This poem by David Whyte is called “Sometimes.” The irony is that Whyte’s poems don’t challenge his readers sometimes, but all the time.

“Sometimes”

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest,

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories,

who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,

you come to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

 

This is one of Whyte’s simpler poems to understand, but that makes it no less challenging to engage with. I have never visited the landscape he describes, the  deep mystical Irish countryside, but I have experienced the kind of “trouble” that landscape brings up for him. It isn’t the setting that is important; it is silence and the stillness it offers. It takes a special place, a place far from the busyness of the world, to hear the “questions/ that have no right/ to go away”.

In our modern world – one that prioritizes performance and efficiency (supreme market values) above all else – these questions are rarely asked. They don’t make sense; they don’t really matter; and to answer them honestly might require us to transform our lives. The lines that haunts me above all else are these:

… to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

For years now, this invitation has arisen again and again, to not just consider what I am doing, but who I am while I do it. In all that I do – parenting, marriage, teaching, working, volunteering, studying – how am I showing up and why? I want to be able to name and claim my energy and purpose honestly and with integrity. To be clear, I fail all the time in my execution, but I try to never fail to ask the “questions/ that have no right/ to go away”.

David Whyte lists and elaborates on his questions that have no right to go away in this essay for Oprah.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Start Close In”

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until it
becomes an
intimate
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

 

I wish this poem was already in existence when I heard yesterday’s poem, “Sweet Darkness.” I heard that first poem as an “invitation” to change and this one as a “how to.” Though I found my way without access to its particular wisdom, I have found it so helpful since. It is a daily reminder to wake up, to take stock, and to always start “close in.”

I am a future-oriented thinker, so I have a tendency to get ahead of myself.  I don’t while away hours thinking about the past; I don’t often get lost in the present moment. Rather, I can spend hours daydreaming about the future and how things might go. I can get ten days, ten weeks, ten months of planning under my belt in just minutes. This poem gently, lovingly, and wisely calls me to start in the here and now.

This poem is a call to problem-solving in the present moment by taking a long, hard look at the real, which is almost always “the step/you don’t want to take.”

This poem asks me:

What am I avoiding?

What am I refusing to see?

What don’t I want to change?

Whyte invites us to ground ourselves, literally, in“the pale ground/ beneath your feet” and metaphorically by finding the ground of our own being, listening to our own voice, intimately and humbly. Only then will we have the wisdom to courageously make the next right step.

grayscale photography of person wearing checkered slip on shoes
My favorite shoes to take steps in these days…

The second week of National Poetry Month is dedicated to David Whyte, the poet, essayist, and speaker, who reignited my love of poetry almost two decades ago. I “studied” a fair amount of poetry for both my graduate and undergraduate degrees,  which I mostly neither cared for, nor truly understood. As a result, my early love for poetry faded away. But one day, I heard David Whyte speak at a conference and he rekindled the fire. In the midst of reading his poetry, he also preached a message about importance of bringing passion and commitment to your life and work. He lit a spark in me, which has become a flame that burns in me to this day. Here is that poem he shared.

“Sweet Darkness”

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
It’s time to go into the night
where the dark has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you
can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will make a home for you tonight.
The night
will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

When I heard Whyte speak, I was in the midst of parenting three small children. While I would not have called my life “dark,” it had certainly gotten smaller, more noisy and chaotic. I had allowed so many voices into my head – culture, church, parent, spouse, children –  I had little idea what my own voice was saying. When Whyte repeated this line – over and over again:

Anything or anyone/ that does not bring you alive/ is too small for you.

something deep within me stirred and I recognized a truth I had not dared to speak, or even recognize. My life was too small and I was ready for this time of “confinement” to be over. Something new needed to be born – the fullness of me as a woman in her own right, not simply as a wife and mother. I shared these lines of Whyte’s poetry with Tim Kirkpatrick and he met me there, convinced as I was that “the world was made to be free in.” It has been a sweet, sometimes lonely, and dark journey, but it has been worth it every step of the way.

What is too small for you right now?

Who is limiting your potential?

Where do you find yourself trapped instead of free?

Don’t be afraid to name whoever, or whatever arises as you ask these questions. It does not mean they are bad, or that you have to leave them, but it does mean you can start pushing against the boundaries, creating more freedom for everyone in the process.

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

While I certainly didn’t live up to my hopes of publishing every day during this first week of National Poetry Month, I more or less lived up to any reality-based expectations I had of myself. However, hope springs eternal, so if all goes well, I will be sharing a new poet with you tomorrow, (but it could be a day or two later)!

Late on this Sunday evening, I offer you some closing thoughts from Mary Oliver.

“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass: Part 7”

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.

Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.

That was many years ago.

Since then I have gone out from my confinements,

though with difficulty.

 

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.

I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.

They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment

somehow or another).

 

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.

I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.

I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,

I have become younger.

 

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

 

This is a poet writing from a place of maturity, peace, and wisdom. She has struggled; she has grown; she has something to offer us. Do you know who is willing to take risks and be vulnerable by sharing all they know? Those who trust in their own value and their place in the world.  The poet has reached that stage and I am grateful for it.

This poem has found it’s way into my heart by alluding to so much spiritual (and scriptural) wisdom in whimsical language, and short sentences. They remind me of things I am just beginning to know.

Nothing is wasted. Everything belongs. Love your enemy as yourself. As your ego dies, you are reborn. You are important, but you aren’t important at all. Be light. Be free. Be Love.

green grass field
Photo by Jesse Zheng on Pexels.com

The poet Mary Oliver is taking us in  a different direction today. Though nature is her solace and her joy, it isn’t just those things. It is also her empowerment.

By being in the outer  world – observing it, knowing it, respecting it – she is able to bring those  skills to her inner world. Nature changed her and so she was able to change her life.

“The Journey”

One day you finally knew

What you had to do, and began,

Though the voices around you

Kept shouting

Their bad advice –

Though the whole house

Began to tremble

And you felt the old tug

At your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

Each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

Though the wind pried

With its stiff fingers

At the very foundations –

Though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice,

which you slowly recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper,

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do –

determined to save

the only life you could save.

 

Mary Oliver did not have an easy childhood, and a loving home. Her young-adult leaving was not met with a joyful sendoff, but with terrible guilt and shame. Pursuing her happiness would ruin their perfect sadness.  I believe it was her hours and days and weeks and months spent in the woods, watching how each living thing took root, or flight and took care of itself that allowed her to do the same when the time came.

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I hit my first snag, just two days in to National Poetry Month, but as a bonus, you get two Mary Oliver poems today. While nature continues to be her primary motif, the theme is slightly different. See if you can recognize what has shifted in her attitude.

“Foolishness? No. It’s Not”

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count

the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have

to climb branch by branch and write down

the numbers in a little book. So I suppose

from their point of view, it’s reasonable that

my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got

her head in the clouds again.

 

But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but

by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it

– the abundance of the leaves, the

quietness of the branches, the hopelessness

of my effort. And I am in that delicious and

important place, roaring with laughter, full

of earth-praise.

 

“Green, Green is My Sister’s House”

Don’t you dare climb that tree
or even try, they said, or you will be
sent way to the hospital of the
very foolish, if not the other one.
And I suppose, considering my age,
it was fair advice.

But the tree is a sister to me, she
lives alone in a green cottage
high in the air and I know what
would happen, she’d clap her green hands,
she’d shake her green hair, she’d
welcome me. Truly.

I try to be good but sometimes
a person just has to break out and
act like the wild and springy thing
one used to be. It’s impossible not
to remember wild and not want to go back.  So

if someday you can’t find me you might
look into that tree or—of course
it’s possible—under it.

 

Obviously, Oliver has been aroused to write about a completely different experience in nature. Instead of awe and reverence, the company of trees evokes a lightheartedness in the poet. She forgets any limitations put upon her by her age, her friends, or even her species and responds to the arboreal invitations with joyful enthusiasm. While I have little experience with any trees but palm trees, which are no good for climbing, I have a lot of experience with the emotions they bring about in her.

I cannot count the number of days I have spent at the beach “roaring with laughter” and “half crazy with the wonder.” From surfing with Tim and the kids, to rolling in the shore break with my siblings (when we were small and even just last year), to playing frisbee up to our knees in the waves, the effervescence of the waves seems to bubble up within me as well, producing an overflow of emotion. In those moments, held by the water and waves, the point of our existence together seems to be nothing but joy.

Oliver puts it so well: “I try to be good but sometimes/ a person just has to break out and/ act like the wild and springy thing/ one used to be. It’s impossible not/ to remember wild and not want to go back.”

What nature helps you remember your wild? Where do you find your inner child? What still leaves you breathless, laughing and aware of the absurdity of our overly-cultured and sanitized existence? When have you last gotten so “outside” your comfort zone that you giggled from the rediscovery of an original home ?

Oliver writes about more than just nature, which we will begin to explore tomorrow.

worms eyeview of green trees
Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

“Thirst” by Mary Oliver is written in a very different form than yesterday’s “Mindful,” but they share a similar theme. According to Oliver, nature is our first and best teacher and according to Franciscan theologians, nature was the very first Bible. God did not rely on theologians, logic, scripture, or even Jesus to reveal God’s self to humanity. Knowledge of the Divine has been offered to us all along, since we first had eyes to see and ears to hear.  We need only use them, Oliver reminds us in her poetry.

“Thirst”

Another morning and I wake with thirst

for the goodness I do not have. I walk

out to the pond and all the way God has

given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,

I was never a quick scholar but sulked

and hunched over my books past the

hour and the bell; grant me, in your

mercy, a little more time. Love for the

earth and love for you are having such a

long conversation in my heart. Who

knows what will finally happen or

where I will be sent, yet already I have

given a great many things away, expect-

ing to be told to pack nothing, except the

prayers which, with this thirst, I am

slowly learning.

 

For the first thirty-plus years of my life, unlike the poet, I was a “quick scholar,” happily hunched over my books. As a child, I spent my recesses in the library, until they shooed me out the door. I never wanted to leave when the bell rang. Books were my way, my truth and my light, but not any more. In the last decades, I have tried to become a “good scholar” like Oliver, learning from the created world and trusting my own experiences as much as anything else. It has not been an easy unlearning, but I persevere, praying for a “little more time” to let Love do its work in and through me.

woman sitting on grass by lake
Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

 

April-poetry-month

I cannot believe it is April 1 and National Poetry Month is upon us.

While I want to keep up my annual commitment to sharing a daily poem, it’s going to be a challenge this year. I’m “on the road” thirteen of the next thirty days, but I want to do it if only for myself, because I love poetry. I also want to do it for any readers who love poetry, but also for the ones who don’t love it yet.

I am making one significant shift this year. Instead of trying to include a wide variety of poets, I am focusing on the poets I return to again and again, the ones who have fed my soul and changed my life. I may even include poems I have shared in previous years, because one reading is never enough.


This first week, I am  honoring Mary Oliver, who passed away in January of this year at the age of 83. Known affectionately around our place as “Molliver,” she was a poetic naturalist, more at home outside than in, more comfortable around animals than humans, more inclined to use fewer words than many. In other words, not much like me. And yet, the themes of her poetry speak deeply to me. She too is a seeker and rebel.

“Molliver” also first came to mind because of my son Finn, who shares her love of nature and her deep way of seeing. What she captures in words, he captures in photographs. Like knows like and I have always thought that if their paths had crossed, they would have been great friends. I don’t think it’s any accident that the love of Mary’s life was the photographer Molly Malone Cook. Like knows like – in nature, in life, in love.

So without further ado, here is my first poem in the National Poetry Month series, dedicated to the memory of Mary Oliver and the future of Finn Kirkpatrick.

 

“Mindful”

Every day

I see or hear

something

that more or less

 

kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle

 

in the haystack

of  light.

It is what I was born for –

to look, to listen,

 

to lose myself

inside this soft world –

to instruct myself

over and over

 

in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,

 

the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant –

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,

 

the daily presentations.

Oh good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help

 

but grow wise

with such teachings

as these –

the untrimmable light

 

of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?

If you can, even for just a moment today, be mindful – of the light around you, the feel of the breeze on your skin, the warmth of the sun on your face, the sound of the birds out your window. Be a good scholar and grow wise – not in the ways of the world – but in the ways of the universe.

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Finn captures the “untrimmable light” of a sunrise rainbow over the Pacific Ocean.

 

(As always, if the thirty days is too much, feel free to skip away. I’ll be continuing my Lenten reflections, so if you want to tune in for those, just look for that in the title.)

Last year, I adopted a body prayer as a Lenten practice. It’s impact on me was significant, so I continued the practice long after the season was over and decided to return to it this year. It is a simple, but powerful way to bring my attention to the present moment and my purpose in it. I forget those things constantly, so I can’t do it just once a day either. Rather, I set alarms on my iPhone in loose imitation of the monastic hours: 7:00 a.m., 10:00, 1:00, 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. As soon as my “bells” chime, I step outside, (or at least aside), and complete the prayer. Sometimes I have to delay for five, or ten minutes, but one of the greatest powers of the practice is in heeding the call when it comes – prioritizing being present in mind, body and soul – over whatever else I’m doing.


Here is the prayer, step by step.

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1. I stand firmly on two feet, grounding myself. I focus on the stability of the earth beneath me, supporting me, lifting me up, and meeting me where I am. I take a deep breath and still my thoughts from wherever they’ve been, wherever I’ve been, just moments before.

My words: “Here I am, as I am, in this world, as it is.”

This position is my reality check. I came to pray, but I arrive distracted, perhaps even irritated, anxious, or tired. And the world is meeting me, full of its own pain, the never-ending cycle of human suffering. This step of the prayer acknowledges the inherent imperfection of life, but in this moment, it’s enough that I showed up. Pausing here for some deep breaths, I arrive fully. This is my response to Divine invitation to “come as you are” to experience the gifts of presence and connection. Nothing else is required.

 

2. From standing with hands at my side, I move them to “praying hands” and bow at the waist. I take a few moments to breathe deeply here (and in each position).

My words: “I bow to the wholeness and holiness of which I am a part.”

In this position, I acknowledge the perfection of the cosmos and its Creator, but also my own part in it. The universe is vast and mysterious, but I am not inconsequential to the unfolding of God’s plan. To the extent I am aware and available, I can contribute more productively to it. This is a moment of great humility and deep self-respect. I matter enormously and not at all.

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3. With another deep breath, I move my arms into a V above my head and place my feet closer together. This is a gesture of welcome and receptivity.

My words: “I open myself to receive what the Universe has waiting for me this day.”

All that is good is generously offered to me each and every day: divine energy, love, compassion, grace, mercy, growth. It may not always look, or feel “good,” especially on bad days, or in times of deep suffering, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The very nature of God is a complete and total fountain-fullness of hesed, the Hebrew word for God’s unshakeable, steadfast, generous love. God can’t help but allow good things to rain down on the just and unjust alike.

I want hesed for myself; I want hesed for the world, but I cannot receive it without making room. A cup full of water can hold no wine, which takes me to the next words of my prayer in this position.

My words: “I empty myself of my agenda for this day.”

As I say these words, my mind brings forth all the other things I need to release to make room for God’s gifts and the possibility to love and be loved in surprising ways. My agenda is just my plan for the day, but there are also my attachments – the things I want to be true and the way I want things to go. And don’t forget my projections – who I think others should be, and how I think they should show up in the world. While we’re at it, let’s also release the fears that go around making all sorts of unconscious decisions that limit me, and the certainty that leads me to judge, reject and limit other people.

I can’t possibly welcome the mystery of God’s plan if I think I have everything figured out already, so my body takes the shape of a funnel – wide open to receive from above , while releasing anything that has its origin in my own smallest self.

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4. I place my hands over my heart in a gesture of recollection and tenderness.

My words: “I acknowledge all that I have received.”

This is a moment of deep gratitude and recognition for the gifts I have been given. I feel my heart beat. In this moment, I am alive; I have breath. I have family; I have a home. I am safe and I am loved. I have felt the grace of God in my life and I see the ways it has shaped me. I pause for a moment of peace.

 

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5. I throw my arms open wide and twist at the waist, back and forth, in a gesture of release.

My words: “I share all that I am and all that I have.”

This position seeks to balance the self-preoccupation of the previous gesture. I am not given those gifts, because I am special, or blessed, or uniquely deserving in anyway. They are not mine to hoard, but to give away, as freely and fiercely as I’m able. Honestly, when it comes to generosity, some days are better than others, but this gesture always reminds me of the poet Rilke’s plea to God: “May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back.”

Let go, let God, let goodness flow. Let me not merely be a recipient; let me be a conduit.

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6. In this final posture, I place my hands at my side, touching my legs. I ground my feet into the earth once again. I feel more deeply rooted, more aware of the energy that flows through me.

My words: “I am here. I am home. I am Yours.”

Usually at this point, I can feel my mind start to wander back to where I was before, or ahead to where I’m going next, but these words stop me in my tracks.  If I cannot be here, stay here, for one more moment, then what was the point?

I am here, as I am – in this world, as it is – and it is okay.

I am home – in my body, in this place, in this moment. Pardon the cliché, but I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I am Yours – I don’t have to manufacture my own purpose, or figure everything out today. I simply know I belong – to Life, to Love, to Creation and the Creator of it all.


I know it sounds like a lot of time and effort, and honestly I do rush through the steps often enough, but at least a couple times a day, I go as slowly as I can, my face to the sun. In the video, I’m moving a little quickly, since I’m in a public space and Tim’s filming me. (He does not love public displays of prayer, or New Age-y body movements.) If you’re going to give it a try, find a quiet place where you can practice without self-consciousness! The song playing is called, “Ulysses” by Josh Garrels. I love that song and after hundreds of listens, it will forever call me back to myself.

P.S.    Fr. Richard Rohr says that people ask him how long they should pray. “Pray until you get to YES,” he tells them, “That’s what I do.”
I’ve found this to be a really helpful version of a YES prayer. In each position, I’m invited to come to an authentic YES. I can hurry past it in any one step, but usually by the end, I have come to an acceptance of some truth about myself and how I’m showing up. Then I can decide what to do about it.

At its core, YES is humility.

YES is freedom and choice.

YES is an act of Love.

I want to thank Cynthia Bourgeault and the Wisdom Way of Knowing for teaching me their version of this prayer and their encouragement to “practice my practice” in my own way.

One of the texts I’ve been working my way through this past month (and am committed to completing this Lent) is this

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As you can imagine, it’s super uplifting stuff.

It’s one of those books you plan to read sooner or later, but somehow never get around to. Instead it sits on your bookshelf for years, pages yellowing in the afternoon sunlight… That probably sounds oddly specific, but that’s what happens to the books I feel like I should read, but don’t actually want to. However, a few months ago I finally wanted to and pulled it off the shelf. While visiting us from Montana, my eighty-one-year-old mother-in-law was rushed to the hospital in respiratory failure. There is nothing like the chaos of a near-death experience (even if not your own) to make you seek out “a Message of Hope, Comfort and Spiritual Transformation.”

Whatever the title led me to believe I was getting, it’s not what I’ve gotten out of this book. I’d heard the author described as a hospice worker, author and public speaker, but cracking open the first page, I was immediately struck by her other qualities, namely a PhD, with an expertise in transpersonal psychology, Sufi cartography, integral theory, and the evolution of human consciousness. Reading this text on death and dying is no Chicken Soup for the Soul, no pabulum to ease the bitterness of death; it’s hard work, but I’m grinding my way through it. And not only is it helping me understand what my mother-in-law may be experiencing, but what we will all experience at some point – the death, not only of our body, which is painful enough, but of our ego, our individuality and our ability to control anything at all, which is excruciating. We know how to medicate and manage physical trauma; it’s often the psychological and spiritual pain that is our undoing. Despite that hard truth, or perhaps because of it, I’ve found some good news in here. She says we can actually start taking some preventative measures now to reduce the psychic pain later.

Here’s one. Our life is full of opportunities to die to some parts of our “selves” we’ve (over)identified with. Every disappointment, every failure, every injury and illness, every break-up with a friend, or partner, every stumble along the way offers us the chance to ask the critical question, “Who am I?”

The best way to prepare for our eventual death is a “perpetual stance of exploration… the continual asking of the question, ‘Who am I?’… At first the answers to the question are the easy and automatic responses memorized during the decades of the mental ego’s identity project.” For example, for the last two decades and more, I have been able to say I am a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, freckle-faced cis-gender, heterosexual woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, reader, writer, student, teacher, runner, swimmer, walker, weightlifter, surfer, snowboarder, baker, seeker, volunteer. Sorry for rambling, but you get the point. I can identify as a lot of things. We all can!

But here’s the kicker. I have failed at virtually each and every one of those things. I have been found lacking and had to die to who I thought I was, or more specifically, who I dreamed I could be in my lifetime in that role. My “self” sometimes really sucks. But in that space of confusion and disappointment in myself and the situation, am I courageous enough to ask myself: “Who am I if I am no longer this?” and the even more piercing and existential question: “Will they love who am I now enough to stay with me?”

When we don’t know the answer to those questions, we get confused and anxious, but in fact, according to the book, “not knowing is good. Not knowing is ‘beginner’s mind.’ Not knowing allows openness to the possibilities inherent in each moment. It is the only space in which wisdom can arise, because it has no preconceptions,” no pre-judgments about what could or should happen. In those moments when we are pierced by the sword of reality that “Reality shines through the holes left by the piercing.” In that crisis of self, a deeper and truer Self can fill in the gaps, preparing us for the final moment when the Self is all we have left. With any luck, and a lot of grace, it just might make the transition a little easier on us and those we love.

A final thought –

It is because you believe that you are born that you fear death.

Who is it that was born?

Who is it that dies?

Look within.

What was your face before you were born?

Who you are, in reality, was never born and never dies.

Let go of who you think you are and become who you have always been.

  – Stephen Levine

The quotes from The Grace in Dying are taken from a section called “Self-Inquiry,” pages 160-165.

On a personal note –

My mother-in-law has steadily improved over the last ten weeks. She has worked hard to be well again, with a kindness and determination that is much commented on by the staff everywhere she’s been. And while this situation has been difficult, it has also allowed her family to come together with love and mutual support. She will be released on Monday to her daughter’s home in Northern California for a few more months of recovery before she returns to her own home in the early summer. This is her hand in Molly’s last week as we visited over dinner.

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