Saturday, October 31, 2009

Opening Windows


My eyes are the windows of my head.
My words are the windows of my mind.
My actions are the windows of my limbs.
My friends are the windows of my heart.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Not Mine


My spouse's life is not mine.
My child's life is not mine.
My parent's life is not mine.
My sibling's life is not mine.
My friend's life is not mine.
My enemy's life is not mine.

When I let go of what is not mine,
I find I have everything I need.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dust on Dust


I arose from dust
and I will return to dust.
How many ancestors
and descendants
carry me forward
step by step every day,
masquerading as the earth
under my feet?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The First Time


When I truly look at a tulip,
I see red for the first time.

When I truly listen to a river,
I hear water for the first time.

When I truly chew on honeycomb,
I taste sweetness for the first time.

When I truly sniff a fire,
I smell smoke for the first time.

When I truly feel fallen snow,
I touch winter for the first time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Untie the Knots


Untie the knots in your head.
Untie the knots in your stomach.
Untie the knots in your joints.
Untie the knots in your heart.

No matter what happens,
you will be okay.
Even in the greatest pain,
you will be okay.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First, I Must Accept


First, I must accept
I have something to see,
then I can see it.

First, I must accept
I have something to hear,
then I can hear it.

First, I must accept
I have my own path,
then I can find it.

First, I must accept
I have my own way,
then I can follow it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nothing Is Impossible


Nothing is impossible
in the house of the imagination.

Nothing is unknowable
in the circle of the known.

Nothing is insurmountable
in the continent of the heart.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sometimes It Is Easier


Sometimes it is easier to hear
in the middle of noise than it is
to hear in the middle of silence.

Sometimes it is easier to see
in the middle of darkness than it is
to see in the middle of light.

Sometimes it is easier to believe
in the middle of chaos than it is
to believe in the middle of church.

Sometimes it is easier to live
in the middle of dying than it is
to live in the middle of life.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blink


We blink to soothe our eyes.
We swallow to wet our throat.
We breathe to feed our lungs.

How do we blink to soothe our conscience?
How do we swallow to wet our passion?
How do we breathe to feed our soul?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Natural Separation


Oil and vinegar separate naturally.
Some people separate naturally, too.

So what?

Politics. Religion. Parenting. Business.
Art. Character. Priorities. Faith. History.

Fault lines run between us all.
But we can still be courteous to each other.

Right?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vision Test


When I look out my window, what do I see?
When I look from my doorway, what do I see?
When I look down my street, what do I see?
When I look across my town and country, what do I see?
When I look beyond my shores, what do I see?

I see the front curtains inside my house.
I see the sidewalk dividing my yard.
I see trees and houses and cars down the hill.
I see coasts and plains and mountains and tribes.
I see "the other" and meet myself there again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If I Ask a Sign


If I ask a sign of the Tao,
and the Tao gives me a sign,
how do I decide whether to believe
it is indeed a sign from the Tao
or my own wishful imagination?

I cannot know
which is true.
I can only choose
which to believe is true.
My best choice is
to believe I shall see clearly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Imprinted by Place


Place. It resonates in us in strange ways.
We are imprinted by it like salmon swimming upstream.

Do we stay rooted where we first appeared?
Or do we fledge and fly away across continents?

How long do we stay away from where we began?
And if we swim home again, how long does it take?

Like the moon, the places we carry inside us
pull and push us back and forth like ocean tides.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Meeting Myself


Whenever I encounter another human being, I want to come away knowing myself better than I did before. This is my life's task, after all -- to discover who I am.

Maybe this is automatic. Maybe I don't have to try to draw an insight out of every human contact. Maybe it happens every time two or more of us come together, regardless of the circumstances.

We meet ourselves in one another.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Something to Wonder About


If something is difficult, where does the difficulty lie -- in the something, or in me?

If something is easy, where does the easiness lie -- in the something, or in me?

If something is mysterious, where does the mystery lie -- in the something, or in me?

If something is clear, where does the clarity lie -- in the something, or in me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Something We Have to Do


Wherever two or more are gathered together, a community is born.

We haven't developed to the point where we can survive a lifetime without help from someone else. We all have to depend on others -- and others have to depend on us.

Sometimes, they fail us. Sometimes, we fail them. One way or another, though, we all need help getting from one end of this life to the other.

Building communities is how we do that. It is something we have to do.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Four Doors


When you are seeking a way out of difficult circumstances, four doors will forever open to your knock.

The first is the door of surrender.
The second is the door of defeat.
The third is the door of cleverness.
The fourth is the door of what is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Part of Me?


My shadow swims around me wherever I go.
What part of me does it mimic?

My memory swims in a sea of personal history.
What part of me does it really hold?

My pulse swims through my body every moment.
What part of me does it know beyond doubt?

My breath swims in and out and in again.
What part of me does it nurture?

Whatever parts these touch,
there is more they cannot reach.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rivers of Rain


The Mississippi River is shallow enough to cross on foot in places, but most of us have to go by bridge or boat.

The first time I saw it, we were crossing it into Memphis. It was a wide, caramel-colored sea, roiling and troubled and rolling slowly south.

What astonishes me now when I look out across it is that it started not as a river but as rain, falling drop by drop by drop.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

To Be Grateful


To be grateful for an escape is natural.
To be grateful for a gift is courteous.
To be grateful for a painful day is wise.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Balancing Act


Courtesy balances tolerance. When someone is being tolerant toward me, I should be courteous in return.

Humility balances adoration. When someone showers me with praise, I should remember how small I really am.

Gratitude balances kindness. When someone treats me with kindness, I should fully appreciate the gesture.

Generosity balances attention. When someone offers me their attention, I should give them the best I have to offer.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pain and Gratitude


When I am in pain, I say thank you.
When I am suffering, I say thank you.
When I am hurting, I say thank you.
When I am cut to the quick, I say thank you.

It is not the pain I am thankful for.
It is the turning point, the insight,
the wisdom, the gift that comes
wrapped up and hidden inside.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Split Mind


A split river is still a river.
A split road is still a road.
A split tree is still a tree.
A split heart is still a heart.
A split mind is anything but still.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Meditation on Salvation


Salvation does not come from blood.
Salvation does not come from martyrdom.
Salvation does not come from sacrifice.
Salvation does not come from death.

Salvation comes from knowing where you came from.
Salvation comes from knowing where you are headed.
Salvation comes from knowing you are more than flesh and blood and impending death.
Salvation comes from knowing you are so much more than you think you are.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Something About


Something about a mountain teaches a foot to fly.

Something about a river teaches an arm to swim.

Something about a stone teaches a hand to build.

Something about a tree teaches a mind to climb.

Something about a friend teaches a body to sing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Deaf Man's Wife


A deaf man's wife received a letter from her sister, whom she had not seen in many years. In the letter, the sister explained she was dying and would not survive the year.

The deaf man's wife immediately left and headed east to tend to her sister. Three days after she arrived, she received word that a tornado had taken away her house -- with her husband inside.

Her sister felt terrible. She knew that if it had not been for her illness, the woman would have been able to hear the storm rising and might have saved her deaf husband.

"Or maybe," the woman answered, "I could not have saved him, and the pain of seeing him die in the storm would have killed me, too."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Pause in My Education


When I listen, I hear birds in the trees or cars going down the street or dogs barking or wind or rain or dry insect noises in dry fields.

When I look, I see clouds or bare tree limbs or red berries or sunlight on a wet parking lot or the neighbor's cat slinking down the sidewalk.

When I lick, I taste salt or honey or melting butter or bus exhaust or the metallic tang of a screen door or my wife's shoulder.

When I sniff, I smell lightning or burning leaves or coffee or curried rice or rain on pavement or bleach or rotting milk in the refrigerator.

When I touch, I feel running water or sand or gravel or a hot plate or a horse's mane or a satin bed sheet or the front of my own thigh.

When I stop listening and looking and licking and sniffing and touching, I pause in my education of who I am.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Summer That Might Have Been


One spring, the new leaves on every tree came out in brilliant fall colors -- from pale yellow to deep orange to blood purple.

Everyone in town wondered what it could mean. Some said it was a sign from heaven. Some said it was a sign of impending doom. Some explained it scientifically.

As spring gave way to summer, the leaves darkened into a deep green that grew lighter as the summer wore on. By the time the leaves dropped off in the fall, they were all a bright and vital green, as if they'd just unfurled in a normal spring.

That was years ago, and now, no one can prove it happened or it didn't happen.

But everybody has an opinion.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Balanced Life


A balanced life is a serene life,
even in the middle of chaos.

A balanced life is a contented life,
even in the middle of suffering.

A balanced life is a simple life,
even in the middle of change.

Balance comes from where
you place the fulcrum.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Lost Companions


A man and his companion lost their way on the road one morning and couldn't find any signs or familiar landmarks to tell them where they were. Even so, the man kept driving.

Just as they were both beginning to get worried, he saw a sign pointing the way to a nearby town. With joy, he turned and headed the 30 miles toward it.

His companion asked him why they were going to a town they both knew was in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go.

"Because it is the only thing I know for sure right now," he replied.