Look At That!

If I had influence with the good fairy
who’s supposed to preside over the birth of all children

I would ask that her gift to each child in the world
would be a sense of wonder so indestructible
it would last throughout life

Rachel Carlson

What would life be like if all of us gazed upon the simplest things with soft, open eyes?

Of course there are the “big” things:

1.  A man down on his knee, asking his beloved to marry him

2.  A violinist, centre stage, playing the sweetest melody with the passion of the gods

3.  A spider web in the early morning, suddenly revealed as laden with dew as the sun comes from behind a cloud

4.  You sitting by the bedside, holding your beloved’s hand, as she takes her last breath

5.  A sunrise painting the sky

Hopefully it’s not hard for each of us, young or old, to see the majesty of these moments.  But can the 10-year-old and the 40-year-old see the nuances of life, and are they willing to drink them in, with the mouth forming a little “o”?

1.  A flicker of the eyes in delight

2.  The play of light as it curves across the surface of an orange

3.  Watching as a friend does a kindness to someone else

4.  Birds frolicking in the grass, seeking the seeds that have fallen from the feeder

5.  Considering the span of life experience in an elder, perhaps a grandparent

There is much to see
There is much which can cause us to pause
We are better for the lingering

Locating It Here … Searching For It There

There are sacred places everywhere
The world is still our holy grove where we wander
hunting for the tree of life …
under which we already live

(An unknown poet)

Take this very moment of reading.  It’s you and the couch or chair, in a room you love or one you don’t know, alone or with a beloved.  It’s now … and it’s so easily lost.  There’ll be future moments of reading, perhaps some novel that will inspire … someday.  But that day is not here.

Someone talked to one of the world’s most respected violinists (Joshua Bell) and stuck him down in the subway with a $3,500,000 Stradivarius.  He opened the case so people would put coins in it.  And he played some amazing Bach pieces on his Stradivarius.  Nobody stopped to listen except kids.  Little kids would stop.  Everybody else was on their way.  (Jack Kornfield)

How come we don’t stop?  Places to go, people to meet.  It’s important, you know, to get there … and as quickly as possible.  What has happened to the wide-eyed wonder of gazing upon the moment?  Someone stole it away.

It’s good to use the best china
The oldest lace tablecloth
The most genuine goblets

Of course there’s a risk
Every time we use anything or share an intimate moment
A fragile cup of revelation

But not to touch
Not to handle the artifacts of being human
Is the quiet crash, the deadly catastrophe
Where nothing is enjoyed or broken
Or spilled or spoken
Or stained or mended
Where nothing is ever lived, loved
Laughed over, wept over
Where nothing is ever lost
Or found

(Thomas Carlyle)

Let’s feel the little ridges of the lace and behold the pattern within
We have the time to do that

Sufficiency

I enjoy meditating. Here’s the view from the meditation chair in my bedroom.

This afternoon I closed my eyes and let the flowing come to me, being with whatever thoughts or no-thoughts were there. As is often the case, there came a moment when my eyes opened, unbidden by my mind. Someone knew that the meditation was over.

For the first time ever, I remained in the chair for half-an-hour or so. With meandering eyes, I looked across the fields and welcomed far-off cars on their left-to-right or right-to-left journeys.

At one point, there was a thought: “I am sufficient.” It wasn’t an assertive affirmation. It was merely a fact … a quiet one. There was no eruption in my brain, no strident legal arguments to dispute the peace. What did show up was a calm inventory of potential deficiencies:

You want to lose a few pounds.

That’s true. But no big deal. I want to stay healthy and I will.

Do you realize that hardly anybody comments on your WordPress posts or likes them on Facebook?

You’re right. I wonder why. Oh well … I’ll write again tomorrow.

You wanted your next life partner to show up within a few years of Jody dying, but you haven’t found the special one.

Hmm. So true. And yet I’m fine. I can feel it in my bones.

You know, it’s possible that you don’t have much time left on this planet, even though you seem to be in good health.

I wonder … do I have one year left or twenty? (Smile)

***

So quiet right now
Was that a pin I heard dropping?
Time stretches beyond the horizon
And all is well

Chickadees

My friend Marian and I went for a walk in the woods yesterday. The sun lit up the patches of snow and we shuffled our way through the icy spots.

Lots of folks were doing the same, and it was with great joy that we greeted them on the trail. It felt like long lost friends united within the beauty of the world.

Marian had been on this journey before, and early on our trek she stopped in a quiet, sheltered place. She listened, and so did I. There was the voice of a cardinal. I remembered it from way back in my past. But Marian was listening for something else: the call of the chickadee. It wasn’t there. So we walked on.

Sunlight flowed through the bare branches as we approached a crossing of the paths. A young family came by with sunflower seeds in their hands. Marian was similarly prepared. Three young arms extended but no birdies plopped down.

Soon it was just Marian and me at the crossroads. Palms up, we waited.

:::

A touch. A landing. I moved my eyes down and to the left and there stood a tiny fluffball of feathers, weighing virtually nothing … but so very alive. He or she bit down on a seed, and then poof! Off to the dining room.

I was in awe. This bird had graced me with their presence and then left. This puny human had no power to control the proceedings. There were moments of here and some of not here. Both are lovely.

Marian and I welcomed many visitors over the next half hour – some tiny winged ones and some heavier ones, clothed in their parkas. Among them was a teenaged girl, accompanied by her grandma. Marian offered the gift of seed. “Can I?” she asked. Grandma nodded. The girl’s arm went horizontal and she waited. I could feel her heart beating fast.

Soon there was a call from further up the trail. “Hurry up!” The girl jerked to leave and both Marian and I silently willed her to stay. She lingered a few seconds more …

A heavenly visitor descended to her palm. The girl’s mouth opened wide and all of us shared in her wonder. It was the moment of the day.

The girl walked up the trail, turning her head to wave goodbye, and to show us a radiant smile. All it took to create such a sweet space was a handful of sunflower seeds and a few kind words.

Building

I wonder why I’m here. Or maybe I don’t … I know I’m here to love. I’m here to enhance the juiciness of life. I’m here to open my palm to everyone I meet.

It’s such a journey – from infant to senior, from me to we, from scared of you to embracing you.

The two of us … what shall we build together?

I enjoy the story about the traveler in the middle ages who happened upon a large work site in the center of a village. He had been traveling for many days, and he was eager to talk to anyone who would engage with him.

He walked up to a worker at the site and asked, “Sir, may I ask what you are doing?”

The worker scowled a bit and said tersely, “I am cutting stones.”

The traveler decided he would find little conversation there, so he moved on to another worker. When he asked the same question, the worker paused for a moment and explained that he was cutting stones so he could support his family.

He had a wonderful wife and two small children who depended on him to provide them with food and shelter. They chatted about the project and the village for a few minutes, and the worker turned back to his large pile of stones.

The traveler moved to a third worker and asked the same question: “Sir, may I ask what you are doing?”

The worker put down his tools, stood quite tall, looked the traveler in the eye and said with a warm smile, “I am building a cathedral. It will be the tallest and most magnificent structure for miles around. Its beauty will delight people for centuries to come. The stone I am now working on will go near the front door where people will enter for shelter and kinship. I will probably not see the final product, but I know my work is part of something very important.”

(Lyn Boyer)

Let us lift our eyes to the Lord … to the beauty and kindness and intelligence of all who come our way. Higher and higher, to the light above the clouds.

Consciousness

The field of consciousness stands beyond time, space, or any known dimension and instead includes all dimensions, without being altered by them. The infinite field is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and uniquely identifiable as the Absolute … There is no “here” or “there”. There is no “now” or “then”. The totality is equally and permanently present everywhere.

David Dawkins

Alrighty then. Given this immensity, what should I do with my life?

Well, anything that my dear heart desires, while sensing that my mind is in the middle of something vast and timeless. Can I even get my head around a realm that’s beyond time and space? Not really, all that much. But that’s okay.

I have things to do in life, stuff that’s structured within minutes and metres. I better obey red lights and income tax deadlines or there’ll be trouble. But what of the rest of reality? When I’m planning the events of my day, the mind is doing certain things. However, when I’m thinking about someone I love, the mind is in a different place. A very loose place.

Perhaps I’m not just suspended in the huge bubble of everything. Maybe I am that bubble. And there’s nothing outside of that bubble.

I don’t care if I’m making any sense. The bubble is not one of reason. I’m deeply here – in the London Public Library – and everywhere as well. I’m also suspended in everywhen, rather than being tied down to May 18, 2019 at 4:35 pm Eastern Time.

All-present, all-powerful, all-knowing. Not Bruce, but the being in which we all stand. And it’s not a stillness. It’s a moving forward, a being pulled forward into the perfectly unknown. Being at home on the journey.

Could it be that on one profound level there’s no deficit, no problem, no angst? From this space, what can we humans create? What gifts will be given in the coming days? Who is it that we say we are?

It may be simple. We walk together, holding hands and hearts. We gaze into each other’s eyes. We smile.

Wonders of the World

I saw two inspiring sights today: one was a huge orange moon. The other was a human face.

As I drove home from London a couple of hours ago, the moon hung low over the highway. All was black around, and it shone like a beacon in the sky. My breath slowed and the beauty came home.

Other beauties of the world have come my way, and I have been blessed to be in their presence. A few weeks ago, there were the thousand-year-old buildings of Ghent, Belgium, glowing with Christmas lights. Many years past, I climbed a sandy ridge on the west coast of Vancouver Island to see at the summit miles of Long Beach, the waves from Japan crashing onto the sand below.

I have stood atop Mount Lineham in Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park, a sea of peaks spread before me. I have seen the golden harbour of Toubacouta, Senegal at sunset, with fishing boats lying at rest. I have sat within a hollowed-out cave on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, gazing at the sky above.

All these reminders of transcendence, and more, have graced my life. The land, the sea and the structures of man have made me happy.

But the best and brightest of wonders reside in the human face:

My eight-year-old friend Ali in Senegal, smiling into my eyes
as he shook my hand “Bonjour”

My dear wife Jodiette gazing deep into me
as we shared a window table
in Chez Temporel
a sweet restaurant on Quebec City’s Rue Couillard

My friend Sharyn being with me
in a mutual awakening practice this afternoon
the space between us glowing with love

***

No need to travel to the far corners of the world for beauty
although you will also find it there
Just look, really look, at the person beside you

Spacious

About six months ago, “Geoff” and “Barbara” moved into our condo community to be close to their daughter and her family. I’d say they’re both in their 70’s. Geoff can’t drive any more and is starving for male companionship. That’s where I come in. Every two or three weeks, I drive him to the Belmont Diner for breakfast. Geoff is very appreciative.

We sat around the horseshoe-shaped counter today with five local guys. One asked how Geoff could stand me. He replied with something like “Oh, it’s a challenge.” And the banter flows. Geoff’s a natural. He makes wry comments about the political situation and is already taking a playful jab or two at the assembled locals. All in good fun.

Geoff doesn’t see well and he doesn’t move well but his spirit is strong. He doesn’t let his current physicality determine his congeniality. And he laughs at himself. The guys already like him.

In the summer, I sat on Geoff’s deck, which like my patio backs onto a field, this year planted with corn. I remember him talking about the beauty of the green stalks, their tips waving in the breeze. Geoff sees. Geoff feels, and is willing to talk about it. Rare.

We went for a drive this morning after breakie, and my friend was so thankful for the journey. He waxed poetic about the feeling of space, the long views across the fields. Once again I marvelled. Here is a kindred spirit … drinking in the majesty of the world. His previous home near St. Catharines, Ontario was overrun with dull gloms of sameness – expensive homes that somehow all looked like each other. The extended tongue of urban life. Now, already after a few months, Geoff was home.

I wanted to show him the golf course I love – Tarandowah – now blanketed in white. I told him about the flow of the fairways, the long fescue grass in the rough, the Canada geese flying overhead, the silence. He got it. He was there with me as I wondered at it all. I thought about the club members I know. Not a one has ever cast their eyes to the horizon and talked of the loneliness of the links, the sensuous undulations of the seventh green, the vista from the fourth tee. Thank you, Geoff, for entering my world.

On the way home, we talked of trees. Geoff told me of the “Serengeti tree” he sees framed in his living room window, and how the sunset through the branches is glorious.

Just like my neighbour, I too am home.

Burwell

If it’s the Sunday of the long Civic Holiday weekend, it’s time for fireworks on the Port Burwell beach. Twilight is here and the pleasure boats are twinkling on Lake Erie. I’m surrounded by families on the sand – lots of bathing suits, sunburns and happy faces. Glow sticks are shining in their circular paths on necks, wrists and waists and the world is at peace. A great grandma jiggles a tiny boy, much to his delight.

Earlier I was in the beer garden, right up front, sporting the appropriate beverage. A duet played old folk songs, such as Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”, she of 15 years and he of 70 or so. Avery was so nervous and kept looking out to her friends in the crowd for support. She did fine, and the tunes went down as sweetly as the beer. Seagulls soared over the stage. I sang along. And all was well.

Back to the moment of now and the darkness descends. Excited chatter all around. Kids straining to see their sand castle creations. Others asking what there is to eat. All of us eager for the explosions of light.

“Mom. When are the fireworks going to start?”

And then … poof! The first streamer and banger. Yay for the bright.

As the flowers opened above me, I looked out to the lake and saw the ripples shining. And between were silhouettes of human beings, heads tilted to the heavens. I do believe we were all in awe as the show went on and on. My favourite was a shimmering gold curtain filled in by at least six explosions. It lingered above our heads for so long, seeming to bless us.

Kids oohed and adults ahhed. Though we didn’t know each other, the crowd was family, enraptured with the bursts of white against a blanket of black. And I heard the message: “Wake up! There is so much to live in this world.” May we heed the call.

Summons

What in your life is calling you when all the noise is silenced
The meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside
And the Wild Iris blooms by itself in the dark forest
What still pulls on your soul?

In the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons
Do you hear it?
Name it, if you must, or leave it nameless
But why pretend it is not there?

Terma Collective

I have no idea who the Terma Collective is, but that’s not important.  I’ll forget about “consider the source” and just let the words move through me.

Am I being summoned?  Are you?  And not to a court of law.  Rather to our highest calling.  Yours is no doubt different than mine and there’s no better or worse about it.  Is it sports, the arts, consciousness, business, travel, relationships?  Good for us in any event.

Do we hear the call in the early of the morning?  Are we lying in bed or sipping tea in a cozy chair or jogging through the neighbourhood?  Maybe enjoying lunch with friends at a sidewalk café, munching popcorn in a darkened theatre or grabbing a coffee at Tim’s.

Are there moments when the world recedes and silence comes upon us?  The eyes widen a bit and there’s some sort of space where before there was none.  A pause … an opening … a glimmer of light.

“What exactly is this?”

Well, “exactly” just isn’t it.  The moment of wonder is worlds beyond any analysis.  It doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t add up.  You can’t reason your way to the truth of it.

Let go
Let in