Gratitude for the Open Bowl

I have written this poem before.  The one about the Open Bowl.  How I will hold the circle of my heart to encompass it all.

Not just the little birds singing the dawn into being or the silent toad under her litter of leaves, not just the achingly beautiful green of the fields in spring or the blue eye of the speedwell, not just the snugglesome child or the soft feathers of a hen.

Not just that.  Not only that.

But also the brooding ache of estrangement, and the dull thud of the impossible choice, the anxiety over an ill child, the grieving of a friend.  Also the deaths of the bees, the scarcity of monarchs, the oil-covered ducks.  The deep sadness of all that we are losing so wantonly.  The rage, the helpless and blinding white fury at the destroyers, the greed-mongers, the war-profiteers, the glibly malicious purveyors of illness and oppression.

This is why I write gratitude lists.  I will hold all of these stones in the Open Bowl of my heart.  Some moments, the bowl is so brimming with the rages and the despairs that I don’t know if I can bear it.  And then comes a moment of pure numinous wonder and delight, not to erase the other things, but to ease them.  To make the bearing of them bearable.

These difficult ones, they are there for a reason.  I hold them, too, because they demand my soul’s attention.  They call me to my work here in the world.  I refuse to walk the world with blinders on.   But there is also so much joy to be found in the midst of it all.  So much joy.  So much love.

I have written this poem before, and I will write it again.  Perhaps every day I will write it, until I understand what I am writing.

Here are six shiny stones for your consideration:

Gratitude List:
1.  Green, green, oh the green!  Green says, “Have you been watching?  Have you been paying attention?  Surprise!”  Oh, yes, yes, and. . .
2.  Hello, Little Daffodil, whose name is full of goofy whimsy and whose cup overfloweth with sunshine.
3.  The spaces between.  I will gaze into them, breathe into them.
4.  Doubt.  And the places where faith and trust and safety rest even within doubt.
5.  An afternoon with my parents and uncles and aunts.  Putting puzzle together with Mom and Uncle Henry.  My father and Aunt Ruth and Uncle Harold playing harmonica trios to old hymns while the rest of us sang and hummed.  (“When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the birds and feel the gentle breeze. . .”)
6.  The Navajo People, whose sacred phrase I have borrowed for my little daily prayer:
May we walk in Beauty.  So much Beauty.

2013 April 016

3 thoughts on “Gratitude for the Open Bowl

  1. Beautifully said. This entry echoes the Derrick Jensen piece, “beyond hope” that ran in the Orion mag some years ago. I posted it on FB tonight.

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    1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Angie! http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/170/

      I especially love this: “Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.”

      Yes. Oh yes. Derrick Jensen is challenging for me to read–because I walk so close to the edges of despair when I read his work. I think his consciousness-raising is vital to the work of today.Recently, friends of mine got into a really good and fascinating discussion sparked by discomfort at something Pema Chodrun had written about abandoning hope. I think that she was saying exactly what Jensen is saying here.

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