Hang on to the clear light!

lighted candle

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

Not that I must undertake a special project of self-transformation or that I must “work on myself.” In that regard, it would be better to forget it. Just go for walks, live in peace, let change come quietly and invisibly on the inside.
But I do have a past to break, with an accumulation of inertia, waste, wrong, foolishness, rot, junk, a great need of clarification, of mindfulness, or rather of no mind – a return to genuine practice, right effort, need to push on to the great doubt. Need for the spirit.
Hang on to the clear light!
– Thomas Merton, Journal entry, May 30, 1968

the bickering of mice

It is necessary for me to see the first point of light that begins to be dawn. It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of Day in solemn silence at which the sun appears, for at this moment all the affairs of cities, of governments, of war departments, are seen to be the bickering of mice. I receive from the eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word DAY. It is never the same. It is always in a totally new language. – Thomas Merton

Today, may I know what I am

Many will Come – Rachel Srubas

(Photo: somewhere on The Airline Road, sometime 2008)

Today, may I walk in right paths, in God’s light. May peace prosper the steps of my family and friends, in city streets and buildings, and among all nations.
Today, may people stream from east and west to converge in God’s neighborhood. May nations labor to dismantle barricades. May our city be a just, peaceable center, united and vibrant. May my friends and relations strive for the good of each other, and may I remember I am neither higher nor lower than a servant.
Today, may east and west meet in my right and left hands, complementing, comprehending one another.
In my body, may north and south correspond, lifting my mind above worry, grounding my feet on the earth.
Today may I know what I am: created, not self-made, instructed to walk and work in God’s ways.
May I hammer old knives into new spoons, old enmities into love.
May I respect the least functional part of myself as surely as Jesus cherishes a paralytic slave and saves him with a word.
May the shriveled and disused part of my heart be bathed in God’s mercy today, that I might see sunlight for what it is: the gaze that beholds and heals us all.
In a banquet hall spacious enough for a whole world of nations, may I rest among neighbors and strangers, friends and relations.
May we feast among prophets on food grown in plowed mountain soil, reaped with weapons repurposed as tools.

The best things

Via Joseph Campbell: My friend Heinrich Zimmer of years ago used to say, “The best things can’t be told,” because they transcend thought. “The second best are misunderstood,” because those are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which can’t be thought about, and one gets stuck in the thoughts.” The third best are what we talk about.

This Compost

This Compost
by Walt Whitman

1

Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my
lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other
flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not
sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs,
roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper’d corpses
within you?
Is not every continent work’d over and over with
sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many
generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and
meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps
I am deceiv’d,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my
spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.

2

Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick
person–yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in
the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the
apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale
visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the
mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while
the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the
hatch’d eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt
from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato’s dark
green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs
bloom in the dooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful
above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash
of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all
over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that
have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-
orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums,
will none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch
any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of
what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm
and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with
such endless successions of diseas’d corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such
infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal,
annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts
such leavings from them at last.