Tuesday, January 26, 2010


To riff on a Pema Chodron thought I read recently in When Things Fall Apart, one of the activities of spiritual practice is to ‘indentify a sense of softness in our hearts and invite it to spread.’

We get these senses of softness at different times and in different ways.  I often get them reading a poem or watching a good movie.  Or listening to someone speak honestly from their own heart.  It’s a feeling of warmth and generosity.

And possibility.  Where we might have been feeling rushed it seems time has expanded.  Where we might have felt a little empty or dry suddenly we're back in touch with something like 'streams of living water.'

In meditation and contemplation we can work with this sense.  We can bring it into the way we let thoughts come and let thoughts go.  And the practice might be this: Try (just try) never to let a thought ungently go.  Never let a thought or feeling go without a palpable sense of kindness, without a bit of warmth.  When we begin to get the hang of this sense of kindness, then we're touching 'the softness' we might invite to spread—both through our prayers and our day to day lives.

Risky Business

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.     -Thomas Aquinas

Even without punctuation…

ws merwin gets it so right.


one of the butterflies

by ws merwin

The trouble with pleasure is the timing
it can overtake me without warning
and be gone before I know it is here
it can stand facing me unrecognized
while I am remembering somewhere else
in another age or someone not seen
for years and never to be seen again
in this world and it seems that I cherish
only now a joy I was not aware of
when it was here although it remains
out of reach and will not be caught or named
or called back and if I could make it stay
as I want to it would turn to pain.