It was all the clods at once become
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the ax handle: oh, let me stay
here humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me; for, somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and windmill
rear so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.
Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.
by William Stafford
Breathe, said the wind.
….How can I breathe at a time like this,
….when the air is full of the smoke
….of burning tires, burning lives.
Just breathe, the wind insisted.
….Easy for you to say, if the weight
….of injustice is not wrapped around your
….throat, cutting off all air.
I need you to breathe.
I need you to breathe.
….Don’t tell me to be calm
….when there are so many reasons
….to be angry, so much cause for despair!
I didn’t say to be calm, said the wind.
I said to breathe.
We’re going to need a lot of air
to make this hurricane together.
by Lynn Unger
Lie down with your belly to the ground,
like an old dog in the sun. Smell
the greenness of the cloverleaf, feel the damp
earth through your clothes, let an ant
wander the uncharted territory
of your skin. Lie down
with your belly to the ground. Melt into
the earth’s contours like a harmless snake.
All else is mere bravado.
Let your mind resolve itself
in a tangle of grass.
Lie down with your belly
to the ground, flat out, on ground level.
Prostrate yourself before the soil
you will someday enter.
Stop judging, fearing, trying.
This is not dying, but the way to live
in a world of change and gravity.
Let go. Let your burdens drop.
Let your grief-charge bleed off
into the ground.
Lie down with your belly to the ground
and then rise up
with the earth still in you.
By Nancy Paddock
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of
seals bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves,
an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo,
with massive patience, who strain in the mud and
the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done,
again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge in the task,
who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and
pass the bags along, who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in
or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums but you know
they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
And if your spirit
carries within it
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
this morning and all day
continued, its white
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.
The earth says
stay put & listen to the roar of silence
hold on & root deep for treasure
feel the sap rising through your bones
wait & see what happens
The river says
into the lochs swirling & swelling & swishing
keep floating down down & down
falling & carving the mountains
down to the beautiful sea
The trees say
rooting & rising into sky –
spread out your arms to embrace everything
breathe deep deeper with each falling leaf
gather fruit & nuts for winter
The sky says
sniff the air & notice the small
changes moment by moment
breath by breath cloud by cloud
watching your thoughts float by
The birds say
keep singing sing from your heart
fly from branch to branch
stay curious stay light start fresh
each year with a new nest then be patient
& sit on your eggs till they hatch
The sun says
smile at your reflection on still water
from dawn to dusk go outside
out to play with light & shadow
in the day long dazzle leaping through thin air
The compost heap says
decomposing turning burning
digest everything that comes your way
keep returning to the earth
& the earth returns tenfold to you
the earth says keep still stay put
wait & see what happens next
Surely, you too have longed for this —
to pour yourself out
on the rising circles of the air
to ride, unthinking,
on the flesh of emptiness.
Can you claim, in your civilized life,
that you have never leaned toward
the headlong dive, the snap of bones,
the chance to be so terrible,
so free from evil, beyond choice?
The air that they are riding
is the same breath as your own.
How could you not remember?
That same swift stillness binds
your cells in balance, rushes
through the pulsing circles of your blood.
Each breath proclaims it —
the flash of feathers, the chance to rest
on such a muscled quietness,
to be in that fierce presence,
wholly wind, wholly wild.
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
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
First appeared as blog post by Jane Negrych for the Weekly Challenge blog from the Mindfulness Association
After Jane wrote about The Final Straw challenge on creating and cultivating an ‘outer’ practice, she thought it might be a good idea to change up the format of our challenge this week and record a conversation between me and her on ‘outer’ practice and how we might start moving towards Engaged Mindfulness…
click here to watch