following the path you can’t see, part 2

A few months back, I wrote about the challenges of following the spiritual path, which more often than not involves long stretches of not being able to see where you’re going or why, climbing and climbing an uphill route with no idea what you’ll find when you get to the top and can finally glimpse the next leg of your journey. Sometimes when you get to the top, you’re no more enlightened: you may find yourself standing at the top of the hill looking down at a fog-filled valley, unyielding and inscrutable.

The curve balls (lessons?) along the way can be jarring and disorienting, making it hard to keep one’s footing and stay on the path—especially the big ones, like divorce or the loss of a job, the ones that really turn your life on its ear and make you wonder, How the hell am I going to get through this, and what is my life going to look like when I do? Continue reading

quote du jour ~khan

The first lesson to learn is to resign oneself to the little difficulties in life, not to hit out at everything one comes up against. If one were able to manage this one would not need to cultivate great power; even one’s presence would be healing.

~Hazrat Inayat Khan

excerpt du jour ~remen

JUST LISTEN

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it. Most of us don’t value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, “I’m so sorry,” when someone is in pain. And meaning it.

One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story, people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something like that happen to them. Continue reading

each is a living flute ~mark nepo

Suffering makes an instrument of each of us,
so that standing naked, holes and all,
the unseen vitalities can be heard
through our simplified lives.

Sometimes we can’t get what we want. While this can be disappointing and painful, it is only devastating if we stop there. The world thrives on endless possibilities. It is what makes nature a reservoir of health. Yet if the heart is cramped or the mind locks on to its pain, we can narrow wonder to a thread. In contradiction to the endless number of eggs that spawn a fish and the endless number of cells that blossom to heal a wound, we can hold out the one thing we want as the only food. From here, crisis and desperation are a short step.

It becomes a sorry occupation, beating oneself up for the one seed that didn’t take. It is an insidious way: the more we refuse mystery, the more we feel responsible for all that befalls us. Indeed, the more we distract ourselves with analyzing strategies that failed, the more we avoid the true feelings of loss that no one can escape en route to a full and vital life.

Even if we can accept this, none of us is exempt from the turmoil and pain that arises when what we want is love. Continue reading

quote du jour ~giten

Healing is to be in the light of our own consciousness. Healing is an inner light, which exist as a natural radiance around a person. This inner light is in itself a healing force beyond words. This inner light disperses darkness, like when you light a candle in a dark room and the darkness disappears by itself. This inner light exudes a subtle influence through its mere presence. The more the light in our own consciousness is lit, the more it creates a subtle effect in the world.

~Swami Dhyan Giten, Presence – Working from Within. The Psychology of Being

quote du jour ~nouwen

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

quote du jour ~pema chodron – compassion is not….

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

~Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

quote du jour ~rumi – does sunset…

Does sunset sometimes look like the sun is coming up?
Do you know what a faithful love is like?

You’re crying; you say you’ve burned yourself.
But can you think of anyone who’s not hazy with smoke?

~Rumi

traveling mercies ~anne lamott

pathwriter’s note: Anne Lamott has become one of my favorite authors in the last couple of years. I find her honesty and vulnerability, her willingness to lay herself bare—“warts and all”, as the saying goes—breathtaking. (She’s also pretty funny.) Some months back, I was delighted to learn that she is on Facebook (!), and she shared the story below in her New Year’s Eve post. It’s a piece she wrote for Salon.com 15 years ago. I hope you enjoy it, though I’ll warn you that (1) it’s a little long and (2) it contains (as Lamott’s writing often does) some colorful language. I hope neither of those things will keep you from reading and receiving a lovely message.

Broken things have been on my mind as the year lurches to an end, because so much broke and broke down this year in my life, and in the lives of the people I love. Lives broke, hearts broke, health broke, minds broke. On the first Sunday of Advent our preacher, Veronica, said that this is life’s nature, that lives and hearts get broken, those of people we love, those of people we’ll never meet. She said the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward, and that we, who are more or less OK for now, need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes. You sit with people, she said, you bring them juice and graham crackers. And then she went on vacation.

“Traveling mercies,” the old black people at our church said to her when she left. This is what they say when one of us goes off for a while. Traveling mercies: Be safe, notice beauty, enjoy the journey, God is with you.

Besides the big brokennesses in people’s lives this year, I’ve noticed all sorts of really dumb things breaking lately. Since Advent began at the end of November, I’ve had a dozen calls reporting broken cars, water heaters, a window, even a finger. So I was on the lookout for something wonderful to happen, because of this great story I heard recently about dumb things going wrong: Carolyn Myss, who writes about healing, went to Russia a few years ago to give a series of lectures. Every single aspect of getting to Russia that could go poorly, did. Continue reading

canine comfort

pathwriter’s note: Someone posted this article on Facebook just now, but I can’t seem to get it to show up here, so you’ll have to follow the link. I am so touched at the kindness and compassion of these dog owners, who were willing to travel many miles to offer comfort to the family members and friends of the Newtown victims.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-local-comfort-dogs-taken-to-connectcut-after-school-massacre-20121216,0,7533873.story