"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cyber Monday

Gorgeous hand - crafted card from
my multi - talented sister - in - law Tina

A week ago, I had one of those life - affirming Monday - morning coincidences. You know. The kind that makes you believe in the whole Universe at once . . . that amazes and surprises and suggests a pattern. I was looking at my pre - Thanksgiving "to do" list and decided that even more importantly than grocery shopping and housecleaning, I should finally look up the poem that had been recommended to me several months ago when I was having lunch with a few friends. I googled what I had scribbled on a post - it and discovered this truly transporting poem:

What To Remember When Waking
~by David Whyte (Dec 30, 2013)

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

At first, I was feeling bad that it had taken me over three months to finally follow - up on this reading suggestion; but then, when I thought about what a perfect poem it was for a Monday morning, and what a perfect poem for Thanksgiving week, it seemed that the delay was meant to be and the poem had come into my life at exactly the right moment.

I knew I should write a note that instant to thank all my lunch companions -- since I couldn't remember which one had recommended the poem back in August. But first I went to run some errands -- and who should I run into but one of those very friends, in the greeting card aisle at CVS! I told her the whole story about the poem, but she was unfamiliar with the author and said she couldn't take credit for the suggestion but would, of course, love to see it. So, as soon as I got home, I sent an email of thanksgiving, including the poem, to the entire group.

As an added bonus coincidence, another friend wrote a week later (yesterday, to be exact) with the perfect message to conclude this anecdote:
"For some reason I’m only seeing this tonight. This is a lovely poem to choose as my Cyber Monday gift for those special to me this season. No deep discounts; just deep gratitude for all my loved ones."
What a beautiful sentiment! And yet another timely coincidence that her viewing was delayed -- as mine had been -- until the very day that she needed to discover this poem!

I particularly love this line for Thanksgiving:

"You are not a troubled guest on this earth . . .
you were invited . . . "

Whyte writes similarly, in his Letter From the House: Autumn/Winter 2017 - 2018:
We are invited into the great sense of the now to understand that we are a living conversation between what we thought was the past and what we could only imagine as the future. We are creatures made to live in all three tenses at once, to hold past, present and future together . . ."
And how about this line for any morning, such as the Monday before Thanksgiving or the Monday after Thanksgiving, when you wake up with a "to - do" list that is already out of control before you even open your eyes:

" . . . there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live. . . . "

Thankfully, Whyte reminds us that relinquishing all -- or at least some -- of our big plans might allow us to intuit the even bigger and better plan that the world has in store for us on any given day.

" . . . a small opening into the new day . . . "

Previously from Tina

My friend Katie also recommended John O'Donohue's interview, "The Inner Landscape of Beauty." Some favorite passages:

Well, I think it makes a huge difference, when you wake in the morning and come out of your house, whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you, but in a totally different form, and if you go towards it with an open heart and a real, watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you.

But I do think, though, that it’s not just a matter of the outer presence of the landscape. I mean the dawn goes up, and the twilight comes, even in the most roughest inner-city place. And I think that connecting to the elemental can be a way of coming into rhythm with the universe. And I do think that there is a way in which the outer presence, even through memory or imagination, can be brought inward as a sustaining thing.

. . . the world is always larger and more intense and stranger than our best thought will ever reach. And that’s the mystery of poetry. Poetry tries to draw alongside the mystery as it’s emerging and somehow bring it into presence and into birth.

. . . everyone is involved, whether they like it or not, in the construction of their world. So it’s never as given as it actually looks. You are always shaping it and building it. And I feel that from that perspective, that each of us is an artist.

. . . every night when we sleep, we dream. And a dream is a sophisticated, imaginative text full of figures and drama that we send to ourselves.

. . . there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there is still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you.

And the trouble is, though, for so many of us, is that we have to be in trouble before we remember what’s essential.

. . . there is an evacuation of interiority going on in our times . . . there is very little time or attention given to what you could almost call learning the art of inwardness, or a pedagogy of interiority.

[See also "The Wire Brush of Doubt"]

Next Fortnightly Post
Thursday, December 14

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

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