I am grateful for a conversation this week with a wise man and friend, Lawrence Kampf. We sipped tea over Zoom. He in his home in Croatia, looking out to quiet street of late afternoon. Me in my backyard in Utah, under morning sun umbrella. Lawrence and I share a brothering kind of energy together. Two men committed to exploring. And to quiet.
This poem that I have written below arose in part from that conversation. I liked touching the energy of deep inner world, that I believe is essential for our evolution of the 2020s.
There is such a thing, such a practice, as “not knowing.” Its fruit is presence.
There is such a thing, such an experience, as “utter knowing.” Its fruit is flow.
Not knowing and utter knowing abide only marginally apart lending cups of flour and eggs as neighbors do.
Also nearby dwells a third neighbor, that goes by, “it doesn’t matter.” This one mostly sits calmly on porch, sipping wine and watching neighbors.
One of the things I’m learning these days from my garden is how a carrot in the ground from last year’s garden can grow to flower in this year’s garden. I like the experiment of it. The flowers will grow to umbels. The umbels will dry. From there I can harvest seeds, lots of them, to plant to get new carrots. In the photo above, I also love the splash of color in the Lambs Ear flowers. And the radish tops growing much lower on the ground. There is much that just happens together in my little garden.
Another thing I’m learning these days is about the relationship of grief and joy. It’s no small thing to welcome relationship with grief, not bypassing it. So as to welcome its plentiful harvest or sorrows and beauty.
Days That Have Brought Us Here
Grief, grief, grief. Of fulfillment. Of loss. Of lament. Of isolation. Of speed. Of the narrowed. Of world crazy. Of days that have brought us here.
Joy, joy, joy. Of simplicity. Of essence. Of beauty. Of connection with others. Of slowed reality. Of the expanded. Of world wakening. Of days that have brought us here.
I’m learning. Grief is to be moved. Joy too. So that there is flow. Of being. In these days that have brought us here.
I think this is a writing for two parts. One today. The other tomorrow. Or soon.
I’m trying to find something in words that isn’t meant for words. Or, is meant for experience that is beyond words. It might be beyond mind, at least for the way that I try to access it. I have the feeling that this “no mind” disposition matters. To find being that is beyond the word, “being.”
So, let’s start with the picture above and a poem. The picture is an iris. Rather large in this photo, but also noticeably large in life. It grows in a small garden near my front door. It’s a garden I tend. This iris hasn’t bloomed before (the ten years that I’ve lived here). I’m not sure why. I have a few other iris in different small gardens that I tend. They are mostly purple. This one, pink. This photo is me with my iPhone. Nothing spectacular. Yet what feels spectacular to me is the energy of beauty. I’m biased here. I’m connected to this iris. I’m connected to this garden. I have energy in it, and I suppose, it in me.
Beauty matters. Yup, it could be in varied form. The barren desert. The stormy sky. The tear trickling down the cheek. The thistle. Beauty is an attitude. Make that, seeing beauty is an attitude. And it’s more than words that represent it. It’s more than mind that accounts for beauty. I have the feeling that that matters.
If all that a person did was to develop attitude for seeing beauty, I bet a lot of very complex things would fall into greater harmony. Hmmm….
Now the poem, which is an attempt to use words to encounter something that feels beyond words. Thanks for staying with me on this. Let’s call this one, On Being.
The term “sacred cow” connotes untouchable. Anything shy of unequivocal reverence for said sacred cow, be that a practice, an idea, a creature, or a geographic location, approaches absurd and even dangerous.
Yet, strangely, it is known that the sacred also needs sacrificing time to time, to renew the scarred and scared that make it holy.
I offer that mind, words, knowing, and seeing are among the sacred cows of contemporary life. I’m finding myself seeking to surrender reliance even on these.
For words, beautiful words, create only representation of that which is.
And knowing, gorgeous knowing, is always reductionism.
Seeing, lifting relief from cosmic infinity is miraculous except when it obscures the exponential vastness of the not seen.
And then there is mind, luscious mind, this finely detailed and impressively scaled organ, that privileges particles over waves.
What I seek is the being that though informed immensely by mind, words, knowing, and seeing, rests wholely in its simplicity in the unfettered lap of infinity.
One of the mantra’s that is quite strong for me is to “stay simple.” It’s a reminder. It’s an affirmation. It’s a permission. It’s a simple note to tune to. It’s a clarity with subtext of “start here.” It’s got a lot built in. Like this flower blossomed in my garden this week.
I often find myself writing in very simple ways these days, particularly in my private journal. Yup, as reminder. And affirmation. And permission. Amplified by current context of Corona and what grows around it. Yup, writing simple, daring for it to be enough, an essence, like the flower.
Here’s a sample. I’d suggest it applies in many contexts as an invitation.
Just stay simple. It is unhelpful to clutter life with the clatter of worry.
Stay with Zen. Live in the fullness of two-word sentences and affirmations.
Stay simple in lifestyle. Drink water, exercise, eat simply, and be outside.