Originally posted on Art of Quotation: “One does not use poetry for its major purposes, as a means to organize oneself and the world, until one’s world somehow gets out of hand.” Richard Wilbur, 1921-2017,…
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
In the mountains of southern California there is a lake with an island in its midst. Outside this island a majority of trees were consumed in a forest fire in 2003 (The infamous Cedar Fire). Many of the trees had stood 200-300 or more years. But on the lake’s island you can still walk through a landscape of beautiful ancient oak and pine trees. On a fall day, as I walked the island’s edges, I came upon this spot- a still standing glorious ancient survivor. Autumn perfection – Fall color surrounds, the air is crisp and clear, migratory birds call above and the sun rests on the horizon.
“I was once told that certain spiritual masters in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that all life was impermanent.
And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought, ‘I’m still here!‘ This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day.”
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day… So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend”
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Within our garden in the high mountains of New Mexico is a 150 year old Pinyon tree. Our first few years here we made a twice daily pilgrimage to sit beneath this beautiful tree — folding chair in one hand, espresso in the other.
We end up here in time to see the sun rise and the night’s mist vanish. And in book-end symmetry at sunset we sit silent observers of the distant mountains set beneath an O’Keeffe sky of crimson, orange and purple.
One day a question arrived. How about more permanent ‘season ticket seating’? How about an old-fashioned tree swing? How about that branch there? But it’s old like us and might break. Perhaps an arbor to support it – a little insurance.
Arbor done, swing hung, but something was missing. It needs some color doesn’t it? Many colors had potential. All were considered and it took some time to settle on just one. The final choice of vibrant yellow worked perfectly, poetically.
All elements in balance now and for 310 days a year (give or take), this swing seems to levitate in the rising and setting sun, like a magic carpet….two performances daily.
“…When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter”
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.
“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is the special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street
Right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreaming
“All of our great traditions, religious, contemplative and artistic, say that you must a learn how to be alone – and have a relationship with silence. It is difficult, but it can start with just the tiniest quiet moment.”
“What is the meaning of life? That was all-a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
“But when fall comes, kicking summer out … it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
On my travels along the California coast this year I retreated from the 100 degree heat and the endless, unrelenting freeways into this otherworldly house of worship – the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside, California.
Here it is cool and still and with one step past the threshold the outside world simply ceases to exist. Here time stands still and the rarefied ambiance of 220 years takes over my being. One lone man sits in midday prayer before me.
Some time later, my being in balance, I depart through the church doors and, as I do, I recall the opening lyrics of the Elton John song “60 Years On”.
Who’ll walk me down to church when I’m sixty years of age When the ragged dog they gave me has been ten years in the grave And señorita plays guitar, plays it just for you My rosary has broken and my beads have all slipped through.