Wednesday, August 20, 2014

messenger of wonder


by Mark Strand

When you see them
tell them I am still here,
that I stand on one leg while the other one dreams,
that this is the only way,

that the lies I tell them are different
from the lies I tell myself,
that by being both here and beyond
I am becoming a horizon,

that as the sun rises and sets I know my place,
that breath is what saves me,
that even the forced syllables of decline are breath,
that if the body is a coffin it is also a closet of breath,

that breath is a mirror clouded by words,
that breath is all that survives the cry for help
as it enters the stranger's ear
and stays long after the world is gone,

that breath is the beginning again, that from it
all resistance falls away, as meaning falls
away from life, or darkness fall from light,
that breath is what I give them when I send my love

Every so often on this blog, I come back to the breath. It's been a rough summer for some people I'm close to - beyond the usual. What they're battling makes my small conundrums seem small, indeed. And as usual, the backdrop to whatever is happening personally, is the daily news, which I know is overwhelming, heart-tightening, especially lately.

For myself, I have found it useful to think about this kind of breathing described by Pema Chodron:

The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seemto be. We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person we know to be hurting and who we wish to help.

You can read more about this practice here.

What I'm trying to do. Breathe in the pain and suffering of those I know who are in need. And breathe out flowers and light and beautiful colours.

Does this change the world? I don't know. I only know it changes me. 

School Prayer 

by Diane Ackerman

In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.

In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.

From I Praise My Destroyer (Vintage Books, 2000)

Perhaps it means something to offer ourselves up, as messengers of wonder, architects of peace.

In the name of the flowers and the morning light.
In the name of the cherries, ripe and red.
In the name of the innumerable shades of green and the cool nights at the end of summer.
In the name of those you love and who love you.
In the name of those who are in pain and who have huge obstacles to overcome.


  1. Dear Shawna,
    We, also, have had the most difficult summer I ever remember. Sometimes almost too much for the heart to we take our encouragements and strength where we can and with thankfulness. Your blog is like a raft for me....and as I float along, my view is of such beautiful photos and wisdom from all the writings of others you share, but most of all the delightful connections I often feel when you share your personal experience of life. The Dali Lama said something about how energy is in the space between the atoms and particles. I don't understand the science of it, but I do feel your writings that come through the long distance of the space between us arriving with much positive energy. Thank you for what I find no where else...edna (from texas)

    1. Dear Edna, So very sorry to hear about your difficult summer. And glad that this blog is a tiny respite, a raft for you from time to time. That makes me extremely happy. Thank you for your beautiful and encouraging words.


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