Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

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“…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It’s the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which ranks in my mind as one of the “big three” of American documents the underpin not just the laws, but the heart and soul of America. With some loose talk around of secession, and agonizing wars overseas, it’s time to rededicate ourselves to this sentiment.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

–Abraham Lincoln

Amen.

Things Big and Little

Holidays often provoke a thoughtful and slightly sad reaction in me. So many milestones passed, for good or ill. So much done already in life, and still daunting mountains to climb.

I look around at friends’ lives, and I see that we’re all facing challenges — things big and little. An old friend facing a cancer diagnosis; one whose marriage may be stressed beyond redemption; another facing persistent financial lack; overwhelm at work; insecurities about work; boredom, sorrow, fear and loneliness.

Through all these saddening lenses, I also see glimmers of hope: things big and little that give grace and laughter. A bird’s song outside my window; a friend’s supportive and loving wife; petting my cat’s silky fur; listening to music while I knit; a leave fluttering down in the soft summer twilight; my pink petunias waiting to be transplanted; a leader’s decision to speak out and bring hope to thousands; a child waiting impatiently for Mr. Softee (yes, he still exists!).

Things big and little make up our lives. We pray for big joys and small sorrows, but often encounter the reverse. But joy and sorrow need not have binding qualifications. Joy can know no bounds, whether from a bird’s song or a newborn’s wail. Sorrow can be lessened through joy, no matter their relatives sizes.

This Memorial Day, I thank my son and your sons and daughters for their service. I pause, grateful and moved, at the sacrifices of so many. I remember my husband, my parents, and too many friends who have already left us, leaving holes big and small in our lives.

I wipe away a tear that blinds me with refracted sunlight, hear a bird singing in the yard, and listen for the wisdom, big and little, that relaxes my tightness, deepens my breath, and finally transmutes the fears, the sorrows, the pains into peace.

And so it is.

Tarot Tuesday: Possibilities

I actually think I drew this card once before… it’s possible (sorry — couldn’t resist).

It’s also incredibly appropriate for my life right now. Though I feel a bit more like the eagle’s potential prey: frozen in place.

What a view. What a multitude of fields and peaks, hidden valleys and coves. Sunrise or Sunset? So many choices. So much potential.

I’ve thought a lot about the experience of excitement, and it’s close connection with the experience of fear. It’s mostly how we choose to interpret our bodies’ signals. My heart pounds, my palms sweat, my breath comes faster and rougher. Am I scared or excited? One feels so bad, one so good….

Here is a choice point in all the possibilities. I can choose which feelings I put more energy into. I can feed one possibility above others, and increase the chances of that one coming to fruition. Do I want to feed the fear?   No! 

So I slow my breathing, center and ground myself, and open to the other feelings available to me. Ah, there it is, a squiggle of excitement, a snippet of joy, a sigh of bliss…. all available, all different possible futures.  What will I pick?

From the Osho Zen Tarot:
Mind can accept any boundary anywhere. But the reality is that, by its very nature, existence cannot have any boundary, because what will be beyond the boundary? – again another sky.

That’s why I am saying skies upon skies are available for your flight. Don’t be content easily. Those who remain content easily remain small: small are their joys, small are their ecstasies, small are their silences, small is their being. But there is no need! This smallness is your own imposition upon your freedom, upon your unlimited possibilities, upon your unlimited potential.

Osho Live Zen Chapter 2
 
Commentary:
The eagle has an overview of all the possibilities contained in the landscape below, as he flies freely, naturally and effortlessly through the sky. He is really in his domain, very grand and self-contained.

This card indicates that you are at a point where a world of possibilities is open to you. Because you have grown more loving towards yourself, more self-contained, you can work easily with others. Because you are relaxed and at ease, you can recognize possibilities as they present themselves, sometimes even before others can see them. Because you are in tune with your own nature, you understand that existence is providing you with exactly what you need.

Enjoy the flight! And celebrate all the varied wonders of the landscape spread before you.

Meeting a Commitment

Nearly six months ago I made a commitment to myself and my coach to walk with her to the riverside at our final coaching retreat. This past week I met that commitment. By many standards it wasn’t a long or difficult walk, but for me — at this time in my life — it was substantial. So, on a hot early summer morning, my coach and I, hand in hand, heading down the path to the river. 

Not all experiences that have the potential to be landmark ones live up to their hype. This one did. In quiet beauty the woods and fields welcomed us as we walked. We stopped for a vivid, iridescent blue dragonfly. We gazed at an old barn through a field punctuated by two small trees dense with deep claret leaves. We listened to the hiss and burble of a creek tumbling down the same hill just out of our sight. We shared the space with shaded ferns, tiny mushrooms, wild jasmine and blue and yellow butterflies.

It was hot, I dripped sweat, body parts alternately ached and throbbed. I felt safe and beloved with my coach. The river beckoned and delivered on its promise of cool shade and clear, mountain water dancing over  rocks and through patches of sunshine. An old wooden bench gave me welcomed rest and time to savor the accomplishment.

We practiced a tai chi exercise called the four flowers — and I learned the first pattern which was chrysanthemum.  We felt the breeze, heard the far off deep rumble of a tractor and the high floating song of a bird.  We returned up the steep and rocky path to the lodge. I felt satisfied, and both exalted and exhausted — a heady combination.

Thank you Wendy, for being a skilled, compassionate coach, and a loving friend.

 
Take Me to The River
 
Take me to the river.
Take me by the hand and lead me from under
the comfortable arbor of my fears.
 
Take me to the river.
Walk with me, stumbling, on a new path,
still fettered by the stony present.
 
Take me to the river.
Talk with me about the shape and texture of the future,
blooming, blooming,
like a chrysanthemum in the sun.
 

Joining the Modern World

At least, I think I am. Maybe I’m just joining the current mass hysteria. Either way, I’ve joined twitter. I’m on Facebook. I blog. I got my very own cellphone. What am I missing?

I feel both all grown up and out there on a limb…but I’m joining in. I need to further my presence in the world, and these were quick and relatively painless ways to do so.

I almost titled this one “Isn’t It Ironic,” after the song by Alanis Morrisette. Right after posting about the tarot card on clinging to the past, I joined the massive pool of the laid-off. Yup, I lost my job of 14 years.

Like anyone in this space, I feel a million different feelings, and have a ga-zillion different fears and hopes. I expect I’ll be blogging about some of them during the coming months. In the meantime, I’m going outside now, to water my garden.

Peace.

Got the Blues…

Christmas 2007

One lingering effect from my husband’s death a little over two years ago, is the loss of my love of the Christmas holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, my appreciation for the Christ (Truth) wherever and whenever I find it has not diminished. But the celebration of the Winter Holidays — the traditions: carols, the greens,  the tree, the baking, special holiday movies (I haven’t watched them again yet), making gifts, the sheer delight and burgeoning excitement — all gone.

This year, I’ve felt tiny tickles of it. Like a delicate poke at my side, a whispered, “joy to the world — remember?” from deep inside. I did a little Christmas shopping yesterday, and felt mild pleasure at getting things for people. I feel, what, convalescent?

Perhaps that is all it is. Christmas was a special time for our relationship — as it is for so many, of course. I miss the old Dennis, who entered into it all with enthusiasm. I miss the partner-in-crime at spending too much on Josh. The anticipation of surprise. The shared moments of understanding, of heartbreaking delight. I just miss…

I also trust. Joy always returns, Love is everpresent. Happiness is a choice – or rather, a continuing selection of choices that move us into the shining stream of it. So I’m choosing. Today we’ll get a tree (just a small one to start). Drag out the lights and ornaments.  Ooh and aah over them, select the right one for each spot. Put on the holiday music in the background. Eat the first batch of cookies while we work. I’ll lean into the tingles of joy, the moments of delight. I’ll accept the pain and aching empty of missing. I’ll choose to celebrate, not to mourn. And it will get better and better and better.

Happy Holidays to you … may you have joy and peace in whatever ways you celebrate at this ending of the year

Namaste,

L

Wake Me in October

My Father, undated

September is a really tough month for me.

The 7th was my husband Dennis’s birthday (he would have been turning 58).

My father’s birthday was the 13th. My Nonna’s the 16th, and my cousin Lisa’s was the 19th.  All gone. 

On top of that, the anniversary of my father’s death is the 18th, and it will be two years on the 20th since Dennis died.

Yikes! No wonder I just want to take a long nap.

Dennis, about 2006

Enough is Enough

Past Lives

This morning I drew the Osho Zen Tarot “Card for Today” and found myself facing Past Lives.

My first reaction was “yuck!” The visual didn’t attract me nor did the commentary. Then I thought more, and realized the my reaction is partly fear-based. The idea of so much flooding in — all the thoughts and emotions of other selves, other times — seems overwhelming and a little dreadful. 

This life is really enough: enough to manage, enough to savor, enough to learn from. “Enough is enough!” my mother would holler when my sister and I misbehaved sufficiently.

“Enough is enough!” I would complain when life got burdened and messy.  “Enough is enough!” when the bills piled in, the bad events multiplied, and the stress and sorrows climbed.

But, do I ever exclaim, “Enough is enough!” when it’s too much good?  Of course not!

It seems ridiculous to fend off the influx of happiness, health, wealth, love, and joy. Friendships can abound, vitality can burst out, laughter can ring through the house in immoderate hilarity… with no complaint in sight from me.

I face the hard times, the difficult events, the pains and losses of life because I must. Sometimes I wish I could call a halt. I can’t, of course, unless I call a halt to the good, too. 

But of all that sweetness, that  joy and beauty, there’s never too much, but always just enough.  And just enough, is all we need.

Here’s Osho’s wisdom on Past Lives and their meaning for us:

The child can become conscious only if in his past life he has meditated enough, has created enough meditative energy to fight with the darkness that death brings. One simply is lost in an oblivion and then suddenly finds a new womb and forgets completely about the old body. There is a discontinuity. This darkness, this unconsciousness creates the discontinuity.
aaa
The East has been working hard to penetrate these barriers. And ten thousand years’ work has not been in vain. Everybody can penetrate to the past life, or many past lives. But for that you have to go deeper into your meditation, for two reasons: unless you go deeper, you cannot find the door to another life; secondly, you have to be deeper in meditation because if you find the door of another life, a flood of events will come into the mind. It is hard enough even to carry one life….
aaa                                    Osho Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen Chapter 7
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Commentary:  The hands of existence form the shape of the female genitals, the opening of the cosmic mother. Revealed within are many images, faces from other times.
aa
While it might be entertaining to fantasize about famous past lives, it is just a distraction. The real point is to see and understand the karmic patterns of our lives, and their roots in an endless repetitive cycle that traps us in unconscious behavior.
aa
The two rainbow lizards on either side represent knowing and not-knowing. They are the guardians of the unconscious, making sure that we are prepared for a vision that might otherwise be shattering.
aa
A glimpse into the eternity of our existence is a gift, and understanding the function of karma in our lives is not something that can be grasped at will. This is a wake-up call; the events in your life are trying to show you a pattern as ancient as the journey of your own soul.

My Second Lavender Festival

Sunday, after two days of tending a yard sale in 90+ degree heat, I headed up to Burnsville with my friend Carolyn, for the Mountain Farm Annual Lavender Festival.

The sun was shining, the hills were alive with lavender, butterflies and bees.

We walked the lavender labyrinth, bought lavender herb mixes, and drank lavender lemonade. Across the road and up the hill is Blueberry Cottage, where was great local music, a delicious lunch and several craft and local farm vendors.

I purchased wool/angora blend yarn in lovely purples (what else?) while Carolyn received a 10-minute massage.

Then we picked lavender and headed back down the hill towards the cars. I waited by the lone chair in the driveway while Carolyn trekked the final hills to the parking lot. Here’s my traditional Festival tote from the 2010 event — I’m declaring that twice is enough for a new tradition. All in all we had a mellow and relaxed day — just a lovely  time.

Here’s the picnic sight in the late lunch hour, with just a few folks enjoying their meal and the surroundings.

Finally, some additional photos to enjoy. I hope your weekend last week, and this upcoming one were as happy and beautiful as mine.

Part of the Labyrinth

My Festival Goodies