Circling the White Elephant

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The Carousel (I)
Jardin du Luxembourg

Under its canopy, in the shade it casts,
turns a world with painted horses,
all from a land that lingers a while before it disappears.
Some, it’s true, are harnessed to a wagon,
but all have valor in their eyes.
A fierce red lion leaps among them,
and here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
Even a stag appears, straight from the forest,
except for the saddle he wears, and, buckled on it, a small boy in blue. And a boy in white rides the lion,
gripping it with small clenched hands,
while the lion flashes teeth and tongue.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
And riding past on charging horses come girls,
bright-eyed, almost too old now for this children’s play.
With the horses rising under them, they are looking
up and off to what awaits.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.

New Poems
in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

The Carousel (II)

It goes on and hurries to some end,
just circling and turning without a goal.
Flashes of red, of green, of grey whirl past,
solid shapes barely glimpsed.
Sometimes a smile comes toward us, and, like a blessing,
shines and is gone in this dizzying parade with no destination.
New Poems

in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

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Lately, many of us have been feeling like passengers on a carousel, circling around a snow-white elephant in the room of our battered psyches. Whether the elephant is elections, confirmation hearings, Brexit, hurricanes or earthquakes, we can’t seem to step out of the fray.

Rilke offers a way out.  Let’s give the elephants their just due, then turn our attention to the smiles, the blessings we see as we circle.  This carousel of life has no destination.  It is how we ride the horse that matters.

I see a smile today in the example of a friend who is circling her third and possible final encounter with cancer. Her honest, intentional living is a blessing to me.  I am choosing to live in that light today and invite you to also bask in it.  I extend the merits of this meditation to you and to all sentient beings.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:https://www.pexels.com/photo/carousel-with-lights-1403653/Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu from Pexels

Response photo: http://www.pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Make Light

Puget Sound Jellyfish

 

My sister shared this photo which she took while on an outing to Alki Beach in West Seattle- our adolescent playground. I responded to it on a cellular level. Not because of conjured memories- it was the jellyfish that pulled me into their light with the enticing movement of their tentacles. They calm me. “What do you want me to learn? I asked them.

A National Geographic/Nova documentary, “Creatures of light” gave me the answer in a query posed by a scientist, “How to survive the dark? Make Light.” The documentary is a study of bioluminescence in more than 200 species of deep-sea creatures and the bioflorescence of many land creatures. Light is the stuff of life for them.

In biofloresencence species take light from an external source and give it back. Watching fireflies on an otherwise stifling summer night. What a gift. As human beings, our spirits catch the light from other beings and store it deep in our souls where it generates more light. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn.1:5

In bioluminescence, species create their own light. It is programmed into their genes. My imagination goes to the magic of Pandora, in the film Avatar.

Navi-River-Journey_Full_30133_picmonkeyed

Human beings are body and spirit and spirit is light. Light is as integral to our spirits as it is to the genes of bioluminescent creatures. With light we can make light. 

Give-receive–give-receive. I celebrate this interdependence on the weekend when Americans bow to independence.

 

 

Photo Credit Avatar: http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/navi-river-journey/news/16may2017-review-and-pov-video—na’vi-river-journey-on-pandora—the-world-of-avatar.htm

 

 

Coping With Urban Noise

My View of the Lake

 

This photo shows the view I have from my camping chair under the trees at my sprawling urban apartment complex.  The houses and the boats and the docks are removed.  I only wish I could remove the noise that accompanies them.  It was quite hot in my corner of the world the other day, so I went down to my sanctuary to read in the shade.  My peace was interjected with loud voices and a radio at the nearby swimming pool, and the blast of city machinery doing maintainance on the trail next to us.  Traffic on the congested arterial on the other side provided percussion for this orchestra of pollution.  Given all the variables in my life, this is the best place for me to live, so I must learn to cope.  I take myself away to the beach at off times of day, and that helps immensely.  This early this morning before the noise ensued I heard birds and bullfrogs.  Delightful. This is not enough, however.  I have to make peace with this situation, so I returned to the mindfulness teaching of Thicht Naht Hanh.  In response to a question about dealing with stress at work, he said this:

  “…when you hear the telephone ringing you can consider it to be the sound of the mindfulness bell. You practice telephone meditation. Every time you hear the telephone ringing you stay exactly where you are (laughter). You breathe in and breathe out and enjoy your breathing. Listen, listen-this wonderful sound brings you back to your true home. Then when you hear the second ring you stand up and you go to the telephone with dignity (laughter). That means in the style of walking meditation (laughter). You know that you can afford to do that, because if the other person has something really important to tell you, she will not hang up before the third ring. That is what we call telephone meditation. We use the sound as the bell of mindfulness.” Thicht Nhat Hanh  www.ic.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/dailylife/thayq-a.html

So, I will try using the sound of the leaf blower as the bell of mindfulness.  Hopefully my faithfulness to the practice will replace impatience and frustration.  You may find the embedded video helpful.  Sister Dang Nhiem from Deer Park Monastery.  I close with her  “Poem for Inviting the Bell.”

My body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.

I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.

May the hearer awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety.