From the “Morning” sequence, this is sonnet XVI:
Ah summer! The idyllic time of year, so nice to sit upon the beach or to lay under a large green tree, gazing aloft as clouds drift by, or perhaps we pick fresh berries and eat pie a’la mode, or that time honored tradition, to idle away hours with a really good book.
My summer reading shall be upon the nature of love. (Well, with little E around, I shall also read aloud Dr Seuss, Beatrix Potter, etc. but the point remains…summer is here.)
With the theme of love firm in my mind, off I dashed to the South Portland Library to grab an armload of poetry, from Sappho to Anne Sexton, from Rumi to Pablo Neruda, with all viewpoints in between. How rich this field!!
Throughout the summer, love poetry will adorn our Art Farm.
You see, our dear friends, planning their September wedding, have asked me to help. More precisely, to serve as official for their ceremony, their Notary Public. Now, this is entirely new to me, and at hearing their request I was speechless and without breath. But of course, yes, I do!
And so off I set now to help craft their ceremony and to give voice to the song deep in their hearts. One fine place to start this odyssey might be these lines from Rumi:
I, you, he, she, we
in the garden of mystic loves
these are not true
Another starting point, prudent and practical, would be the State of Maine, Department of the Secretary of State, “Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide”, from which I quote:
“Often, couples want other persons involved in the ceremony. This is not an issue; however, the Notary Public must, without exception, (sic) do the exchanging of the vows and make the pronouncement of marriage in addition to signing the marriage license.
Official: As an expression of your mutual desires and purpose of being joined in marriage, you will please join hands.
(Addressing the man by name): Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, promising to love, honor and cherish her, and in all respects to be a faithful husband so long as you both shall live?
Answer: I do.
Official: (Addressing the woman by name): Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, promising to love, honor and cherish him, and in all respects to be a faithful wife, so long as you both shall live?
Answer: I do.
(Rings may then be placed on the fingers.)
Official: Since you have entered into this honorable estate of matrimony by mutual promises, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of Maine, I now pronounce you husband and wife.
from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Your True Home
Have you offered your presence to the person you love? Are you so busy that you cannot be there for that person? If you are a father or a mother or a partner, generate your own presence, because that is the most precious gift you can offer.
from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Your True Home
Sometimes you encounter people who are so pure, beautiful, and content. They give you the impression that they are divine, that they actually are saints or holy beings. What you perceive in them is their awakened self, their Buddha nature, and what they reflect back to you is your own capacity for being awake.
from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Your True Home
“When we speak of listening with compassion, we usually think of listening to someone else. But we must also listen to the wounded child inside of us. Sometimes the wounded child in us needs all of our attention. That little child might emerge from the depths of your consciousness and ask for your attention. If you are mindful, you will hear his or her voice calling for help. At that moment, instead of paying attention to whatever is in front of you, go back and tenderly embrace the wounded child.”
We all need to be acknowledged and heard. It is a basic need. Most people were not heard as children by the important guardians/caregivers/role models in their lives. To a child, not being heard translates to not being important, not being worthy of love and not being good. When the child grows up he or she feels inadequate and searches for either proof that he or she is worthy, or reinforcement that he or she is not. We all have wounds and it’s important to acknowledge them and to listen.
“If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, we cannot take care of the people we love. Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.” from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Your True Home
As a parent, I’m role modeling self-care to my daughter. I cannot expect her to learn from just my words alone. I must show her how it is done – or not done. The behavior must match the words. This is not a simple task.
Nicole Foss is an author whose focus is the crossroads of peak oil, real politik and global finance; her question is ultimately about sustainability. Writing under the pseudonym “Stoneleigh” she is the Senior Editor at the Automatic Earth [www.theautomaticearth.blogspot.com].
She travelled through Maine recently and I helped organize a presentation in Portland. With less than two weeks notice, we were able to get seventy people to attend on a Monday night. The discussion lasted four hours.
Nicole’s thesis is that the bursting credit bubble will result in a severe retraction of the money supply. By reducing or even eliminating credit, only cash will remain and become extremely scarce, thus reducing the velocity of money; the pendulum will swing away from “the orgy of consumption” toward “austerity on a scale we cannot yet imagine. …As a much larger percentage of the much smaller money supply begins to chase essentials, those [essentials]…will be the least affordable of all.”
This scenario is not, she says, just financial, but compounded by decreasing supplies of oil, with increasing costs of production. “The future is at our doorstep,” she writes, “and it does not look like the past as we have known it.”
No one can know for certain whether Nicole’s scenario will play out. But that provocative message caused us to wonder about what, as a parent, we need to do to prepare our little one for a future so uncertain.
Embrace practical skills – planting a garden, baking bread, fixing a flat tire, living within a budget, to name but a few – because they are fundamentally necessary while also teaching self-reliance and help maintain freedom of action.
Live as close to the earth as practical and possible, and build social capital in our community. Personal integrity is the most enduring asset.
Play is essential. Especially in dark times, we need to create joy in our home. Art-making can fit within that, while also teaching resourcefulness and creative problem solving. That is what our art farm is really about.
Everything has its counterbalance. Even amidst dark and dire times, there is hope and light. That is not a pollyanna notion, but something essential; as a balance sheet must have assets to the liabilities, as yin has its yang.
A New England saying is “a rising tide lifts all boats.” But any Yankee fisherman also knows the tide always goes out. The real and natural cycle has both ebb and flow.
Therein lies the balance.
“One of the greatest blessings that the United States could receive in the near future would be to have her industries halted, her business discontinued, her people speechless, a great pause in her world affairs created…. We should be hushed and silent, and we should have the opportunity to learn what other people think.”
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. is a “Harvard-trained brain scientist” who documented her recovery from a major stroke. Her book is entitled My Stroke of Insight and step by step recounts her very personal experience (as both patient and scientist) through the dark, back into the light. The following passages I found intriguing as Taylor gives support to our biological drive to FEEL.
“Sensory information streams in through our sensory systems and is immediately processed through our limbic system. By the time a message reaches our cerebral cortex for higher thinking, we have already placed a ‘feeling’ upon how we view that stimulation – is this pain or is this pleasure? Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.
Because the term ‘feeling’ is broadly used, I’d like to clarify where different experiences occur in our brain. First, when we experience feelings of sadness, joy, anger, frustration, or excitement, these are emotions that are generated by the cells of our limbic system. Second, to feel something in your hands refers to the tactile or kinesthetic experience of feeling through the action of palpation. This type of feeling occurs via the sensory system of touch and involves the postcentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex. Finally, when someone contrasts what he or she feels intuitively about something (often expressed as a ‘gut feeling’) to what they think about it, this insightful awareness is a higher cognition that is grounded in the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex.”
If one takes this a step further, we might reflect on how our culture values thinking over feeling (intuitive or otherwise), and the far reaching implications for how we engage in relationships, express and take care of ourselves, raise our children and more.
“There is a story in my family about my paternal grandfather, a respected and successful, albeit bullheaded, farmer in Northern Michigan. The story…occurred during the Great Depression, in a period of poor prices. Then, my grandfather raised mostly potatoes. That fall, he loaded a truck full of potatoes and took them to the local selling shed, where buyers offered him a price he thought pathetic. So he refused to sell, backed the truck across the road, dumped the potatoes in the ditch, and then drove the truck over them to crush them, as the buyers looked on. To this day, farmers are offered pathetic prices for crops, but no one in his right mind would do what my grandfather did.
As far as I know, he was in his right mind, and besides his potatoes, he also had at home cattle, hogs, chickens, eggs my grandmother used or sold, milk and cream from cows, apples, seed potatoes saved, and manure piling up to fertilize next year’s crop. A wood lot gave him lumber and fuel to heat the house. Neighbors supplied him with labor when he needed it, and he repaid them in kind. He had alternatives and could get through a year without selling his potatoes. His was the last generation of farmers to have that independence, before it got traded away for efficiency.”