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In a poem titled Snow Geese, Mary Oliver begins: “Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! What a task to ask of anything or anyone, yet it is ours and not by the century or the years, but by the hours.” How wise!

How much suffering we endure as our egos struggle over what is set in place by The Creator and cannot be altered. All things change. Time can’t be suspended for even an instant. Imperceptively, the grass grows or withers, moods change, cells age, and civilizations topple.

Buddhists believe the origin of suffering is attachment. Their doctrine is different from Christianity, but their point is well taken. As ordinary humans we make ourselves miserable by clinging to everything: thoughts, habits, possessions and friends, our loved ones, our church. We are in constant battle with the inevitability of change.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus urged us not to worry but to rest in Him, Matt:11: 29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” He was talking about faith and trust in the Will of God, in the cycles of change. He was talking about relinquishment. I have been pondering this word recently; it seems to “fit” in so many circumstances.

Mary Oliver writes about loving what will not last and calls it a task. She’s right, even the simplest things are a struggle. I awake in the morning and find it hard to get up. Why? Because I love the comfort and warmth of my bed. At night I stay up later than I should because I’m attached to whatever I am doing. With every thought or action during the day, comes the choice of attachment or relinquishment.

Today’s practice in an online spirituality course is one-pointed attention, giving up multitasking to concentrate wholly on one thing. This too, is relinquishment and it is difficult but, the practice illuminates my need of cultivating acceptance of the present moment, which is nothing less than welcoming God’s Will.

(The full poem may be read at Poetry Mountain if you scroll about half way down.)

Situation desperate!
Off-white walls, pebble-beige floor, days of rain and mist, gray sleeping cat.


Brain drained of color, mind devoid of thought, body lethargic, breathing slowing down. Vital signs wavering! Visual transfusion, Soul Food needed stat, mental stimulation, prompts take care of that. Therapy suggestions? Journal, sketch, create, stories, drawings, poems, edit, share, and wait. Heather’s prognosis, consciousness restored, heart beat increasing, returned to life once more!

To see how this was used on the cover of my poetry journal, give a click.

Abbey Pilgrims

Pilgrims En Route to the Lemurian Abbey


No matter the weather, or time of year, day and night pilgrims make their way to the Lemurian Abbey. Some come by way of the sea, in small boats, braving the rough waves and high surf to land on the rocky shore. These hardy souls must then search through many caves to find one of the few that contain the famous 100 stone steps that will bring them to their final destination.

Other pilgrims, like this brother and sister, choose the land route and trudge over mountains and through dangerous forests to arrive at the Abbey’s main entrance. Exhausted and hungry, not one regrets the perils they have faced.

Pilgrims are always met personally by the Abbess and taken to a small, sparse cell, where they await a welcoming tray of nourishing food. Then, safe and drowsy they unpack their few belongings and enter a deep restful sleep that is sure to awaken longed for dreams of creativity.

Home Again

Believer's Cell in the Abbey


The Abbey always calls me home. Here I can write, read and pray. In my cell, with its plain walls and hard floor I center myself and return to the luxury of simplicity. Here the sleep is deep and unbroken, the awakening refreshing and peaceful. Meditation comes easily. Silence settles as a blessing. Serenity is achieved.

On Relinquishing

Have you ever made a discovery that you knew had been waiting for you all along, a discovery that embodies your understanding of truth, that you’re mature enough to appreciate, and value, but that you find yourself backing away from and saying, “No, not yet”?

Relinquishment has been on the tip of my mind of late. Strangely, the word often appears unbidden and isolated from any event. Without any prodding or preliminaries it pops up, wags its tail like a stray dog and begs to follow me home. Most of the time I tell it firmly that I’m too busy, too involved and have no space or time for it, but more and more I’ve been relenting and letting it in.

It’s not surprising, I suppose, I’m a strong Christian fascinated with Buddhist wisdom. Catholics speak of sacrificing, Buddhists of letting go; but I don’t actually recall hearing or seeing the word relinquishment in either context. So why does it call out to me so strongly?

Being a writer, the sound appeals to me. As with clothing, I like my words to be soft and comfortable; not scratchy or tight fitting; a little breathing room is nice. Perhaps it’s the mood I’m in or my time of life, but I appreciate words that are slow rather than abrupt, quiet words that ask to be whispered. I admire words from a different time that haven’t been overused and beaten to death by the media.

Right now it’s almost midnight and although I arrived home tired, I’ve been reading, writing, posting for nearly two hours. I find it hard to relinquish the day. When I awaken tomorrow, no doubt, it will be hard to relinquish my bed.

WIP–to be continued

Tamarind

Today I write because the word “tamarind” brings me pleasure. I’ve never seen a tamarind tree, have not experienced its shade, nor tasted its sweet/sour fruit, but I’ve read a long wiki article, precise in its botanical and geographical information and Googled photos. It isn’t the ingesting of facts that feeds my imagination or brings me delight; I’m a writer and lover of words and these three syllables please my ears, feel comfortable and pleasant on my lips, taste sweet and exotic on my tongue.

If I were a poet, perhaps I’d understand the full mechanics of sound, but I know little of that. I whisper tamarind. The hard t at the beginning, fades to a soft d at the end and feels “right,” the lingering m in the center murmurs a sigh of pleasure, the short vowels remain quiet in the background, understanding that this time, the show belongs to the consonants.

Who first spoke this luscious tree sound? Did he fall asleep beneath a tamarind in the heat of the day and wake to a refreshing wind. Did diminutive leaves call to her when they ruffled in the hush of a tropical breeze? Did someone sense the echo of a distant cyclone buried in the tree’s long memory? Whoever you are, I owe you a debt. Many countries and nations have given a name to this tree, but only you have blessed me with tamarind.

* * *
Yesterday morning on the first day of an Eknath Easwaran course at Spirituality and Practice, he wrote about the wisdom of his Indian grandmother. She told him not to wish for importance but to be like a leaf on the tamarind tree, one of many, who together bring shade and rest to all who sit beneath it. She told him to remember that people working together in community can build and create a better world.

Sounds a lot like Lemuria.