Monday, November 20, 2017

I Know You Meant Well...

That’s what someone said to me recently after I had offered some advice that turned out to be not very helpful. At the time I offered it, I was quite sure it was very helpful, confident that I knew exactly what the person I was giving it to needed to do.

But much to my surprise (why should this still surprise me?!), I didn’t know as much as I thought. And I certainly did not know what was best for the person I was attempting to influence.

How did I stumble into this illusion of omniscience yet again? Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the person I was advising was one of my kids. And to make this clear, all of my kids are adults, old enough to chart their own course, old enough for me to know better than to step over the healthy boundary between parent and adult child.

While I’m moderately skilled at being a good listener and not trying to “fix” the issues that friends and other family members share with me, apparently with my kids, I need a few more practice sessions.

So thank you, my dear adult child, for being gentle and loving in reminding me to step back.

You know not their paths
It is not yours to know
Yours is to have faith
Only that

Friday, November 17, 2017

Creek Thunder

The creek thunders
With fresh vigor
After summer's drought
Belly bursting banks
Laughing full of autumn rain

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The One in My Hand

You’ve probably figured out by now that I am a martial arts nerd. I love the art of combat. Considering that my favorite TV shows are Vikings and Game of Thrones, I suspect that in a former life, I was some sort of thug warrior...with a dragon.

Although not that skilled myself, I like hanging out with folks who are. One day, while engaged in lively conversation comparing various weapons, I asked one of my teachers what his favorite weapon was. Without hesitation he answered, “the one in my hand.” 


What an excellent martial arts lesson. Think Jackie Chan picking up a mop or a shovel or a pool cue and kicking some you know what. We might not always have our nunchuku tucked in our back pocket, or our sword hanging from our belt when the bad guys attack.

But more than that, what a brilliant life lesson. Whatever situation we are faced with, it’s no use wasting time wishing that circumstances were different. It is what it is, right then in the present moment. It is up to us to use what we have.

If, for example, I want to be happy, what good does it do me to think about some ideal situation? I’ll be happy when I’m on vacation, when I get a job, when I retire, when I have kids, when my kids move out, when I have a certain amount of money, when I have even more money, and so forth.

Or I want to awaken, and I know that if I meditate a particular way, read a certain number of books, attend the right workshops, attach myself to the best teacher, and chant my mantra, then surely I will achieve enlightenment someday and live in bliss forevermore. No, I will spend my life chasing illusion.

My teacher’s answer reminds me that all I have in my hand is now, this moment. It’s my favorite.

One who knows enough is enough will always have enough. ~Tao Te Ching

Monday, November 6, 2017

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 35

Music and fine food
Cause passing guests to stop

This timeless little chapter could have been written today instead of 2500 years ago. It is a reminder that what is of true and lasting value is often overlooked in the hubbub of a world seeking ever more loud and glittering distraction. A cultural mantra of “more, more, more” leaves us feeling less and less content.

Always searching for greater sensory stimulation obscures the subtle and natural rhythm and beauty of Tao.

It is without taste
Look – it cannot be seen
Listen – it cannot be heard

It is found not out there, but in here, in the silence of our souls. Recently I looked with a fresh eye at the area around my meditation cushion. It was cluttered with inspiring things to read, prayer beads, wisdom cards, essential oils, and more. By the time I went through all my preparation to meditate, I was already done and ready to move on with my day.

So I put everything away. Just a cushion on the floor. Just sit. Simple.

And amazingly, I found that it was enough.

Use it; it will never be depleted

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ducks at Play

As I walked across a bridge over a small river, I noticed some wild ducks below. They were gathered in a shallow, quiet eddy in the curve of a faster current. I paused to watch.

Pretty soon I noticed a pattern. A few ducks would move to the top of the curve and enter the fast current. The rapids would rush them around to the bottom of the curve where they would exit the current, returning to the calm shallows. Meanwhile, some other ducks entered the rapids at the top, quacking and flapping as they were swept to the bottom of the curve.

They moved in this circle, making their way to the top of the curve, entering the rapids for the rush to the bottom, waiting their turn to ride again.

What were they doing? They didn’t appear to be looking for food. I think they were just having a good time. The scene reminded me of a children’s playground, with a line of kids climbing up the ladder, laughing down the slide, and returning to the ladder to climb up and repeat.

Ducks at play. Simple pleasures.

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sitting in the Rain

I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I’m happy again
~lyrics by Arthur Freed

The rain came. Lots of it. A steady downpour. Too much even for intrepid all weather walkers like myself and the dog, at least when we’re at the cabin (we are sort of wimpy city walkers). But this last weekend at the cabin, we stayed in as the rain kept the day dark and the forest drenched. By Saturday afternoon, we needed some outside time. So I put a chair under the tiny covered area in front of the door, wrapped up in a blanket with Rosie bundled on my lap and...sat.

We sat and listened to all the rain sounds–drops splish splashing on the deck, tip tapping in the trees, roaring in the swollen creek. The air was fragrant with wet pine, and chilly but we were hunkered warm in our soft shelter. The golden maple leaves danced brightly in the misty shadows.

It was all so achingly beautiful, so exquisitely transcendent, like a shower cleansing my soul of anything that was not pure, perfect light. I cried in sheer, surrendered joy. My heart rained tears in sweet harmony with nature’s song.

I was sitting in the rain
Just sitting in the rain
What a glorious feeling...

Here is the view from my chair.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Heart Listens

The heart listens
At the speed of light
Where time stands still
And thus has no need
Of memory

The heart hears 
Only truth
Which is beyond thought
And thus has no need
Of words