House of Belonging

gold-light

I awoke this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that
thinking for a moment
it was one day
like any other.

But the veil had gone
from my darkened heart
and I thought
it must have been the quiet
candlelight that filled my room,
it must have been the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And I thought
this is the good day
you could meet your love,
this is the black day
someone close to you
could die.

This is the day you realize
how easily the thread is broken
between this world and the next

and I found myself
sitting up in the quiet pathway
of light, the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round me like fire
and all the angels of this housely heaven
ascending through the first roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live, this is where
I ask my friends to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

David Whyte

Eat bread and understand comfort.

FT Prints

Photo by Francesco Tonelli

Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper
Oh let me, for a while longer, enter the two
Beautiful bodies of your lungs…

The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for your eyes.

It’s more than bones.
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It’s more than the beating of a single heart.
It’s praising.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life–just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
still another…

We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
change.
Congratulations, if
you have changed.

Let me ask you this.
Do you also think that beauty exists for some
fabulous reason?
And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure–
your life–
what would do for you?

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
though with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out; I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

Mary Oliver

Verses for Environmental Practice

spiders-web-2Waking up in the morning
I vow with all beings
to be ready for sparks of the Dharma
from flowers or children or birds.

Sitting alone in zazen
I vow with all beings
to remember I’m sitting together
with mountains, children, and bears.

Looking up at the sky
I vow with all beings
to remember this infinite ceiling
in every room of my life.

When I stroll around in the city
I vow with all beings
to notice how lichen and grasses
never give up in despair.

Watching a spider at work
I vow with all beings
to cherish the web of the universe:
touch one point and everything moves.

Preparing the garden for seeds
I vow with all beings
to nurture the soil to be fertile
each spring for the next 1000 years.

When people praise me for something
I vow with all beings
to return to my vegetable garden
and give credit where credit is due.

With tropical forests in danger
I vow with all beings
to raise hell with the people responsible
and slash my consumption of trees.

With resources scarcer and scarcer
I vow with all beings
to consider the law of proportion:
my have is another’s have-not.

Watching gardeners label their plants
I vow with all beings
to practice the old horticulture
and let plants identify me.

Hearing the crickets at night
I vow with all beings
to keep my practice as simple –
just over and over again.

Falling asleep at last
I vow with all beings
to enjoy the dark and the silence
and rest in the vast unknown.

By Robert Aitken. Published in Dharma Rain: Sources of Buddhist Environmentalism, ed. Stephanie Kaza and Kenneth Kraft (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2000), 471-473.a

I am the black lace tree

velvet-2

I am the black lace tree
Fashioned to the shifting swathe of sky
Lifting your eyes to beauty

I am the steadfast girth
Of the wide gnarled trunk
Urging your body to lean

I am the swooping blackbird
Thrilled by the cool freeing air
Calling your heart to joy

I am the determined dog
Nose to the sensual ground
Dragging you to notice

I am the rose-pink clouds
Lightly glowing on the horizon
Holding your mind in presence

I am the graceful branch of pine
Displaying my fringe of soft green growth
Guiding you to breathe

As you breathe for me

Your anguished thoughts
Are mine too
And as you watch them
I will take them
And place them
For safe keeping
In the deep velvet purse
Of my wise old hills.

– Wendy Simpson