Returning to the root

This Monday’s meditation is Ursula Le Guin’s translation of Chapter 16 from the Tao Te Ching.   Her interpretation of the Tao Te Ching’s ancient wisdom is the one I return to again and again.  This chapter fits the moodiness of November as the northern earth sinks homeward in anticipation of winter.  I like the notion that peace comes from taking the long view and in taking the long view, we can open our hearts.

Be completely empty.
Be perfectly serene.
The ten thousand things arise together;
in their arising is their return.
Now they flower,
and flowering
sink homeward,
returning to the root.

The return to the root
is peace.
Peace: to accept what must be,
to know what endures.
In that knowledge is wisdom.
Without it, ruin, disorder.

To know what endures
is to be openhearted,
magnanimous,
regal,
blessed,
following the Tao,
the way that endures forever.
The body comes to its ending,
but there is nothing to fear.

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in the gale…

For those living through the Hurricane Sandy …

image from scrapetv.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.

And sweetest –  in the gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Emily Dickinson

Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,

what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves
and I was myself,

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment

my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain –
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

Mary Oliver from What Do We Know (2002)

Natural

 

Beautiful, mesmerizing hyper-lapse images of nature and civilization.  I don’t agree with filmmaker Reid Gower’s argument that because people are part of the natural order everything we make is part of nature.  This film speaks more to me of how fast and out of touch current western civilization is with the larger whole, fast yet dangerously enticing.

Loving the World

Pasture, Conestoga, Ontario

Messenger    by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.