Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

The Important Moments in Life

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings,  not the great goals achieved.  The real milestones are less prepossessing.  They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave.  Our lives are measured by these.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to start a new journal with a catalogue of your most important life moments.  Describe each of the moments.  Include drawings, pictures, cuttings, clippings, a list of people who were there, a reference to the song that was playing, what scent was on the breeze, how you felt, how it makes you feel to remember the moment now.  There is no limit to the number of moments you catalog.  They can be moments that were happy, sad, life-changing, or quiet moments of appreciation or epiphany.  Update your journal as memories come back to you. Update your journal as your life goes on.  Include in your journal a list of important moments that haven’t happened yet but that you wish for.  Turn back to the list some years from now and see if those wishes came true.  Make copies of your journal or parts of it and share it with your loved ones.  Leave your journal to your children or your friends when you pass on.  This is one of the true records of *you*.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

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Babette’s Feast – Mercy and Truth meet together

Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.
Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness believes he must make choices in this life.
He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance.
There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite.
We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude.
Mercy imposes no conditions.
And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us.
And everything we rejected has also been granted.
Yes, we even get back what we rejected,
For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.

~ From Babette’s Feast

Babette’s Feast operates on many levels;

It’s about food, and it’s about how meals can bring people together.

It’s about the tension and the reconciliation between earthly pleasures and divine transcendence,

simplicity and sensuality.

It’s about creativity and the nature of the artist.

It’s about poverty and wealth.

It’s about forgiveness and finding your way.

It’s about loss and regret, and is also about being a receiver of everything, and losing nothing.

It’s about mourning and the healing that it brings, and also about true love and joy.

It’s about being able to finally say the words you need to say, and to finally be able to give the gift you want to give.

It’s about knowing who you *really* are.

It’s about giving that comes right from the heart.

It’s about grace coming to live in a modest and remote place, both in the physical and the spiritual sense.

It’s about Christ-consciousness.

It’s about time you watched this movie or read this story!

(thank you Jo Owen!)

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Thoughts on the Heart

What is the nature of the Heart? Rob Brezsny asks, “Are we being sentimentally unscientific when we refer to the heart as the seat of the soul? Or does that idea contain a truth that surpasses reductive rationalism? In A Dictionary of Symbols, J.E. Cirlot reports that in the Jewish tradition, meditation involves “speaking to one’s heart.” According to Christian tradition, the Kingdom of God resides in the heart. Hindus say the supreme god Brahma lives there, and in Islam, the heart is referred to as the throne of God. ……. Have a sustained, intimate, heart-to-heart communion with your heart. Learn more about its secret thoughts. Converse with it as if it were the literal source of your emotional intelligence. Proceed on the hypothesis, as French philosopher Pascal did, that “great thoughts come from the heart.”

Our heart is viewed then, as the “place” where we experience the Divine, the facet of ourselves where we receive love, grace, wisdom and peace. It is the seat and the source of our compassion, for ourselves and others. How then, do we connect with our heart to listen to it, or to perceive what is there? Meditation is one way. Quieting the mind so the heart can come through, we are able to touch the heart, and as Pema Chodron writes: “When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”

Paul Beattie looks at meditation, (when the “mind is still”) and examines the connection between the Heart and the Mind in this poem –

When My Mind is Still

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I remember things too easily forgotten:
The purity of early love,
The maturity of unselfish love that asks –
desires – nothing but another’s good,
The idealism that has persisted through all the tempest of life.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I can find a quiet assurance, an inner peace, in the core of my being.
It can face the doubt, the loneliness, the anxiety,
Can accept these harsh realities and can even grow
Because of these challenges to my essential being.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I can sense my basic humanity,
And then I know that all men and women are my brothers and sisters.
Nothing but my own fear and distrust can separate me from the love of friends.
If I can trust others, accept them, enjoy them,
Then my life shall surely be richer and more full.
If I can accept others, this will help them to be more truly themselves,
And they will be more able to accept me.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I know how much life has given me:
The history of the race, friends and family,
The opportunity to work, the chance to build myself.
Then wells within me the urge to live more abundantly,
With greater trust and joy,
With more profound seriousness and earnest service,
And yet more calmly at the heart of life.

***

So, saying the treasures of the heart are great seems like an understatement. The profound importance of your heart to your self-awareness, your humanity, and your ability to “see” what is real can’t be overemphasized. Many of our greatest thinkers (even scientists!) and artists have given us thoughts on the heart ~

Carl Jung Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

William Shakespeare: Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Albert Einstein: A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Benjamin Disraeli: Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.

Blaise Pascal: We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.

Confucius: To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.

M. Scott Peck: The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.

Pearl S. Buck: The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.

The Dalai Lama: This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. …….. I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.

***

I wish you the time, the space and the grace to listen to your heart.

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Beannacht (“Blessing”) by John O’Donohue

A poem for healing, grace, generosity and strength of spirit for a friend in need….

Beannacht (“Blessing”) by John O’Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O’Donohue also wrote Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

A Book of Celtic Wisdom  


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Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

My friend Gina is canning peaches and tomatoes, figs and all kinds of summer-lovely things, and as she was telling me about going to buy the last of the summer fruit, I was reminded of this poem that I loved when I was a kid. “Stop the grocery list right there” I said, and I ran to my poetry collection to show her this poem…

After Christmas, when the long, drawn out months of winter are on me and I can’t wait for Spring, I will be so thankful and happy to have some of Gina’s beautiful yellow-orange-pink peaches, and let the colors and flavors of summer refresh me. Thanks Gina!

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts

(Hollowed out
Fitted with straws
Crammed with tobacco
Stolen from butts
In family ashtrays)

Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
Of civilization;

During that summer–
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was–
Watermelons ruled.

Thick, pink, imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;

And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.

The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
Swallowed reluctantly.

But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

John Tobias

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