earthday greetings

'with all of life' by Deborah Koff-Chapin

‘with all of life’ by Deborah Koff-Chapin

Two of my favorite inspirations greeted me this Earth Day morning. First, Mary Oliver’s wonderful poem, thanks to Writer’s Almanac, resonated with me instantly as the only sane way to start the day. Immediately following,  Deborah Koff-Chapin’s hauntingly moving image in honor of the day. I just happened to see both first thing today!

Although I have been absent from this page for weeks, it is not for lack of inspiration; rather, for being awash in it. But the only way out is through – as true with managing inspiration as anything else, it seems. And so, in the spirit of moving forward gently, with presence and as much consciousness as we can muster, may you also begin your day thus.

by Mary Oliver

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

“I Happened To Be Standing” by Mary Oliver from A Thousand Mornings. © The Penguin Press, 2012.

PS Yes, I know, Earth Day was several days ago. However, it was while attempting to post this entry that I learned my site had been disabled. And it took most of the week to get it back online. Having put the time into this post after so long away, I decided to go ahead and share it with you. Besides — shouldn’t EVERY day be Earth Day?!!!

to be or to do

To be or to do — is that the question? For reasons perhaps found in the stars, this thread has run through no fewer than four intense conversations I have had in the past 48 hours with thoughtful, creative, middle-age women.

The specifics are less important than the shared tug-of-war within. Between feeling a need to be ‘out there’ offering proven gifts to others, tugged by a sense of generalized obligation; and a vague sense of being called by a very different need, the one that lives deep ‘in here’ at the core of who we in fact are.

Universal? You bet! And I could ask a whole host of additional questions, such as ‘why do we only ask this question in our 50’s or 70’s?’ ‘What has our culture DONE to us that we no longer value our BEING?’ Or ‘what about the moral imperative to make the world a better place?’ Apparently us Vermont women are not the only ones poking around in the hearts of ourselves; Parker Palmer recently wrote, in part:

. . . Who we ‘be’ is far more important than what we do or how well we do it  . . We pay a terrible price if we value our doing over our being. When we have to stop “doing” — e.g., because of job loss, illness, accident, or the diminishments that can come with age — we lose our sense of worthiness.
– Parker Palmer, On Being March 26, 2014

For my part, I come by this struggle honestly. One parent ‘just wanted me to be happy;’ the other wanted to know ‘what I had done to justify my existence today.’

Perhaps, after all, the question is NOT whether TO BE or TO DO. Perhaps, it is how to truly live a balance between BOTH being AND doing, such that one is nurtured sufficiently to be able to give well.