Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Evening

On a frozen pond a mile north of Liberal
almost sixty years ago I skated wild circles
while a strange pale sun went down.

A scattering of dry brown reeds cluttered
the ice at one end of the pond, and a fitful
breeze ghosted little surface eddies of snow.

No house was in sight, no tree, only
the arched wide surface of the earth
holding the pond and me under the sky.

I would go home, confront all my years, the tangled
events to come, and never know more than I did
that evening waving my arms in the lemon-coloured light.

William Stafford
Photo:  Peter Bowers

But what?

 Sometimes we behave as though there was something more important than life. But what?

 Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, November 25, 2011

The substance of silence

...there is a greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.  

Thomas Merton
Photo:  Peter Bowers


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For Presence

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and courage to
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

John O'Donohue
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has its inner light, even from a distance—

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Road Home

An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain, moving between huge stacks
of wheat, not knowing the abundance
all around.  It thinks its one grain
is all there is to love.

So we choose a tiny seed to be devoted to.
This body, one path or one teacher.
Look wider and farther.

The essence of every human being can see,
and what that essence-eye takes in,
the being becomes.  Saturn.  Solomon!

The ocean pours through a jar,
and you might say it swims inside
the fish! This mystery gives peace to
your longing and makes the road  home home.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store   
and the gas station and the green market and   
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,   
as she runs along two or three steps behind me   
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.   

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?   
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?   
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,   
Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry—   
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.   

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking   
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,   
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

Marie Howe
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being with all that arises

Do you have the patience to wait
'til your mud settles and the water is clear.

Can you remain unmoving
'til the right action arises by itself?

The master doesn't seek fulfilment,
not seeking, not expecting
she is present, and can welcome all things.

Lao Tzu
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In a Handful of God

Poetry reveals that there is no empty space.

When your truth forsakes it shyness,
When your fears surrender to your strengths,
You will begin to experience

That all existence
Is a teeming sea of infinite life,

In a handful of ocean water
You could not count all the finely tuned

Who are acting stoned
For very intelligent and sane reasons

And of course are becoming extremely sweet
And wild.

In a handful of the sky and earth,
In a handful of God,

We cannot count
All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there
Behind the mysterious veil.

True art reveals there is no void
Or darkness.

There is no loneliness to the clear-eyed mystic
In this luminous, brimming
Playful world.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Because of Our Wisdom

In many parts of this world water is
Scarce and precious.

People sometimes have to walk
A great distance

Then carry heavy jugs upon their

Because of our wisdom, we will travel
Far for love.

All movement is a sign of

Most speaking really says,
"I am hungry to know you."

Every desire of your body is holy;

Every desire of your body is

Dear one,
Why wait until you are dying

To discover that divine

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free.

 Rainer Maria Rilke
Photo:  Peter Bowers


Friday, November 11, 2011

"A Carbon-Based Life Form"

A person tired from happiness grows sober.

Another, worn through
by sadness, stumbles into a kind of joy.

It is like a dog alone in a house, barking to hear its own kind.

Nothing needs to be added.  Yet we do.

Jane Hirshfield
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Only when I am quiet and do not speak

Only when I am quiet for a long time
and do not speak
do the objects of my life draw near.

Shy, the scissors and spoons, the blue mug.
Hesitant even the towels,
for all their intimate knowledge and scent of fresh bleach.

How steady their regard as they ponder,
dreaming and waking,
the entrancement of my daily wanderings and tasks.
Drunk on the honey of feelings, the honey of purpose,
they seem to be thinking,
a quiet judgment that glistens between the glass doorknobs.

Yet theirs is not the false reserve
of a scarcely concealed ill-will,
nor that other, active shying:  of pelted rocks.

No, not that.  For I hear the sigh of happiness
each object gives off
if I glimpse for even an instant the actual instant -

As if they believed it possible
I might join
their circle of simple, passionate thusness,
their hidden rituals of luck and solitude,
the joyous gap in them where appears in us the pronoun I.

Jane Hirshfield

The breeze at dawn

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are you looking for me?

Are you looking for me?  I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms, nor in
synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own
neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly -
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says:  Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.


Live the Questions Now

...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Day Comes

A day comes
when the mouth grows tired
of saying "I."

Yet it is occupied
still by a self which must speak.
Which still desires,
is curious.
Which believes it has also a right.

What to do?
The tongue consults with the teeth
it knows will survive
both mouth and self,

which grin - it is their natural pose -
and say nothing.

Jane Hirshfield
from After

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Truth

The Buddha didn't know that
his choice to be himself would
roll through the pages of history
like a rogue wave.  All he did

was sit beneath the bodhi tree,
intention fixed on awakening,
and when the light flowed in,
he offered it back as the fruit

of all his practice.  We each
act without knowing how the
ripples from our pond might
touch another, what the

consequences of our freedom
might be, or where the choice
to follow truth might lead.

Danna Faulds
Photo:  Peter Bowers

The Buddha's Last Instruction

"Make of yourself a light,"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning.
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal - a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might of said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire -
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: 
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth..

When it's over, I want to say:  all of my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. 

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made my life something particular, and real. 
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is There Beyond Knowing

What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me?  I can't

turn in any direction
but it's there.  I don't mean

the leaves' grip and shine or even the thrush's
silk song, but the far off

fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven's slowly turning

theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;

or time that's always rushing forward,
or standing still

in the same - what shall I say -

What I know
I could put into a pack

as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,

important and honourable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained

and unexplainable.  How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly

to its logical end. 
I have done this a few times.

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing

in and out.  Life so far doesn't have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.

If there's a temple, I haven't found it yet. 
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers

I resume the long lesson

Again I resume the long
lesson:  how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

The sky
is gray.  It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever.  The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.
What more did I
think I wanted?  Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be.  Even in me,
the  Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased. 

Wendell Berry