Searching and gifting, in more or less equal measure
I write to you while listening to Temple of the Heart by Anima. And after reading and reciting (with my eyes closed) my Passage Meditation with words by David Whyte.
I write to you as my meditation; as the third phase of my meditation which in turn is followed by my mantra Shee Ha Mah, Love of Love.
I write to you that I might share this time with you, wherever you are right now. Always I want you to know of this love.
I write to you as a poem and as a le...
I write to you as a poem and as a letter, as well as a meditation, to give the gift of love and contemplation.
I write to you with a regular form, which might become a comfort, or an inspiration, or a guide, to guide you and me.
I write to you to show my gratitude towards you, and towards life, and most of all towards love, our love.
Reflect on Br. David’s comment: “That wonderful word: ‘Selves’… that’s what gratefulness is. You show yourself grateful not by saying ‘thank you’ or by doing something, but by being yourself.”
What are your particular gifts and how might you allow them more full expression in the world, knowing that this is one of the ways of practicing gratefulness?
I can breathe, I can talk, I can write, I have humour, and I have compassion. I love people, I love those close ...
I can breathe, I can talk, I can write, I have humour, and I have compassion. I love people, I love those close to me, and those not so close; I love to meet new people, and share their experiences of life.
In recognizing that we are all pilgrims, “just passing through,” what reveals itself as most important to you – really?
Community, conversation, solitude, writing. Being with those I love, going with them to places of inspiration.
If each step of the journey has as much importance as the destination, are there goals that keep you from being fully present? Can you release or re-frame them?
Time gifts me the time to be present; sometimes I forget to make that time.
Gratefulness “does things with us.” What do you want gratefulness to “do with you”?
As it does now; think, feel, respond, write, love, communicate.
We are invited to “take off our shoes” to realize we are already standing on “holy ground.” What does this mean to you?
Even this morning sitting on a comfortable settee, withy bare feet on carpets and rugs I can feel freer than I will in an hour when I put on my shoes and go to work; so the bare feet are a symbol of freedom, a sign that says Christopher, this is the real you, the you to embrace and develop.
Exile is defined as getting used to the conditions of our lives...
Exile is defined as getting used to the conditions of our lives, whereas gratefulness greets everything as if new. In what ways are you “in exile”? Reflect on the things you take for granted.
I spend my days partly in exile, especially the time which is my own; I still struggle to be in exile when I am at my work doing the bidding of others, but I do contribute, I doc do good work, or the work I have to do I do proficiently. But yes, in my own time I am able to feel my barefoot on the rug, I am able to taste the bacon I had for breakfast, I am happy to be grateful for the whole of my life, or act least for most of the time.
Consider the burning bush metaphor. How might it change your life if you knew that you could be “on fire” and yet not be “consumed”?
I think I could become more wholesome, I could have the freedom to feel gratefulness within me whole of the time, I could participate more in activities that give to others as well as give to myself. And by give I mean to give gifts of enrichment. Like last night when I read a couple of pages of David Lynch’s book Catching the Big Fish, finishing on a view of compassion, and feeling that compassion, and wanting to offer the gift of compassion to others as well as myself
Free from desire
Free from longing
With the sound
Of the bell
For the confusion
I was in need
Of a transfusion
Do not worry
The moment passed
It is a journey
For the experience
Of gratitude, forgiveness
Safety, inner p...
It is a journey
For the experience
Of gratitude, forgiveness
Safety, inner peace
Is my purpose
For the truth
Of the bell
At the six AM
Feel the thump
Of the heart beating
Feel the warm journey
Of the in, and the out, breath
Cupped hands laid
On tummies soft sensation
Breath is happier
Easier, when working
Yet steady routines
The first step
Is to have
For conscious breath
To have belief
As I mindfully try
Is calm, quiet
Behind closed eyes
In this newfound
There is no fear
Reflect upon a time when you arrived at a “frontier” of not knowing what was next in your life, and had to find a new way to be, or to move forward.
I am at that frontier now, in nine months time I will retire, I will leave behind my working life as an engineer and businessman. I have in the last few years begun preparing, by working more often on my writing, by practising meditation, by making far too many plans of how my days are to be spent.
What did you need to leave b...
What did you need to leave behind in order to go forward? A habit? A relationship? Beliefs? Identities? Ways of seeing the world or yourself?
I have the idea that leaving work behind will itself not be difficult, I think I have trod that particular path to its rightful conclusion.
Forging a new identity, and purpose may be more difficult, work has defined me for a long long time, and work has rewarded me financially such that i could enjoy the good things in life. My new identity and purpose will by necessity be more frugal, though hopefully with more time at hand I can become more spiritual which in turn will help me go deeper with my writing and my meditation, though not forgetting the loved ones who are on the journey with me.
I am excited at the prospect of change, which may in turn mean a change in beliefs, indeed I may begin to have more belief in many things outside of work, which I didn’t allow myself during my working life.
I am in a very positive relationship, we both want to be creative and enjoy our retirement; of course we know that health will gradually overtake us, but lets hope thats not for quite some time.
What about now? Are there some things in your life that seem to be keeping you from living your most wholehearted life? What might you need to let go? What might you need to “take on”?
I do want to spend more time being creative; writing, recording, sketching, sculpting. I do want to do more on my own, longer works, as well as more with groups of creative people.
Imagine standing at the edge of the sea with the moon brightly shining behind you. David Whyte asks us to imagine that as the moon rises in the sky, our shadows keep moving way out across the sea without our needing to move an inch. What does this image bring to mind? What parts of you continue to move forward in your life without your effort?
I have aged reasonably well, but David’s image does suggest the time moving on, and I have no idea whether for me that means five years or twenty five years; Thankfully it also suggests that I will happily become more reflective and happily find a sublime path to follow. I am at ease sitting and writing, and contemplating; it happens for me with so little effort, it is a beautiful part of my every day, and of my life.
Reflect on a time when you realized you were on the “other side” of a transition; the end of a pilgrimage, literal or metaphorical. Imagine in as much detail as possible what it took to “walk that road.”
I had to be determined, stubborn, relentless, I had to wait, I had to persevere, I had to balance, I had to juggle, I had to plead, I had to tell half-truths, I had to lie.
I was unsure, uncertain; yet had some blind faith.
I didn’t specifically realise th...
I didn’t specifically realise that I had arrived, yet I was very much enjoying the moments.
I didn’t plan, I acted recklessly, spontaneously; I was taken, and I simply followed, with great vigour.
Did things unfold as you expected?
Without plan there was little expectation, except moment by moment, day by day, week by week. The unfolding itself was the journey; love, beauty, relief, joy, pain, tears, happiness; the whole gambit.
Were there unexpected gifts that came from hardship?
The best gift of all, a new life for the world to share.
Considering the quote: “…no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you, no matter that it had to break your heart along the way….” how were you changed by risks that you took?
I broke free of a depressive loop into which I had drawn myself. I released a whole heap of frustrations that had been holding me back. I began to explore my own creativity.
Describe the shift from transition to transformation. Was there a “clear revelation beneath the face looking back,” as David Whyte puts it?
To explore oneself, through ones own creativity, is an endless joy, for which I am eternally thankful. As it turned out the dice had to be rolled again, through a further transition into a new transformation, as though the first time was a dress rehearsal and now I am more ably equipped.
Can you articulate a further invitation that met you at the apparent end-point of your journey?
I lost myself, and those who loved me, through becoming silent; I am ever so wary now of not allowing the silence to overwhelm me, I do still enjoy the opportunity to retreat, yet now it is done in a shared and supported manner.
All I want to talk of, talk of today, is grass, simply grass
Grass and moss
White grass, green grass, Günter Grass, Tin Drum grass
For it is the grass I see today, from this bench
Grass to bench, bench to grass
Willow grass, stumpy grass, leaves of grass
There is grass aside of me, and grass in the distance, over the water
Grass beyond water, water before grass
Deep grass, shallow grass, reflections of grass
My feet are co...
My feet are covered in grass, drowned in grass
Grass falling over, falling over grass
Meadow grass, pampas grass, fields of grass
It was the grasslands; where you took me, grasslands, where I too, took you
Grasslands; the past lands of our youth
Neap grass, asleep grass, grass in love so true
I’ve turned the page on grass, for another view
Grass at the lump of trees, tree root grass
Slow grass, fast grass; grass of music blue
I use this grass for meditation, separation grass
Grass in a slow wind, a zephyr, over grass
See the grass, seas of grass, grass of ever be
Now I rise above the grass to wander, wandering grass
You may join me; walk on cushions, cushions of grass
Grass underfoot, underfoot grass, lazy day grass
My back, straight in grass, upright in grass
Grass for posture, posterity grass
Disturbed by conversation grass, conservation grass
I open my flask, flask grass, coffee grass
Draw on a cigarette, tobacco grass, draft grass, waft grass
Grass burnt to resurrection, fallen ash grass
On this winters day; in my long coat, I lay on the grass
Fine grass, mine grass, sublime grass
Grass down, down grass, grass, down wonder way
For a while I lost you; lost grass, found grass
Grass with you beside me, beside myself grass
Grass where I heard songbirds, birdsong grass
Should I walk this hillside? Hillside grass
Grass in swathes, waves of grass
Grass I crave, rave the staves of grass
Today; all I wanted, was to talk of grass
Grass and loss
Black grass, scorched grass, broken grass
Reflect upon an important transition in your life, either past or current (or perhaps one you might anticipate). Imagine yourself in the present moment of that transition, with the alertness and attention of “now,” and consider:
I joined the course as a mature student, I was among other mature students, but also young students; we were all would be writers in one form or another.
I had bounced here out of a failed relationship, a relationship of many years, with several fail...
I had bounced here out of a failed relationship, a relationship of many years, with several failures along the way, but this was the final break up.
I gave up my job as an engineer, I had been an engineer for almost forty years, I had had my fill of being an engineer. I thought it was time to change my life, time to change me; I had no clear idea of the path, other than writing, and poetry in particular was my calling.
I wore jeans with fringed bottoms to the legs, and plimsolls; someone said o good, we have a real poet.
My poetry tutor befriended me, she praised my work, and was also critical; she showed many other writers to me, for inspiration. She set exercises that allowed my words to flow.
I became confident enough to take the new name ‘poet’, I also reverted to using my full given name of Christopher. Chris was left behind in the old workplaces. I still, over ten years later, doubt I truly justify the name poet, yet it absolutely aptly names my desire for my way ahead, for my future.
I have another partner now, who supports me in many ways, especially encouraging my writing, both as a writer, and as a facilitator of workshops for others. In the workshops, as in the classroom, and the many other connections with poetry I have learnt, I am learning, about the many ways of seeing the same thing, about the many ways of seeing the different thing.
I have meditated for many years, first to improve my business performance, then to explore the world, and latterly to assist my awareness and improve my calmness. Poetry, and meditation, and family, and football have shown me the great values of companionship. Yet it is poetry that allows me the enjoy solitude, to look forwards to solitude, to bathe in a reflection of my own life, and my love of life.
In what ways is this transition a “pilgrimage” for you?
What are you discovering during this pilgrimage about yourself, about life, about identity?
What temporary “name” or names are you leaving behind? How does it change you to release these names?
What are you learning about asking for/accepting help?
What are the teachings about companionship on your journey? About solitude?
What if you viewed your whole life as a pilgrimage? Would it change or influence the next steps you take on this pilgrim’s path?
Reflect on this passage from the poem, Camino:
…grief apparent only in the moment
of forgetting, then the river, the mountain,
the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting
you over the rain-filled pass…
How does this relate to your own experiences in life?
The poem exactly ties down for me my own experience; my moment of grief lasted many years, I was heartbroken for a long time.
One winters morning I lay down on the frosted grass, overlooking a reservoir just outside Buxton, in the High Peaks of England, where I had retreated to to study. I wrote a long long rambling poem called ‘Grass’. In those very many moments I was with the Lark ascending.
I completed the course, and met a new partner along the way, my writing continued to reflect on the grief, yet without pain, without bitterness. I did turn the grief into joy, I happily romanticised the good times before the break-up.
Now, think about where you are holding back.
When are you least likely to allow “the intensity of your presence” to come forth? Are there patterns you notice about this?
In my day job I don’t fully commit, not in the way I did in the past, instead I save my full committal for out of work activities; if I have more interesting projects at work, which I do find to be worthwhile, and relevant, then I do ramp up my commitment, unfortunately this happens less and less often...
In my day job I don’t fully commit, not in the way I did in the past, instead I save my full committal for out of work activities; if I have more interesting projects at work, which I do find to be worthwhile, and relevant, then I do ramp up my commitment, unfortunately this happens less and less often nowadays, fortunately my working life is almost over.
What feelings or situations keep you from wholeheartedness?
Outside of work I feel that I am held back by my own lack of commitment to make changes until I have certainty, I am not a natural risk taker, but good at coming up with excuses.
When you are holding back, what impact do you think this might have on you? Others around you? The world?
I maybe could make a contribution, through my writing and my writing workshops, and my meditation workshops to help a great many more people than the comfortable number I am involved with at the moment
What kinds of visible and invisible help would help you to live more wholeheartedly?
I have to end the day job, which isn’t long away. I will need to find others to work with me, I don’t think I do things too well on my alone entirely.
In your own words, what does “wholeheartedness” mean to you?
To be engulfed, to be embraced, to be entirely immersed, to be fully alive with a particular project or projects or life
What qualities do you associate with being fully present?
Excitement, presence, cal, peace, joy, love
Where or when do you show up most wholeheartedly?
Writing, in nature, with my partner in shared and intimate moments
How does showing up wholeheartedly impact you? Other...
How does showing up wholeheartedly impact you? Others around you? The world?
I feel to be a better more useful person, able to contribute and help others
What kinds of visible and invisible help do you enlist in your life?
I have visible (practical) help, mostly from my partner with the part that provides food, and shelter, and support, and love
I have invisible (soul fulfilling) help with creativity and life enhancing opportunities, mostly from writers, and artists, and friends
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