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Friday, April 3, 2009, 6:42 AM
A Backyard Within has emerged in my daily practice of journal-writing over the past thirty years; I call it this because, as a child in Brooklyn, a small backyard where joy first emerged was suddenly lost when my family had to move from that house to a small apartment.
But over time, and with daily commitment to journaling, I rediscovered the hidden root of joy and learned how to cultivate it consciously.
Later, together with my wife and daughter, I gained another backyard here in Blooming Glen... where joy transplanted is flowering.
Thursday, March 12, 2009, 5:27 AM
Living by learning has allowed me to see how my own faith developed from initial identification with beliefs to ongoing trust in personal experience; religion is a handmaiden in this process.
Sunday, March 8, 2009, 12:21 PM
I've been getting a lot of yard work done over the past couple of days; the very mild weather has melted the snow cover and allowed the ground to thaw as well. Everything is springing up, of course, even the bulbs have pushed pale yellow foliage from beneath a covering of matted-down leaves, wet and warming and welcoming. Snowbells, crocus and daffodils will soon emerge.
It's the time of year I am reminded just how much a backyard here has taught me to be mindful of the earth. Being outside as much as possible with all that grows is a must for those looking to "green-up." This year, though, what I have growing inside, in addition to the usual seed-trays under lights in the basement, is offering a fresh lesson.
I've never had such a collection of houseplants as I do now: dracaena, ivies, schefflera, holiday cactus, jades, peace lily, pepperomia, African violet, aloes, and kalanchoes. And they are reminding me of a great truth celebrated by Hildegard and other medieval mystics: Viriditas, the sacred Greening, is in all things, and it energizes their emergence, growth and fulfillment. The backyard outside is an annual expression of that power; the houseplants express for me a deeper perennial insight:
Greening Is... an Inside Job.
Friday, March 6, 2009, 7:11 AM
I'm taking a tray of parsley seedlings to work today. I started them on February 7th in the basement here using products from the home center where I work; they've grown on enough now to show off. Customers usually find the whole process easier to grasp with a demonstration tray set amid the products we sell for seed-starting (trays, starter mix, seed, pots, etc.). After the lettuce and broccoli germinate here and grow on a bit I'll switch them into the "spotlight" there as well.
Thursday, March 5, 2009, 7:48 PM
The Spirit needs no brokers
The goal of religion is life
Wisdom is faith seasoned to taste
The Good News is good will
Not what God says, but what you say
Religion can only take you so far, then you're on your own
Go lightly upon the earth
Religion is important, but not that important
Life is the sacred text
Know better and you will do better
Be for your life, your voice, your vision and your heart
Don't take my word for it
This world is my home
Own your experience
Many ways are noble
Wake up, then get over it
Embrace your complexity and it will save you
You may be mistaken; you are not a mistake
Yes to religion, as a place to begin
Having all the answers is not very smart
Speak for yourself
The old-time religion is not very old
All I have is my story
Thank God for starting places
You've outgrown The Story and it's OK
Learn to let enough be good enough
Tuesday, March 3, 2009, 7:58 PM
Now is the season of Lent, and I welcome it as an occasion for allowing contentment and non-grasping, for calling to mind how easily belief becomes a boutique, how self-cherishing so rapidly gives rise to the sensitivity which energizes sectarian hagiography, polemics, and apologetics.
I will take the time to remember and to reflect:
belief divides... faith integrates.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009, 6:44 AM
A small flock of goldfinches hung on and fed from the thistle sock in the backyard here, despite the blowing snow of yesterday's nor'easter. They arrived in the backyard sometime in February, along with others (red-winged blackbirds, bluebirds and robins), a reminder of Spring's approach. It's happening across the area, judging by strong sales of feed and feeders at the home center where I work, and from the customer and co-worker buzz of sightings and surprises in their own backyards.
For most of the month I kept a platform feeder stocked with black oil sunflower seed, but then the squirrels began to dominate, so I switched to the thistle sock filled with nyjer seed, to give the smaller birds time to bulk up and get through the frigid nights. The squirrels and larger birds (mourning-doves, etc.) still feed below, and the Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks do get their share as well, occasionally snatching a dove or a bluejay.
Out back, near the woods and farm-field, a pair of Eastern bluebirds have been trying to take ownership of a nesting box I mounted several years ago; they do succeed at times, and if not now, a little later in the spring.
But now the ground is snow-covered and frozen again, so I'll just spread the rest of the sunflower seed under the thistle sock and see what March brings.
Sunday, March 1, 2009, 8:14 PM
what I know is here,
where I find myself is what I need here
and now and here after;
here I am still,
where the heart is
I am, here,
Sunday, March 1, 2009, 8:03 PM
Religious belief surrounds itself with many claims; forgetfulness is not one of these.
Belief remembers all too well.
Isaiah the prophet spoke on this, saying, "Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over days gone by. I am about to do something new; this moment it will unfold. Can you not perceive it?" (43. 18-19)
Faith accepts the new, in the now, and beliefs fade, as faith forgets.
Sunday, March 1, 2009, 4:50 PM
I learned so much about my brother Patrick from others at the memorial celebration held yesterday for him in the Poconos, much of which I've had little sense of in recent years (we were geographically distant for this period). His being the last of ten children bestowed great blessing it seems: much or all of the bright and gracious expressed here and there in his elders distilled in a powerful charisma for him, yet so little of the family's personal vexations.
I have reflected in my journal on a regular basis since hearing of Patrick's terminal situation at the end of January but have not been keen to write during this time, although I did find myself frequently offering Tonglen-on-the-spot (taking and sending meditation) for him. I will be sure to write more about Patrick in the days ahead; in the meantime, a bow and great thankfulness to all who have read and blessed along the way.