Things could be otherwise

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A day when I am aware of the gift of life.

This poem was written by Jane Kenyon shortly before she died of leukemia at age 47, aware that things would soon change for her.

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Jane Kenyon, Otherwise

photo harald hoyer

Hold things lightly

clouds-square

February has begun rainy and very wild and windy here in Ireland. I am reminded of how Ryokan worked with the mental energies, thoughts, feelings and moods which passed through his body-mind. We can learn a lot from these monks on how to work in a practical way with our daily experience:

Not being so attached to our facts,  or even our “alternative facts”, and how to let go of certain types of thoughts which are just not important.

If someone asks about 
the mind of this monk, 
say it is no more than a passage of wind 
in the vast sky. 

Ryokan, 1758 – 1831, Buddhist monk, hermit and poet.

The wonder of this day

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All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shells of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

John O’Donohue, Morning Prayer

Halloween bonfires

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This evening marks the important Celtic feast of Samhain which starts winter and we enter the “darker half” of the year, a theme which is somewhat reflected in the celebration of Halloween. However, the ancient idea was far deeper, as we are invited to go inside and imitate the landscape in slowing down. Some element of darkness is present in all our lives. Modern society has enough elements to keep up distracted, but inevitably, from time to time, we are confronted with life’s fragility and we are invited to welcome its lessons. Moments such as these help burn away what is not essential and bring us back to our foundations. We see what really matters  and realize that searching outside of ourselves is not the way:

How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,  
that for us  
as we go up in flames,

our one work is
to open ourselves, to be  
the flames?

Galway Kinnell

Sunday Quote: Grounded inside yourself

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In the past days,  how many times have we run this way and that, expending energy in places that don’t really align with the deepest sense of where we are going?

Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save;

they just stand there shining

Anne Lamott