Thursday, December 30, 2021

awakened

'you can stop worrying now'


In advanced age, my health worsening, 
I woke up in the middle of the night,
and experienced a feeling of happiness
so intense and perfect that in all my life
I had only felt its premonition.
And there was no reason for it
It didn't obliterate consciousness;
the past which I carried was there,
together with my grief.
And it was suddenly included,
was a necessary part of the whole.
As if a voice were repeating:
"You  can stop worrying now;
everything happened just as it had to.
You did what was assigned to you,
and you are not required anymore
to think of what happened long ago."
The peace I felt was a closing of accounts
and was connected with the thought of death.
The happiness on this side was
like an announcement of the other side.
I realized that this was an undeserved gift
and I could not grasp by what grace
it was bestowed on me.





Czeslaw Milosz
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, December 24, 2021

lute music


The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents—
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once—

Here at the year’s end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts—
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.






Kenneth Rexroth
Photo:  Peter Bowers







Monday, December 13, 2021

priceless gifts


An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

I heard 
in my heartbeat
the birth of time
and each instant of life
one after the other 
came rushing in
like priceless gifts.





Anna Swir (Swirszczynska)
Talking to My Body
Translation: Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Monday, November 22, 2021

november

Sunset On The Last Day Of Hunting Season




What deer still remain are far back in the woods by now.
They count their losses.  The others count
their trophies.  The score is even.
It's always a tie in the duality game.













Small Ponds 




Small ponds freeze first,
in the beginning, with just a film
at sunrise you wouldn't even
notice and then a crust
that lasts till noon.  Now half-sunk slush
doesn't melt and the conspiracy of molecules
spreads to lakes.  In the stillness
of a single night, when one breath
of wind might make the difference
between water and ice, solid reaches in and in
and grasps the last ripple for its own.













Vision Statement




Imagine swans
                       with black wingtip
           soaring in wedges,
wheeling on a sullen sky –



Imagine these snow geese
                       in late November
           scouting out a plausible lake
just before freeze-up –



Imagine we, too,
                       are that beautiful,
           streaming transparence,
aloft and countless,


heading home.





Joan Ruvinsky
Photos:  Peter Bowers


Joan Ruvinsky and Peter Bowers






november 
remembering  
her many faces
and none at all

t






Sunday, November 14, 2021

revelation must be terrible

 
Revelation must be
  terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.

Imagine that moment,
  staring at the still waters,
with only the brief tremor

of your body to say
  you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.

Being far from home is hard, but you know,
  at least we are all exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world

you are on your own for
  the first time.  No one is
even interested in saving you now

and the world steps in
  to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment,

as if it believed you could join
  its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.

As if you were meant to be exactly 
  where you are, as if, 
like the dark branch of a desert river

you could flow on without a speck
  of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.

As if your place in the world mattered
  and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of

its own bitter and beautiful cry
  without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.

Knowing it takes only
  that first, terrible 
word to make the circle complete,

revelation must be terrible
  knowing you can
never hide your voice again.






David Whyte
River Flow: New and Selected Poems
Photo: Peter Bowers






Thursday, October 7, 2021

to bow

 

To which direction shall we bow,
to what sacred space, shrine or God,
if not to the bowing itself?









Pir Elias Amidon
Free Medicine
Photo:  Peter Bowers






learning from trees


If we could,
like the trees,
practice dying,
do it every year
just as something we do—
like going on vacation
or celebrating birthdays,
it would become
as easy a part of us
as our hair or clothing.

Someone would show us how
to lie down and fade away
as if in deepest meditation,
and we would learn
about the fine dark emptiness,
both knowing it and not knowing it,
and coming back would be irrelevant.

Whatever it is the trees know
when they stand undone,
surprisingly intricate,
we need to know also
so we can allow
that last thing
to happen to us
as if it were only
any ordinary thing,

...





Grace Butcher
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Wednesday, October 6, 2021

heartbreak


is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight.

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colours and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life.  Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in love relationship, in a life's work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete's quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we hope we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

Our hope to circumvent heartbreak in adulthood is beautifully and ironically child-like; heartbreak is as inescapable and inevitable as breathing, a part and parcel of every path, asking its due in every sincere course an individual takes, it may be that there may be not only no real life without the raw revelation of heartbreak, but no single path we can take within a life that will allow us to escape without having that imaginative organ we call the heart broken by what it holds and then has to let go.

In a sobering physical sense, every heart does eventually break, as the precipitating reason for death or because the rest of the body has given up before it and can no longer sustain its steady beat, but hearts also break in an imaginative and psychological sense: there is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak. A marriage, a committed vow to another, even in the most settled, loving relationship, will always break our hearts at one time or another; a successful marriage has often had its heart broken many times just in order for the couple to stay together; parenthood, no matter the sincerity of our love for a child, will always break the mold of our motherly or fatherly hopes, a good work seriously taken, will often take everything we have and still leave us wanting; and finally even the most self compassionate, self examination should, if we are sincere, lead eventually to existential disappointment.

Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose.  It is the hidden DNA of our relationship with life, outlining outer forms even when we do not feel it by the intimate physical experience generated by it absence; it can also ground us truly in whatever grief we are experiencing, set us to planting a seed with what we have left or appreciate what we have built even as we stand in its ruins.

If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, and even, its own reward.  Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path.  It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.





David Whyte
Consolations
The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Tuesday, September 21, 2021

how to fall in love


When you shift your focus
from what is absent
to what is present,
from what is missing
to what has been given,
from what you are not
to who you are,
from the ravages of linear time
to the immediacy of Now,
you are reconnecting
with love, truth and beauty,
and abundance is yours,
effortlessly.

For in truth,
nothing is lacking where you are,
nothing is missing from the present scene of the movie of your life,
and you are forever full,
and at the point of completion.

The only reason
you cannot find Oneness
is because you never left.

The day is just waiting to be lived.

So breathe in life, friend,
breathe in life.





Jeff Foster




Tuesday, September 7, 2021

relief

 

The only thing we know about death is the moment when the whole fear construct falls away and then rises again and the shock of me-ness occurs.  If we really pay attention to it, we will see that the me is fear.

This moment and the death process are the same. You will always meet death here.  Here is always the opportunity to surrender and to experience something that you don't know about. The relief of death is the relief from living in fear, the relief from the burden of the known. That is available here. Right now. And it will always be. And the one opportunity to take the one action that you can take will always be here and now. That is to surrender to what is. 





Steven Harrison
What's Next After Now
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Tuesday, August 31, 2021

the role i play

 

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it's mine, I can't exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play's all about.

Ill prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can't conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for hammy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can't take back,
stars you'll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run - 
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven't seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn't even clear my throat offstage).

You'd be wrong to think that it's just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I'm standing on the set and I see how strong it is. 
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there' s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I've done. 





Wislawa Szymborska
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Sunday, July 25, 2021

pride


If I claim I was a terrible, horrible,
Evil no-good person,
It would be a lie, and it would be
Wanting always to be the best or the worst.
So now I'm destined to wander,
My bag full of pride a lot lighter,
And if I say I am done
With whatever ails me,
That would also be a lie.
I am not done, will never be done
Till the day I die,
But I am content to be human,
Naked and shaking with love
At the moment, and the next moment,
I just can't say.




Noelle Kocot
Photo: Peter Bowers