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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries

We need the gift of starting over....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How these gifted beings bring me joy and food for the soul and so much to contemplate beyond my mundane reality....Please listen with me now:

Because We Spill Not Only Milk

Because we spill not only milk
Knocking it over with an elbow
When we reach to wipe a small face
But also spill seed on soil we thought was fertile but isn't,
And also spill whole lives, and only later see in fading light
How much is gone and we hadn't intended it
Because we tear not only cloth
Thinking to find a true edge and instead making only a hole
But also tear friendships when we grow
And whole mountainsides because we are so many
And we want to live right where black oaks lived,
Once very quietly and still
Because we forget not only what we are doing in the kitchen
And have to go back to the room we were in before,
Remember why it was we left
But also forget entire lexicons of joy
And how we lost ourselves for hours
Yet all that time were clearly found and held
And also forget the hungry not at our table
Because we weep not only at jade plants caught in freeze
And precious papers left in rain
But also at legs that no longer walk
Or never did, although from the outside they look like most others
And also weep at words said once as though
They might be rearranged but which
Once loose, refuse to return and we are helpless
Because we are imperfect and love so
Deeply we will never have enough days,
We need the gift of starting over, beginning
Again: just this constant good, this
Saving hope.

-- Nancy Shaffer
(Instructions in Joy)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VAL503 10/8/2008 7:02PM

That was beautiful, just beautiful.. brought me to tears!
I am on a road trip, and am in California right now, thought of you when I was in San Francisco :)
Thanks for sharing such yummy, thoughtful stuff with us!

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PEACEFULONE 10/7/2008 11:16PM

    So much said in between the lines and each line bringing so many memories. Poetry makes such wonderful connections. Thank you Maha for sharing. emoticon

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SAVOY1 10/7/2008 9:41PM

    Lovely! Perhaps it's a message from our friend the Universe, but the name Walt Whitman has popped up to me several times recently. I am only familiar with snippets of his work, ..all of the poetry you've posted recently has inspired me to visit the library in the near future and look for some volumes where I can read more Walt Whitman. Thank you for taking the time to share all of these little jewels.

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ANGELBELIEVER 10/7/2008 11:50AM

    These last two blogs are absolutely wonderful as well as beautiful. So much to think about and savor. Thank you so much for you inspiration.

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Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches
of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey,
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning,
feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

-- Mary Oliver

Do yourself a favor and go to this link to read and listen:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEACEFULONE 10/1/2008 7:17PM

    What a wonderful piece! I will copy it to savor again. This has so many facets, but most of all it reminds me to say YES to life everyday!

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    I'll miss you and the beautiful poetry you post....

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SPARKTACULAR 10/1/2008 8:42AM

    This reading was such a meditation. I feell so good and peaceful right now. And yes, I'll go to the link. Nancy

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How universal is gratefulness?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sometimes I hunker down, mired in the more distressing mundane aspects of everyday reality, or the in-the-face awareness of the old age-sickness-death cycle...and where I am in said cycle, or my loneliness and feelings of isolation, etc., and then I shake myself and straighten up, realizing that all of that is true...AND SO MUCH MORE.

For instance I have heard the *good news* of the Buddha's instruction of how to go beyond suffering, I have the good fortune of having encountered teachers who provide guidance about reaching that *place,* I have a comfortable living space and enough money, I have knowledge about how to eat healthfully for optimal health, I can afford natural and organic food, I have friends, I have rewarding work, I have dependable vehicles, and the list goes on! So I say *Blessed be!* and understand how REALLY blessed I am as I read, from , the gratitudes below and muse about:


Gratefulness – the simple response of our heart to this life in all its fullness – goes beyond boundaries of creed, age, vocation, gender, and nation. J. Robert Moskin, former foreign editor for Look magazine and senior editor for Collier's, writes that “thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”

Grateful living offers a universal ethic for our times because:
• The universal sentiment of gratefulness is shared by all cultures and religious traditions
• Gratefulness lies at the mystical core of all religions, and can provide a point of agreement between people from different traditions that transcends the divisive dogmas of each religion or sect.
• In the same way, it provides a common language for dialogue between religious people and non-religious people, since both groups share this sentiment fully.
• It teaches us to appreciate what we have, automatically relieving the fear of scarcity that drives our unsustainable consumption patterns.
• One cannot be grateful and feel oneself to be a victim at the same time, instantly diminishing the anger that can lead to war.
• It teaches us to appreciate the gratuitous, which for many people includes the non-human natural world with its many plants and animals.
• It causes us to regard other peoples and cultures as blessings and not as threats to our way of life.
• It offers a spirit of generosity and trust to replace the suspicion and resentment that stands in the way of achieving a peaceful transition to a more just sharing of the world's bounty.*

The following diverse array of quotes reflects this universality as a representative sample. A comprehensive list, we are happy to say, would take years to compile.


Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.
– Hausa proverb from Nigeria

The happy heart gives away the best. To know how to receive is also a most important gift, which cultivates generosity in others and keeps strong the cycle of life.
– Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, speaker, author, musician and spiritual leader in the Eastern Tsalagi (Cherokee) tradition

Whenever feeling downcast, each person should vitally remember, "For my sake, the entire world was created."
– Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, Baal Shem Tov,
founder of Hasidic Judaism

Under affliction in the very depths, stop and contemplate what you have to be grateful for.
– Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science

A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances. A complaining soul complains even in paradise.
– Baha'u'llah, founder of the Baha'i Faith

There's a self-expansive aspect of gratitude. Very possibly it's a little known law of nature: the more gratitude you have, the more you have to be grateful for.
– Elaine St. James, author, leader of the simplicity movement

Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are.
– Nkosi Johnson, twelve-year-old Zulu boy, living with AIDS

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
– Yoko Ono, Japanese-American artist and musician

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman stoic

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.
– Etty Hillesum, Dutch Jewish writer known for her diaries and correspondence from Westerbork concentration camp

Grateful living: an alchemic operation of onverting "disgraceful" things into grateful events.
– Raimundo Panikkar, Roman Catholic priest from Spain specializing in comparative philosophy of religion

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
– Native American prayer

Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art....It is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
– Joanna Macy, eco-philosopher and scholar of Buddhism

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
– G.K. Chesterton, writer and Christian apologist

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable...but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
– Agatha Christi, crime-fiction writer

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
– Jacques Maritain, French philosopher and political thinker

Thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
– Jalaluddin Rumi, Persian Sufi poet, from Camille and Kabir Helminski's Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance

Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of let go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end?
– Regina Sara Ryan, former Roman Catholic nun now aligned with the Bauls of Bengal, India


* Our thanks to Chris Wilson, a member of the Board of Directors for A Network for Grateful Living, for his insightful description of grateful living as a universal ethic for our time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 10/1/2008 6:19AM

    Good morning -- thanks everyone for the comments! Savoy, you may be referring to the J. Robert Moskin quote above, in the papagraph after HOW UNIVERSAL IS GRATEFULNESS? which says,

“Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”

So right and juicy and *right on!*


Comment edited on: 10/1/2008 6:17:15 AM

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PEACEFULONE 9/30/2008 10:25PM

    This is a great blog! Thank you for sharing!


Comment edited on: 9/30/2008 10:23:08 PM

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SAVOY1 9/30/2008 10:03PM

    There is a quote of the day on essentially saying the idea or emotion of gratitude goes back to prehistoric times - it really is an innately simple thing and so beautiful and gives back in real time.

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ANGELBELIEVER 9/28/2008 1:10PM

    What a beautiful post on gratefulness. I like to live with an Attitude of Gratitude every day. I have so much to be grateful for. I try not to waste my life complaining. Thank you again for your words of wisdom for us t o learn and grow. emoticon

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MOMMA_GRIZZ 9/28/2008 1:03PM

    How very true - thank you for sharing that very inspirational post.

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Speaking of shame....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's about 11:40pm and within the last hour I consumed an entire 4.15 oz. box of Ak-mak Crackers with peanut butter and jelly. AK! is right...sMAK me back into mindfulness, pl-EASE.

I'm getting jittery because I'm still in the thoes of organizing and unpacking from the move and we leave on Wed. for the first show, which means organizing and packing everything for that. Then I drank strong coffee this afternoon. Big mistake. That's why I'm bouncing around like a tight spring and thus, part of why I'm eating at this time of night. I'm also an emotional eater. Put these two pieces together and WHAMO! I crumble.

Well, I'm not going to cave in and go on a self-hate campaign. I'm running a bath with Bath Therapy. Soaking will help relax this tired ol' bod. I'll read something to lift my spirits (like Rumi), to help elevate my mind.

And I'll sleep without the alarm, getting up ready to be totally focused until the 2:00pm departure for a weekend visit (not the best timing, but unavoidable). Upon the Sun. pm return, I vow to return to the basics of preparation without panic, but with clarity of vision and energy, without conditioned thinking that will limit me in doing my best.

Oh, and I publically vow to be online 15 minutes in the morning to post gratitudes...AND NO MORE. Can I get a witness?

Blessed be!

May it be so,
*** *** *** *** *** ***
And now it is 1:40am and I am readying myself for sleep.

Out beyond ideas of
There is a field
I'll meet you there

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase
"each other"

doesn't make any sense.



Ahhhhhhh...the Crack....

Friday, September 19, 2008

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
til one day it cracks them open.

-- Jelalludin Rumi


The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

-- Leonard Cohen, from _Stranger Music_, a collection of poetry; it subsequently became the lyrics to a Cohen song:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 2/10/2010 10:04PM

    My dear Maha... I think I may have been cracked!

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VAL503 9/20/2008 12:44PM

    Wow, Maha... Rumi AND Leonard Cohen, two of my favorites. What a great way to start the day!
Thanks for the beauty and inspiration.

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ANGELBELIEVER 9/19/2008 12:27PM

    Your blogs are incredibly inspiring. I really enjoy them even if i don't comment on wveryone of them. Love You dear Sister!

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