05/15/2016 — No one can tell you what your business is. No one can tell you what is meaningful to you. No one can tell you what is important to you. No one can tell you what makes your heart sing. No one can tell you what you love. No one can tell you where your life is to be found. Why do you listen to everyone on the planet Except yourself? Why do you allow just anyone To lead you away from what Is central, Foundational, Essential and primary To you? To give you boxes of smoke And bags of sawdust As substitutes For the grounding core of your life and being? Whose. Side. Are. You. On?
05/16/2016 —Great Solomon’s Seal 2016 02 Panorama — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 28, 2016 The test is always the same For the heroes of every generation: Do you have what it takes To do what is hard? It is never any more difficult Than doing what is hard. Odysseus leads the way: “I will endure through suffering hardship, And when the heaving sea Has shaken my raft to pieces, Then I will swim!” Suffering the hardship Of our trials and ordeals Is the nature of the Hero’s Journey, And the only thing required of those Who seek the treasure hard to find.
05/16/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 2016 13 B&W — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 You have to make some decisions When it comes to the Spiritual Quest, The Hero’s Journey. One is “Whose life is it?” If you are trying to get some invisible help With achieving your goals, aims, desires, purposes, That’s one thing. If you are trying to assist some invisible intention By aligning yourself with its goals, aims, desires, purposes, That’s another thing. You cannot blend the two things. What do you think “Thy will, not mine, be done” Means? But don’t get Christian (Or Jewish) theology and doctrine Mixed up in this. It’s just you and your life. That would be you and your relationship with your life. Think in terms of your life’s will for your life And your will for your life. How does your life want to be lived? How does your life want you to live it? How far is the life you are living From the life that wants to be lived? Sit quietly and contemplate these things And see what occurs to you. You aren’t trying to think something up. You are watching your mind To see what comes along. Take up the practice of watching your mind To see what occurs to you.
05/17/2016 —Goodale 2015 53 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 Your routine has to allow enough quiet time For you to seek the solace of silence, Become mindfully aware Of your life and your place in it, And watch/listen for what occurs to you Spontaneously On its own, Out of the heaving sea Of your context and circumstances, Surprising you with its Simplicity and relevance, And suggesting possibilities You would never think up Using only the left side of your brain.
05/17/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 2016 14 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 You can’t just go sit down somewhere When the mood strikes you And be quiet for 10 minutes And think you have done something. You have to cultivate a culture of silence So that it forms the source and ground Of your life— So that your life depends on the quietness As much as on food and water. Soul food is silence. But it takes regular, Recurring, Returns to silence— It takes immersions in silence— To get past “being quiet” And enter into The Great Quietness From Which All Things Come. It takes the practice of silence To come alive in the silence And know it as the origin of life and being.
05/17/2016 —Blurred Leaves 2016 01 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 The Big Surprise about retirement and aging Is the ease with which things I am not interested in Deplete and exhaust me. My doctor asks me at each year’s physical exam, “How’s your energy level.” Each year, I tell him, “I have plenty for the things I like to do.” Walking around the block is a pain and a chore. Walking in search of an owl is a joy. I used to be able to kid myself. My body no longer plays the game.
05/18/2016 —Hatteras Sunrise 2003 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 2003 Every photograph is a dance with synchronicity. I get up to take a sunrise at the beach and meet this. I go to the restroom at McDowell and the owl flies by. Each photo is the intersection of me with time and place, And stands as a reminder Of the sacredness of all our times and places. Every one of them. The ones we miss on our way to somewhere else. The ones we don’t have time for Because we have to be in some other place. This sunrise would slow down even the most pressed traveler, But the closer we look everywhere The more there is to see. Time is sacred. Place is holy. It only takes looking To see it is so.
05/18/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 2016 08 Detail — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016 If you are going to know anything, Know where to draw the line. That is knowing that establishes your identity. It is your rock and your foundation, Your stabilizing force and your guiding light. When you know where to draw the line, You know all you need to know To know what you need to know. It grounds you in all your inquiring and exploring. Secures you in all your wondering and imagining. You can go anywhere when you know where to draw the line. Scale any heights. Span any chasm. Plumb any depth. You have it made when you know where to draw the line, And are never without the confidence Of your own sense of what is right for you, And what is wrong.
05/19/2016 — Four Daisies 2016 01 Panorama — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 17, 2015 The people who decry “political correctness” Brandish hatred. I ask you: Is it better to display Respect, kindness, compassion, civility, courtesy, understanding and benevolent, positive, regard For one another, Or to deepen divides, instill fear, and spawn hatred and distrust? You tell me the kind of person You want to be your Governor And your President.
05/19/2016 —Christmas Fern 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 You know what your life is, And what it is not. You may not think you know what it is, But you know that you know what it is not. You also know what it is— It just isn’t what you think it should be. You are looking for some bigger, finer life. Some life that will take you somewhere, Some life you could ride to fame and fortune and glory everlasting. My life is looking out the window, And getting to the bottom of things. Does that give you an idea of the kind of life you are looking for? My life is also seeing how things could work, Making connections Interpreting things properly. These are the things I’m good at, And things I enjoy doing. But they won’t pay the mortgage. The life that is our life to live won’t likely pay the bills. We will have to do something else for that. But, we always have to keep our eye on our real life, And give it our full attention on a regular basis. You know what I’m talking about. You just have to know what you know. Once you get you out of the way, There it is.
05/20/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 2016 16 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 We size things up And do what needs to be done about them The way only we can do it. Lao Tzu finally said, “The hell with it,” And walked off to live alone in the forest. Yoda holed-up on Dagobah. Sometimes, you have to walk away and wait it out. There are no scripts to follow, No equations to compute to know when to do what. WE size things up And WE decide what needs to be done about them The way only WE can do it. It’s all on us. We have to live our life the way we think it needs to be lived In each situation as it arises. It begins with seeing what we look at. And looking at everything.
05/20/2016 —Pitcher Plants 2016 05 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, May 13, 2016 We are being who we are When we see what we look at, When we hear what we listen to, When we taste what we taste, When we smell what we smell, When we touch what we touch, When we think what we think, When we know what we know, When we feel what we feel, When we love what we love, When we honor what is important to us, When we live in accord With what is deepest, truest and best about us, When we are grounded on the foundation Of our own experience And trust ourselves to have what we need To find what we need To be who we are In the context and circumstances of our life.
05/20/2016 —Goodale 2016 03 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, May 13, 2016 In the silence— That would be, Not just any silence, But the right kind of silence— We become “the still point of the turning world.” And we see all that can be seen, And know the things that can be known Exactly as they are. And that seeing, That knowing, Becomes for us as a guiding light Directing us To what needs us to do it In each situation as it arises. This is the power of the still point. Our place is to carry the stillness With us when we leave the silence, As a blessing and a grace Upon the situations that, And the people who, Come our way. It is not for our merit or advantage That we serve the stillness. There is nothing to exploit, no gain to seek. It is enough to be still And to see, and know, and do As a blessing and a grace.
05/21/2016 —Goodale 2015 54 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 Life is lived between what we can do And what we cannot do— Between what we will do And what we will not do. It is lived best When we do not kid ourselves About which is which.
05/21/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 2016 17 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 A Vision Quest is a search for our essential identity— The shape is to assume— How we are to mold ourselves In accordance with the dictates of heart and soul. A Sumo wrestler requires a different regimen Than a harpist. How might we bring out the we we are built to be? Our interests, proclivities, gifts and abilities Lend themselves to a particular mode of expression. How do we give form to our content? The answer is not to be thought, But to be seen, heard, felt. We do not know we are in love By thinking about it. We do not get to our heart/soul through our head But through our body! Listen to your body! It will show you the way! Our Vision Quest Is to see what our body has to say.
05/22/2016 —Pamlico Sound Sunset — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, NC, October, 2012 There is grief and mourning, joy and gladness, but. There is very little drama in the natural world. Things happen there for good and for ill, And no matter what, life finds a way. Grounded in our own life, In our own particular way of being in the world, We will find a way. We are as resilient and as resourceful As any life-form ever in the history of life-forms. Once we step aside from the drama— The OMG’s and the Why Me’s and the When Will It Be My Turn— And take a reckoning of what has happened And what needs to be done about it, We will find ourselves doing what it takes To deal with the deal And make the best of the situation Like the servants of life that we are.
05/22/2016 —Two Daisies 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 17, 2015 We have to live in the stillness Long enough and frequently enough To be able to live out of the stillness When we are not in it. The stillness has to become one with us, So that it defines us And we learn from it— And exhibit it in all of our interactions With the world of Normal, apparent, reality. We become the source of the world’s stillness By the way we live in the world. We also have to hold the world at a distance In order to keep the noise Of the 10,000 things from drowning the silent stillness At the core of our being. We have to begin noting the things and the people Who rob us of our stillness, Recognize them as being toxic to our soul, And find ways to limit our time in their presence— And compensate ourselves With double doses of silence Whenever we cannot avoid them. We have to live in the stillness To be able to live out of it, And living out of it transforms the world.
05/25/2016 —Four Seasons Creek 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 21, 2016 The work of becoming human Is the work of becoming the best individual We are capable of being. Best and worst are competing within For the control of our life. As conscious egos, We have to make the peace, Heal the breach, Reconcile the differences, Integrate the polarities Restore wholeness And live as One. The best individual we are capable of being Is a compromise and a collaboration Of the best and the worst of our innate potential. We work it out In each situation as it arises— Never being quite as good, Or as bad, As we could be, But always being who we are and also are.
Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., 05/23/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 2016 34 — Shady Hollow Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 21, 2016 The work of becoming whole Is the work of consciousness, The work of mindful (compassionate, non-judgmental) awareness, The work of seeing (what we look at), Hearing (what is being said, verbally and non-verbally), And understanding (what’s what on all levels). It is the work of bearing the realization of our contradictions, Living within the tension of our conflicts, Transcending our polarities, And knowing what we know. It is the work of being transparent to ourselves, And accomplished in the art of integrity/integration. That’s wholeness for you.
05/23/2016 —Christmas Fern 2016 02 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 12, 2016 There is nothing new in the field of human experience. We’ve seen it all before. Bungee jumping may be a new way to be stupid, But being stupid has been around forever. There are new ways to work But working is nothing new. Free love and open marriage and gay marriage Are new, geologically speaking, But the problems of living together Are as old as sex itself. There are no new experiences. Why are we still walking into walls and off cliffs? Why haven’t we figured out war? Why do we keep responding To the same old experiences In the same old ways? Why is it so easy to be stupid, After all these years?
05/23/2016 —Honeysuckle 2016 02 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 5, 2016 There is no ideology. No theology. No doctrine. No creed. Nothing to deliver you Or save you From the struggle of squaring up to yourself And to the truth of your own experience. What we are seeking is “the treasure hard to find,” Namely, the inner confidence, assurance, certainty, foundation That we have what it takes To enter any situation, To face any circumstance or condition of life, And be who we are Without any chance of losing our connection With the core, the center, the ground, the foundation Of our own individual identity. We are seeking ourselves! We are seeking to know who we are With such clarity and conviction That it will never be taken from us By anything that comes our way. There is no ideology. No theology. No doctrine. No creed. That can hand you yourself. You have to find your way to you on your own. Here is a hint for you: Compassion is the way. Stillness and silence are the path. Sit quietly, See what comes up. Work with it. Dialogue with it. Write it out. Paint it out. Put it to music. Dance it out. Do not run away. You are seeking yourself And yourself is seeking you. So, what’s the problem?
05/24/2016 —Ebony Spleenwort Fern 2016 01 — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Chestnut Trail, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, April 7, 2016 We are seeking a Mythic Vision, Hoping to be swept up on a Mythic Journey, Where we lose all sense of caution And simply have to do the thing that needs us to do it. Falling in love is the closest thing in our experience To what we are after. Ever tried to fall in love? We are not in charge of the process, but. We can block it easily By not being attuned to the life we are living— By being distracted by the bright colors And Siren songs Of the lives that are not it. The Buddha waited under the Bo Tree Through all of the empty dreams. Jesus wandered through the deserted places, Past the glimmering promises of surrogate bliss. Stillness filters out the noise So that we might hear the whisper of truth Calling our name. Believe in the silence, And in the reality of that which knows your name.
05/24/2016 — I Should Apologize For The Soft Focus On The House Finch 2016 05 — Charlotte, NC, May 22, 2016 Stop being so rational, logical, left-brain driven! Lean toward those autonomous, Spontaneous, Urgent calls for action, Rising up from within. Naps are autonomous. Sleep is autonomous. Dreams are autonomous. You can’t order any of them up, Or schedule them in advance. Slips of the tongue. “Being in the mood” for a particular restaurant, Or menu item. Forgetting where you put the keys, Or remembering. Our right hemisphere Is well-suited for leading us along the path of its choosing. Trust yourself to its direction. Believe in its guidance. Don’t have to know what you are doing. Numinous seizures have been out of vogue for too long.
05/25/2016 —Goodale 2015 55 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 There are three things that keep us off the path, Three dragons that block the way To the treasure hard to find: Greed, Fear and Lethargy. Greed is wanting to exploit everything, Even the path, the way, In the service of our own ends. “What am I going to get out of it, What’s in it for me, And when will it start paying off?” Fear is the 10,000 What Ifs That have to be explained again and again And never can be satisfied. Lethargy is “Maybe I’ll get started tomorrow.” That’s a lot to overcome Just to be who you are. The alternative is oblivion. Which doesn’t sound all that bad With three very real dragons Standing in the path.
05/25/2016 —McDowell Barred Owl 09 Detail — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016 We act as though our will Is the only one at work in a situation, Or, at least, the most important one. The truth is a bit different. Everything in the situation has a will for the situation, Has a stake in the situation. To work in the service of our will for the situation Is to miss the mark (To “sin” according to the Biblical understanding of the term). The higher calling is To seek the good of the situation as a whole— To ask not what the situation can do for us, But what we can do for the situation, Using the gifts that we have to give In the service of the good of the whole. We step into the situation Centered and grounded in our identity— Who we are and what we have to offer— And look for ways to bring ourselves forth In doing what needs to be done there. We know who we are and who we are not. What we can do and what we cannot do. Enter the situation with that knowledge in mind, And live to be who you are— Not to get what you want.
05/26/2016 —Broad-winged Hawk 2016 01 — I crack myself up sometimes. And, besides that, this may not actually be a Broad-winged Hawk. Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 26, 2016 What is your problem? You know the one I mean. I mean THE PROBLEM. The one that came immediately to mind. That problem. Well, that problem is not the problem. The problem is how you feel about that problem. That problem would not be the problem it is If you felt differently about it. Carl Jung said, “The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.” When we outgrow something, We feel differently about it. Feeling differently about something Changes everything. If you can’t do anything about your problems, Do something about the way you feel about them.
05/27/2016 —I don’t know if this is a Broad-winged Hawk, but. I’ll bet someone knows. If you can ID it for me, you’ll get three wishes. Who knows, maybe one will come true. #2 Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 26, 2016 Where does your deepest loyalty lie? To whom, or what, do you owe your all? Who, or what, do you serve above all else? Who, or what, will you not forsake or neglect ever in the slightest way? What matters most to you? How would other people, looking at your life, Know that it is so, Without you saying a word? I look out the window a lot. And I don’t answer the phone. That puts me at the center of my life. I recommend that you find your way To the center of yours.
05/27/2016 —Broad-winged Hawk 06 Sequence — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 26, 2016 Every situation can be improved With grace and compassion. Consciousness without grace and compassion Is Hell. Those who are conscious without grace and compassion Are the incarnation of Satan In the world of space and time. Our work is to become who we are In the time and place of our living (That would be in each situation as it arises) As agents of grace and compassion. We are to do our work Graciously, with compassion. Mindfulness leads the way With grace and compassion. Get living with grace and compassion down, And the world will be a better place.
05/27/2016 —Barn and Shed 02 — Lancaster County, South Carolina, May 13, 2016 There is a price to be paid. We can do what is hard, Or we can do it the hard way. This is the message of all rites of initiation. There are no shortcuts. We have to complete the tasks Associated with each stage of development In order to advance on to the next stage. Carl Jung thought that the purpose of our life Is to “individuate,” That is to say, “grow up” into the unique individual we are. We cannot become the unique individual we are Without growing up. Anthony Stevens says we have to “earn the right” To individuate “by discharging our biological (sexual, bonding, child rearing) And socioeconomic (professional, property-holding, money-making) obligations.” Too many people think they can avoid adulthood And progress smoothly from one grand party to the next, Living forever as an Eternal Youth, With no obligations, commitments, duties and responsibilities They can’t escape. All they need is a surfboard and the next wave (or their equivalents). All must submit to the rites of passage. The Life Unlived is the Life Unlived However we choose to not live it. And the price we pay for not living it Is the Burden Of The Blown Opportunity To carry through all eternity.
05/28/2016 —Queen Anne’s Lace 2016 01 B&W Panorama — Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, May 26, 2016 We have to be the center of our life, Our life has to be central to us. We have to collaborate with our life, To put ourselves in accord with our life, To live the life that is ours to live, To dance with our life all the way to the grave. We live to be one with our life. Everything else has to fall into place Around this.
05/28/2016 —Scarab Beetle 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 28, 2016 The Dung Beetle was considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, And a metaphor for “the treasure hard to find.” Who would think of looking there, of all places? Yet, there we are. We cannot deny that the Dung Beetle Has found treasure Where we would never seek it, And it stands for us as a reminder To notice when we are dismissing something, And reconsider.
05/28/2016 — The Scarab Beetle Encounter: Holiness Is A Very Personal Designation The Scarab Beetle photo will be a series, and is for me a miracle of serendipitous grace and the surprising presence of the Numen at work in my life. I knew Dung Beetles well in my childhood and youth in the Deep South. They would be about, doing their work, in the dust of hot, humid, summer days. Children played outside then and made regular encounters with the denizens of the natural world. One of our regular pastimes was to rake the lake. Five, or maybe seven, of us would pack together and roam through each day. A ready source of entertainment was to take a garden rake and walk along the shoreline of Roebuck Lake (In Itta Bena, Mississippi), thrusting the rake as far into the lake as short arms could manage, letting it sink to the bottom, and then hauling it up onto the shore, as we walked backwards up the bank, with our catch. We were always astounded at what came up. Mussels and crawfish, minnows and sunfish, turtles and tadpoles, snakes and eels, leeches and catfish… We would dip into the aquarium and explore our find with wonder at the world beneath the surface. I’m still amazed at the world beneath the surface, and remain fascinated at all things I am unconscious of— still raking the lake, poking around in unknown depths. Depths which rise up from time to time and drop at my feet things like a Scarab Beetle. After I left the wilds of my early years and entered my civilized phase of development, Scarab Beetles became a museum piece in my distant memory. Then I began to read Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, and discovered the sacred nature of the beetle and its ball of dung, which is pushes backward with its long rear legs on each side of the ball, rolling it along as haphazard as a butterfly on the wing, to wherever it is going. “I’ll be damned,” I thought, “You never know holiness when it rolls right by.” And I began to look for the things, to reward then with respect and attention appropriate to the occasion. I took up photography, hoping to photograph one as it went diligently about its business. Never saw another one, until this morning. I was in the back yard watering flowers and plants when I noticed a fine specimen of a mushroom glistening in my recently applied wetness, and thought what a fine photo it would make. I put down the hose and fetched my camera. As I moved in to get the mushroom’s portrait, I saw the Scarab Beetle doing its thing. There on the forest floor at the edge of my backyard. My jaw surely dropped. I don’t remember it, but dropping jaws always mark the advent of a serendipitous engagement with numinous reality breaking into our life. The very chance of it all! The mushroom and my response to it, getting the camera, for the very moment that the beetle’s path crossed my own! Grace upon Grace, Benevolence beyond measure! I watched the beetle at work, taking photos all along, for maybe ten minutes, until it reached the shade of the forest’s trees. I took my camera back into the house and returned to wish the beetle well. I was gone two minutes max. I’d watched the beetle make its way for ten. I knew about how far it would have gone in two. The beetle was nowhere to be found. I scoured the area carefully. No beetle. Where had it come from? Where was it going? How did it disappear? Now you see it, now you don’t. The Numen at work in our life.
05/29/2016 — Cardinal 2016 01 — Food for the Babies, Indian Land, South Carolina, May 28, 2016 We think safety, security, stability and peace Depend upon a weapon, or weapons, Of indomitable, destructive, ability. “One ring to rule them all.” “The Elder Wand.” “The Bomb.” We think in terms of domination and dominion. We think power is the source of peace, And that it is conveyed to the one Who wields the magic sword. This is at the heart of all action-adventure stories/movies Ever written, told, or made, So, it must be true. It takes power, or leverage, To impose our will upon others Or to keep them from imposing their will upon us. Our way has to be forced, You know, Compelled, Coerced, Made. And thus, the difference Between Our Way and The Way Is the difference That makes All the difference In the world.
05/30/2016 — Scarab Beetle Poster 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 28, 2016 There is the “I” and there is the “We.” Though it isn’t that simple because every “I” is an amalgamation Of “we’s” beyond counting— Partial “I’s,” “I” wannabe’s. Each “I” is a bundle of multiple personalities Striving for “I-hood.” The “I’s” and the “We’s” have to find ways Of working it out on every level. The complexities and agonies involved here Do not get enough press, And certainly do not get enough R.E.S.P.E.C.T. “We” have to allow, and provide for, Living room for every “I.” And every “I” has to honor the needs and claims of each “We.” Among other things, This means “We” all have to slow down, And give the “I’s” that “We” are And that “They” are Some hallowed space of “Their” own. And the “I’s” have to put themselves in accord With the reality of each “We.” Doing this work Requires a place for silent reflection For all “I’s” and every “We.” There is much room-making to be done.
05/30/2016 —Last Light Revisited — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, South Carolina, November 18, 2013 There is the peace that comes with denial, And the peace that comes with Clarity. Clarity is synonymous with knowing— Not with knowing facts or fantasies mistaken for facts, But with knowing what’s what And what’s to be done about it. Sometimes, there is nothing to be done about it, And being clear about that, Knowing that, Still brings peace. Peace is the peace of settling into Who we are, Where we are, When we are, How we are, That we are, This is the way things are, And that’s that. Of course, you can know these things And still have no peace Because you hate it And are saying, “NO! NO! NO!” About it all. At that point, There is one more thing to be clear about: You will never have peace Because you cannot accept the truth Of the way things are. You have to opt for denial To be at peace with your life.
05/30/2016 — Cardinal 2016 03 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 30, 2016 Mithrandir, also known as Gandalf, said to Lady Galadriel (in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”): “Saruman believes that it is only great power That can hold evil in check, but that is not What I have found. “I have found that it is the small things… “Everyday deeds of ordinary folk That keeps the darkness at bay. “Simple acts of kindness and love.”
05/31/2016 —Carolina Wren 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 30, 2016 Believe in your genius— your YOU! Believe in the work that is yours to do! Believe in the path that has your name on it! Believe in what resonates with you! Live transparent to yourself! Live in good faith with yourself and with others! Trust yourself to your sense of what needs to be done— Of what the situation is calling for— And say the things that cry out to be said, Ask the questions that beg to be asked, Do the things that need to be done— That need you to do them! Do not try to figure things out, Or have to know what you are doing, Or think you must be able to defend, justify, explain, excuse What you are up to, or about! Do not try to exploit any situation to your advantage! No path can do more than wake us up And call us forth— Think of doing your work, Living mindfully, compassionately, non-judgmentally— In each situation as it arises— Not of finding the best path And trading up! Be content with being who you are Doing what is yours to do.
06/01/2016 —Female Black-and-white Warbler 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 31, 2016 We think independence means autonomy, Means Free Will, Means doing it our way, Means “Being Captain of our own ship,” “Master of our own destiny,” And like that. We have to re-think independence. On the one hand, I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. And, on the other hand, I don’t know what to do. SOMEBODY needs to be telling me what to do! This is the essential, unresolvable, conflict. We transcend, transform, it when we realize That we tell ourselves what to do And that “we” are both conscious and unconscious, Both left-brained and right-brained, And that in order to know what to do, I have to listen to all of ME. We can’t just go flying off in charge of our life. We have to sit quietly with what to do here and now, In each situation as it arises, And see how it unfolds, Without imposing demands and restrictions And working to effect our agenda no matter what. Our agenda is to figure out what OUR agenda needs to be For each of the times and places of our living. “Hello Silence, my old friend/I’ve come to talk to you again…”
06/01/2016 —Carolina Wren 2016 02 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 1, 2016 Think of the people you love. Take your time with this. Make a list of all of the qualities, characteristics and character traits That you love about each person on the list. Make it your practice To consciously bring all the qualities, characteristics and character traits To life in your life. Live to incarnate each person you love— To BE each person you love—f The way only you can be— By bringing the qualities, etc., that you love to life in your life. This is SO the way to love someone! Be who you love. Should be a bumper sticker.
06/02/2016 — Black-capped Chickadee 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 30, 2016 What are we about? What are we after? Where is IT for you? How often do you go there? How long do you stay? We have to know what we are striving for, And when we have it in hand. Then what? When do you stop And simply be at one with your life In the time and place of your living? It’s like this: There is the way things are, And there is the way things need to be. And there is what can be done about the discrepancy, And that’s that. What is keeping you from being at peace with this?
06/02/2016 — Broad-winged Hawk 2016 07 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, May 26, 2016 I told one of my Twitter buds today that I’ve never been able to argue anyone out of their perspective. And, no one has ever been able to argue me out of mine. We should all stop trying— not that this statement will sway anyone of the opposite perspective. But. Our perspectives are sacred territory, And the Old Testament law applies: “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark!” We have to honor the way other people see things, Even as we point out that the way they see things is not the way we see things. We have to be clear about the differences among us, and let them stand. And work to find common ground with people who are far removed from where we are. We have to work to make friends and stop working to make enemies. Hajib’s have their place! And gun control has its place! And all the things that divide us cannot make us enemies! And we are not here to change anyone’s perspective, but to work with everyone toward a future we all can live in together. Trump is doing his best to erect diving walls within this country, not just between this country and Mexico! We cannot allow him to polarize the world. We resist polarization by refusing to slam the door on anyone, but keep all doors open, as we look for things we can agree on, and honor one another with respect and compassion even as we disagree on important matters.
06/02/2016 —Black Snake Hiding 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 31, 2016 We know about silence by being silent; About stillness by being still; About mindfulness by being mindful; About compassion by being compassionate; About all of the values and qualities That humans have always esteemed By incarnating them in the life we are living. What’s with all the talking about the things We can only know by doing?
06/03/2016 —Cardinal 2016 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 30, 2016 Everything waits for us to recover our work And do it. Don’t know what your work is? Yes you do! You just don’t know what you know! Sit quietly until it dawns on you. Wait in stillness until it slips up on you. Look at all you are dismissing As “obviously NOT it.” Poke around in your reject pile. Stop wanting your work to pay off handsomely With some extravagant lifestyle Too much of which has the world exactly where it is, And the abandonment of which Is so essential to the reclamation of a planet That can feed our souls— And experience how doing your work Is all your soul will ever need. Oh, and pass the word!
06/03/2016 —Downy Woodpecker 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 3, 2016 People have too much of one or more of these three characteristics: They are greedy and/or fearful and/or lazy. The propensity for one or more of these traits Works against us all our life long Because The Way requires us to be Benevolent AND courageous AND willing to do the work That is called for In each situation as it arises. We just want to let Mamma or Daddy (Or Money, which is a surrogate of both) Take care of us, And make our way smooth And our path easy. Nothing can happen Until we forsake ourselves And pledge our allegiance and loyalty To our Self. But, why would we do that?
06/04/2016 —Carolina Wren 2016 03 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 2, 2016 “We have to have guns because someone will kill us and our family if we don’t!” That’s the NRA’s only talking point. Guns will keep people from killing us. We have to protect ourselves and our families from those who would harm us. Those who would harm us could be anywhere, might be anyone. Anyone who isn’t like us could be out to get us. We have to get rid of everyone who is not like us. Build walls. Kick them out of the country. Send them back where they came from. Look around! THEY are everywhere! Extremes beget extremes and soon there is no center. When the center fails to hold, we are left with fragmentation, disintegration, and the loss of a grounding vision. What to do? What to do? How do we get THEM ALL to wake up to what THEY are doing and return to the center? WE have to return to the center ourselves! WE have to refuse the inclination to move to the extreme opposite of THEM. WE have to DO nothing. But. It has to be the right kind of nothing. It has to be the “nothing” of silent reflection and realization— Silent META-reflection. Silent META-realization. Sit quietly. Begin the practice. Today.
06/04/2016 —Can You Name This Bird? Someone? Anyone? — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 3, 2016 How can we make THEM as WE are? And, if we cannot make THEM as WE are, How can we shun them, expel them, ostracize them, deport them, disappear them So that they pose no threat to US and OUR way of life? This seems to be the way business has been done through the ages. Except that it was easier in earlier ages. Then, we burned them at the stake, strung them up, fed them to the lions, tarred and feathered them and ran them out of town on a rail. We could get by with it then, But now we are all civilized and supposed to be polite, except that we aren’t actually. Donald Trump exposes us for who we are, And through him we see how little has changed over time. We still hate THEM, though THEY might be Trump and his legions and not the THEM THEY want us to hate. We cannot get along with THOSE who are not as WE are. That’s where we have to get to work. We all have to live together on this planet. We cannot build walls or ship anyone off— there is no place to put THEM! WE have to live with THEM, And THEY with US! We have to make it work by making room for everyone. We might start by reading Rumi’s “The Guest House,” And beginning with ourselves.
06/05/2016 —Damselflies 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 4, 2016 Meta-perception is perception that takes itself into account, And, more than that, every other perception as well. Meta-perception is seeing that sees seeing, And knows what’s what, Around the table, across the board. That is the kind of seeing that puts things in their place, Restores harmony, Lives from the center And saves the world. When meta-perception is combined with Meta-reflection And meta-realization We have a situation in which What needs to happen happens In each situation that arises For as long as there are situations to arise. We cannot think that we see, hear, and understand Until we reach the place Of meta-perception, meta-reflection and meta-realization. Don’t stop too soon, Thinking you know something. Know everything. That’s knowing that knows!
06/05/2016 — Black Snake 2016 03 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 5, 2016 — I estimated this snake to be in the 8-foot range, and while Black Snakes are not poisonous, no snake is harmless— in that their bites carry a strong possibility of infection which can lead to a number of undesirable outcomes. So I carry a garden hoe with me to the hammock to have something to put between me and the snakes that roam the woods. This one went its way and I went mine, but the next one may be in a bad mood. We have to spend time with ourselves, Seeing ourselves, Understanding ourselves, Knowing ourselves, Enjoying ourselves. I like my own company as well as I like anyone’s. And, if I cannot be good company with myself, I cannot be good company with anyone. The people who make the best company Are the people who like themselves a lot. That makes it easy for other people to like them as well. Liking ourselves comes from knowing ourselves, Which comes from spending time with ourselves. The next time you are alone for an extended period, Notice what is going on with in— Your thoughts, your moods, your memories, where your mind wanders… Simply observe yourself being alone with yourself, And see what occurs to you.
06/06/2016 —Goodale 2015 57 Panorama B&W — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 Your life will ask things of you. How you respond tells the tale. Not one of the heroes on any of the journey’s ever made Outlined the nature of their journey, Laid out the steps in sequential fashion, Rehearsed what would be required of them by each one, Put the plan in place, And carefully followed the map they had devised From start to finish. There is no formula for success on the Hero’s Journey. You start by doing what needs to be done The way it needs to be done, When it needs to be done, For no other reason that because it needs to be done– And needs you to do it– Like changing the baby’s diaper, say, Or washing the dishes, And, like that, one thing leads to another And you find yourself alone with you at the end, Preeminently proud of what you have done And who you have become By way of doing what you did the way you did it– The way only you could do it.
06/06/2016 —Cardinal 2016 11 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 5, 2016 We have witnessed the erosion of democracy in our lifetime. Wealth and power like ignoring reality, And do not care what their arrogance and greed Mean for those who provide the means of their wealth and power. “Give them bread and circuses, Or let them eat cake!” Is another way of saying, “To hell with them!” An economy that takes justice, equality, compassion and kindness to heart Is essential for the good of humankind, but. What is good for humankind Is anathema to wealth and power. If we could get everyone to the table, We might have a chance, but. The top 1% is not talking, And is not interested in what the rest of us say. That leaves us with having to make democracy work. We cannot give up on the greatest idea the world has ever had. Democracy is the hope of free people And free people are the hope of the world. What this means for me and you is that we have to vote. And we have to vote for the candidate Who stands as the best advocate for the true good of the entire commonwealth. Everything depends on it.
06/07/2016 —Downy Woodpecker 2016 06 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 7, 2016 We have to sit quietly on a regular basis To remember who we are and what we are about– To find the center and live out of it– To regain our perspective And put ourselves in accord with our life. This is called “making an adjustment.” I came home for lunch one day and found the carpenter my wife and I had hired (to replace a section fascia board behind our gutter) sitting atop his ladder. “What’s the trouble?” I asked. He replied, “I’m adjusting myself to what has to be done.” He had run into unexpected rotting, and the job had become more involved than he had anticipated. Ain’t that the way it is, though? We have to adjust ourselves to our lives from time to time. Sitting quietly helps with all the things that need to be done in a day.
06/08/2016 —Mushroom 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, May 28, 2016 Your life matters! How you live it makes all the difference! If you are going to believe anything, believe these two things! Self-gratification can carry you only so far. It is the first thing to go When things stop being fun, Toughen up, Become impossible. “Impossible” has infinite layers. We think this is impossible, But just wait for that, And that, and that, and that… Try telling yourself it’s all about the good times then. See how far that gets you. It comes down to this: Do you have what it takes to grind it out? To be tougher than the toughest situation? To tell the really impossible situations, “It’s impossible to make me quit, But don’t take my word for it– I want to show you what I’m made of”? If you are going to believe anything, Believe in your life– And live like you believe in what you are doing! Live like you mean it!
06/08/2016 —Chameleon 2016 02 — The Tree Dragon Dines, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 7, 2016 Listen to me when I say don’t listen to me–listen to YOU! I don’t know how you need to be you. Only you know how you need to be you. Sit quietly. Listen to you. Look at your life. How does it need to be changed to better express YOU? How are YOU being dismissed by the life you are living? What are the things that are YOU That you never do? How would YOU run things if you put YOU in charge of your life? What do YOU have to say to you? Explore these questions sitting quietly. See what stirs within. What occurs to you?
06/08/2016 —Downy Woodpecker 2016 02 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 4, 2016 We only need enough money for the basics– And each of us is responsible for determining that list for ourselves. Beyond that, there is only being who we are, where we are, when we are, how we are and why we are– All of which we are also responsible for figuring out for ourselves. So, we have two areas of responsibility: Getting the money angle squared away, And getting the what we need money for– The what we pay the bills to do– Angle squared away. Once those two things are in place, It is only a matter of doing what is ours to do In each situation as it arises Throughout the time left for living.
06/09/2016 —Cardinal 2016 08 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 1, 2016 How much money does it take To be who we are? We can be who we are with none whatsoever. Money just allows us to increase Our means of self-expression, Furthers our avenues for self-realization, Enlarges our field of experience, Expands our possibilities for reflection and realization, If we are not interested in discovering and being who we are, Money is of no use at all In the work of self-development, And is only used then To distract and entertain us until we die. We are only asked to find our life and live it, And be who we are, Offering what is ours to give, In the service of what needs to be done– What needs us to do it as only we can do it– In each situation as it arises. Why does this receive such little press?
06/10/2016 —Cottontail 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 8, 2016 Call it “The Social Contract”–one of many. We have to provide ourselves with the means of living our life. We have to be able to pay for the life we are living. This is not easy And it is not often fun. “Wining or losing, it’s still a grind.” We make it harder by wanting what we cannot afford. There are people who want to live in New York, for instance, Who cannot afford to live in New York, Who move to New York, Believing in magic. There are millions of people without the means of supporting themselves in the life they are living. And millions more rushing to join them. Sea levels are rising. That means inhabitable areas along all cost lines are going to disappear. People are still moving to Miami and New Orleans. Global warming is making life less livable in large portions of the planet. War and poverty are making refugees beyond counting or tracking Who will never be able to support themselves. Catastrophe looms While we move to New York, Miami, New Orleans… Looking for the life we want to live. It’s going to be difficult enough finding a life we can afford to live, And that’s the life we better be seeking– Along with how to live it, At one with who we are, Serving the genius that is ours to serve, Offering the gifts that are ours to give.
06/10/2016 — Tufted Titmouse 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 7, 2016 Return to the center. That would be your center. The center of you. The center of what is most important to/about you. That would be your identity. The unshifting ground that makes you you. The unchanging and unchangeable essence That everyone knows to be Y-O-U. What is that? I look out the window a lot– Trying to see what is to be seen. Trying to see what it is and what it means and what’s at the bottom of it and how it all fits together. Trying to make sense of it, interpret it, say what it means and what the implications are f or every single thing. That is who I am and what I do. Hermes/Mercury. The Messenger of the Gods. Hermeneutics is so what I am about. When I return to the center, I look out the window, And am grounded in the essence of me. Find your center. Return there often. Know what it means to be you. Live out of your center. Do what you do. And you will be just fine. No matter what.
06/11/2016 — Guard Toad 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 10, 2016 — Every Glen has a Guard Toad or two to keep the interlopers away.
Reality is an assortment of facts that make things what they are And keep things from being what they are not. Each fact comes bundled with its own field of additional facts– A fact that keeps reality from being all cut and dried. Reality is a very dynamic, fluid, living, moving, changing experience. A fact cannot be divorced from its meaning, Its impact, Its implications. A fact is meaningless apart from the experience of said fact, And, a meaningless fact is the same as no fact at all. So, reality consists of four elements: The What (What is happening?) The So What? (What does it mean for me personally and for life generally?) The Now What? (What am I to do about it?) And the What Next? (What implications does the fact and my response to it have for my personal future, and the future of life on the planet?) In order to be grounded in reality, We have to be aware of reality’s impact in each of these areas in our life. Or, we could deny all of this, Live oblivious to all facts at odds with the way we want things to be, And let the good times roll.
06/11/2016 — Goodale 2015 58 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 Jesus was who he was. The Buddha was who he was. Jesus was the Buddha. The Buddha was Jesus. Elizabeth Warren is who she is. Elizabeth Warren is Jesus and the Buddha. When you are being who you are, And when I am being who I am, We are Elizabeth Warren, Jesus and the Buddha. When you understand this And apply it in your life In each situation that arises, That’s it. There is nothing more to understand or to do. Integrity is at the heart of life and being. But it has to be who you ARE, And not who you wish you were, Or who you think you ought to be. We have to live from the center In doing the work of integration, Which is the work of integrity, Inner with outer For all to see.
06/11/2016 — Black Snake 2016 08 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 11, 2016 There is no reward. There is no punishment. There is no merit to be earned, No damnation to be avoided. There is only this life that is asking us to live it In ways that are commensurate with its urge For mindfulness, self-realization and self-expression. To the extent that we do that, There is peace and joy aplenty. To the extent that we do not do that, There is hostility, animosity and opposition on every side. Good karma is being at one with our life, Bad karma is being at odds with our life. Anyone who tells you something else Is selling something.
06/11/2016 — Lake Crawford 2015 14 — Kings Mountain State Park, Blacksburg, South Carolina, December 15, 2015 What hunger drives your boat on its path through the sea? What, or who, are you seeking to appease (Or escape) With the way you live your life? What ghosts will not give you any rest? Don’t think up an answer. Simply sit quietly with the questions, Reflecting, wondering, curious, And see what occurs to you. Let seeing what occurs to you Become your way of finding your way. Don’t have to know what you are doing, Or be able to defend, excuse, justify or explain The logic and reasons behind your choices. Live from a deeper place than your left hemisphere. Call your right hemisphere to life– Or the older reptilian brain, With its bent for instinct. Ponder your questions or your choices And see what occurs to you.
06/12/2016 — Downy Woodpecker 2016 10 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 9, 2016 – Used in Short Talks On Good Religion and Bad Religion The massacre at the Orlando Gay bar Is yet another mindless agony Perpetrated by the mindless, Hypnotic, trance-inducing, repetition Of who is evil and who is not, And what must be done to those who are. Mindlessness kills mindlessly– Making the foundation of all good religion The mantra: “Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!” And the reminder: “If you think you are awake, you are not!”
06/12/2016 — Box Turtle 2016 01 — The Tortoise of the Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2016 When we find ourselves resisting our life, And not wanting to go where it is taking us, That is a sign that we are about to miss a turn. We cannot will our life along its natural course To its chosen destination. All the problems of humanity Can be traced to forcing our way upon The Way, Wresting command and control away from the internal guides, And refusing to align ourselves—and live in accord—with The life that wants us to live it— The life that is our life to live, That no one but us can live. All of the rites of initiation Are about forcing the initiates to do What they do not want to do. Now, there are none to force us to do What we do not want to do. We alone say what we do and do not. No one ever grew up doing what he, what she, Wanted to do.
06/13/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2015 The work of a true human being Is the work of being true to ourselves, The work of becoming who only we can be— Of being the individual we are (and also are). It is the work of being conscious of who we are (and also are), It is the work of living so as to align our life With the identity we know to be our own. We live to incarnate the truth Of our own character, nature and being— To express who we are (and also are) Within the context and circumstances of our life. This requires us to know What we are doing, What we are thinking, What we are feeling, What we are fearing, What we are desiring, What we are seeing, Hearing, Tasting, Smelling, Touching, Sensing, As well as what is happening, And what needs to happen in response or instead, And what we might do about it With the genius and gifts that are ours to give In each situation as it arises, All our life long. The work of a true human being requires us to be transparent to ourselves, And to take up the task of the full integration Of inner with outer, And of being with doing, Which is integrity In the deepest sense of the word. We are to live so that our life Is integral with the truth Of our heart and our soul, For the good of all sentient beings everywhere. May it be forever so!
06/13/2016 — Tufted Titmouse 2016 08 — Pecking Order, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2016 Terrorism triumphs when it can ignite fear into rage and hatred. Hatred begets hatred. Extremes beget extremes. Possessed by rage and hatred, we lose all sense of The Good. We don’t care about anything but the destruction of what we despise. There is no cure for rage and hatred, And its viciousness consumes all things. However, it can be circumvented By mindful awareness That perceives and holds all things in non-judgmental compassion, And waits to see what needs to be done. When we contain something in mindful awareness, We prevent it from contaminating and infecting everything else.
06/13/2016 — Tufted Titmouse 2016 07 — Opening a Sunflower Seed, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2016 What persona do you identify with? Military personnel have a persona (Or way of “being in the world”). Lawyers do, MD’s do, Ministers do… What business, professional, or social group Do you identify with? Who are “your kind of people”? Be clear about who you belong with. Now, be clear about this: What positions, opinions, views, beliefs, values and behaviors Do you hold/do that are at a variance from Those of your primary persona? Where do you stand apart from “your people”? Where are you YOU and not THEM?
06/14/2016 — Carolina Wren 2016 11 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2016 — Don’t miss any turns! The Path is always twisting and turning, And asking things of us That we don’t want to do. We have to complete the tasks appropriate To each stage of development. We cannot freeze time And remain as we were at 27, or 17, forever. If we miss a turn, we cannot go back and pick it up, And will always walk with a limp Because of it. The skills and lessons commensurate with each age Are age specific, and, when missed, Create problems for us in each succeeding age. Commit yourself to the tasks of each stage of development, No matter how distasteful they are, Or how easily you could avoid them. DON’T MISS ANY TURNS! The work of growing up Requires discipline and surrender In a “Thy will, not mine, be done” kind of way.
06/14/2016 — Cardinal 2016 19 Detail — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 14, 2016 We have to dig for the gold! Digging is the work of reflection and inquiry. The gold is realization. For example, When we catch ourselves in the act of being defensive, It is because an insecurity has been aroused. We have to dig around And see what we can uncover– And what occurs to us. If you take up the practice of looking, You will be amazed at what you see. In any situation, There is what you see, And what you don’t see about what you see, And what you don’t see. Look at everything Until you see what all there is to see. That is digging for the gold!
06/15/2016 — Carolina Wren 2016 13 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 14, 2016 Our life is uniquely designed to grow us up Because life depends upon our being grown up. We are life’s great hope. We are the carriers of consciousness, And are the culmination of millions of years Of evolutionary development With life working out its plan For making the world safe for life. Are. It. The joke appears to be on life. We are not cooperating with the plan. We deal in death, not life. We kill all that we hate, And we hate all that is not like we are. Growing up means making room For all that is not like we are. Growing up means having compassion For all living things. The most mature people you have ever known Were the most loving and kind. The most immature were the most malicious, vicious, ruthless and evil. Life has a lot riding on our realizing what we are doing, Waking up, growing up, standing up to ourselves And being what life needs us to be. Never has the question been more important: Whose side are we on?
06/15/2016 — Black Snake 2016 07 Detail — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 11, 2016 We are always growing up. That is the only kind of growth there is. Personal growth? Spiritual growth? They are nothing if they aren’t euphemisms for growing up. The Hero’s Journey and the Spiritual Journey Follow the same path– The path to maturity, wisdom (which is actually knowing) and grace. Maturity, Knowing and Grace are all that is worth our time and effort. (And, Knowing is not to be confused with knowledge. You can answer all of the Jeopardy questions And still not know anything worth knowing.) Some of us are more mature than others in some areas, And less mature than others in other areas. Our life is always asking us to grow up In areas where we are behaving like we’re still in The Terrible Two’s.
06/16/2016 — Goodale 2015 59 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 I wish I could impose my will on each situation as it arises— And prevent others from imposing their will on me. Don’t you? This is the real value of weapons and money. They aid us in imposing our will And keeping the will of others from being imposed upon us. If money and weapons didn’t do that, They would be useless, And we would never wish we had The Elder Wand, Or that we would win the lottery. Discovering the proper place of our will in our life And willing it there Is the foundation of the Hero’s Journey. Too much will. And we are the Dumb Bad Guys With Power In every generation since the beginning. Too little will, And we are the people with no life, No motivation, No ambition, No prospects, And no future Since the same point in time. The right mix of will with acquiescence And we take our place With those who found the secret of living well In every age.
06/16/2016 — Canopy 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2016 Every situation can be transformed by seeing things for what they are. “Seeing” is short for seeing, hearing and understanding. I say “seeing,” But I mean “seeing, hearing and understanding.” We cannot see a situation without hearing and understanding. Seeing, hearing and understanding are the tools of transformation, Changing everything they apprehend by the power of realization. The practice of looking until we see, Listening until we hear, And inquiring–by asking the questions that beg to be asked– Until we understand, Will shake the foundations And restructure reality
06/17/2016 — Downy Woodpecker 2016 05 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 4, 2016 The solution to every one of your problems Is to hold each one in your awareness, And see what occurs to you. Then, hold that in your awareness And see what occurs to you. As you carry out this process Of mindful awareness with each of your problems, What needs to happen in each case Will become apparent And you will know what you need to do. Having the courage to do it Is another problem. And, you know what to do with problems.
06/17/2016 — Black-capped Chickadee 05 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 17, 2016 Our vulnerability keeps us awake nights, Or wakes us up with nightmares about snakes And monsters We cannot escape or destroy. That’s vulnerability for you. It’s as though our dreamer is throwing it in our face, Laughing, Taunting us, Asking, “What are you going to do about your vulnerability?” It is a question we do not otherwise consider. We deny our vulnerability, Run from it, Hide in the ten thousand diversions/distractions, And pretend it is not so. It is so. We have to confess it, Face it, Square ourselves up with it, Come to terms with it, Make our peace with it, And live our life out in its shadow. It is never going away. Our place is to let that be so, Because it is. And to go on about our business Anyway, nevertheless, even so. We have to be as vulnerable as we are. Embracing our vulnerability Puts us in possession of the weapons/tools of survival In every circumstance in every age: Seeing, hearing and understanding. That would be, Right seeing, right hearing and right understanding. In possession of those, We are not merely vulnerable and at the mercy of forces beyond us, We are also in charge of our ability to make the right response To whatever comes knocking on our door, Inviting us to dance. So, the Cyclops better mean it If he wants us to step with him onto the floor— Because we are going to the mat with him!
06/18/2016 — Carolina Wren 2016 14 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 17, 2016 Realization comes to those Who wait in the right way. Looking, listening, seeing, hearing, Asking, searching, seeking, Grasping, understanding, knowing. We want The Answer Now! We should be looking for The Way, The Process, The Manner Of Responding At The Opportune Moment When The Time Is Right. We want to get rid of our problems So that we might get on with our life. Our life is asking us To become proficient In seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being. We think it is about getting things lined up Like we like them. It is about getting ourselves in accord with our life, Aligned with what needs to happen In each situation as it arises For the good of the moment. Who do we need to be NOW? Not in order to get our way, But in order to be who we need to be! When we are who our life needs us to be, Everything falls into place around that.
06/18/2016 — Cottontail 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 15, 2016 Putting ourselves in accord with our life Is an on-going task of life. There is no “once-and-done” here. Each stage of development– And each turn in the path within the stages– Require us to adjust ourselves To what has to be done With the situation as it is, Here and now. And so the necessity Of starting each day with silence, And working places for silence within each day, As a way of making room for recovery, reflection and realization. We get through the trials and ordeals of the path By seeing, hearing and understanding What is being asked of us, How that impacts us, And how we need to respond. The right kind of stillness Provides us with what we need To step forward and face the moment, And, like Power Milk Biscuits, “gives shy persons the strength To get up and do what needs to be done.”
06/19/2016 — Lake Crawford 2015 15 — Kings Mountain State Park, Blacksburg, South Carolina, December 12, 2015 We want what we do not have And anything goes to get it, All our life long, Because there is always something else Calling us on. Or, we despair of ever having it And turn to one of the 10,000 addictions To take our mind off all That exceeds our grasp, Becoming mired in resentment, hopelessness, Helplessness and rage– Sometimes turned inward, Sometimes outward– With nowhere to turn And no consolation for the life we did not get to live. Either way, we miss the path To the treasure hard to find, Because we know what we want And live in its service, Unable to wake up And lay it aside.
06/19/2016 — Hummingbird 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 19, 2016 Two months ago, lightening struck a 125 foot tall White Oak tree standing about 70 feet from our house, on the north side. All its heavy branches are on the south side of the tree. My hammock runs north and south directly between the tree and the house. It took the tree about two weeks to completely die. The lightening bolt hit about 1/3rd the way down from the top and stripped bark in a zig-zag strip to the ground. Everything along that track died instantly. It took the crown a while to follow. I don’t have any idea how long a dead tree can stand before it falls, but I think about it every day, lying in the hammock, rehearsing my escape route should today be the day. The tree has become for me as a slave riding in the back of a Roman Emperor’s chariot, whispering, “You, too, will die.” The dead tree is a reminder that “I, too, will die,” and it poses a threat to the Zen Glen and our house even if I am nowhere around when it comes down. That would be “like dying,” in that it would significantly interfere with my enjoyment of the portion of my life that the Glen and the house represent. The tree is Death. And I get it. And I work to make my peace with it, and prepare for it, by opening myself to the reality, and mentally “letting go” before anything is gone. Every day I look at the tree looming above me (it’s about 20 feet from my hammock), and nod in its direction, acknowledging the truth of what it stands for. And rehearse my escape route should today be the day.
06/20/2016 — Carolina Wren 2016 16 — Soaking Up Some Rays 1, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 19, 2016 — I’ve watched Barred Owls stretch out in the sun and lie there for a while. Here it is with a Wren. Humans have no corner on “sun bathing.” Weird, erratic, off-the-wall behavior Stems from frustration or panic At the end of our rope. Mindful (compassionate, non-judgmental) awareness Holds all of that in awareness And waits To see. Seeing the path To what needs to be done In the present moment Opens the way To doing what needs to be done– Which is rarely weird, erratic, off-the-wall behavior. We begin to live better The instant we begin to see.
06/20/2016 — Bluebird 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 03, 2016 Seeing things changes things. Or, the corollary, Nothing changes things like seeing things. Leading to the conclusion: Seeing is discouraged to prevent change. Seeing is certainly discouraged. Nothing about any culture that has ever been, Or will be, Encourages seeing throughout the culture. “Shut up, sit down, stay in your place, do what you are told, Don’t think for yourselves, And don’t ask any questions!” Is the instruction the people are always given from on high. Or, as George Bush so nicely summarized it following 9/11, “Go shopping!” The intentional practice of mindful meditation In the service of developing and deepening Mindful (compassionate, non-judgmental) awareness Of our life as it is lived Moment to moment, Is as counter-cultural, And as revolutionary, As it gets. Join the revolution! Teach yourself to see what’s what In each situation as it arises!
06/21/2016 — Chameleon 2016 03 — Calling All Babes, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 19, 2016 Life cannot sustain itself indefinitely, And so there is death. Our contract with life calls us to realize this As basic, fundamental, foundational to the nature of things, And live all-out until it becomes impossible to go on– To not quit before our time. Life is a mess across the board. Every living thing has to bear the pain Of the compromises required to be alive. Every living thing not human Seems to take that in stride And get on with the game. Humans have invented denial, Which itself is a compromise. The refusal to live without dying Makes a travesty of both life and death, And we die without having lived.
06/21/2016 — Black-capped Chickadee 09 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 18, 2016 “Own it, and don’t let it show,” Could be a motto for emergency room personnel. Everything comes through the doors. You can’t respond the way you feel to any of it. You have to respond in ways appropriate to the occasion. Every occasion. The time and place of our living determine/limit The expression of our response To the events and circumstances of our life. If we don’t understand and practice this simple rule, We are clueless about compassion and grace, And give the world who we are in the raw All the time, Requiring the world to receive us with compassion and grace.
06/22/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 12, 2016 The life we opt for Is the life the culture hands us And tells us is just right for us. The culture hands us our life In a number of ways: Movies, TV shows, Advertisements, Newspapers, Popular Opinion, and Availability. We grow up learning what is good and what is not good Based on what we see and hear around us. Looking within And listening to the silence Never comes to our attention. Native Americans went on Vision Quests. We go to college. It could be the same thing. It isn’t. We wake up if we are lucky in mid-life Realizing that no one knows what they are doing, Especially us, And take up the work– That should have been handed to us from the start– Of discovering who we are And what we are about, In order to find our life and live it In the time left for living. Hoping it isn’t too late.
06/22/2016 — Carolina Wren 2016 12 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 14, 2016 What do you do that makes you smile: While you are doing it? After you have done it? Looking at the results of doing it? How many of those things are in your life? What can you do to increase their number— And the amount of time you spend doing them?
06/22/2016 — June Bug and Blackberry 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 19, 2016 The Numinous reality that has always been called “God,” Is experienced everywhere people are being themselves (Which includes making art and music) And where nature is being itself. The experience of God is right there, That close, All of the time. If the Numen is not experienced, It is because we are closed off From the experience of our experience, Sleepwalking through life, Dead to the world Though we be 98.6 and ambulatory. The God isn’t dead– WE are. The answer to the question of when life begins Isn’t at conception, Or at birth, But when we wake up, At whatever age, And experience our experience, And know what we know, And be who we are. Eyes that see, See Numinous reality Through June Bugs and Blackberries, And everywhere else they look.
06/23/2016 —Bluebird with Blackberry 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 19, 2016 When we see, hear and understand The situation as it unfolds before us, We lay aside our interests and agenda In order to see what the situation means Beyond what it means for us. What is going on here? What is happening? What is at the bottom of how things are? What is motivating the situation to be what it is? What is at the heart of the matter? To look until we see, To listen until we hear, To reflect until we realize the essence of what is before us, Is to exegete the situation And interpret it correctly. Nothing transforms a scene Like right interpretation. Once we correctly interpret ourselves to ourselves, We become transparent to ourselves, And everything changes instantly. Once we interpret another person to himself, to herself, He, she, becomes transparent to himself, to herself, And that entirely alters the drift of his, of her, life in that moment, And makes all the difference.
06/23/2016 — Black Snake 2016 10 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 23, 2016 — I watched, and photographed, this 8-ft (My guess) Black Snake slithering through the treetops above the hammock in search of lizards, birds, bird nests with baby birds or bird eggs, or anything smaller than it is for about 15 minutes, until it climbed out of sight in the canopy. I went into the house for another cup of coffee, and coming back, found it out of the trees and crossing the woods road just to the north of my hammock. I live in a zoo.
Reality will correct our interpretation of reality— IF we remain open to the possibility of being wrong! Here’s the thing: Explanations of the facts Are generally as close as we get to interpretation of the facts. Interpretation of the facts is what science does. Explanation of the facts is what politics and religion do. Once a fact is interpreted by science, Science looks for ways to deepen, enlarge, expand the interpretation, Or revise the interpretation, Or rule it out as a valid way of looking at the fact. Once a fact is explained by politics and/or religion, No more thinking about the fact is allowed. The explanation becomes dogma. Is enshrined, worshiped, revered and adored As eternal and unchangeable forever and ever, Amen. And people are excommunicated, shunned, chastised, persecuted, discriminated against and killed Because they fail to honor the Hallowed Explanation of the fact. And no contrary fact can alter the explanation of the fact so explained. The rule is simple and to the point: All explanations of the facts can be embellished to take contradictory facts into account. So the fossil record and continental drift do not negate The explanation known as Intelligent Design Offered as the political/religious counter to The explanation know as evolution, But are declared to be “tests of the faith of the faithful,” And not proof of the error of their ways. Reality cannot correct those whose explanation of reality Cannot be questioned. But it can certainly correct everyone else.
06/24/2016 — Brown Thrush 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 22, 2016 The deepest and most horrific divide Through all existence Is between those who see that they do not see, And those who do not see that they do not see; Between those who can hear that they do not hear, And those who cannot hear that they do not hear; Between those who understand that they do not understand, And those who do not understand that they do not understand; Between those who know that they do not know, And those who do not know that they do not know. We can only be as awake as we can be In the time and place of our living, And live to be increasingly awake In the times and places yet to be lived– By asking the questions that beg to be asked, And saying the things that cry out to be said, And doing the things that need to be done In each situation as it arises.
06/24/2016 — Cardinal 2016 22 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 22, 2016 Silence is with us always, To the end of time. Receiving the situation as it arises In our awareness, And reflecting on it In the silence, Is the path to action In the field of action. Is the way of knowing what to do With the resources available to us In the service of what needs to be done. At the end of our rope, With our backs to the wall And nowhere to turn, Hold everything in awareness And listen in the silence For what stirs there, Hoping for a chance to save the day.
06/25/2016 — Goodale 2015 63 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2-15 Everybody is dying to be heard. Dying because being heard is the key to life. We are able to overhear ourselves being heard, And know ourselves for the first time. This is the gift of psychotherapy. We are listened to on a level that reveals us to us. Being heard is being interpreted is being understood. In the process of talking, We clarify what we are saying To those who listen to us beyond the words To the essence of what is being said. It is the clarification that enables us to say what we need to hear. Who listens to you deeply enough To ground you in who you are? To uncover what is of primary importance to you? To show you yourself? If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, You better meet some new people, Or find a therapist Who can hear what you have to say.
06/25/2016 — Squirrel with Blackberry 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 21, 2016 The woods are just so. That’s what I like best about them. No pretense. No ambition. No games or agendas. Every single denizen of the forest is just what it is. Everything there is going about its business Exactly as it is built to go about its business. It is being who it is. Straight up. Even when its game is deception, As with Chameleons and certain insects, They don’t attempt to hide the fact that they are hiding. It’s who they are, And all the rest know it, And fold them into the family, Like the best families do, Without shaming them, Humiliating them, Or trying to convert them. I like that. Everything in the woods has a place, And is pleased to take its place Without trying to occupy some other better finer place. I wish more places in my experience were just so like that. We begin the work to make that happen By being just so ourselves wherever we are, Whatever the consequences. That’s asking too much in some places, But not every place.
06/26/2016 —Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 20, 2016 When you can allow things to take their course, Allow things to take their course. You have to interfere with the course of things When they are out of the range Of tolerable and acceptable. I water our plants and lawn as necessary Because letting things take their course Would result in dead plants and grass. Farmers irrigate their crops, Police disrupt bank robberies and home invasions. We have to say “NO!” to some things, And each of us has our own list Of things in that category. The idea is to shorten our list Of things we say “NO!” to, And lengthen our list Of things we say “YES!” to. Upon examination and reflection, We will discover that we Have been saying “NO!” To the wrong things All our life– And “YES!” to the wrong things As well. Once we get our YES and NO in place, Our world will rock.
06/26/2016 — Pink Cone Flower 2016 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, June 26, 2016 What is being offered to me? What is being asked of me? What am I realizing? What am I ignoring? What am I receiving? What am I rejecting? We need to know these things In each situation as it arises.
06/27/2016 — Carolina Wren 2016 20 — Airing Out, What birds do when it’s 95 degrees F, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 26, 2016 Let hope use its legs! And its arms, And its eyes, And its ears, And its … We cannot just sit back and hope. Though we may sit in the silence And wait for something to occur to us, Or wait for the propitious time To act in the service of hope In the field of action. People who say they have hope, Or tell us to, Without acting in the service of hope Are being ridiculous.
06/27/2016 — Cardinal 2016 23 — Airing Out, What birds do when it’s 95 degrees F. Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 26, 2016 Our unconscious is setting things up In our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s For life in our 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It takes the experience of the first half of life To serve as the foundation for the second half. It takes reflection on the life we have lived To generate the realizations Necessary to transform the life we are living. In the second half of life, We throw out all of the things we have heard that are not so, And ground ourselves in the things we know to be so In living toward the things we know nothing about As explorers of worlds unknown and unknowable Except through the experience of personal encounter With That Which Cannot Be Said.
06/27/2016 — Downy Woodpecker 2016 12 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 13, 2016 Our unconscious Is always at work In every situation To grow us up Against our will.
06/28/2016 — Black-and-white Warbler 3016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 17, 2016 When Jesus said of the people of Jerusalem, “How often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not,” That is the Unconscious speaking to consciousness. Consciousness hides itself in a fog of not getting it, While the Unconscious does everything possible to break through And wake up those walking in their sleep But they would not. We prefer the dream we make up about our life To the reality that waits for us to live it. Everything real waits for us to open ourselves to the reality of the Unconscious And collaborate with it in living the life that is ours to live, So that the two become as one, And the world is transformed By the presence of True Human Beings Making their way through it.
06/28/2016 — Black Snake 2016 11 — At Home In The Branches Or On The Ground, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 23, 2016 Who do you say God is? And don’t repeat what someone else told you, even Jesus. That’s hearsay, and you don’t know it to be so— You only know that someone told you it was so. Who do you say God is out of your own personal experience with God? Who do you KNOW God to be because you have experienced it for yourself? And no one can talk you out of it, Or shame you out of it, Or take it away from you in any way ever? Let’s get back to Jesus. Jesus said, “Who do YOU say that I am?” And, “Why don’t you decide for yourselves what is right?” That’s what I’m saying. Who do you say God is? Why don’t you decide for yourself what is right?
06/29/2016 — Whitetail Doe 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 28, 2016 Our life is designed to grow us up. We cannot wake up without growing up. Growing up is the purpose and goal Of the Hero’s Journey, Of the Spiritual Journey, Of all our journeys, Of all our life. We cannot be the same person at the end of our life That we were at the beginning, Or in our 30’s, or 40’s, or 50’s, or 60’s… Growing up is becoming who Jesus was– As only we can be Jesus. Growing up is becoming who the Buddha was– As only we can be the Buddha. Growing up is becoming who all of the True Human Beings have been– As only we can be the True Human Being. We are on a path to maturity, wisdom (And another term for wisdom is knowing– knowing what’s what and what to do about it, and doing it), and grace. So stop thinking it’s about getting your way And having what you want. Thinking that way is to be stuck in the Terrible Two’s forever.
06/20/2016 — Snakeskin 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 23, 2016 Carl Jung thought there were three levels to the Unconscious/Psyche/Soul: The level of the Personal Unconscious, the reservoir of personal histories of experiences and encounters, circumstances, responses, etc. The level of the Collective Unconscious, the library of the impact of cultural, social, religious, and political events and experiences of humanity upon humanity. And, what he called “The Self,” the ideal image each of us is called to strive for and approximate, reflect and express, through our life. “The Self” is what we call “Buddha mind,” or “The mind of Christ.” It is who the Buddha and the Christ lived out in their own life. I think of Jung’s “Self” as Lao Tzu’s “Tao.” I see the Tao at the center of ourselves, unconscious to us because we are not conscious of it, yet always accessible to those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand what’s what and what to do about it. Aligned with the Tao, we are at one with ourselves and in harmony with each other— and do naturally, spontaneously, what truly ought to be done, what needs to be done, in each situation as it arises. When the Tao is honored with mindful awareness, things fall into place, and people are at peace with themselves and one another. And all are Buddha, all are Christ.
I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing.
I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.
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