Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Imperative Call Of Life

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

by Jack Gilbert

I believe poetry captures the full richness of life in a spare, shimmering creation. It is simplicity on the other side of complexity. I believe that what is beautiful is true and holy, and as such makes us feel more alive and whole in its presence. I believe that delight, wonder, humor, amazement and interest are the lubricant, fluid and cartilage of our experience. They allow us movement, give and grace.

I believe that all is one and divine. The health and wellbeing of an ecosystem are measured by its levels of biodiversity and interconnection. Each piece has innate value and affects the whole. I believe that matter is neither created nor destroyed and that the only constant is change, a recycling of material. Everything has been or will become what is currently the other. I believe there is power in choosing love over fear and investigation over ignorance.

Tikkun Olam

In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. In the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a 14th century Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. The wholeness of the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden to this very day. We are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. Our collective task is to repair and heal the world. Our individual province is local, with global implications.

as told by Rachel Naomi Remen

I believe in faith embodied. We physically absorb all manner of trauma and yet our bodies are constantly striving to repair and heal to the best of their abilities. I believe our senses root us in the sacred loam of life and we draw sustenance from that source. Living and moving in wild places, leaning into home spaces, confirm for me my part in creation, at once integral and yet utterly dwarfed by the heft and majesty of the whole.

I believe that establishing boundaries can create space for soulful being rather than mindless doing. That pausing to pay homage to our breath stills our survival instincts and reactions so that we may relax into our innate wisdom and responsiveness. I believe that each moment is a possible threshold in life that invites our curiosity and creativity to transform the mundane into something revelatory.

I believe that the tales we tell ourselves and others frame and define our experience. I am touched and moved by stories. Thank you, Krista Tippet and Chris Fischer, for inspiring me with yours.

I believe in dedicating my days to love, beauty and wholeness. And so I grope my way forward...

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