Archive for January, 2009

Litany~Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine.

Jacques Crickillon


You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass,
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,
and the basket of chestnuts on the table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s teacup.
But don’t worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and -somehow-
the wine.

~Billy Collins~
Nine Horses

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War and Peace






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“We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us.  The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god…Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence.  And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”
~Joseph Campbell~

I am reading Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser.  The above Joseph Campbell quote is excerpted from this book.  I haven’t gotten very far in the book so I can’t really make a recommendation one way or the other but if you have gone through a recent particularly difficult time, it might be the book for you.

I call these particularly difficult times the “pinch me” times.  There are two types of pinch me’s.  Pinch me, I must be dreaming, this is too good to be true and then the other kind: pinch me, I want to wake up from this nightmare.  But the nightmare is real and the waking up that follows is vastly different than waking up from a nightmare with a grateful sigh of relief that it really didn’t happen.  Thankfully most of us can count on one hand how many of the latter we have experienced.  It might be a divorce, a major move, a job loss, it might be the loss of a loved one that thrusts us abruptly into a territory we weren’t quite prepared to enter.  Suddenly we are left caught off guard, vulnerable, raw and unready to face this new challenge.

Many have moved through such times before us and paved a path, they leave bread crumbs of hope along the way.  They carve out handholds to grasp for support. They are the heroes that have taken this path before us and chosen to lend a hand to others along the way.

The Obama administration speaks of service, of cultivating an attitude of ‘we can do it’.   The heroes that I speak of, are in service too, every bit a part of the we can do it.  To all of you heroes, I say thank you.

Love, Bethie

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Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

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Flower Day

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom

~Anais Nin~

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A bit of advice
given to a young Native American
at the time of his initiation:

As you go the way of life,
you will see a great chasm.


It’s not as wide as you think.

~Reflections on the Art of Living~
A Joseph Campbell Companion

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Sunblock in Seattle

unknown1I thought my Seattle, Pacific Northwest and Vancouver readers might appreciate this…or not! :)

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I have often heard it said: take time to smell the roses.  Take time is an
interesting phrase, isn’t it?  As if we could take it, steal it, lose it or the many
other things we associate with “time”.

And actually I digress because what I really want to talk about is not the roses
and not time but ordinary miracles.  I would like to fill my day with more moments
of recognizing ordinary miracles.  Yes they can be smelled yet also touched, seen,
heard, witnessed, enjoyed and reveled in.

I want to celebrate ordinary miracles.  The breath that is breathing me right now, door
knobs and door ways to thresholds to new possibilities to warmed skin, a warmed
home.  Wagging tails, purring bodies of fur and my daughter calling me “Momma”.
Tips of fingers flying across a keyboard, the miracle of touch.  And this avenue through
which I communicate and explore new ways to be in relationship with the world, with
*you*, the reader.  The spoken word, language and its many artful avenues.

Yes, today I want to indulge and frolic in moving consciously through moment upon
moment of countless, eternally expanding ordinary miracles!  This world is literally
overflowing and brimming with them.  Oh, what a joy to really know this to be true!

Love to all, Bethie

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As we are about to inaugurate our next President, it feels like the dawning
of a new era in America.  This is a time so full of hope and promise and
optimism.  So as we step into the dawning of this new era, it seems fitting
what Quado/Carrrie Hart, has written below.

“The time for isolation is past. The time to stand together and create
new ways of being and responding is here. And these new times require
that you stand with others, that you listen to each other, that you
support each other, that you join hands and step out into the unknown.

And this, of course, requires faith. You will need faith in your own
truth, in the inner voice that urges you to walk into uncharted
territory. And then you will need courage to do what you are urged to do.

And so, do not complain about the state of the economy or what you
believe are closing doors. The opposite is true. The doors and
windows are blowing open all around you. You have never lived in such
a state of open opportunity. But these are not the old opportunities
and you do not meet them in the old ways.

Instead, when you walk through the new doors that are opening, you
will find yourself standing out in the middle of an open field of
possibility, your eyes blinking from the dazzling light. And
gradually, as your eyes adjust, you will see others standing in the
field with you, also blinking in the light. And then, you will
gradually make your way to each other, reach out your hands and join
your energies together, sharing your dreams and your talents, the
wonder and glory that you are. And gradually, a new dream will form,
a new pool of talent will emerge and you will begin to see what can be
formed of the raw stuff of possibility.

You are the creator and this is your world, your canvas, your clay.
Reach up into the air and grab the atoms and begin to shape them,
begin to shape the matter into new forms.

Have courage. Have faith. Do not ask why and do not ask to see the
future. Ask only for a deep clarity in this moment. Then do as your
heart bids.

Be brave, dear heart, be brave and clear. The world is yours to form.”
Copyright © 2005-8 http://www.carriehart.com

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If I would tell you two things to remember about this beautifully poetic song, it would be: we are never broken … that means you … you are never broken … and … in the end, only kindness matters

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all OK
And not to worry because worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won’t be made useless
I won’t be made idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear
My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
We are never broken
Poverty stole your golden shoes
It did not steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it was not ever after
And we will fight, but not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what’s right
‘Cause where there’s a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing
My hands are small I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
We are never broken
‘Cause in the end only kindness matters
In the end only kindness matters
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
My hands are small I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
My hands are small I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
They are not yours, they are my own
And we are never broken
no, no, no
We are never broken
‘Cause we are, yeah
God’s eyes
God’s heart
We are God’s eyes
We are God’s hands
We are God’s heart
We are God’s hands
We Are

Hands by Jewel from the Album Spirit
[literal transcription of live performance]

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