November 2010 Archives

Sunrise Moment

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Hills flame in sunrise light
Birds fly southward in formation.
Treetops are touched with gold
Winter grasses glowing.
I run to greet them
Hands stinging in chilly air.

Fleeting perennial moment,
Primordial simplicity
Free from wishes, hopes and fears.

My earliest ancestors
Awoke to such a morning
Such a wonder.
This glimpse beyond the screen
Of anger, craving, dullness
Our richest inheritance
Soham asmi
I am that.

It is a cold morning, the sun rising into a bank of cloud.The Homeless Shelter is crowded. By four in the afternoon yesterday, a knot of people were standing in the cold, to wait an hour until the shelter opened. Family in the British Isles contend with snow, ice and cold. Villagers in Pakistan face a winter under canvas, short of food and blankets, their plight unseen and unheard, victims of climate change that they did little to cause.

In Brazil, drought dries up the Amazon rainforest. "These are the times spoken of in prophecy," says an indigenous farmer. "The sun is changing and the forest dying."

In Cancun, Mexico, the Climate Summit opens. CO2 emissions continue to rise even as weather catastrophes escalate. As I study prehistory and our Paleolithic journey, I see today's crisis inherent in the first microlith--the newest, coolest stone tool. Our fascination with technology and our urge to expand and people the earth has been with us from the beginning. We survived the Ice Age because of our longevity, which allowed for the support and guidance of elders. Today, we have more elders than at any point in history or pre-history, a potential pool of wisdom and experience typically warehoused away from contact with younger decision makers and leaders.

Our children face an uncertain future. Can the elders awaken? Can we make our voices heard? Can we meet each other with patience and compassion, free from judgment and hostility? Beneath the attempts to shore up the status quo, is another reality being born?

O God, lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.
World Prayer for Peace, Satish Kumar

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After the Storm

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Steel ladder lies fallen in pathway
Startled squirrel leaps from rooftop
I enter the garden.

Leafless trees interlace
Against brilliant blue sky
prayer flags drape across woodpile
Branches tossed here and there.
Sharp winter shadows on wheelbarrow
Brown sunflower heads denuded of seeds
By passing birds
Woolly lambs ears still untouched by cold.
Fresh eyes greet new day
Storm is past.

Nowhere Land

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Somewhere places are built of mud brick, mellow red brick, Suffolk white brick, logs, timber, lath and plaster, rough stone, hewn stone, flint, adobe, wattle, bamboo, tile, slate, thatch, banana leaves, coconut fronds.
Nowhere places are built of concrete, steel, particle board and vinyl.

Somewhere places have village greens, churchyards, commons, fountains, piazzas, shrines, stupas, ghats, sacred groves with terracotta horses.
Nowhere places have parking lots.

Somewhere places have greengrocers, spice bazaars, village shops, street markets, roadside stalls, peddlers, old women squatting by baskets of fruit.
Nowhere places have shopping malls and hypermarkets.

Somewhere places have mud-walled temples, adobe churches, minarets, little stone chapels, carved wooden synagogues, roadside grottoes, standing stones, holy wells, sacred baths.
Nowhere places have mega-churches an
d multiplex cinemas.

Somewhere places have croft gardens, market gardens, herb gardens, orchards, meadows, rice fields, terraced hillsides, cottage gardens, family farms
Growing cabbages, potatoes, pumpkins, beans, squash, bananas, papaya, cherries, black rice, red rice, ragi, amaranth, turnips, carrots, yams, bitter gourds, bottle gourds, black and white radishes, brandywine to
matoes and Cox's orange pippins.
Nowhere places grow soybeans, corn and sugar beets courtesy of Monsanto Inc.

Somewhere places have donkeys, mules, horses, ox carts, bicycles, rickshaws, lamas, yaks, rickety buses, narrow gauge trains.
Nowhere places have cars, trucks and SUVs.

Somewhere places are somewhere
Nowhere places are everywhere
Somewhere places are bulldozed
Nowhere places built.

If you live in Anyplace, Nowhere Land
Don't have a nowhere heart.
Light a candle
Beat a drum
Touch the earth
Greet the moon
Plant a tree.
Take your children to look for signs of spring
To gather berries and plant pine cones
And keep the chainsaws and bulldozers
From the little somewhere places.

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Metta for the Fly

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House Fly on Wall

Image via Wikipedia

SO I decided to make a commitment to myself to do some writing work every day and to blog a reflection or poem daily....wish me well....

Metta for the fly

Why, why, why little fly
Do you buzz me, bite me, nibble me, tickle me
Crawl on my nose, my lips, my ears,
Why, why, why little fly?

Why, why, why sister fly
Don't  I Iove you, bless you, cherish, respect you
Wish you well in all your ways
when you buzz me, bite me, nibble me, tickle me?
Why, why, why sister fly
Don't I love you
Just the same?
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Thanksgiving 2010

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My first experience of Thanksgiving was when I was a medical student in London and working as an usherette at the National Theatre. A fellow usherette was American and she and her boyfriend organized a community Thanksgiving feast in a small flat in the inner city. This was also my first taste of pumpkin pie!
Many years later, after moving to the US, I became a regular participant in family Thanksgiving with my in-laws. I also grew aware, and increasingly so, of the devastating fate that befell the Wampanoag Indians who participated in the first Thanksgiving, as well as of the Third World conditions in which so many of today's Native Americans live. Growing up as a young girl in rural England, my knowledge of such things was limited to playing in my Indian squaw costume and toy tipi. Although we didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, we had many wonderful celebrations of seasonal agricultural life, including Harvest Festivals where the beautiful Gothic churches were decorated with vegetables and fruits which were later given to the poor. We sang harvest hymns to the sound of swelling organ and thanked our Creator for the harves

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home

Such feelings of deep gratitude for harvest go back to our earliest Neolithic roots. Harvest is precarious and a succssful harvest is truly a reason to thank the one we worship as the supreme source of food security.
Toady on Native American reservations, many are cold and hungry, lacking the basic necessities of life. In this wealthy country, where we enjoy conveniences and luxuries that kings in previous generations could not have dreamed of, millions are food insecure. Today in Pakistan, what promised to be a bumper harvest has either been destroyed by floods or lies rotting because the infrastructure to deliver it has been destroyed by the same floods. The world food programme has cut back on basic food rations to malnourished children in Pakistan because of lack of funds.
Although government aid is important, it often comes with strings. Only private philanthropy, people helping people and working with grass roots organizations, can meet the desperate need of the world's poorest. Currently, we at Alandi Ashram are focusing our efforts on Pakistan, partnering with Global Greengrants, a local Boulder organization with a global reach. Please help us raise $30,000 for Pakistan's flood victims...and have a wonderful Thanksgiving in every sense of the word.

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June in Assisi

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Flocks of swifts circle today
As they did eight hundred years before
White doves nest in their ancient dovecotes
As in the days when Francis preached to them
Brother lark, humble and joyous
Sings the same songs
That once delighted the ears of the Poverello
The broom is a golden now
As it was when Clare was shorn
Of her golden locks.
Sharp thorns of brambles
Catching at feet and clothing
Lavender full of humming bees
Sunflowers turning always
To Brother Sun
Rippling fields of wheat
All are the same
and in me beats the same human heart
That blazed in Francis breast.

Sister Swifts,
May I too be faithful and vigilant
Returning again and again to Primordial Mind
May I fix my gaze, Brother Sunflower
On the True Person shining like the sun
Beyond the dark.
With a mind radiant as broom
Fresh as lavender
May I dwell, Sister Dove
In the ancient ways
Of peace and loving-kindness.
Brother Lark, may I too be small in wants
And great in praise.
Father Francis, Poor Man of Assisi
May my fire of ardour burn as bright
My love for all creatures be as vast
May I walk as humbly
In the city of steel and asphalt
As you among the crags and thorny paths
Of Umbria
And may I, like the ripening fields of wheat
Offer myself as food
For hungry hearts.

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There is a very important election, much more important than the current mid-term elections. This is an election to a great monastery. Sadananda and I are elected to this monastery. Sadananda chooses to become a hermit. An upper room or loft is constructed for him. He lives in this upper room and once a day he lowers a bowl on a rope, with a note saying what he needs. We place the supplies in the bowl and he hauls it up.
I meet a woman from the future who has written a book about the five great saints of the monastery. Sadananda and I are in this book. I see a chapter on Sadananda's life, and then a chapter called Enlightenment. I say "that must be Sadananda" although it is not completely clear if this applies to Sadananda or to both of us or indeed if I see it this way out of humility. After enlightenment comes Death but I don't read that section out of etiquette as it seems improper to know details of Sadananda's death before it happens. Then comes the chapter on me. I am quite surprised to find that I became one of the greatest humanitarians the world has ever known, making the problem of world hunger my own and solving it completely to the extent that everyone in the world could enjoy not just UN rations but real food with fruits and vegetables. There was an illustration of my packing up apples for shipment. I say, "This all makes sense as Sadananda is more contemplative and I am more active, he is in fana and I am in baqa." I appreciate that Sadananda's contemplation plays a part in my activism and vice versa. Again, out of etiquette I don't read the chapter on my own death.
It comes time to visit Sadananda (an annual visit) and the Abbot and I climb up on a ladder. Sadananda is eating out of a big bowl. He will say nothing except 'Yes". Then he says to the Abbot "Yes. I know what I'm doing." Sadananda makes his meal by filling a big pitta bread with vegetables and pouring in hot water, thus making soup inside the bread. He has eaten one and is going to eat another but the abbot takes it away saying "you don't have to torture yourself" . I feel sad because Sadananda eats but once a day and due to our visit he will not eat his fill. The abbot says that from now on we will visit Sadananda once a month. I wake up.

The following night I dream about solving world hunger. I dream about Indonesia and that the problem of hunger in this country can be solved by water buffaloes. Also that literacy is the key to ending world hunger because knowledge is power.


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It is Samhain

Fire blazes in brick hearth.

You who gifted me ancestral fire

I offer this rice for you!


You who dyed ostrich feathers, read tea leaves, made rugs, inscribed ledgers,

Lighted gas lamps, set type, cut bespoke suits, gave piano lessons

Within sound of Bow bells,

Who fought in London Rifles and Middlesex Regiment

Who shed your blood on the Somme

I offer this rice for you!

You who lived at St Giles Cripplegate

You who were married in St Andrew at the Wardrobe,

You who lie buried in quiet country churchyard in Worcestershire

I offer this rice for you!

You who fled the Cossacks

Who endured pogroms and persecution

You who lit the Samovar in Bessarabia

You who davvened in wooden synagogue near Krakow

You, the Ashkenazim

I offer this rice for you!

You who painted trompe d'oeil panels

You Southampton mariners, working the rigs

You who toiled in Brazilian sugar cane fields

You who groaned on Atlantic slave ship

You who walked in the agony of the slave collar

I offer this rice for you!

You who lit Samhain fires,

Who followed ancient Celtic faery faith

Whose green eyes sparkle in my face

Who dusted my skin with your freckles

Who blessed me with poesy and legend

I offer this rice for you!

You yurt dwelling nomads of Mongolia

Herders of horses, camel, sheep, goats, yaks

Who shaped my cheeks and oval eyes

I offer this rice for you!

You who dwelt in the land of milk and honey

You who escaped Pharaoh's slavery

You who received the covenant at Sinai!

You, Aryeh Jehudah

Who gave me your name and your eloquence!

You the God wrestler!

You Sara, woman of light!

You Abraham, father of many nations!

I am your child, remember me!

You of the Jewish diaspora!

You of the African diaspora!

You of the Amazon rainforest

You of the desert

You of the steppes

You of the savannah

You of the faery isles!

You of the black, white, red, brown and yellow nations

Who gave me the five gifts of Primordial Eve!

You who through tortuous journeys

Came to the City on the Thames

Within sound of Bow bells

And in that crowded crucible

Shaped the alchemy of my life

For you, my ancestors

I offer this rice in prayer!


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    This page is an archive of entries from November 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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