Inside the huge Romanesque church the tourists jostled in the half darkness.
Vault gaped behind vault, no complete view.
An angel with no face embraced me
and whispered through my whole body:
“Don’t be ashamed of being human, be proud!
Inside you vault opens behind vault endlessly.
You will never be complete, that’s how it’s meant to be.“
Blind with tears
I was pushed out on the sun-seething piazza
together with Mr and Mrs Jones, Mr Tanaka, and Signora Sabatini,
and inside them all vault opened behind vault endlessly.
Tomas Transtromer, Romanesque Arches
More thoughts inspired by the desert, a place where we notice our thirst. As the original story tells us: “Tormented by thirst, they complained to Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out into the desert?’ “. We try to quench this thirst in numerous ways. However, the Buddhist tradition tells us that we need to come to a direct and felt understanding of a basic truth of human nature, which is the ultimately unsatisfactory nature of the contingent realities we encounter every day:
Desire full stop is always the desire of the Other.
It’s crucial for all of us to find a practice that will help us have a direct relationship with groundlessness,…a practice that will enable us to touch in with the transitoriness of our thoughts, our emotions, our car, our shoes, the paint job on our house. We can get used to the fleeting quality of life in a natural, gentle, even joyful way, by watching the seasons change, watching day turning to night, watching children grow up, watching sand castles dissolve back into the sea. But if we don’t find some way to make friends with groundlessness and the ever-changing energy of life, then we’ll always be struggling to find stability in a shifting world.
Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully
photo Karl and Ali
When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Aligning with your ‘yes!’ is about feeling nourished on every level – feeling deeply alive. I’m not talking about the shallow, quick-fix kinds of comfort that make us feel good only temporarily. The kind of feeling good that I’m talking about, which comes from aligning with your ‘yes!,’ is about listening for the deeper truth underneath all of that. It’s that knowledge that ‘I’m in the right place, at the right time, doing what I’m here to do.’ You feel grounded and at home in yourself. Your life becomes rooted in a deep ‘yes!’ You feel alive and grateful to be in direct contact with life. You are in touch with how exquisite it is to feel and be with the raw truth of all that is moving through you. This kind of alignment includes difficult emotions, pain, and tension. It can include illness and struggle. It is about being in direct, authentic contact with the wholeness of life. Nothing is denied. It is your truth and you are awake to it.
Deborah Zucker, The Vitality Map
This prayer is attributed to Saint Patrick, when he was in danger of being ambushed by the High King, Lóegaire mac Neill. To defend himself he takes in the energies associated with different elements of the natural world. The early Celtic Christians developed their inner life through paying attention rather than seeking direct visions. They cultivated this skill, rooted in the body, tuning into the 5 senses, or as they said, learning to play ‘the 5 stringed Harp’.
I bind onto myself today through the power of heaven!
The Light of the Sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendour of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of the wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.
St Patrick’s Shield, 8th Century
How can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these –
the untrimmable light of the world, the oceans shine
the prayers that are made
out of grass
Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Stay with the feeling in the body. Don’t advance into proliferating a story. Don’t retreat into denying the sense of hurt.
Not advancing, not retreating,
Not real, not empty.
There is an ocean of bright clouds.
There is an ocean of dark clouds.
Dogen, 1200 – 1253
photo Nicolas A. Tonelli