A long weekend in Ireland. Time to switch off and nourish our deeper selves:
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.…
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Live a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Wendell Berry, How to Be a poet
One of the foundations of wisdom is to see that things are always changing, and changing in ways that we do not expect. The weather we are having these “Summer” days helps – showers, followed by sun, followed today by longer spells of rain:
It must be obvious..
that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe
whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.
Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
This weekend, thousands of pilgrims will climb Croagh Patrick, a mountain which was considered sacred as far back as 3000 years BC and associated with St Patrick from the time he fasted there. Ireland today is bombarded today with lots of examples of what will lead to a happy life, such as wearing certain types of clothes, such and such a diet, success in achieving goals, quick-fix self-help slogans and imitating celebrities. However, in the wisdom developed in Celtic spirituality around the time of Patrick – over 1500 years ago – a fulfilled life had three elements: being close to nature, having concern for those less fortunate and being grateful. Let’s see which will lead to greater contentment….
Let me bless almighty God, whose power extends over sea and land, whose angels watch over all.
Let me do my daily work, gathering seaweed, catching fish, giving food to the poor.
Let me say my daily prayers, sometimes chanting, sometimes quiet, always thanking God.
Delightful it is to live on a peaceful isle, in a quiet cell, serving the King of kings.
The Prayer of St. Columba, 521-597 A.D.
The weekend, which allows the possibility to get out in nature, is a good time to share some of Mary Oliver’s poetry. This one is about flowers and how some are less “perfect” than others. But it is also about relationships and what hopes we have for our heart, about a greater beauty that embraces the clearly imperfect and allows us cast away the hassles of the everyday which are not us. We are nourished.
Shared moments, flowers, meanings and the stories that feed us.
What in this world
I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided–
and that one wears an orange blight–
and this one is a glossy cheek
half nibbled away–
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking
into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.
Mary Oliver, The Ponds
Sometimes Monday mornings can be a challenge, and what is not going right comes to mind more easily, as we start back into work after a relaxed and sunny Sunday. So we remind ourselves that one does not have to be completely satisfied with everything before one can be content. Similarly, everything does not have to be just as you would like it in your life for you to be grateful.
Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have.
Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape
The wilderness constantly reminds me that wholeness is not about perfection….
I have been astonished to see how nature uses devastation to stimulate new growth, slowly but persistently healing her own wounds. Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness – mine, yours, ours – need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.
Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness
Sometimes unexpected winds blow. It is best to find strength within oneself at moments like this:
You too are a tree. During a storm of emotions, you should not stay at the level of the head or the heart, which are like the top of the tree. You have to leave the heart, the eye of the storm, and come back to the trunk of the tree. Your trunk is one centimeter below your navel. Focus there, paying attention only to the movement of your abdomen, and continue to breathe.
Thích Nhat Hạnh