Friday, May 15, 2020

spring



Spring overall.
But inside us there is another unity.

Behind each eye here,
one glowing weather.

Every forest branch moves differently in the breeze,
but as they sway, they connect at the roots.





Rumi
tr. Coleman Barks
Photo:  Peter Bowers




Wednesday, May 13, 2020

now here


They are to be admired those survivors
of solitude who have gone with no maps
into the room without features,
where no wilderness awaits a footstep trace,
no path of danger to a cold summit
to look back on and feel exuberant,
no clarity of territories yet untouched
that tremble near the human breath,
no thickets of undergrowth with deep pores
to nest the litanies of wind addicted birds,
no friendship of other explorers
drawn into the dream of the unknown.


No. They do not belong to the outside worship
of the earth, but risk themselves in the interior
space where the senses have nothing to celebrate,
where the air intensifies the intrusion of the human
and a poultice of silence pulls every sound
out of circulation down into the ground,
where in the panic of being each breath unravels
an ever deeper strand in the web of weaving mind,
shawls of thought fall off, empty and lost,
where only the red scream of the blood continues unheard
without anonymous skin, and the end of all exploring
is the relentless arrival at an ever novel nowhere.





John O'Donohue
Echoes of Memory
Photo: Peter Bowers






Monday, May 11, 2020

home



For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.





Hermann Hesse
Wandering
with thanks: brainpickings
Photo: Peter Bowers






Friday, May 8, 2020

i would like to describe



I would like to describe the simplest emotion
joy or sadness
but not as others do
reaching for shafts of rain or sun

I would like to describe a light
which is being born in me
but I know it does not resemble
any star
for it is not so bright
not so pure
and is uncertain

I would like to describe courage
without dragging behind me a dusty lion
and also anxiety
without shaking a glass full of water

to put it another way
I would give all metaphors
in return for one word
drawn out of my breast like a rib
for one word
contained within the boundaries
of my skin

but apparently this is not possible

and just to say - I love
I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face

and anger
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue

so is blurred
so is blurred
in me
what white-haired gentlemen
separated once and for all
and said
this is the subject
and this is the object

we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets

our feet abandon us
and taste the earth
with their tiny roots
which next morning
we tear out painfully






Zbigniew Herbert
photo:  Peter Bowers






Thursday, April 30, 2020

the tree


The tree rises from the  dark.

It circles around the "heart of darkness" from which it reaches towards the light.

A tree is a perfect presence.

It is somehow able to engage and integrate its own dissolution.

The tree is wise in knowing how to foster its own loss.

It does not become haunted by the loss nor addicted to it.

The tree shelters and minds the loss.

Out of this comes the quiet dignity and poise of a tree's presence.

Trees stand beautifully on the clay.

They stand with dignity.

A  life that wishes to honour its own possibility
has to learn too how to integrate the suffering
 of dark and bleak times
into a dignity of presence.

Letting go of old forms of life, a tree practices
hospitality towards new forms of life.

It balances the perennial energies of winter and spring
within its own living bark.

The tree is wise in the art of belonging.

...

The tree can reach towards the light,
endure wind, rain, and storm,
precisely because it is rooted.

Each of its branches is ultimately anchored in a reliable depth of clay.

The wisdom of the tree balances the path inwards with the pathway outwards.





John O'Donohue
Eternal Echoes
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Sunday, April 5, 2020

dance


At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards;
At the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance,
And there is only the dance.


T. S. Eliot
Photo:  Peter Bowers




...we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us;
we enter the little circle of each other's arms,
and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,
and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments.


Wendell Berry
excerpt: Healing






Friday, March 27, 2020

this too


Something is dying
Something is being born

The shedding
of the old
skin
is but the birth
of a new one...

The void
is 
the falling
and flying
simultaneously

but we can only
grasp
one
side of the coin
at a time.

The silence
in between
breaths

whispers
the ephemeral nature
of all:

Peace is in the eye of the storm.






with thanks: the beauty we love
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Sunday, March 22, 2020

the buddha's last instruction



"Make of yourself a light,"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning.
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal - a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might of said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire -
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.




Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, March 20, 2020

entrance


Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free.





Rainer Maria Rilke
Translation:  Dana Gioia
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Saturday, March 14, 2020

vulnerability


is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others.  More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.





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






Friday, March 6, 2020

the first time percy came back


The first time Percy came back
he was not sailing on a cloud.
He was loping along the sand as though
he had come a great way.
"Percy," I cried out, and reached to him -
               those white curls -
but he was unreachable.  As music
is present yet you can't touch it.
"Yes, it's all different," he said.
"You're going to be very surprised."
But I wasn't thinking of that. I only
wanted to hold him. "Listen," he said,
"I miss that too.
And now you'll be telling stories
               of my coming back
and they won't be false, and they won't be true,
but they'll be real."
And then, as he used to, he said, "Let's go!"
And we walked down the beach together.





Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Wednesday, February 26, 2020

the bell and the blackbird


The sound
of a bell
still reverberating,

or a blackbird
calling
from a corner
of the
field.

Asking you
to wake
into this life
or inviting you
deeper
to one that waits.

Either way
takes courage,
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,
wants you to walk
to the place
where you find
you already know
how to give
every last thing
away.

The approach
that is also
the meeting
itself,
without any
meeting
at all.

That radiance
you have always
carried with you
as you walk
both alone
and completely
accompanied
in friendship
by every corner
of the world
crying
Allelujah.





David Whyte
Photo:  Peter Bowers