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The Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

– Mary Oliver, Thirst

Can You Protect Your Heart From Bitterness?

heart and stonesIt’s so easy to become bitter and frustrated with the world. It’s easy to see the negative and to become cynical. Indeed, our society seems to wholly support people becoming cynical and pessimistic. When do you ever see positive, heart-warming news (outside of the holiday season) on TV? The puppy that has finally found a new, loving home is not going to appear as ‘breaking news’. That’s not sensational enough. And it’s not enough that we hear once a day about everything that’s going wrong in the world, no, it’s important that we hear about it every hour, so that we thoroughly realise that to feel safe in the world is an illusion. It’s all going to the dogs anyway, so why bother?

It’s harder to retain your childlike wonder about all the beauty and magnificence that this world has to offer. We see images of children drowning, but not of children being saved by loving, good people or by their own will to remain hopeful and to believe in a positive outcome for them. Of course, we shouldn’t go too far in the opposite direction and ignore the evil that human greediness and selfishness causes. But, there has to be some kind of balance! We need to address and feel our suffering (which is actually a powerful tool against becoming bitter and frustrated, which is all due to stagnated emotion that has nowhere to go). But we also need to learn to open our eyes to the incredible beauty around us. There is goodness in this world, there is hope and positive outcomes. Can we feed our starving soul by deliberately seeking beauty in literature, music, art, other people, spirituality and tales of happy endings, hope and empowerment?

not a mistake

– Nayyirah Waheed

This is equally necessary to be a responsible citizen in this world: to believe that our green earth can be saved and that efforts toward creating a better world are worthwhile. To recognise that this childlike hope we naturally feel when we are little is being stamped out of us on a daily basis and labeled as ‘naive’, creating a sick and pessimistic society that is bringing our planet nearer and nearer to disastrous calamity. To resist this force-feeding of fear and lack and to cultivate what Elizabeth Gilbert calls ‘stubborn gladness’. It’s easy to give up and to curse the darkness. It’s much harder to light one small candle and to keep that candle lit no matter what comes on your way.

bird

My wish for this new year that awaits us is that we may all start our day with the intention of seeing goodness, love, beauty, kindness and hope wherever we go. That we may bravely face the darkness ahead, not by running away from it and burying our heads in the sand, but by feeling it and realising that it hasn’t killed us, that we are more than the lack, disillusionment and fear we feel, that there is always reason to hope and that we may protect this glimmer of hope fiercely, realising it’s our most valuable possession.

butterfly

Morning Inspiration: Power of Presence

Being present is everything. Be the gentle sun that encourages a blooming flower to open, to yourself and others.:)

“Listening to someone with only cursory attention can do more harm than good. It unconsciously communicates your disinterest and so you won’t be surprised when a distance, a forgetting, develops between you.

What really makes someone feel seen and loved, is when you listen with the fullness of your presence. Presence is a kind of silent vow to our inseparability. And at some future point, when you hand back the other’s pieces, which you have been carrying as your own, to say, ‘I remember this,’ then the tenderness of your intimacy grows.”

Toko Pa

friendship

Stars (Jeff Foster)

You are tired, friend.
Your body aches to rest.

Give in.
You have wanted to fall apart for so long.

To let go of your defences.
To be transparent and authentic.

Your cynicism has protected you.
Your fear has served you well.

Your dreams of enlightenment were beautiful dreams.
But there is no need to hold your ‘self’ together any longer.

Surrender.
Or simply stop pretending that you don’t know ‘how’.

Fail.
Fall.
The vastness will hold you.
Only illusions can disappear.

The deeper the heart breaks
The more love it can hold.

Don’t tell me you are not worthy.
Don’t tell me you are not made of stars.

Jeff Foster

stardust

Morning Inspiration: tenderness for ourselves and others

This world doesn’t improve by demanding perfection. It improves when we reach through our armor and touch another with tenderness. It improves when we bust through the walls of our conditioning, and try a new way of being on for size. It improves when we work through our unresolved shadow and share what little light we can find. It is the small, positive steps that we take when we are at war with ourselves that change the world.

– Jeff Brown

selfhug

On Loneliness and finding Him (Rilke)

(Excerpt from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke)

beautifulsky

If there is nothing you can share with other people, try to be close to Things; they will not abandon you; and the nights are still there, and the winds that move through the trees and across many lands; everything in the world of Things and animals is still filled with happening, which you can take part in; and children are still the way you were as a child, sad and happy in just the same way and if you think of your childhood, you once again live among them, among the solitary children, and the grownups are nothing, and their dignity has no value.

And if it frightens and torments you to think of childhood and of the simplicity and silence that accompanies it, because you can no longer believe in God, who appears in it everywhere, then ask yourself, dear Mr. Kappus, whether you have really lost God. Isn’t it much truer to say that you have never yet possessed him? For when could that have been? Do you think that a child can hold him, him whom grown men bear only with great effort and whose weight crushes the old? Do you suppose that someone who really has him could lose him like a little stone? Or don’t you think that someone who once had him could only be lost by him? But if you realize that he did not exist in your childhood, and did not exist previously, if you suspect that Christ was deluded by his yearning and Muhammad deceived by his pride – and if you are terrified to feel that even now he does not exist, even at this moment when we are talking about him – what justifies you then, if he never existed, in missing him like someone who has passed away and in searching for him as though he were lost?

Why don’t you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy? Don’t you see how everything that happens is again and again a beginning, and couldn’t it be His beginning, since, in itself, starting is always so beautiful? If he is the most perfect one, must not what is less perfect precede him, so that he can choose himself out of fullness and superabundance? Must he not be the last one, so that he can include everything in himself, and what meaning would we have if he whom we are longing for has already existed?

As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence or with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join or help us, we start Him whom we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.

Is there anything that can deprive you of the hope that in this way you will someday exist in Him, who is the farthest, the outermost limit?

Dear Mr. Kappus, celebrate Christmas in this devout feeling, that perhaps He needs this very anguish of yours in order to begin; these very days of your transition are perhaps the time when everything in you is working at Him, as you once worked at Him in your childhood, breathlessly. Be patient and without bitterness, and realize that the least we can do is to make coming into existence no more difficult for Him than the earth does for spring when it wants to come.

And be glad and confident.

Yours,

Rainer Maria Rilke

Poetry Sunday: Hermitage

Hermitage
By Joseph Fasano

It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley

and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered themselves to me

like glasses of water ringing by the empty linens of the dead.
When Delilah watched the dark hair of her lover
tumble, she did not shatter. When Abraham

relented, he did not relent.
Still, I would tell you of the humbling and the waking.
I would tell you of the wild hours of surrender,

when the river stripped the cove’s stones
from the margin and the blackbirds built
their strict songs in the high

 pines, when the great nests swayed the lattice
of the branches, the moon’s brute music
touching them with fire.

 And you, there, stranger in the sway
of it, what would you have done
there, in the ruins, when they rose

from you, when the burning wings
ascended, when the old ghosts
shook the music from your branches and the great lie

 of your one sweet life was lifted?

Morning Inspiration: That New Time

“It is for love’s sake yet more than for any other that we look for that new time…
Then when that time comes…when love is no more bought or sold, when it is not
a means of making bread, when each woman’s life is filled with earnest,
independent labour, then love will come to her, a strange sudden sweetness
breaking in upon her earnest work; not sought for, but found.”

– Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm

wild flower

Morning Inspiration: On Solitude

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

emma

Nachklang

Down the long white road we
walked together,
down between the grey hills and the heather,
where the tawny-crested
plover cries.

You seemed all brown and soft,
just like a linnet,
your errant hair had shadowed
sunbeams in it,
and there shone all April
in your eyes.

With your golden voice of tears and laughter
softened into song: ‘Does aught come
after Life,’ you asked,’When life is laboured through?

What is God, and all for which
we’re striving?’
‘Sweetest sceptic, we were born for living.
Life is Love, and Love is –
you, dear, you.

– Roland Aubrey Leighton (1895-1915) to Vera Brittain, April 19th 1914