Sunday Morning

One day when Buddha was walking with his disciples he pointed to the ground with his hand and said, “It would be good to erect a sanctuary here.” — Book of Serenity, Case 4

“…One day I ran across a single line in a thick book that made it all simple. It told the original meaning of the word paradise before it became a mythical ideal, imaginary and unattainable. Before it pointed somewhere else. The word paradise originally meant “an enclosed area.” Inside the word are its old Persian roots: pairi-, meaning “around,” and diz, “to create (a wall).” The word was first given to carefully tended pleasure parks and menageries, the sporting ground of kings. Later, storytellers used the word in creation myths, and it came to mean the Eden of peace and plenty. Looking at it straight on, I could plainly see. Paradise is a backyard. Not just my backyard, but everyone’s backyard. Teeming with weeds, leaves, half-dead trees, moles, mosquitoes, mud, dust, skunks, and raccoons. With a novice gardener and a reluctant groundskeeper.

Like the entire world we live in, bounded only by how far we can see. I began to garden. I got scratched, tired, and dirty. I broke my fingernails and ruined my shoes. I yanked out what I could have kept and put in more of what I didn’t need. I pouted and wept, cursing the enormity of the task. I was resentful and unappreciative. But when I ventured afield, sidelined by things that seemed much more entertaining or important, I always came back to this patch of patient earth. Time after time I realized that everything I want or need —the living truth of life, love, beauty, purpose, and peace —is taught to me right here, no farther away than the ground beneath my feet.”

~ Karen Maezen Miller, from “Prologue: Paradise” in “Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden


Photo: Mark Benbenek

Sunday Morning

Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It’s what I sense in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there.

If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
continuously.
I’m not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I’m so often late coming
back from wherever I went.

Forgive me.

~ Mary Oliver, “Forgive Me” in Blue Horses


Sources: Poem – Thank you Whiskey River. Photo – Lichen by Mathieu Noël

Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan, October 2018

 


Notes:

  • Photographer: Eric Kanigan (son), October 13, 2018, Presque Isle Park, Marquette, Michigan (top and bottom) and Sugar Loaf Mountain (middle)
  • Inspired by: “The mountain slopes around were already dyed with autumn colors, minute gradations of yellow and red, with an intrusion of green from the clumps of evergreens.” by ~ Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore: A Novel.

 

Sunday Morning

What was precious—flexing.
Fingers wrapping bottle, jar,
fluent weave of tendon, bone, and nerve.
To grip a handle, lift a bag of books,
button simply, fold a card—…

Unthinking movement, come again.
These days of slow reknitting…
Thank your ankles, thank your wrists.
How many gifts have we not named?

~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Broken” in Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners 


Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all Channels. Photo via seemore

Amtrak 2151 Acela Express. With Centi.

7:28 a.m. Boarding time: 7:52 a.m. Amtrak to Philadelphia. Rocky Balboa. Eagles. Flyers. Liberty Bell. Cheesesteak Sandwiches.

I’m waiting at the Stamford train station, sitting on a hardback plastic seat. So hard, you could substitute it for Kevlar. Lower back, displeased with status. I shift, restless.

To my left and across, two men, middle aged, hard hats on floor, work boots, unshaven – sit and discuss his work injury…hurt so bad…Percocet…MorphineFloating. Both chuckle.

Across from me, large man, head bobbing, mouth gaping, asleep.

Passengers pass by through the automatic doors to Tracks 2 & 4. The doors hiss, at each open and close.

My eye spots movement below.  A centipede.  (And I’m not interested in you Entomologists out there telling me that it’s not a centipede. Where’s the 100 feet?  We’re going with Centipede.)

Back to my Friend.

His legs are flailing.  Turtle on its back, issuing an SOS distress signal. I watch it struggle for a few minutes and then turn away. I flip through emails.

Can’t focus. Distracted. Anxious…must be Centi’s anxiety transference. “Help me DK!”

I look around to see if anyone is watching. Then when I’ve established the coast is clear, I reach down and gently try to flip him. He sees a Giant: Danger! He rolls into a tightly, tucked black ball.

I grab my iPhone recognizing that there’s a story here.  I’m 9 snaps in.  Fuzzy shots. Too far away. Too close. Blurry.  I look up and see the Percocet Boys are now watching.  What’s that Idiot Suit doing?

I wait for him to unravel, my head is down, eyes are locked in.  Please, unravel, and do so with 100 feet down.

I wait. [Read more…]

Flying. On Sunday with Sparrow.

Sunday morning. 6:15 a.m. Driver is racing down I-95 in light traffic. What’s the rush?

Destination: JFK. On Sunday.

There is something unpleasant at its core about cutting your weekend in half, to fly across the country to get to a conference kick-off on Sunday evening. My weekend (Not). A large paddle wheeler, turning, turning, turning, wooden paddles slapping against the water, pausing briefly when the rhythm is broken by a swell.

There’ll be no sleeping in. No lounging in bed. No CBS Sunday Morning with Jane. There’ll be no Sunday morning papers. No pancake breakfast. No Netflix binge watching. No dozing off on the couch under the comforter, windows open, strands of cool breezes welcoming Autumn.

Thoughts alternate between irritation (did you really need to commit to attend this conference) to mild irritation (you could have left on Monday) to resignation (make the best of it pal, a commitment is a commitment).

I open my backpack, pull out my iPad, and find it’s 13% charged. No! No! No! I Swear I plugged this thing in last night. I walk around Gate 24, and then 25 and find an open power outlet at Gate 26. [Read more…]

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week. (Beyond Comprehension…)

87 Elephants Slaughtered in One of the Largest Poaching Incidents in Africa (Sept 3, 2018, LiveScience.com)


(Photo via Newthom)

Miracle. All of it.

The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long. When this creature is born it is twenty feet long and weighs four tons. It is waaaaay bigger than your car. It drinks a hundred gallons of milk from its mama every day and gains two hundred pounds a day, and when it is seven or eight years old it endures an unimaginable puberty and then it essentially disappears from human ken, for next to nothing is known of the the mating habits, travel patterns, diet, social life, language, social structure, diseases, spirituality, wars, stories, despairs and arts of the blue whale. There are perhaps ten thousand blue whales in the world, living in every ocean on earth, and of the largest animal who ever lived we know nearly nothing. But we know this: the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs, and their penetrating moaning cries, their piercing yearning tongue, can be heard underwater for miles and miles.

Brian Doyle, from “Joyas Voladoras


Notes:

  • Photo: Frank Brennan with “Blue whale nursing its calf just off Dana Point” via Orange County Register
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

 

Walking Backward. From The Road.

Think back to when you were a child, it’s Christmas Eve, and your eyes scan the packages under the tree. “Not before 7 am!”  The hands on the clock are stuck in some alien, viscous slurry.

Now, place yourself at the gates of Epcot, the opening day of the International Food & Wine Festival. It’s 7:45 a.m., the gates open at 8 a.m. Throngs of tourists mingle anxiously. Selfies. Smartphones. Strollers. And, Scooters, so many scooters, for the less mobile. (And I’m being kind here.)

There was the new ride  Soarin‘.  Warnings: Motion sickness? Fear of Heights? I look left and right and find no one but me griping the armrests. When did you get so fearful? So timid? Then there was The Seas and the Bomouth Guitarfish, a scary looking cross between Shark and Manta Ray. Then Frozen. Then Nemo. Then Living with the Land, a ride through horticulture and aquaculture. This was followed by a one-hour guided tour called Behind the Seeds. Hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. And Aeroponics, the process of growing plants in air or mist without the use of soil.

It is here that the tour seems to hit bone. We are walking through four greenhouses. Plants spinning on mechanical pulleys. And, plants growing in white sand, being fed nutrient drips. And fish, in tanks – sturgeon, bass, catfish, tilapia. Circling round and round, being fed on the clock.

This World, sterile, Man-Manufactured. No insects. No birds. No dark, rich soil. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Breakfast!


Elephants eat fruits and vegetables at the Wingabaw Elephant Camp on World Elephant Day in Bago Region, Myanmar. (U Aung, Zinhua, wsj.com August 12, 2018)

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