Sunday, August 7, 2022

Today

 Today Tyler sold our Murano. When he asked me last night what I thought about selling it, I truthfully said that I was pretty neutral about the decision. We have not been using it much. Yet today, the sale has left me thinking that this is more of a passage than I first realized. The main reason we do not use it much anymore is that our dog Jack is not healthy enough to travel. We have decided that once Jack passes, we are not going to have a dog for a while. We are going to travel a little more lightly.  

The Murano was loved not only by Jack, but by our other two dogs as well, both who have long since passed. Except when driven once a year to Costco, it was usually the vehicle that symbolized fun, whether we were going to the beach or on a longer trek. We will travel again, but the Murano had simply become just a little too big for our needs.  
 
After the transaction was complete and the Murano was on its way, we sat in the backyard and had lunch.  I told Tyler, "We have just downsized!'  We have more downsizing to do, of course, but yes, this is a time of change. The exterior of the house has recently been painted, and Tyler has been working diligently on a backyard project of taking out the hot tub and creating a nice seating area in its place.  A very pleasant young woman who has recently started her own landscaping business is going to help create a dry landscape for the front yard that does not include dead grass. I am grateful.    
In an anthology of prayers entitled God Makes the Rivers To Flow, Eknath Easwaran included a beautiful Native American Indian prayer, Great Life-Giving Spirit. The entire prayer is too long to include here, but I shall conclude with part of it. I love the image of fading into beautiful color. This is an image worth keeping as the journey continues.     
    
  
Spirit who comes out of the East, 
come to me with the power of the rising sun. 
Let there be light in my word. 
Let there be light on the path that I walk. 
Let me remember always that you give the gift of a new day. 
Never let me be burdened with sorrow by not starting over....

Great life-giving Spirit, 
I face the West, 
the direction of the sundown. 
Let me remember every day that the moment will come 
when my sun will go down.  
Never let me forget that I must fade into you.  
Give me beautiful color. 
Give me a great sky for setting, 
and when it is time to meet you, 
I come with glory.   





      
image: San Leandro, August 2022

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Concentration

 I do admire how bees simply go about being bees, even in these difficult times. There is a lesson here.  I am comfortable leaving honey making to the bees. We, however, do need to do our part and concentrate on learning to live in peace.  

I am not familiar with Alden Solovy's writing. I look forward to reading more.   

Bees

The bees
Do not stop
Collecting pollen
When humans
Murder each other
With guns.
The bees think:
How strange,
How low
On the evolutionary scale
Must those humans be,
That they haven’t yet
Figured out
How to make honey
Or peace.
    —Alden Solovy   






   
image: San Leandro, July 1, 2022

Monday, June 27, 2022

Continuing

 I generally do not open emails first thing in the morning. I will, however, do a quick check just to make sure there is nothing critical going on since I do not keep my phone by my bedside at night unless Tyler is away. Yet, this morning, I did open an email from First Sip. In it, I believe I found a dependable compass for how to go forward. I love the word magnificent, and I need to bring it back into my vocabulary. Tyler and I have been watching the Netflix series, "Our Great National Parks" narrated by Barack Obama. It is a beautiful, hopeful look at our magnificent planet. Great hope can be found when people work together to stop plundering and begin to preserve and restore. Even in the midst of a drought and climate change, I have reason to believe that the beauty of God's creation will endure.


"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
  
~ Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
First Sip      





 
 
image: Sonoma State University, June 2022

Monday, June 6, 2022

Maybe This Is Perfection

 "Failure is something through which we have to learn. So every time you say your mantra and you get distracted, don’t see it as a failure. Just learn from it, and you learn by going back to it. So it’s not about success, it’s about perseverance. It’s not about success, it’s about faithfulness. And that’s how we learn and that’s how we grow. If you are trying to do it just by being perfect, you will exhaust yourself and you will give up. This way you will learn something immensely beneficial."   

Father Laurence Freeman, OSB     
 
This morning I reminded our dog Jack of this very thing. He was not trying to meditate, but rather get on the couch. He is older and sometimes has trouble getting his body and mind aligned to do what he wants. This morning he did not quite make it. He started to walk away, but I called him back, encouraging  him to try again. The second time, he had no trouble. Was it because he knew I was right behind him?  Maybe just trying again helped him focus?  Maybe a bit of both?  I do not know. What I do know is that I, too, often have a similar  struggle.  Yet, what I am slowly learning is that just as there is no such thing as perfection of faith, I am also learning that in my life there really is no such thing as perfection at all. Perfection is God's realm. I am grateful to set that burden down. I can move a little easier, be a little braver, laugh a little more readily.  It is all journey, and it is all a new undertaking. Fortunately, I still have a ways to go. 
 



  
   
image: San Leandro, May 2022      
 
A small group of us gather via Zoom every Wednesday at 4:00 Pacific time for a short period of meditation in the Christian tradition. If you would like to join us, drop me a note to get the link.   
 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Definitely That Kind of Day

 It is certainly that kind of day here in the East Bay. No, the photograph is not of a peony, but rather a blooming tree that I call the sunny side up tree. I love the golden heart in the center: a glimpse of the soul springing from the essence of God's love.  May all humanity know we, too, can shine with this love. We only have to be willing to let ourselves bloom.   

   
Today
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
So uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

That it made you want to throw
Open all the windows in the house

And unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
Indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

A day when the cool brick paths
And the garden bursting with peonies

Seemed so etched in sunlight
That you felt like taking

A hammer to the glass paperweight
On the living room end table,

Releasing the inhabitants
From their snow-covered cottage

So they could walk out,
Holding hands and squinting

Into this larger dome of blue and white,
Well, today is just that kind of day.

~ Billy Collins
First Sip 






image: San Leandro, on the last day of May, 2022

Monday, May 23, 2022

Just in Time

I do struggle with self-care some. It is not that I do not practice meditation or yoga or walking. Sometimes I forget to do things just because I enjoy them. However, yesterday Tyler and I drove to Inverness to have dinner with friends. I shall remember for quite awhile that bowl of blueberry ice cream topped with a tiny flower. A beautiful outing and a wonderfully peaceful drive home.  On Saturday, we took Jack on a short walk in the East Bay Hills.  I shall try to keep these practices of going out just because. 

   
"Some days it feels like a foreign language
I'm asked to practice, with new words
for happiness, work, and love. I'm still learning
how to say: a cup of tea for no reason,
what to call the extra honey I drizzle in,
how to label the relentless urge to do more
and more as useless. And how to translate
the heart's pounding message when it comes:
enough, enough. This morning, I search for words
to capture the glimmering sun as it lifts
above the mountains, clouds already closing in
as fat droplets of rain darken the deck.
I'm learning to call this stillness self-care too,
just standing here, as goldfinches scatter up
from around the feeder like broken pieces
of bright yellow stained-glass, reassembling
in the sheltering arms of a maple."

~ James Crews
This poem came to me through First Sip. This information was included: 
"This poem can be found in the lovely new poetry anthology The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy, edited by James Crews."   







image:  I love James Crews' description of goldfinches. I have no photographs of goldfinches, but this morning's light on the nashtursims was ephemeral and quite beautiful.  I call it May Light.    


Monday, April 18, 2022

The Expanding Universe That Is Us

 When I read the following passage early Easter morning, I felt the stirring of a deepening understanding of Easter. I had no doubt that  that resurrection is ongoing. I have always believed that,  but yesterday I absorbed it at the cellular level.  We are not celebrating just an ancient story, we are celebrating the Christ who is always with us and who continually urges us to expand. I usually do not wear a robe when I preach, but for Easter I certainly do. It was a blessing to don my white robe and red stole with a white dove that the San Lorenzo church gave me a few years ago.  I felt amazingly light and light-filled. I knew only love. 

 Blessings to you this Easter Monday. May you, too, sense your freedom as you read this passage from Silence and Stillness in Every Season by John Main. The text originally appeared in his book, Moment of Christ.     
   
Our Christian life is not just a question of finding a way of getting through our lives. Every word of the New Testament suggests to us that it is of supreme importance that we live our lives in a state of continuous expansion, expansion of heart and expansion of Spirit, growing in love and becoming more firmly rooted in God. Each of us has to understand our potential, that we are an expanding universe, and so each of us possesses the potential for an energy-expansion that is not less than infinite.     
   




image:  San Leandro, April 2016    
  
We gather via Zoom every Wednesday at 4:00 p.m to meditate in the Christian tradition.  Drop me a note if you would like to join us!