Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Seeking the common good

We had a ferry incident yesterday: the Tacoma (pictured here) unexpectedly lost propulsion just before coming into the Bainbridge harbor and had to be towed into the dock.  So ferry service was temporarily suspended, and when it was restored we were down to only one boat.

No lives were lost, but a LOT of people were inconvenienced, with a fairly predictable balance of good and bad reactions.  On the good side, neighbors were scurrying to care for children and pets of islanders who were stuck in Seattle, some even drove boats over to pick up friends and family, and lots of people were posting updates.

On the bad side, there was apparently a lot of squabbling in the ferry line, particularly among the bikers who are used to getting priority loading.  But by loading on the extra piles of waiting bikers, other passengers -- walk-ons and cars -- were limited because the ferry is only permitted to carry as many people as can be accommodated by its life-rafts.

The difference -- as always -- between good and bad reactions in situations such as these seems always to stem from the ability -- or inability -- to see that others' needs are just as valid as our own; to look beyond our own challenges to the common good. The willingness to share information and resources; to help others; to patiently await your turn; to look beyond our own trials to see and comprehend the difficulties of others... all, I think, are hallmarks of the kinder, gentler civilization our community likes to believe it is.  But the aggressiveness and entitlement issues remain, and I find myself wondering: will humans ever be able to evolve past that?  And how can we help that happen?  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Bathed in light
we raise our heads
slowly from the sand;
great lumbering beasts,
following the scent of the sea.
Hatched from the caverns of the earth,
we lift each limb,
straining against
the suction of the past,
struggling to become
more fully seen,
more fully known.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Not as calm as I look

The door to my studio is actually a dutch door, left over from the days when it was a daughter's bedroom and she needed to keep our dog out due to allergies.  I generally leave the upper half of the door open and the lower half shut -- again, to keep the dog out, as he has a way of parking himself underfoot and inhibiting movement.

Yesterday I had finished this painting except for glueing down the collaged bits, and had set it down on a table to stop the drips and let it dry.  I came back in the evening to discover one of our cats (who are not in any way restrained by the threat of a dutch door) had leapt onto the table -- presumably in pursuit of food -- and landed on the painting, dragging a claw-sized streak of white across its width and impelling the loose papers off into some never-never land of paint, paper, dropcloths, towels, etc. 

I did manage to repair the damage.  But you know (and I had had ample opportunity to discover this on Saturday as well, stuck in a hellish traffic jam in full sunlight in the city until well past suppertime with no food or water in the car) that you are not as serene and centered as you'd like to think you are when such relatively small provocation sends you into paroxysms of frustration.  And, in fact, you can kind of see from this painting that my life lately has perhaps been a bit busier than I might prefer.

So please -- don't ever get the sense that I am "holier than thou."  I've just lucked into a relatively serene environment so I have the luxury of spending lots of time relaxed and calm.  I figure my job is to share as much of that calm as I can; to spread the wealth around a bit -- and to be honest about the fact that it's circumstances more than temperament that allow me to be as generally tranquil as I appear to be...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How does it feel to be a heart?

Once a young woman said to me,
"How does it feel to be a man?"
And I replied, "My dear, I am not so sure."

Then she said, "Well, aren't you a man?"
And this time I responded,
"I view gender as a beautiful animal
that people often take for a walk
and might enter into some odd contest
in hopes of winning a strange prize."

My dear, a better question would have been,
"How does it feel to be a heart?"
For all I know is love,
and I now find my heart infinite, and everywhere.

-- Hafiz

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How you treat them

If God invited you to a party and said,
"Everyone in the ballroom tonight 
will be my special guest,"
how would you then treat them when you arrived?
-- Hafiz

Friday, July 25, 2014

Divine Liquidity

Giving of itself,
Grand Unity pours out
the essence of itself
into these skins --
some black, some white,
some male, some female,
each with its own power,
each with its common essence.

Listen closely,
and you will recognize
the waves of shared
divine liquidity --
that pure indwelling presence --
sloshing gently,
just below the surface.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Of thine own have we given thee

These lilies -- cut from their stalks and arranged just so;
their colors so distinct in this quiet space --
I placed them at your feet
long before you placed them here at mine.
Let the scent of that understanding
pervade your soul.