Recipe

Life is more the approximation of cooking than the exactitude of baking.  There are an infinite number of ways to proceed. 

Be curious, consider the methods used by every person you meet, and, in doing so, find your own way.  Develop your own recipes and never hesitate to share them.  To hoard them is to become your own dragon.

Become seasoned by the road of experience, but be wary of hardening.  The residue of clarity yields a suggestion of radiance, unmistakably luminous.        

May your love be a light in dark places.

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Declaration

Friends who I have left behind, friends I’ve not yet come to know,

these drops of rain upon the hill come likewise to the valley,

to beat against your doors, streak your windowpanes,

set aglow your lighted lamps.

Return now to your visionary dream, song of your heart’s voice.

Return now to your body, at once solid and transparent.

Return now to the music in every prism at the end of every string

held loosely by the fingers of every wide-eyed child.

 

These are not the days of old maps and heavy leather-bound tomes,

gold fabric of late afternoon unsheathed, only to be slid back into a scabbard of mist,

clearing the way for a midnight sky of shattered crystal and baby’s breath.

 

These are days of cold mumbling rivers that know secrets,

cabins in the mountains, their wood beams rotting too slowly for us to see.

While walking in the morning I digest this vastness, this solitude,

this gravity that presses against the muscles around the eyes.

 

Friends, I toss myself aside for you.  I become available for you.

I eat, drink, run hands through hair for you,

scramble up the gully for you,

carry wood, fold socks, scrub pots, ever-fearless, requiring nothing.

 

These are days of time’s inhalation

pulling way up under the world’s collarbones,

stitching together the fibers of memory and intention.

These are days of emptying the mind, distilling the essence.

 

What does it matter if the world hears your voice?

We all belong to each other.  Your voice is here, mine is here,

as great, small, and equal in worth as any other.

The voice is in your heart and so the world’s heart knows it,

as surely as you know the heart of the world.

 

The line is cast before the coming of a great fish,

a sudden tug is felt through our hands

and our withered husks give rise to something new.

Steady now.

 

Let Me Become

Let me become a master of listening, a student of surrender. May a strong and blossoming tree grow from the root of all my fears, a tree with the innate knowledge of how to bend with the wind.

I have much to learn from the ferryman who spends his life taking people across the river, but there is even more to learn from the river itself: how to swell with a flood, how to narrow with a drought, how to be tossed about in a wild current or move with a gentle one, how to be in a place of stillness, how to be at the bottom, the middle, the surface.

May I forget all names, all naming, in order to better contemplate the nameless. May my judgments be altogether cast aside. Let me not torment myself with endless desires. Let me learn how to be with them, so that I can say “Good Morning, My Brothers” and “Good Evening, My Sisters” with compassion, and a simple tenderness.

Let me love hugely and endlessly. Let me become.

Raise Your Spirit

Autumn comes quickly to the north, casting its line without effort into the deepest parts of the land, making ripples where the summer was, coaxing the world to the threshold of intimacy. The golden glow that suffused so many skins will fade away like a promise made in June, a fling had in July, a perfect peach eaten in August.

Those who turned their faces faithfully toward the sun, flower-like, must now consider the surface of the earth and step in frosty dew. Those who slept naked among the stars and woke in pools of celestial haze must now return to the world and – sadly – cover themselves.

It’s as if the cycle of seasons has me living two lives. One is soft, warm, easy on the flesh, taking a little sting out of gravity. The other is rough, unyielding, ages me faster. I tremble before each change comes, shudder with expectancy of heat and light and what it gives me, or in dread of cold and dark and what it takes.

The border dividing seasons is easy to miss, coming, as it does, in a moment specific to each of us. My summer does not end with yours. Your autumn begins on a different day than mine. So raise your eyes from your screen, your book, your thighs, the floor. Raise your head from the pillow, the noise, the smoke of your days burning.

Raise your spirit up and witness how it feels to be forever in the moment – the moment containing all things, the moment empty of all things, the unmeasured moment of all eternity, the one passing moment of your whole life.

You

Lucky

bright star,

tough as mountain-bones,

you go for miles, years

without water or sleep,

patching hearts, mending hopes.

 

Three Heartbreaks

The tigers kept to the shade, turned away from the onlookers and fascination-creatures on two legs.  They looked out through tiger eyes, thinking tiger thoughts.  Swish went their tails, occasionally, swish.  Primal dignity.

The elephant knew what I was feeling.  Her mind was lucid, comprehending.  With a heart greater and stronger than my own, she understood why I kept looking away, yet accepted her life with a gentle patience that, in itself, elevated the woes of humanity to something transcendent of shimmering grace.

As for the lion, he locked eyes with me.  “Why did you come here today?” he seemed to ask.  “I don’t come to watch you sleep, to watch you clean meat from the bones given you.  Go on now, do what I cannot.  Go back.  Go home.”