Poetry and Wisdom Teachings
Glory in the Highest: “Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some magic you don’t fully understand, you’re still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you’ve been unconscious for hours! The air is a mix of gases that’s just right for your body’s needs, as if was before you fell asleep. You can see! Light of many colors floods into your eyes, registered by nerves that took God or evolution or some process of MILLIONS OF YEARS TO PERFECT! The interesting gift of these vivid hues comes to you courtesy of an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, which continually detonates nuclear reactions in order to convert its body into light and heat and energy for your potential use. Did you know that the sun is located at the precise distance from you to be of perfect service? If it were any closer, you’d fry, and if it were any further away, you’d freeze…” from Bob Brezsny, Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia.
You Were Made For This –by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these — to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. […] In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for..” Clarissa Pinkola Estes –
“Nobody can kill the ego, because the ego is not. It is a shadow–you cannot kill a shadow. Just as the body creates a shadow, the self also creates a shadow. You cannot fight with it, and you cannot kill it; in fact, the one who wants to kill it is the ego. One can only understand. If you want kill the ego, bring light in, and the shadow will disappear.”
Osho from Everyday Osho.
Fr. Richard Rohr…the Zen of Humility and right-size
God Is in Our Deepest Self
Little by little we overcome the splits from everything, so in the end there’s just One. God is in all things and all things are in God. The goal of Christianity (and any mature religion) is for you to be able to experience your unity with yourself, with creation, with neighbor, with enemy, and with God in this world. God is never far away. God is not as transcendent as we first imagine. God is now humble, with us, indwelling, on our side, and for us more than we are for ourselves. God is not found in distant glory, but in humility, where we are all living our oh-so-humble lives. This awareness totally repositions the spiritual journey. Now the goal is poverty, not affluence. Now the goal is God’s full cosmos and not tribal churchiness. Now the goal is the bottom, not the top. We stop ranking vertically and we start connecting horizontally.
In the Incarnation God “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7), came to the bottom, and henceforth it was to be apparent that God is found at the bottom of things and on the hidden inside of things. Surprise of surprises—that is the last place most of us would look for God: inside of things and even less, inside of ourselves! True Transcendence is no longer transcendent the way we feared and suspected, but within! Dignity was inherent to creation from the beginning. That was supposed to be the Eureka discovery of the Christian religion.
As James Finley, one of CAC’s Living School faculty members, puts it in his book Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, “If we draw close to the roots of our existence, to the naked being of our self, we will find ourselves at that point where God and ourselves unite in ontological communion” (p. 136). His famous novice master, Thomas Merton, called it le point vierge (the virginal point) where the soul is untouched and untouchable by anyone except the perfect love of God. Wow! That is enough to convert anyone.
Adapted from an unpublished talk, “Franciscan Mysticism
The Zen of Joy…Deepening the Heart
“Discovering more joy does not save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreaks without being broken.”
Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
At the end of his talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?” The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.” Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he said, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back … but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
By Maya Angeou
My wish for you
Is that you continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter
To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined
To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless
To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise
To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good
To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit
To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name
And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Excerpted from Ten Poems to Open Your Heart by Roger Housden. “Kindness” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye.
START CLOSE IN by David Whyte
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
way of starting
Start with your own
give up on other
don’t let them
your own voice,
Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
heroics, be humble
start close in,
for your own.
Start close in,
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.