence of God. 

For thirty years, I have been looking for the sword,
How many times have the leaves fallen and the branches grown anew?
But then once I saw the peach blossoms,
 and from then up to now, I have never had any more doubts.

Lingyun Zhiqin, dates unknown,  Searching for Thirty Years

A new month

Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you. No one ever died saying, “I’m sure glad for the self-centered, self-serving and self-protective life I lived.”

Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity. But understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail.

To grow in love and service, you — I, all of us — must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success… Clinging to what you already know and do well is the path to an unlived life. So, cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling again and again, then getting up again and again to learn — that’s the path to a life lived large, in service of love, truth, and justice.

Parker Palmer, The Six Pillars of the Wholehearted Life, Commencement Address,  Naropa University