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

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