Saturday, November 30, 2013

T.S. Elliot: At the End of All Our Exploring

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
- T. S. Eliot,
excerpted from the last of Four Quartets

Wendell Berry: Vision


If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it...
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides...
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it...
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields...
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.

- Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry: I Go Among Trees

I Go Among Trees

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

~ Wendell Berry 

An Iroquois Prayer

An Iroquois Prayer

We return thanks to our mother, the Earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicine
 for the cure of illness.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters, the beans and squashes,
which give us life.
We return thanks to the wind, which moving the air has banished disease.
We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given us light
 when the sun is done.
We return thanks to the sun which has looked upon the Earth
with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in who is embodied all
goodness, and who directs all things for the good of children.

Adapted from Earth Prayers around the World

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Carl Jung: Look Into Your Own Heart

Everything that irritates us about others 
can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Knowing your own darkness is the best method 
for dealing with the darknesses of other people.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, 
it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

Your visions will become clear only when 
you can look into your own heart. 
Who looks outside, dreams; 
who looks inside, awakes.

 C.G. Jung

Clarissa Pinkola Estés: A Prayer

A Prayer
Refuse to fall down
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar, 
ask that it be filled. 
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you from lifting your heart
toward heaven
only you.
It is in the middle of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this, 
is not yet listening.
 Clarissa Pinkola Estés, The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die


Tears are a river that takes you somewhere…
Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, 
carrying it downriver to someplace better.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

John O'Donohue: The Light of Your Soul

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work you do
with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do
the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work
bring healing, light and renewal...

~ John O'Donohue

Digital Art © Baba49 (on deviantart)

Tara Brach: What Matters Most In Life

If we ask ourselves when meeting anyone—friend or stranger—"How can I be more kind?” inevitably we will recognize that every being needs to be listened to, loved and understood. While we might become aware of this first with those in our immediate circle, it is possible to pay attention and care for all living beings. The more fully we offer our attention, the more deeply we realize that what matters most in life is being kind. As we open to the vulnerability of others, the veil of separation falls away, and our natural response is to reach out a helping hand. 
- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance

Tara Brach: Basic Goodness

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns. . . . We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small...

When we are free of mental concepts and our senses are awake, the sounds, smells, images and vibrations we experience connect us with all life everywhere. It is not my pain; it is the Earth's pain. It is not my aliveness but simply life - unfolding and intense, mysterious and beautiful. By meeting the changing dance of sensations with Radical Acceptance, we discover our intrinsic belonging to this world...

As our trust in our basic goodness deepens, we are able to express our love and creativity more fully in the world. Rather than second-guessing ourselves, rather than being paralyzed by self-doubt, we can honor and respond to the promptings that arise from that goodness.
- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giver of Gifts

Giver of gifts,
thank you.
When I was young
and knew nothing,
I asked for the sun.
You gave me a candle
which I put in my pocket,
and now...
a lifetime later,
I found the match.

~John Squadra

 Art © Elisabeta Hermann

Rachel Naomi Remen: Silence

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Herman Hesse: There is Only a Single Salvation

You know quite well, deep within you, 
that there is only a single magic,
a single power, a single salvation...
and that is called loving. 

~ Herman Hesse


My Mother, Tiptoeing Through the Tulips, and Seeing the Unborn Wholeness In Others

My mom & me the last time we saw each other in Michigan, 10/29/13

The quote below by Rachel Naomi Remen - an author, doctor, and human being I have deeply resonated with, respected, and appreciated for many years - is especially illuminating in the wake of what is happening to my mother at this time in Michigan. This currently includes times of forced cutoffs of any communication between my mother and myself. It is my sense that her providers are trying to "fix" her, to stop the suicidal ideation that has been something my mom has engaged in off and on since one month after my twin's suicide in 1978, to stop the relentless talk of wanting to be here with her family in the Pacific Northwest, to subdue and bring Nancy back to the seeming "progress" she had been making before she stopped "tiptoeing through the tulips." This is the phrase my mother refers to when she believes she needs to shut up, shut down, and shut out what her reality is with others. My mother has lived a lifetime under the don't talk, don't trust, don't feel, don't be rules she learned from infancy onward. Now that she has been trying - often very unskillfully - to break those rules and that things have been getting really messy again, there are those whose reactions I believe are causing much more harm than good for my mom and for those of us who love her.

Just a few days ago when we were allowed to talk by phone, my mom told me, "Well, you're the only one I tell my feelings to." Obviously this is not always true. What does appear crystal clear is that my response to my mother's distress is different from that of those surrounding her in Michigan. The last thing in the world that I would ever want to do is try to "fix" what is so hurting within her. And nor would I want to deny that even in the midst of all this messiness - the major depression, memory loss, unskilled acting out, and lifelong struggles to be in this world - is this hidden wholeness. This is among the great lessens my mom has been teaching me over the past year as I have experienced firsthand the times of authentic healing that has been happening between my mother, myself, and our family. The tragedy upon tragedy is to have this healing interrupted by anyone "for Nancy's own good."

I have also witnessed and experienced firsthand the impact of those who are trying to "help" but actually caused much more harm than anything else. Certainly some of those who meant well in treating my brother with Valium, shock treatments, and talk therapy meant to "fix" him were unknowingly nailing some of the nails into John's coffin. They meant well. Just as did the therapist I ended up bringing charges against many years ago with the Board of Licensed Clinical Social Workers. The charges were determined to be true and he received a large fine, was compelled to three years of supervision and additional hours of training, and more. He meant well. That still does not take away from the psychological abuse he inflicted on myself and no doubt countless others. 

The harm done by helping professionals who try to "fix" their clients by treating symptoms rather than the larger picture of what is being expressed is great. We can only strengthen and facilitate healing in others to the degree that we can "see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them." First we must do our own inner work. We can only take others as far as we have come ourselves.

Meanwhile, how does it help an 87 year old woman to be deprived of contact with her only surviving child? How does it strengthen my mother - for even one moment or for even any reason whatsoever - to consider that it is in her best interest to be obstructed from connection with those who are her flesh and blood, with those who will always love her most of all? 

This is so painful.... painful more than words can say. So I sit here and write... trying to soothe my hurting heart that I cannot even talk with my own mother. Just being deprived for any reason of being her guardian has been among the most painful and disturbing experiences of my life. Now this... I am sad beyond words...

My deep prayer, always, is for awakening... and especially for those who are trying to "help" others. Only to the degree that we are sleeping can we cause such harm as that which has been occurring off and on throughout my struggle to simply become my mother's permanent guardian. May we awaken to healing and wholeness within ourselves. May this be the gift we are able to bring to others.

Peace & blessings ~ Molly

Many times when we help we do not really serve. . . . Serving is also different from fixing. One of the pioneers of the Human Potential Movement, Abraham Maslow, said, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Seeing yourself as a fixer may cause you to see brokenness everywhere, to sit in judgment of life itself. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve, we see the unborn wholeness in others; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. Others may then be able to see their wholeness for themselves for the first time.