Category Archives: Nourishing Words

Writings of others I want you to know about

We must unhumanize ourselves a little

Carmel Point

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—
How beautiful when we first beheld it.
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads—
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?

Sunburst at Sea 375












Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. — As for us:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we are made from.

by Robinson Jeffers, 1929
Image: Lovell Birge Harrison (1854-1929)
Sunburst at Sea, c. 1913
The Johnson Collection

Beneath your chosen path

EecummingsNewMoonWEBWhen the garden of your unchosen lives has enough space to breathe beneath your chosen path, your life enjoys a vitality and a sense of creative tension. Rilke refers to this as “the repository of unlived things.”  You know that you have not compromised the immensity that you carry, and in which you participate. You have not avoided the call of commitment; yet you hold your loyalty to your chosen path in such a way as to be true to the blessings and dangers of life’s passionate sacramentality.

No life is single. Around and beneath each life is the living presence of these adjacencies. Often, it is not the fact of our choosing that is vital, but rather the way we hold that choice. In so far as we can, we should ensure that our chosen path is not a flight from complexity. If we opt for complacency, we exclude ourselves from the adventure of being human. Where all danger is neutralized, nothing can ever grow.

To keep the borders of choice porous demands critical vigilance and affective hospitality. To live in such a way invites risk and engages complexity. Life cannot be neatly compartmentalized. Once the psyche is engaged with such invitation and courage, it is no longer possible to practice tidy psychological housekeeping. To keep one’s views and convictions permeable is to risk the intake of new possibility, which can lead to awkward change. Yet the integrity of growth demands such courage and vulnerability from us; otherwise the tissues of our sensibility atrophy and we become trapped behind the same predictable mask of behavior.

~ John O’Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

This entry comes to us courtesy of Dean Keller at The Beauty We Love,
one of the online repositories of insight that I visit on a regular basis 

Image: e.e. cummings, New Moon

The Real Work

Wendell berryIt may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words, 1983

May what I do flow from me

May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours I, 12

Translation: Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
From A Year With Rilke

Love what you love


Love what you love,
all the more fiercely because it will not last forever.

Cherish each moment,
all the more precious because grace is fleeting.

Seek not triumph, but balance;
not the straight trajectory upwards, but the circle,
the turning wheel that brings us back to fruitful earth
where the only constant is our continual choice and ability to love.

Starhawk, Summer Solstice 2012
Contribution to On Faith, Washington Post  


Image: lisaluv

Shining in the distance

Already my gaze is upon the hill, the sunlit one.

The way to it, barely begun, lies ahead.

So we are grasped by what we have not grasped,

full of promise, shining in the distance.

Simple mountains  1











It changes us, even if we do not reach it,

into something we barely sense, but are;

a movement beckons, answering our movement….

But we just feel the wind against us.

For Rosalinda,
and for me.
A page turning;
always beginning now

Rainer Maria Rilke, Uncollected Poems

Translation: Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
From A Year With Rilke

Painting: Aletha Kuschan

Birthday blessings

Thank you

Great spirit, I say “thank you”

For putting life inside of me

Great spirit, I send my thanks to you

For all the blessings I can see

And all the blessings I cannot see



I sing this these resonant words whenever I visit hot springs.  And other times outdoors.  But always at hot springs.  I sang them this morning in the springs at Bodhi Manda as the pre-dawn sky turned from grey to light blue and the still-to-come sun brushed a few clouds with pink, 55 years after the morning I was born into this world.

Originally heard years ago; from a song by Oregon songstress Alice DiMicele (from searching for Alice, I see it’s also a Biblical reference…)

Image from RexWall

Depth roots us in the world


The moments we enjoy most as they unfold, and that we treasure long afterward, are the ones we experience most deeply. Depth roots us in the world, gives life substance and wholeness. It enriches our work, our relationships, everything we do. It’s the essential ingredient of a good life and one of the qualities we admire most in others.

William Powers
From Hamlet’s Blackberry:
Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

(Painting: John Twachtman, Winter Harmony)

Hard to plan the day


E.B. White, in a 1969 interview with Israel Shenker:


If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem.

But every morning I awake torn between the desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it.

This makes it hard to plan the day!







Photo by Jeff Clay, Clayhaus Photography


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