… I’ll just tell you the unexpected, joyful conclusion. The dog officer resigned! And the next officer was a different sort; he too remembered and missed the old days. So when he found Sammy he would simply call him into his truck and drive him home. In this way, he lived a long and happy life, with many friends.
This is Sammy’s story. But I also think there are one or two poems in it somewhere. Maybe it’s what life was like in this dear town years ago, and how a lot of us miss it.
Or maybe it’s about the wonderful things that may happen if you break the ropes that are holding you.
I’ve loved a quiet day today. Perhaps too quick though to speak of its having been a reading day. Truth is that it’s been more of a being read day today – by what often and somewhere and sometime I’ve read before.
Mary Oliver features in my daily meditations like whole pages posted by some unimaginably marvellous means into the space just behind my closed eyes – the page having first risen up from somewhere very close to the heart, and from the gratitude-filled chambers in my soul. Not read today, but being read by.
Mary Oliver! Close friend I’ve never met. Did you ever know that such a reading would become recognised by another as a part of your long-held vocation, in innumerable times and places, all over the world? And deep within me? Whom you help, again and again, to see.
I am grateful to my friend the photographer Colin Dixon for drawing this glorious film to my attention a day or two ago.
The Online Photographer wrote: ‘If you haven’t seen this yet, you need to. Practically demands full screen, and after dark is best, with nothing else going on, no distractions, no other noises.’
I paid attention to the advice and came to the film after a post-supper walk last evening. Rendered speechless (temporarily!), I was spellbound and profoundly moved then, and came to the film a second time this morning.
For some not-immediately-obvious reason (as is so often the way with the gift of poetry) David Scott’s lovely poem about New College Dining Hall came clearly to mind! Perhaps because the poem, like the film, draws attention to so much more going on ‘above’ (and below and all around) us than our attention to the smaller, mundane and everyday events might ordinarily allow for, lightly touching upon ‘sabbath again’ … time and space to contemplate and celebrate ‘high old air: / spiralling, mote filled.’
Mauro Morandi (see yesterday’s post) was not, I think, suggesting that to look at something is somehow an entirely lesser experience than feeling beauty with our eyes closed might be. He, after all, speaks of his love for watching sea and sunset. But, after watching this film, his invitation might very well have a particular ring of truth in it for those who set out to ‘watch’ it again, feeling its beauty, with eyes closed.
And there’s more! Visit Mike Olbinski at Vimeo. I’ll meet you there. Often.
Mauro Morandi has lived alone on Budelli, an island in the Maddalena archipelago, near the strait of Bonifacio in northern Sardinia, for twenty-eight years. Like the Desert Mothers and Fathers of Egypt around the 3rd century, this lover of reading, silence, sea and sunset has patently learned a thing or two.
click photos to enlarge – a second time to zoom further
… lingers awhile along borders for a translator to savor secretly,
borrowing from both sides, holding
for a moment the smooth round world
in that cool instant of evening before the sun goes down
from Walking the Borders The Way It Is – New and Selected Poems
I write a few lines in my meditation journal each day, and from time to time review what I’ve written – looking for patterns and repetitions. One of the most frequent notes that appears in the ‘I am grateful for …’ sections is what I often describe as ‘nature’s art and light’.
And I realise that the poets I regularly turn to have eyes and ears for the detail in the natural wonders that surround them; some having especial penchant for the sky, or sea, or lakes, or mountains, or sweeping plains, or animals and their particular, chosen, encouraged or given habitats, flora and fauna. I delight in all of these.
But most of all I am entranced by light, always changing, writing, painting, softening, sharpening, defining, reaching, touching, listening – full from earth to sky with metaphor and parable, reaching onwards, upwards, and into the heights and depths of the Universe. And into my soul.
So it was during our after-supper walk this evening. So it was a million aeons ago. So for a million, million more. Meditating in and upon light I stand time and again in awe.
Writing can be such a joy, on so many levels. A regular highpoint for me involves getting together with my local writing group, comprised of an inspirational tutor and a number of very different people who write about anything and everything.
There’s always something new to learn and, as ever, inspiration is drawn from listening deeply to, and / or reading others’ work. Often we celebrate this among ourselves and some of us occasionally reflect upon the truth that among the best gifts we humans can give one another is the sharing of our real selves – and allowing others to share themselves, in intentional and purposeful space.
How often I surprise myself when I read what has flowed from my own pen!
I have learned from long experience that there is nothing that is not marvellous and that the saying of Aristotle is true – that in every natural phenomenon there is something wonderful, nay, in truth, many wonders. We are born and placed among wonders and surrounded by them, so that to whatever object the eye first turns, the same is wonderful and full of wonders, if only we would examine it for a while.
John de Dondis, 14th century
quoted in J S Collis The Worm Forgives The Plough, 1973, p170
Plenty of reason to have a good English moan about continuing rainfall today – or to sit down to a meditation session, having first noticed the magnificent, soaring canvas of clouds in every shade and hue of grey on high, and the all-the-more-glorious advent of sunlight from time to time, so that the potatoes in our kitchen garden are both moistened and warmed, beneath the chunter and fuss of thirty or so disgruntled sparrows who don’t appear to like rain much. Or meditation.
Open your eyes gently and focus upon just one wonder for a while, breathed the guide – in the fourteenth century. And I did – on this wet July day in the twenty-first. And as it turned out there was no moaning about the rain. Or anything else.
Make no mistake, I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort. As long as I have questions and no answers I’ll keep on writing.
Clarice Lispector Hour of the Star
There’s no music without depth of silence upon which to paint notes. Often I have shared my love of ‘silent music’ – the spaces in between. Absence of answers, the unfinished, the infinite, the eternal, the questions – are as important to me as expressed chords and symphonies, every bit as important to me as the words I yearn to read, and shape upon my tongue, and set down upon a page, and have engraved upon my heart, occupying my days and nights, my soul-work, my love, my leisure.
It’s not arriving, or the making of judgments, proclamations, speeches or songs that draws me towards the eternal. It’s living with questions that have no trite answers. Writing, reading, making poetry and prayer, long-savouring notes and words, meditating before the great backdrop of silence. Effort. Gratitude. Occasionally glimpsing an Eden of simplicity.
The builder who first bridged Niagara’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!
So we may send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands—
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep—
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!
Edwin Markham The Shoes of Happiness and Other Poems, 1929
Whether we conceive of the infinite religiously or not, metaphorical bridge-building is, consciously or unconsciously, the stuff of human life – billions, trillions of ‘timid thoughts’ sent out into void and – somehow caught, transformed, transfigured, vivified and made strong enough to reach deeply into present-day aliveness, here and now.
I love to be aware of this bridge-building consciously, daily, awake, in returning again and again to the silent music of meditation. And – joy of joys – anyone can do it, anywhere. Just by sitting quietly. Just by breathing. Threading the deep. Yes, indeed, in The Shoes of Happiness.
I enjoyed tv’s Angels in my teens – since when I’ve thought of nurses generally by that epithet. My eighty-five year old Dad is in their long-term care in hospital at present, and a recipient of their goodness, together with that of many of their cheerful and hard-working colleagues.
The experience of visiting loved ones (or anyone) in hospital is enhanced immeasurably when there’s obvious, visible ‘connection’ between carers and the cared for.
Today I want to note enormous appreciation for those whose care for my parents, family, me and mine makes a world of a difference. I appreciate it being a part of their daily routine, time and again, with whoever is before them. Not for a moment an easy profession, but the cheery ‘it’s lovely to see you looking your old self again’ echoes … in hearts. Thank you to the ‘angels’.
Spring is always poignant because nothing stays. It must be caught and appreciated on the wing, for soon it will be gone
I had a lovely morning reminiscing with a friend from student days 40 years ago when we were, as he put it, ‘just boys really.’ How did anything happen forty years ago? Time passes in a flash – poetic reflection has spoken of it since poetry began, but the wonder of it (the awe of it – as in fear sometimes) never fails to surprise, no matter how many times we come back to the subject.
Wow – did we talk, and talk! It’s extraordinary how memories come flooding back – the big memories and little details too. And all the years in-between are touched upon. And there’s tacit acknowledgement that among the things we’ve learned in life is the importance of living in the present moment – taking the time to slow down enough, often enough, to be fully mindful of the grace, the deep and full richness of our lives in this world, in good and happy times, and in the inevitable doses of the bad and the sad.
We left Brittany a little over a week ago but I can still hear the gentle lapping at the riverbank, see the view of the river from, and taste the air blown through the wide open bedroom window. It is a tranquil scene. This tidal river never appears in a hurry. The turning of the tide gently pirouettes the moored boats as though deliberately practiced in the arts of slow motion. Regular returns to that window and that river are restorative. So, too, is my daily return to river-like practice and pirouette. A life long lover of the lexicon, favourite words, thoughts and practices are tranquil.