Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Making It Last

Making it last,
we put more faith
in the process than
in the fruits of our labor.
We love the hand-holding, embrace
the moments of confrontation
when perspectives clash, teach,
catalyze transformation of personal paradigms
to open the door to shared edens
or at least
worlds where the space between your values
and mine
is not so wide
your needs not as strange
our separation not so stark as to give us permission
to ignore each other’s far shore.

Having abandoned the need to bring you to my side
it becomes possible to
enjoy the feeling of movement
the breeze that travels between us
the scenery that changes with our perspectives
the sun that shines equally on us all.

Making it last
we accept the permanent truth of the journey
the immutability of change
the unending transaction between ourselves
and everything else
that makes it all so rich
so uniformly varied
so unthinkingly compelling
we can never be done.

Reaping What You Sow


Thank god
some of what returns to us
is the bounty of our gratitude matured,
seeds of patience
flourishing to fall lavishly on the present
like mulberry leaves in autumn,
gentleness in full flower as marigolds bobbing with joy.

Parallel to history
our efforts bend toward fairness –
the plenty that leaves enough for all of us
at the thanksgiving table filled
with our good works and best ideas,
generosity finally
coming home to roost.

Building Relationships

Nanoseconds
planted and multiplied
cultivate the shift
between my perspective and
what I can clearly see you need
when I step back to take in all of you
separate
from what I have asked.

Our garden of nanosecond shifts breathes
with the vitality of life celebrated,
our roots separate but entwined,
leaves spreading unabashedly for an unending sun.

Perspectives tilting like sunflowers to light,
we take turns sipping the water,
soil, space, inspiration
that allow each of us to grow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bringing in the Elements

Our hands are built for digging in dirt
although we rush from soil to sink
as though wine-spilled,
time the only dam between
stain and the porcelain precision
of our unblemished boats,
as though we can learn more from
clean rooms
than the endless curiosity of laboratory
earth,
where organisms know enough to multiply
given space, one small advantage,
and permission to grow.

What would it mean
to let in the elements
instead of sealing ourselves
in immutable shells, impenetrable confidence,
and more often fear?

Nothing less than forgiveness –
a conciliatory embrace of our animal softness;
a return to the joy of dirt showers,
hands elephant trunking the earth over our heads, arms
rubbing the dry softness into our skin;
a ritual of rain shower dances,
running into the newness that signals change
we’ve been ready for,
open to, waiting
to celebrate.

Bringing in the elements,
we remove beaver sticks of difference
we’ve used to claim our territory, stacked
to prove our unique break with evolution’s river, forgetting
civilization is a man-made pool.
Expelling the elements,
we divorce neighborhood from environment,
belief from instinctual desire,
bodies from breath,
ourselves from the fullness of being.

We return to dirt and rain
as to the tending of green shoots
pushing from earth –
unquestioning –
so natural as to feel
destined
to feel destined.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting Started

You will need more earth than you can imagine –
a topsoil self stretched two inches thin in each
direction, rotten lessons from years past
so mulled over,
turned so many times
in the heat of your compassion, your
fiery embrace,
they glisten now –
enriched loam returned
to eden,
ready for

growth. That and just one seed of an idea,
a gentleness that looks like hope
curled in an empty shell.
You do not have to believe yet.
The full flower
burst radiance
of this oak tree,
this carrot,
this miraculous wrapping of lettuce
around your core cannot
be suspected or even
coaxed into being with your want and especially
not your need. The best
seeds carry no notion of you, sprout
little gratitude for the water you shower or
your dreams. They rightly divine:
all that is needed to grow
is their birthright.
Fulfill
basic conditions of nourishment
and life begins.

It is not a matter of how to grow
or why.

Once begun
the only miracle is how often
we stop ourselves.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Open Enough

It is enough
to be open and listening,
to be raw and broke open.

I am open to the sun,
open to the gathering of heat and light in me,
open to sharing with others what I cannot use.

I am thankful for all blessings
for the persistence of love
my tensile body of flesh

the life that overflows
with more meaning
than I can possibly gather.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Leverage

We leverage our skills to catapault into grace
past what we can’t do
past our fears
past the worst parts of our nature.

We leverage grace to catapault past our weaknesses
waving hello to what we can now do
flying so high we have new perspectives
on the patterns suddenly clear, resolved like us to our fate.

Perpendicular
we poise for a moment
effortless
weightless
still
in the optimum exchange
between our gifts and what we are given
lifted, lifting
skilled at levitating in life’s grace.

Turning

Had such a great talk with a dear friend this afternoon. It was one of those interactions that end up being a perfectly balanced dance between two people in two different places, both with concerns, both able to offer new insights from different perspectives. A wonderful surprise, especially because the date was set mostly for me. Instead, we found tender places, gathered wisdom from the last rays of a setting November sun.

I've been in the desert. Questioning my direction, my self, my career, my life - the meaning of it all. Closed to all but fear.

I feel poised on the edge of change, teetering on the peak of a wave that will carry me ... somewhere ... with power and speed and exhilaration.

Open to inspiration, it's beginning to pour in. Books on work turn out to be books about spirituality, about meaning, about authentic living. These led to poetry, to more poetry, to more thinking, feeling. Today, the book mentioned the old saying, "When a student is ready, the teacher appears." And vice versa. And that at the right moment, THAT moment, in the breath before all turns, coincidences happen. Maybe because you're paying attention for them. Listening. Focused. Open to miracles. Begging for them. And I realized I'd just experienced a moment of grace - a chance encounter with a woman who works where I'm hoping to work.

And later, talking to my friend, I realized one of the things I'm missing is confidence. More than experience, what I lack is the leap of faith it takes to try something new before you know whether you'll be good at it, before you know how steep the hill to climb, how exhilarating success will feel.

Perpetually the little sister, I constantly feel the need for more mentorship, more leadership, more ... protection. I believe I'm smart. I know I love to learn. I know I will be competent at the things I try. But managing others? Leading a project? Suddenly I falter. I lack faith. Confidence wilts.

What I'm learning from all my work books, though, is that work does not equal identity. Rather, it presents an opportunity to practice being your best self, living and acting with integrity. In the way that marriage should always be the verb and not the noun, work is the unending stream of action and intention, not a label or a product.

Perhaps easier to theorize than live, but still useful to reorient me from despair toward grace.

Sweet Darkness - David Whyte

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.

Keeping Quiet - Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

-from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon
Translated by Stephen Mitchell