morning meditation

tomato blossomsMorning Meditation

I’ve been watching the tomato
potted on my deck, pushing
up and out its lush laterals
deep into summer and lacy as a fan

climbing and quivering across the cage
guiding its expanding explosion
into such green, so thick, I nearly despaired
of flower or fruit. And suddenly – it seems –

abundant late-growth yellow spurts
cluster toward shy small orbs of promise.
We all need both sturdy base and time
from which to create what feeds us.

swb

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.

 

the new in the shell of the old

I love the concept of the new growing in the shell of the old. It’s the language of transformation. And the age-old reality of life. Which is what I’ve been focused on very intently for the past many months.

Full Circle Festival is just around the corner in Burlington VT, the first-ever festival to celebrate the heart and art of aging. We have an incredible line-up of dance, music, poetry, story-telling, art shows and talks, panel discussions, fitness, comedy, food demonstrations and interactive activities for the whole multi-generational family. Starting with one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye giving the keynote on Friday night, April 11th.

While I have been gathering images, wise and witty sayings, and inspirational stories of creativity in the elderly (which, by the way, almost guarantees long and happy life, seriously!) to engender interest on the facebook page, I have noticed how all around me this simple perennial process is happening.

Yesterday, while staring idly out my kitchen window, I realized that the fat robin resting on the railing in the sun had just recycled the holiday berries lingering in the windowbox among fading greens and twigs. Making something new from the shell of the old!

I think of Gandhi who said/he might never have become
an activist for nonviolence/if the neighbor boys had not
beaten him up. – Naomi Shihab Nye, from ‘Communication Skills’ in  Honeybees

signs of winter

Some months back, an outdoorsy hiking friend of mine invited me to pen a poem for the Winter 2013 Long Trail News (the Quarterly newsletter of the Green Mountain Club). As Editor, she had a specific prompt in mind.

When the publication arrived recently, it was fun to see her vision manifest: a collage of photographs featuring winter trail signs on a two-page spread, with my modest two-stanza poem nestled among them:

collage of b/w winter trail signsThank you, Jocelyn Hebert, for your vision and for this opportunity.

winter wish

Aside

credit - Cynthia Brackett-Vincent

credit – Cynthia Brackett-Vincent

Appears in current Fall/Winter 2013/2014 issue of Aurorean (inspired by ‘Imbolc,’ by Miriam Dyak)!

I want to regress into a world of fur and blood,
slow breathing hibernating me through the long cold
of winter, the way my dog, happy

in her hours of cuddled blanket sleeps the days
from meal to meal, oblivious to the clock’s turning
or the span of hunger that would stretch

into months were I not to feed her, walk, and feed again, releasing her back into the sleeping hours of fur
her pulse slowed by darkened hours of rest.