It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.
And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.
But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.
Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.
You shared with me the two poems you would like read at your services. I have always hoped that I would also be able to read this poem for you. With you, there was always forgiveness. Nourishment of the body and soul. Acknowledgement of despair and pain, balanced with appreciation for small treasures and moments of beauty. All of this was connected, part of the family of things. This poem is for you.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I grew up going camping all over the U.S. My parents loved camping and instilled it in me. My mother loved growing things. She was a master gardener. She had hoped to make it to see one more spring. This poem is another one she would like read at her service.
I said in my heart, “I am sick of four walls and a
I have need of the sky.
I have business with the grass.
I will up and get me away where the hawk
Lone and high,
And the slow clouds go by.
I will get me away to the waters that glass
The clouds as they pass,
To the waters that lie
Like the heart of a maiden aware of a
And dumb for sorcery of impending joy.
I will get me away to the woods.
Spring, like a huntsman’s boy,
Halloos along the hillsides and unhoods
The falcon in my will.
The dogwood calls me, and the sudden thrill
That breaks in apple blooms down country
Plucks me by the sleeve and nudges me away.
The sap is in the boles to-day,
And in my veins a pulse that yearns and goads.”
When I got to the woods, I found out
What the Spring was about.
Written last night, After a several day “extreme heat” spell.
Hello, 63 degrees. I feel you gossiping with the trees. My windows are all grinning widely waiting for the breeze.
A photo from last summer at Hume Lake…
Leaving Target tonight, I was entranced by the evening sky. It was a rich Indigo blue, almost verging on navy. It was the shade of the not quite ripe night sky. Usually I see light blue skies, gray skies, or vivid optimistic blue skies. And when I looked later night had fallen. Usually when I think to look, the sky has transformed into black velvet. What I saw was the in between color. Funny how I’d never noticed it before. Or maybe I just don’t remember noticing it quite as vividly in an ordinary location. I know that I am often aware of beauty when I’m camping, but I miss the beauty of my mundane life.
I was driving to an appointment just now, carefully navigating rush hour chaos. I happened to look at the sky and saw big puffy clouds, the sun brilliantly reflecting light and shadow. It was so sharp, so detailed, to SEE this gift of beauty in the middle of an ordinary moment. I felt small and elated, and it brought tears to my eyes. Go and look at your world. It’s incredible.
Almost six years ago I sat my first sesshin at Hazy Moon Zen Center. I did not return, for many reasons and rationalizations. But when my teacher put a winter weekend sesshin on the calendar, I committed to come. It was wonderful sitting with so many people and creating community. These are some small reflections on my experience. A huge rainstorm visited LA, unusual and impressive for California, and a gesture from nature that we might be worthy of deliverance from drought.
Practice has become a priority. Six years will not pass before I sit sesshin again.
Reflections on Sesshin
Rain strikes the city
like a kyosaku startling
dusty streets awake.
The rain converses
with the windows
while water gushing
through gutters holds
a debate with the sidewalk.
Nearly six whole years past
the rooster still crows at dawn
in downtown L.A.
I met my match
outwaited her impatience
wrestled her on the mat
until she cried
not my way, the Way
and walked into the day.