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Sunday, July 31, 2016

There is no image...

A photo I took yesterday of a Magnolia in blossom...
and a piece I read this morning from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God:

I want to utter you. I want to portray you
not with lapis or gold, but with colors made with apple bark.
There is no image I could invent
that your presence would not eclipse.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Good news (for a change!)

One of the things I like about the Gratefulness site is that it has a tab for Grateful News every month. Click here for a good news story about a neighbourhood 'cookout' where police joined in the fun. It was organised by the Black Lives Matter local group.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

You come and go

I'm still slowly savouring the poems from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. I keep turning back to this one. It has many resonances for me:

You come and go. The doors swing closed
ever more gently, almost without a shudder.
Of all who move through the quiet houses,
you are the quietest.

We become so accustomed to you, we no longer look up
when your shadow falls over the book we are reading
and makes it glow. For all things
sing you: at times
we just hear them more clearly.

Often when I imagine you
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer
and I am dark, I am forest.

You are the wheel at which I stand,
whose dark spokes sometimes catch me up,
revolve me nearer the centre.
Then the work I put my hand to
widens from turn to turn.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

If you can't make it all the way

If you can't make it all the way to the top,
don't be embarrassed about needing
to take a cat-nap halfway!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Do not lose heart

This is a longer post than usual. I'm copying below a reflection I find inspiring. Thanks to Bev for sending it from the Contemplative Network Aotearoa.

We Were Made for These Times
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes 
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall:

When a great ship is in harbour and moored, 
it is safe, there can be no doubt. 
But that is not what great ships are built for.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Even when the tide is out....

Even when the tide is out
the filtered sunlight reflects colours.
Remember to look for a different kind of beauty.

(If you are interested in an article I wrote many years ago on this theme click here to a 2011 Blog Post.)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Inspiring children

Two children have inspired me over the last week. I haven't met either of them!
Thomas is one of the many children with disabilities supported by CBM mission. He has club feet and has never been able to walk upright. But soon, after corrective surgery and six weeks in plaster, he will experience that freedom for the first time.

The joy and anticipation on the faces of Thomas and his mother is inspiring in itself - as is the marvellous work of CBM. But it is particularly inspiring to me this week as I have been "disabled" by a back injury that makes it hard to sit, stand or walk for more than short periods of time. Thomas (and thousands of other disabled people) help me to shift my focus from dismay and frustration to gratitude that I can sit, stand and walk - even if only for short periods of time.

Then there's Clara... a ten year old girl from Muriwai, here in Auckland, who has produced a Cookbook for Vegetarian meals because she is passionate about the care of animals. Here she is with her mother in China where she was recently awarded the prize for Best Children's cookbook.
I bought a copy of her book this week and it is stunning! Such easy, healthy recipes and every page with photos and art work by Clara herself. Check out the website here for more of her story. She has been interviewed on Radio NZ and TV3 - expressing her passion for animals and her desire for more of us to become vegetarian. She inspires me never to think that one person can't have a powerful influence for good. (Buy the book! You can do so on the website or at bookshops listed there, or by emailing info@clarascookbook.co.nz)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Parker Palmer on Trump

If you are as dismayed and concerned about Donald Trump's campaign as I am, here's a very thoughtful essay by Parker Palmer: Looking at Trump and Seeing Ourselves. (Thanks to the Prodigal Kiwi Blog for putting me onto this!)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Widening circles and rooted trees

I'm re-reading an old favourite in my morning meditation time: Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. (Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy) Two recent poems connected so well with my current review of my journals. The first one echoes the reason I chose Concentric Circles as the name of this Blog:
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

The next one expresses poetically the experience of reading back through all those years:
I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that's wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.