Wonderful and wise

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

Mary Oliver, Reckless Poem (extract) 

On the island


how would it be to allow for knowing
and not knowing:

allowing room
for the mystery
of creating
to be able to wonder
without needing to understand everything
to trust in the process
to trust in love
to trust in the mystery and wonder
of the universe
that beats softly wildly
all round about us,
that is hidden
in the mists
in the clouds and the rain
in the wind blowing and the rain lashing down on your window,
reminding you
that this is where you are,
on the island,
at the edge,
in a place of finding
and refinding,
and remembering
to remember
the feel of the mist, wind and rain.

Author Unknown, sometimes attributed to John O’Donohue

The Blessing of nature

Went for a long walk yesterday and while out it started to  gently rain, that soft rain which is very characteristic of Ireland. 

I don’t know   
why I’m walking out here

with my coat darkening
and my boots sinking in, coming up

with a mild sucking sound   
I like to hear. I don’t care

where those girls are now.   
Whatever they’ve made of it

they can have. Today I want   
to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold

blessing of the rain,   
and lift my face to it.

Kim Addonizio, New Year’s Day, with thanks to David Kanigan’s blog, Thrive


In the deep midwinter

Today’s midwinter solstice begins the gradual rebirth of light in the Northern Hemisphere after the shortest days of the year. It marks a turning point, a reversal of the lengthening of night and shortening of days.  Slow stirrings of light and life. Whatever is now just germinating will be full of life in due time. As humans we like to see immediate results. However, for now, all we can do is wait and trustWe move on, and look to the future, even if we do not know what shape it will take.

In times like these, I turn back into the heart of our faith traditions, searching for hope. And hope is there to be found, in great abundance. This is not mere optimism. This is not about how we see, what we see. No, it’s about something more rooted in faith: its about hope, “Go back to your fortresses, ye prisoners of hope.” This message in the Bible is also taught by the Prophet Mohammad: “If the Hour of Resurrection comes up, and one of you is holding a sapling, finish planting it“

It is an amazing saying. If the End of Days is upon you, still, finish planting. Go ahead with the act, even if it — and you — will not survive to fruition. How powerful this is for us. We are so often tied to the results of our work, the fruits of our labor. What Muhammad offers us is hope; faith is hope in the unseen. 

 It is faith in the loveliness of a simple act of kindness  — apart from whether it will be reciprocated, whether we will live long enough to see its fruits. Acts of beauty are redemptive in and of themselves. So let us, friends, keep planting. Yes, there are days that it seems like the world around us is coming to an end. It may — or it may not. But let us keep planting. Let us have hope that the accumulation of our collective planting may save this small planet, and our own souls.

Omid Safi, In Time of Despair, Keep Planting

The calm underneath

Another storm system passed over last evening. A very unsettled start to the winter season, reflecting a general belief here that climate patterns are changing resulting in greater extremes of weather. On the emotional level, the key is finding the still point within. 

Even in the middle of a hurricane, the bottom of the sea is calm. As the storm rages and the winds howl, the deep waters sway in gentle rhythm, a light movement of fish and plant life. Below there is no storm.

Wayne Muller, How Then, Shall We Live?: Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives