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Archive for the ‘wisdom’ Category

I believe in morning rituals although I fail all too often these days to engage in them. Still, I can’t stress enough how important they are, how effective they can be in getting me ready to greet my day feeling steadied and grounded, readied (at least for the moment) to really see the beauty before me and committed to greet those I meet with an open heart.

I’ve found both poetry and music to be particularly helpful when initiating one of my first deliberate and conscious acts of the day. I thought I’d share one with you that was written by the late poet, John O’ Donahue entitled, “For the Artist at the Start of the Day.”

“May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear
Of the sticky web of the personal
With its hurt and its hauntings,
And fixed fortress corners,

A Morning when you become a pure vessel
For what wants to ascend from silence,

May your imagination know
The grace of perfect danger,

To reach beyond imitation,
And the wheel of repetition,

Deep into the call of all
The unfinished and unsolved

Until the veil of the unknown yields
And something original begins
To stir toward your senses
And grow stronger in your heart

In order to come to birth
In a clean line of form,
That claims from time
A rhythm not yet heard,
That calls space to
A different shape.

May it be its own force field
And dwell uniquely
Between the heart and the light

To surprise the hungry eye
By how deftly it fits
About its secret loss.”

~ John O’Donohue ~

O’Donohue reminds me here that every life is a work of art and that att some level we are reborn again and again with each brand new ordinary/extraordinary day….

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What is the ‘good life’? The late comedian, George Burns, concluded that he had had a good life. Scott and Helen Nearing (homesteaders and social activists) maintained that they had lived the ‘good life’ too. George Burns life was vastly different from the Nearings and yet I suspect that those who knew them each well would have agreed that each of their lives had been well lived.

So many people long for a particular version of the good life that they’ve heard so much about, one that’s filled with images of luxury and wealth. Sadly, all too many of them struggle to achieve this vision in spite of the significant emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, and ecological tolls that are exacted along the way.

Interestingly, while the notion of the good life seems to be deeply implanted in our psyche, its origin stems from the dreams of those who came before us, and meant something entirely different than what so many of us have come to yearn for. The world was introduced to the concept of the good life by William Penn and Henry David Thoreau and was a vastly different version than popular culture’s turned out to be. To them, the good life represented a life style based on simplicity, personal freedom, meaningful work and spiritual, psychological and intellectual growth and development.

As the economy continues its downward spiral and the impact of global warming intensifies, it seems more important to me than ever that we redefine for ourselves what living the good life can be.

Writer and philosopher, William Henry Channing wrote, “To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To listen to stars and birds and babes and sages with an open heart. To study hard, think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions. Never hurry. In a word, to let the spiritual, the unbidden and the unconscious rise up through the common. This is my symphony.” Channing’s image of the good life is one that moves and inspires me. This is the ‘good life’ that can only be denied to me by barriers of my own creation, otherwise, it is always within my means and within my reach. Today, I plan to celebrate my good life….

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It’s another absolutely beautiful autumn day here in Maine. I’m sitting in the sun with an old friend who is lamenting the onset of winter. While I’m not a fan of winter either, and can appreciate her reluctance to face another cold and snowy season, I’m also struck by all that I suspect she’ll miss if she continues to resist the inevitable. I’m reminded of the wisdom of Shauna Niequest who wrote in Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
, “Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.”

Niequest reminds us of the importance of not only savoring our gifts, but also of receiving what comes our way with an open heart – even winter, even the darkness…

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What I most love about the internet is the window to the world’s wisdom it provides. From my office in Lewiston or from my little cottage in Wayne I can attend lectures, listen to interviews, and watch thoughtful and informative webcasts.
Today I listend to an interview with Duncan Campbell and David Boren who talked about his new book, “A Letter to America” on Living Dialogues. Boren’s message regarding the crisis’s that we in the United States face is both alarming and inspiring at the same time. I encourage you to listen to the interview as well as to a number of other valuable and thought provoking interviews that are available on the Living Dialogues website.
Each and every day I listen to individuals who are appropriately worried about their futures, good people who share that they all too often feel powerless and frustrated. It’s in my nature to want to reassure and comfort, and I find myself in most cases automatically leaning forward, unconsciously assuming the posture of compassionate witness. And then I am pulled back by the awareness that now is not the time for empathy nearly as much as it is the time for accountability and action –a time for us to collectively face the challenges that confront us while creating a vision for a healthier and more sustainable future.

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