Plant your own garden, Decorate your own soul

Plant your own garden

Layla Pie and Miss Pretty planting the hydrangea

After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises. 

Summer rain

Weather forecast for the first day of summer. Rain.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain.
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

Lavenders

Lavender Harvest. A good day. Rain the following day.

After a while, you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

Bouquet of flowers

Flower girl.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn and learn.
With every goodbye, you learn.

 

Note:
I originally posted this title on June 13, 2013, here. According to Dear Abby, it was a poem AFTER A WHILE by Veronica Shoffstall. Much to my surprise, this is my top post and most visited. As a curious person, I wonder who Veronica Shoffstall is?

In my searches, I cannot find a reliable source to indicate that Veronica is the real author. In the Urban 75 forum, this question Who is Veronica Shoffstall came up. Apparently, it was a Spanish poem written by Jorge Luis Borges. With the help of google translating it to English, much to my surprise (again} so it was his poetry.

I really don’t know whether it was plagiarism. That is not for me to judge. I just want to throw some more light into the validity of who I am quoting.

At any rate, it’s still beautiful poetry.

 

Punctuation

Tranquillity seems to ooze from this light, blue-grey that inspires moments of quiet meditation. This soothing shade creates a look of elegance and simplicity. – Benjamin Moore

IMG_1360

Meet Grace, a new addition in my sanctuary, another lifeline, for me.

Grace is a very quiet cat, hardly meows. Looking at her has a calming effect on me as well as my other feline companion, Lucy.

it’s funny to watch my cats after eating catnip zoning out. A whiff of this plant soothes me, as well. Catnip tea has the calming effect on humans, but I prefer Chamomile.

Epic Lines

jose fuster

In the galaxy far, far, away … someone said this epic line:

“May the force be with you” became a famous line on the 4th of May. Hence, we sometimes use this line “May the 4th be with you!”

The Star War saga has so many lifelines that we can use as tools to improve the human race namely:

  • Once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny  – Yoda on Fate
  • Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering – Yoda on Consequences.
  • In a dark place, we find ourselves and a little knowledge lights our way. Yoda on Problem-solving
  • The fear of loss is a path to the dark side – Yoda on Anxieties
  • Who’s the more foolish; the fool or the fool who follows him? – Obi-Wan Kenobi on Obedience
  • The ability to speak does not make you enlightened. Qui-Gon Jinn on Silence
  • I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die. Qui-Gon Jinn on Inaction
  • Your focus determines your reality. Qui-Gon Jinn on Perception
  • Let go of your hate. Luke Skywalker on Freedom
  • Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. Anakin Skywalker on Compassion

And of course, this the famous line I use all the time:

Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

List of Lies

One ear to another - Malta

Lies I’ve told my 4 year old recently

  • The mole men live in the subways.
  • The bird men live in the skies.
  • The monster doesn’t actually live under the bed (he’s hiding somewhere else nearby).
  • There are 71 flavors of snow, but only 63 flavors of water.
  • If you sing enough, you will never grow old.
  • Don’t worry, I lock up bad dreams in little cages.
  • Every good room has a ghost.
  • When we made you, we left part of ourselves behind so you would never be lonely.
  • Your shadow knows your secrets.
  • Books hide when they don’t want to be read.
  • Time moves faster when close your eyes.
  • You knew everything, but then you were born and forgot, and now you have to learn everything again.
  • Be nice to your brother, he will always be your best friend.
  • We’re not lost.
  • Moms and Dads never really get lost.
  • We know exactly where we’re going.

Memories found in my Facebook written by Kiki.

What lies have you told yourself lately?

“How long should an engagement last?”

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Ask me a question, and I will answer accordingly. In social media, Aleteia started its post by raising this question: “How long should an engagement last?” It sounds rhetoric to me. I am more interested in the question rather than … Continue reading

Let’s Go Exploring

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There’s never a dull moment living with Lucy.  She has many favorite places in a tiny bachelor apartment.  No need to travel to be entertained.  Instead, she amuses herself in simple little things such as this box.  Priceless. This is … Continue reading

Overdose of Satisfaction

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Just can’t get away from these two gals following me like kitty cats. If they were really cats and died in the process of following me, only satisfaction will bring them back. They are very proud of making street photography … Continue reading

Words

Image

church-in-cuba

What is prayer?

You take words,
everyday words,
and all of a sudden they become holy.

Why?

Because there is something
that separates one word from
another and then you try to fill
the vacuum.

With what?
With whom?
With what memory?
With what aspiration?

So when words bring you closer
to the prisoner in his cell,
to the patient who is dying on his bed alone,
to the starving child,

then it’s a prayer.

words by Elie Wiesel

Think, Listen, Wait, Try, Earn, Forgive

Image

There is always a reason whatever that may be. But thoughts are funny for some reasons just do not make sense.

I will use myself as an example. And this is the bubble of my thoughts.
Before

I post. I trash. I post. I trash. Repeat.

Can I anticipate the maddening process of my brain? Yes, most of the time.

I wonder if Hemingway’s bubbling thoughts is similar to me. Did he learn to forgive?

Whatever you do, don’t look at your phone, instead…

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“My mind echoes a chant: Don’t look at your phone. Whatever you do, don’t look at your phone. I sit alone on the bench, outside of a café as I wait for a friend. The lines on each passing face, … Continue reading

Mosquito Files: The truth is out there.

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When photographers write about their assignments, I believe them. They can back it up with photos. There were two photographers talking about their expedition in the wild. This how the conversation went as I was eavesdropping. Svtakeiteasy: There is an … Continue reading

Through the little things

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He asked a question: How come you never become a nun? Thoughtfully I responded: I did not hear the call. We were discussing about Mother Teresa when she a heard call on the train on her way to Calcutta, “I … Continue reading

Yes, Jake, memories of you do last even if you are a cat

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To lose a pet always comes with anguish. You wake up everyday and there they are. It becomes so much like breathing you can’t imagine them not ever being there. They ask so little of us food, water, love and … Continue reading

Connection

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The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation. Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and … Continue reading

Arts living in a frame

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Welcome. A roll of toilet paper and towel. A supply he received upon entering the frame. His arts live in a frame called “The Hole”. Three out of fifteen I managed to capture, between wiring. The exhibits are all inside … Continue reading

Participatory Democracy

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Participation is admirable. They came prepared. Armed with nachos, cheeses, chips and juices to fuel their hunger for a long night of participation of asking questions, voice their concerns and listen to other speak about the future of their education. … Continue reading

The land that glows

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It is the land that glows and expands. There are so many possibilities what one can do here. It is one of the most beautiful lands I’ve ever seen. Cuba meaning “Land”. In its simplicity, this is a place that … Continue reading

What brings you here?

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One human being, one heart, one love? Our heart is bigger than having one love. But it is Love. For love is boundless.   He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts Rest assured this … Continue reading

It’s still raining. So intoxicating!

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I don’t  which one is more intoxicating. To take a close up photo of an African Queen Basil whose sweet aroma fills my nose or the smell of a wetness that permeates the earth to quench our thirst. “What would spirituality … Continue reading

Quote me and make me famous!

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What is it that we enjoy quoting other people but afraid when we are quoted? If you want to quote me, by all means: “Frankly speaking my dear, I don’t give a damn” to quote Rhett of Gone With The Wind. … Continue reading

Blessed be the Winter

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It’s winter. I used to dread this season of long days of darkness. Very little light affects my health and mental well-being. I never had this problem when I lived in the tropics where the sun shines. Learning to come … Continue reading

Gateway to Silence: Ripen me into fullness

Artist: Tom Miller 2002 donated to VGH Hospital Foundation

Artist: Tom Miller 2002 donated to VGH Hospital Foundation

When James Finley was a young monk at the monastery of Gethsemane, he shared with Thomas Merton (who was his spiritual director) his frustration at his seemingly inept efforts to experience God’s presence.Merton responded:

“How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.”

Not that we don’t need to continue to seek God, but by our own efforts alone we cannot achieve spiritual maturity. We must bring ourselves to the Light where God’s grace seasons us into juicy, sweet, flavorful ripeness.

An understanding of ripening basically teaches us the wisdom of timing, love, and patience, and allows us to be wise instead of judgmental.

Source: Richard Rohr

 Consider these:

A zealous disciple expressed a desire to teach others the Truth and asked the Master what he thought about this.
The Master said, “Wait.”
Each year the disciple would return with the same request and each time the Master would give him the same reply: “Wait.”
One day he said to the Master, “When will I be ready to teach?”
Said the Master, “When your excessive eagerness to teach has left you.”  ~ Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

MORSEL: You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

Worth Repeating

Photo of a painting from Fragrant Wood

Photo of a painting from Fragrant Wood

A disciple confessed his bad habit of repeating gossip.
Said the Master wickedly, “Repeating it wouldn’t be so bad if you did not improve on it.”
~ Anthony de Mello, SJ

MORSEL:
To attain Knowledge, add things every day.
To attain Wisdom,remove things every day.
~ Lao Tzu

Nothing to sneeze about

Source: Forumzirve.net

Sneeze: God Bless You.    Source: Forumzirve.net

Why do we say Bless You when someone sneezes? It is habit or plain superstition.  I did a bit of research on about sneezing and it all stemmed from the great plague in 6th century.

National Geographic reports that during the plague of 590 AD, “Pope Gregory I ordered unceasing prayer for divine intercession. Part of his command was that anyone sneezing be blessed immediately (“God bless you”), since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague.”[7] By 750 AD, it became customary to say “God bless you” as a response to one sneezing.[8]

National Geographic : From Piazza San Pietro, proceed down the broad avenue across from the Basilica, Via della Conciliazione (commissioned by Mussolini to add grandeur to the site), to (4) Castel Sant’Angelo (Lungotevere Castello 50), a round-walled, battlemented structure that today serves as a museum. Commissioned as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian in the second century A.D., it was completed in 139 A.D after Hadrian had already died (his body was eventually entombed here). Within a hundred years the building was transformed into a fortress to help protect Rome from Germanic invaders. It got its current name in the sixth century—a time when a plague was devastating Rome—after Pope Gregory the Great had a vision of an angel hovering over the structure, sheathing its sword. The vision was interpreted as heralding the end of the plague, and a statue of Archangel Michael, the rescuing angel, was placed on top of the structure (the present bronze statue dates to 1752). In 1277 the fortress was connected to the Vatican Palace with a covered walkway and became a refuge of choice for successive Popes. It also harbored special prisoners, including the acclaimed goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, who was accused (apparently falsely) of embezzling pontifical gems. Exhibits in the museum today include weaponry and artifacts related to the building’s long, colorful history.

Source: God Bless You: Wikipedia

The Things Said

96yr old

 

“In five days, I’ll be 96 years old.

I never smoked.
I never had any stress.
I was dumb
I worked low-level jobs with no responsibility.

I worked until I was 84, with two jobs.
I worked at an office until five o’clock,
and then I went to work as a waitress
— it was a happy job, feeding people.

Then you take your uniform off,
and your job is done.
But somebody has to do
the stressful jobs, too.”

“Do you have any regrets?”

“Oh, I’ve made lots of mistakes.”

“With education and jobs?”

“No, no. With people.
And that hurts the most
— the things you’ve said to people.”

Brain Freeze

 

brain freeze

National Geography Your Shot by: Becky Hale

 I’ll see you in September
When summer is gone
Remember to
Have a good time

“It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them
—the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881) Russian novelist

Never too late

30 years over due book

30 years over due book

“To whom it may concern. From Courtenay library. Please find $100.00 for courier back to Courtenay and overdue. I shall contact next week to ensure all is in order. Thanks.”

More than 30 years after he first borrowed Camping and Woodcraft from a Vancouver Island library, an unidentified man has finally put the well-thumbed guidebook back into circulation.  

The man, described only as an older gentleman, walked into a library branch in Prince George, B.C. and handed over a copy of the 1965 book Camping and Woodcraft: A Handbook for Vacation Campers and for Travelers, and said he would like it returned to its home in Courtenay, B.C.

Do you have any books sitting around that is long overdue?

Source: National Post

Never enough

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NatGeo Kisses

Kisses

“Calvin: Dad where do babies come from?
Dad: Well Calvin, you simply go to Sears, buy the kit and follow the assembly instructions.
Calvin: I came from Sears?
Dad: No you were a blue-light special at K-Mart – almost as good and a lot cheaper!”
― Bill Watterson

 

You are more than your Selfie.

Video

“Beauty is more than what we see with the eyes. People are more than their conditions. I am more than my hair and skin. This only shows my exterior”

She Took A Daily Selfie While Battling Depression & Anxiety. The Results Are Truly Astonishing.

Rebecca Brown is a film student from the U.K. In 2007, when she was only 14, she began a project that documented her life by taking selfie photos of herself. Brown is now 21 and she has compiled the roughly 2100 pictures that she has taken into a video on her Youtube channel.

This video documents her battle with depression, anxiety and an impulse control disorder (which is a form of OCD) known as Trichotillomania. (Trichotillomania causes a person to pull out their own hair when anxious).

Brown says that this project is ongoing and plans to continue as long as she can.

For all those people who are inflected by this disease, stay strong and be strong.  There is always HOPE and life does get better.

In The Quiet

Quiet of our beingIt is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from the effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting any immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition….

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.

~ Thomas Merton

Revelation

candle lights

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that something deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.  ~ e.e. cummings”

A Summer Day

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Finding Meaning In Between Times

Sakura at Burrard Station
Find meaning.
Distinguish melancholy from sadness.
Go out for a walk.

It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park,
spring at its most spectacular moment,
flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery
smoothly transferring you into another world.

It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have
multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings
no other brain ever managed to encounter.

Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself.

Find meaning or don’t find meaning
but steal some time and give it freely
and exclusively to your own self.

Opt for privacy and solitude.

That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause
you to reject the rest of the world.

But you need to breathe.
And you need to be.”

― Albert Camus

The in between is About Now.

My life is full of in between times. What I do with the in between times is the most important aspect of my life, for without it, life is meaningless.  The in between is ABOUT NOW.

between

In between reminds me of a good friend that I questioned ” what do you do in between”? That is load full of questions that has so many meanings and can be answered in many ways.  Surely, there is so much I can do in between.  It is mostly waiting  filled with wonders:

  • waiting in line
  • waiting for the next meal
  • waiting for the next vacation
  • waiting for the next pay check
  • waiting for the sun, moon, rain, snow
  • waiting for faith, hope, charity, health, joy
  • waiting for answers to my prayers, signs and miracles

The list is long.  While I wait, so much have happened or not happened, in between.

I just realized that my life is full of miracles from the day of my conception, birth, growing, adding years to my age until the time of my departure on earth is all in between times.  During this time, I experienced plenty and filled with gratitude.

As I defined myself:
Servant of the Lord, first and foremost. Lover of all sentient beings. Maurice and Lucy are my cats. I plant my own garden to decorate my soul, nurtures and keeps me grounded. Hummingbird  connects me to an awesome wonders and makes me feel at home. I am a pilgrim on this earth.

So I created this space to share with you my “In Between Times.” It is a continuous series of:

  • from one moment to the next,
  • from one thought to the next,
  • from one action to the next.

“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering. ~ St. Augustine of Hippo.”

“Often people demand a great deal from themselves and their lives and are despondent when reality does not measure up. Milton has long been understood as having offered consolation for this affliction, reminding us that we do not always have a say in the role that we play in the world and that sometimes we must learn to see the service we are giving when we are doing nothing but waiting.”

The Whole Truth

And nothing but the truth

And nothing but the truth

I hate to say this, coming from the Philippines, the government system is becoming similar to where I came from. And it’s not a good situation.

“If we are not prepared to take a stand now (especially with the partial lockout and the salary reduction), when will we ever stand up to this government?  Are we waiting for the government to roll our salaries back even further, to further reduce supports for students, to hold teachers even more accountable than they currently are?”

B.C. Teachers Are Only Asking For What Was Taken Away

Overview:

Over the last decade, almost $2 billion has been funnelled out of public education.

Over the last decade, public education has had a funding reduction of almost $2 billion.

Over the last decade, our students have been deprived of $2 billion that should have been theirs. The government’s own numbers say so.

Class size and composition wording much like the BCTF is asking for used to be included in the contract. Teachers negotiated for these provisions and took years of zero per cent pay increases in order to fund them. They put their own potential earnings back into the school system in return for these working and learning conditions.

Let’s pause here for a moment to talk about what class size and composition actually mean. The first is rather straight-forward: the number of students in a class. The more students in a class, the less one-on-one attention is available for each student. This has a direct impact on students.

Class composition is a little trickier to explain, however. Class composition refers to the emotional and education needs of students. Some students require more assistance than others to accomplish the same learning outcomes as their peers.

Then, in 2002, the contract that included these negotiated terms was ripped up. The class size and composition language that the BCTF is trying to re-negotiate now was removed. Just…poof. Gone.

The Supreme Court of B.C. has twice said that the Liberal government’s dissolution of the negotiated contract was illegal. The courts have told the government that they need to fund these things. Twice.

Source:

 High School Teacher:  Huffpost British Columbia

Making the most out of it.

Morning Story and Dilbert

“Life will only come once, so make the most out of it.”  via Words to Live By.

Suffer?  I refuse.

Being out of job for the past few days due to teachers’ job action, I am enjoying the four hours of being in the public supporting the teachers during their strike.  Meeting people on the street, getting to know teachers and peers, more time to exchange words , playing with dogs at the park, watching all the feathered creatures and enjoying the garden across the office are just a few pleasures that embrace during this tumultuous period.

As part of being in a unionized job, we respect the picket line.  We do not cross the line to support the teachers in solidarity.

I have so much respect and admiration for the teachers. They are like the second parent of the child.  As a matter of fact, most children spend more time at school than spending time with their parents.

It appears school ended prematurely for the children but the graduating class are still required to take their final exams with or without the teachers.

In the meantime, I will continue to count my steps as I pound the sidewalk walking side by side with the teachers and still have a few laughs along the way.

And it’s not all that bad, actually.  The professional staffs are still working to step on the plate that we left behind at the office.  On top of that, they come out to converse with us bringing  a  box of donuts and muffins to fuel our energy.

Success

 

tulips“To laugh often and much,

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children,

to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends,

to appreciate beauty,

to find the best in others,

to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

source: Ralph Waldo Emerson. poets for justice

Transparency

elephant

“We had better share our bewilderments. By hiding them from each other we should not hide them from ourselves.”
― C.S. Lewis,

Artist Pascal Chesneau won the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation 2014 Wildlife Artist of the Year award for his stunning Transparence Elephant sculpture.

Three ways I interpret this art work:

  • An elephant in the room
  • The vanishing animal
  • Endangered species

It’s no big surprise that he won the award not just his artistic ability and it’s an excellent conversational piece with so many meanings.

What does this mean to you?
What emotions arises from you?
What are you hiding?

Update: National Geographic News June 16, 2014 ~ Elephant Satao: Monumental Lost

Father and Son

Father and Son

“A little boy who had been to Sunday School told his father that he learned that God the Father and Son were equal.

The father said: “That is ridiculous. I am your father; you are my son. I existed a long time before you.”

“No,” said the boy, “you did not begin to be a father until I began to be a son.”

~ Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Happy Father’s Day To One and All.  Blessings.

Rest

Open Sea Victoria, BC Canada

Read these words aloud as a prayer for this stage of your life—the fullness and generativity of your being.

Rest: A Poem

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
(Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

via Richard Rohr

Product of Enlightenment

walk away
“What kind of a person does Enlightenment produce?”

Said the Master:

“To be public-spirited and belong to no party,
to move without being bound to any given course,
to take things as they come,
have no remorse for the past,
no anxiety for the future,
to move when pushed,
to come when dragged,
to be like a mighty gale,
like a feather in the wind,
like weeds floating on a river,
like a mill stone meekly grinding,
to love all creation equally
as heaven and earth are equal to all
—such is the product of Enlightenment.”

 

On hearing these words, one of the younger disciples cried, “This sort of teaching is not for the living but for the dead,” and walked away, never to return.  ~ Anthony de Mello, SJ

MORSEL: All Spiritual being is in man. A wise old proverb says, “God comes to see us without bell,” that is, as there is no screen or ceiling between our heads and the infinite heavens, so is there no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays “The Over-Soul”

Sticking Together

monkeys (1)Sometimes, we need a hug.

“For me, personally, it’s not about creating something that looks like a photograph, which is often a moment in time, rather, I want to create work that connects with people and provokes an emotion whilst also being pleasing to look at.”

“I was struck by the closeness of these Barbary macaques to each other and spent a long time watching this couple, pondering the relationships they have and how similar they can be to our own. I want people who view the work to reflect back upon themselves and remember a time when they had the same intimacy and closeness with someone, be it a parent and child, siblings or partners. For me, it’s especially about that intimacy between two individuals where no one and nothing else exists in that moment. The softness of fur embodies the tenderness between them but also protection from the jagged rocks and the outside world. I want to show how feelings for someone special can often help see us through difficult times.”

Artist Colin Prestage created this incredibly tender portrait of two monkeys hugging in a piece called Sticking Together.

Conversion: The thing that we are.

It was the year 1998, staying at a friend’s place in North Vancouver, I was in bed, waking up to the breaking of dawn. I closed my eyes, said my morning prayer, and suddenly a violent wind surrounds me. Thinking that I left the window open, the mighty wind will disturb everything in the room. I wanted to get up to close it but my body cannot move, and I fell into deep peace.

This is the detail of what happened to me written in this post.

In 2010, I found this article taken from the journal of Jacques Fesch, a young Frenchman who was sentenced to death in 1957 murdering a police officer. He had a profound experience in his prison cells that lead to his conversion to faith.

Jacques Fesch Journal

Jacques Fesch Journal

When Fesch had his conversion, I wasn’t born yet, but to see that our experience is similar is uncanny. What is it that we were both given this sanctifying grace that is available to anyone, believer or not, saint or sinners, young or old.

From a Catholic perspective, I can only relate to this experience from this verse:

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [Acts 2:2-4]”

It is a moving experience.

The unbelievable thing about conversion is that the new person that we are become transformed that we joyfully forget the way we were before.

Look at it at this point of view of Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.  Oliver, the would-be murderer that conspires to kill his brother Orlando, undergoes a powerful conversion.  He confessed, “I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing that I am.”

This is just a ride.

“The world is just like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are.  And the ride goes up and down and round and round; it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s very loud and it’s fun … for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: “is this real, or is this just a ride?”  And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say, “Hey — don’t worry, don’t be afraid — EVER — because this is just a ride.”

A life lived on a twirling, whirling planet near the edge of a spinning galaxy makes for a hell of a ride.

If we’re lucky, it’s sometimes like a ride on a bus with a wisecracking bus driver.  But from crib to coffin, it’s mostly a trip into the Unknown.

 

by Geoff Olson ~ Reflections on light and darkness” Just a Ride”
Quote from: Bill Hicks ~ a fairground metaphor for existence
Image: Tumblr

Poultry Philosophers

chicken crossing

Photo: Simon Blackley/ Flickr

I like to contemplate deep thoughts such as What is the meaning of life? Why is the sky blue? Why did the chicken cross the road? Searching for answers via Google, these are some responses from the great thinkers.

Plato: For the greater good.

Karl Marx: It was an historical inevitability.

Nietzsche: Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes also across you.

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

Albert Einstein: Did the chicken cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?

Aristotle: To actualize its potential.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

Emily Dickinson: Because it could not stop for death. Epicurus: For fun.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Johann Friedrich von Goethe: The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Werner Heisenberg: We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.

David Hume: Out of custom and habit.

Sappho: Due to the loveliness of the hen on the other side, more fair than all of Hellas’ fine armies.

Henry David Thoreau: To live deliberately … and suck all the marrow out of life.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Joseph Stalin: I don’t care. Catch it. Crack its eggs to make my omelette.

Captain James T. Kirk: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Fox Mulder: You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How many more chickens have to cross before you believe it?

Bill Clinton: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken? Could you define chicken, please?

The Bible:  And God came down from the heavens, and He said unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.”  And the chicken crossed the road, and there was much rejoicing.

Dr. Seuss: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross the toad? Yes! The chicken cross the road, but why it crossed the road, I’ve not been told!

Colonel Sanders:  I missed one?

In your opinion, why did the chicken cross the road?

“Dye-ing to oneself – Testament by Kanzensakura

silverfox

The following is a comment conversation between me and Kanzensakura via Say it with flowers.

kanzensakura: What a nice post! I too am a silver fox – at least I like to think so! My mother says, that after I wash my long hair,  blow it dry, and it is all full and glisten white that I look like one of those wild Japanese demons. So I’m sticking with silver fox.

seeker: Japanese demons have long black hair. Yes, kanzen silver fox, stick to this one!

kanzensakura: Some do have the long white hair. It’s crazy. I started getting white hair when I was 20.

seeker: You must be my long-lost sister! Me, too. Spent lots of dinero to stay blue-black and then I decided, enough. The rest is history.

kanzensakura: I was in hospital about 6 years ago for cancer treatment and surgery. I had started turning white-haired early and after a few dye sessions, I decided it was not worth the time or the money. My husband and mother freaked because when they came to the hospital room after I had been brought up from recovery room, my hair was white. I haven’t even thought about dyeing it.

seeker: Hope that the treatment is successful. Not worth it, kanzen. Why hide our singular beauty with false beauty?

kanzensakura: Praise God, I’m cancer free.

I am always amazed when I see people dye their hair, as if it will make them look 20 or 30 still. I know several Asian women in the church I attend who have their hair touched up without fail every month.

One was sick for a while. I saw her before she came to church after her illness and she had an inch of pure white grow-out. She had developed a skin condition and would not be able to have her hair dyed so she was not coming to church until her hair could be – a space of several months.

I smiled and asked her, do you think God doesn’t know what you really look like inside or out?

She looked at me harshly and frowned.

I told her why my hair was white and that I considered it a badge of honor proof that I had been saved from cancer and still had a job to do for God here on earth.

I asked her maybe God is touching you and reminding you, we are all made of dust and to start working for Him in our limited time?

Well, she stopped dyeing her hair. And to be truthful, she looked 20 years older, softer, and more approachable. She became part of a ministry to teenagers, powerful among them and often seems, to be the youngest among them.

seeker: What a wonderful testament. God works in wonderful ways. Love and Prayers to you and yours.

kanzensakura: Thank you

seeker: I am thinking of sharing your comments as testament on faith. Do you mind?

kanzensakura: Not at all because I know it is God, His grace and love that not only did I survive but what is most amazing, is the tumor that was the size of a tennis ball and lymph glands that were all infected prior to the surgery; when the MD went in, the tumor had shrunk and the lymph glands were clean.

My mother and husband said when he came to them after surgery, he was so amazed and kept thinking of scans and x-rays earlier.

They knew a miracle had occurred. I truly do praise God for His love for me.

seeker: God is good, all the time!

kanzensakura: Amen

” When a woman ceases to alter the fashion of her hair, you guess that she has passed the crisis of her experience.” Mary Hunter Austin   The Land of Little Rain,’The Basket Maker’.

“Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Psalms 71:18

 

Today

solitude

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

-Mary Oliver

 

I will live the present moment and fill it with love.

ucan
It is true. All prisoners, myself included, constantly wait to be let go. I decided then and there that my captivity would not be merely a time of resignation but a turning point in my life. I decided I would not wait. I would live the present moment and fill it with love. For if I wait, the things I wait for will never happen. The only thing that I can be sure of is that I am going to die.

No, I will not spend time waiting. I will live the present moment and fill it with love.

When the Communists put me in the hold of the boat, the Hai-Phong, along with 1500 other prisoners and moved us to the North, I said to myself, “Here is my cathedral, here are the people God has given me to care for, here is my mission: to ensure the presence of God among these, my despairing, miserable brothers. It is God’s will that I am here. I accept his will”.  And from that minute onwards, a new peace filled my heart and stayed with me for thirteen years.

The words of Bishop John Walsh, who had been imprisoned for 12 years in Communist China, Waiting in captivity.

I rise, I rise, I rise

maya

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
In Memory.  Via Parabola

All Around Us.

bee at naramata

We don’t have to go far to find the treasure we are seeking.
There is beauty and goodness right where we are.
And only when we can see the beauty and goodness
that are close by can we recognize beauty and goodness
on our travels far and wide.

There are trees and flowers to enjoy, paintings and sculptures to admire;
most of all there are people who smile, play, and show kindness and gentleness.
They are all around us, to be recognized as free gifts to receive in gratitude.

Our temptation is to collect all the beauty and goodness
surrounding us as helpful information we can use for our projects.
But then we cannot enjoy it, and we soon find that
we need a vacation to restore ourselves.

Let’s try to see the beauty and goodness in front of us
before we go elsewhere to look for it.

by: Henri Nouwen

I’m in the garden

garden

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~ e.e. cummings

How much nature do you need?  For me, I need it!

When I am not working, I spend most of my time in nature.  Being in nature makes me happier, healthier and peaceful. Nature can be just our backyard.  One can spend the entire weekend gardening getting my hands dirty.  And that’s exactly what I did this past long weekend.

David Suzuki suggests that we take the nature challenge by going outside to:

  • smell the flowers
  • find the bug
  • fly a kite
  • write and sketch in the park
  • identify the trees
  • birding
  • listen to the wind
  • skip some stones
  • get my feet wet
  • take photos

And much more.

More than likely, I will be spending more time outside and it will take me away from WordPress.  So my friends, if you don’t hear from me, I’m in the garden.

A little girl’s letter to Einstein: Do scientists pray?

einstein
The Riverside Church

January 19, 1936

My dear Dr. Einstein,

We have brought up the question: Do scientists pray? in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men, to try and have our own question answered.

We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for?

We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis’s class.

Respectfully yours,

Phyllis

***************************************************************************************************

January 24, 1936

Dear Phyllis,

I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

With cordial greetings,

your A. Einstein

 

source: brain pickings

Understanding the Work of Art

artist5

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  ― Pablo Picasso

An artist brought the Social Studies curriculum to life by reading a variety of legends and showed her own collection of Aboriginal masks to the Grade 4/5 students. She modelled building the mask using poster board,  paper mâché, glue, rice paper and paint to decorate the mask.

As the students learn the Aboriginal culture and create their own Aboriginal masks, they make the subject come alive through their own creativity. The project also helps stimulate an interest in other cultures that enriches the students. Art projects give students the opportunity to embrace self-discovery and to make meaning from the world around them.

A Purple Day

Image

Think purple, Wear purple. It’s a purple kind of day.
purple

I promised  kanzen sakura that I will wear purple today to spread the word posted by greeneyedchess.  

May 12 is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Please wear purple to create awareness and help find a cure.

And to lighten up a heavy topic, humour is the best medicine.

10 best things about Fibromyalgia

  1. I save money on magazines. With brain fog, I can’t remember what I just read!
  2. I am a cheap date. No alcohol, no dessert and I still feel drunk or hung over.
  3. On ‘good day’s I feel wonderful. Other people need a much better day to feel that way.
  4. I am easy to find…I’m either at the Dr’s office or at home.
  5. I never have to make my bed because I’ll probably be right back in it.
  6. I have acquired a great lounging/sleeping wardrobe. I rarely get dressed as nobody ever sees me.
  7. Disequilibrium saves money on amusement parks. I get the same sensations every time I stand up!
  8. I feel smarter than my Doctors…all they say is ‘I don’t know’
  9. With short-term memory impairment I can hide my own Easter eggs and Christmas presents.
  10. I don’t know what happened to No. 10 as posted to this source:  fibrorelief

Mother’s Day: Then and Now

“Mother’s Day is a personal, family and memorial day. It’s a celebration for sons and daughters; a thank offering for the blessings of good homes.

Anna Jarvis“Make Mother’s Day a family day of reunions, messages to the absent and the spirit of good will to all. It is a constructive movement emphasising the home as the highest inspiration of our individual and national lives. Mother’s Day is a day of sentiment — not sentimentality; a day for everybody, but is well named Mother’s Day, for where better can sentiment start?,”

Jarvis told the Miami Daily News in a heated interview in 1924 to make a stand defending Mother’s Day against turning it into a “hallmark” occasion.

If you hate the commercialism of Mother’s Day, then you’re not alone — in fact, you have the ideal person in your corner.

Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, hated it too.

The American woman who single-handedly worked to make Mother’s Day a national holiday was reportedly so disgusted to hear that a department store was having a Mother’s Day sale that she threw her lunch on the floor. Jarvis then dedicated her life to disbanding the day she spent six years campaigning Congress for.

Jarvis’ original intention was that Mother’s Day would be a day to honor the sacrifices women made for their families.

And to add, a comment  from Mr. T.  of  SpeakListenPrayDon’tBeS …

Links:
Anna Jarvis ~ Founder of Mother’s Day
Image source

On the move from hall to hall

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.

“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand. You can feel it, they can feel it, you can feel it all over people” ~ Stevie Wonder Hurry up, and wait. It never fails.  My family and … Continue reading

Missing the fun – the only true tragedy.

More than just a character, Holy Molé is a cartoon that represents the place where higher aspirations of existence intertwine with the practicality of everyday living. The two main characters represent this dichotomy and, through their friendship, they find a balance that is essential and love that is enduring. The cartoon is not intended to be religious; rather it represents the archetypical seeker in society striving for meaning in an often-complex world.
hole mole

Hole Mole  reminds us not to take the drama too seriously, or else we may miss the fun – the only true tragedy.

 

Source: Holy Molé Cartoon

 

 

Sakura for Jae

Here’s something to look forward to when you visit Canada in spring.  I kid you not, Sakura is all over the place in Canada.

This is just one tree.  Imagine walking underneath the boulevard all lined up with Sakura, it’s snowing pink petals.
sakura jae

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.” 
― Kobayashi IssaPoems

This is nothing in comparison to my fascination with this yellow flower when I first arrived here in Canada. I just love these Lions of the Spring. One cannot appreciate the beauty of Cherry blossoms without having to fall for these beast.
Lions of the Spring

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring.

Spring Cleaning

I heard the faint song of the chickadee. It was the female bird looking very pregnant ready to give birth. She was calling for her mate and he eventually came. Being a male, he took his time in responding to her call.

They are back to nest.spring cleaning

He came to check the house. He turned his tail this way, that way, poked his head inside the hole, tapped the wood, turned some more, moved on top of the house, moved down again on the perch.  He was taking forever checking out the house and then he flew away. The female bird was left behind.

Now what! Where on earth did he go? Is he abandoning his future family? What a philandering bird, I thought.

She looked confused. I think I was more confused than the bird and wondered how come he did not go inside the house?  She looked so sad. Not her, it’s me that was sad because she flew away as well.

I went out to check the bird house. The old nest was still in there and I don’t see anything nor do I hear anything  unusual inside.

Maybe there’s something else other than the old nest. Maybe they don’t like a dirty house. Too man maybe going in my mind and it was actually a simple forgetfulness of doing spring cleaning.

So I cleaned up the house and found out a queen bee inside with a lone slave. Can’t let the queen bee procreate and produce a million minions living in my balcony. Therefore, I let her go and she flew away as fast as she could.

The birds did not return.  I will just have to wait for next spring and hopefully remember to do spring cleaning.

“Letting go isn’t the end of the world; it’s the beginning of a new life.” ~Unknown

Composed by the birds

Video

Birds on the wires

I would have never thought that these crows can compose a musical score. Through a mere curiosity, this video is created. Just brilliant.

“Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn’t the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

I sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who I Googled on the internet. He told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the very same newspaper.

Here I’ve posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score.”

Also check my live presentation of Birds on the Wires at TEDx São Paulo: tedxsaopaulo.com.br/jarbas-agnelli/

The Saga of Eggs

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
humpy dumpy

This is a continuing saga of eggs posted here, here and here.

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,” BY MOTHER GOOSE
Source: The Dorling Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes (2000) via Poetry Foundation
Image: The New Yorker

Memorabilia: Just Listen

This is a photo of a  quote taped on a friend’s favorite spot, her desk.

We read it so many times, make up meanings and meanings change depending in our moods.  For most time we make fun out of it.

Just listen

An ant goes round and round without
rest
Like all beings in the six realms of
existence,
Born here and dying there without
release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then
an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from
this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand.

These are still resonant words.
Take a break from the clamorous rat
race of modern life.

Just listen.

She was searching for freedom from suffering is the focal point of this quote.  Freedom means death.  And we both just listened for it to come.  And it did come for her and I did not hear it coming.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?  Well, it’s actually a sign for the deaf.  You raise your hand or hands and start shaking them up in the air.  This is how the deaf clap their hands. No sound.

Writing to Save the Day

ReadingWriting can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be “redeemed” by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become life saving for us and sometimes for others too.


– Henri J. M. Nouwen 

The Big Message of an Egg

This is no ordinary breakfast.

As you can see
how sorrowful the rest of the eggs are.

Sunny side up or
Over easy.

Sustenance
Food for the soul.

Cheer up!

The big message:
that there is something essential
that you only know by dying
to who you think you are!

You really don’t know
what life is
until you know
what death is.

” Death and life are two sides of one coin, and you cannot have one without the other.”  Transformative Dying

Image source: Julia Quinn

The man gave up his shoes

VANCOUVER — A bus driver has had his faith in people restored after witnessing a rider wearing plastic bags instead of shoes given a surprising gift this holiday weekend — a stranger’s own shoes and socks.

shoes

The “soul-touching” interaction Saturday on the No. 341 route,  a Coast Mountain Bus Co. driver of 16 years who was off-duty at the time while returning from Surrey B.C.’s Vaisakhi parade.

“It made my heart melt,”  “He just took his shoes and socks off and said, ‘You can take these, don’t worry about me — I live close by and can walk.’

“People usually don’t care or even look at other people on the bus, they didn’t even want to sit beside this guy because of how he was dressed.”

The recipient was “shocked” by the gift and afterwards remarked, “What a nice guy… Did that really happen?”

 

Source: Toronto Sun