Appreciation is the sacrament.
Another class is finished…the autumn one entitled
“Facing the Future: Resources for a Rebirth of Wonder”
“Rebirth of wonder” comes from lines in a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem—
“I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder”
I’m not “awaiting” …I’ve experienced rebirth over and over
From the gathering of friends on and beyond Wise Avenue…
Dianne Lee’s commitment to “Whenever we see or think your name, you exist”
Provokes a more ardent anamnesis
Bill Quick’s ever genial receptivity
Models how to be in a learning environment
Chris Wallach’s intimate connection to Dipa Ma
Shows the way for “concentration, lovingkindness and peace”
Sarah Burkemper’s Nerudean ode to the first cucumber of the summer season
Awakens my amazement at the ordinary Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah shared this writing in our Facing the Future class this autumn, and I am happy to share it with you!
I generally am not a mindful eater. I eat breakfast standing at the counter, lunch at my desk at work, and dinner slumped on the couch with a bowl on my lap. I forget, neglect, and fail to pause before I eat to offer gratitude for my food and for those who worked to produce it.
But there is one time a year when my gratitude cannot be contained and manifests itself in a ritual celebrating the arrival of a perfect food. That is on the day of the first cucumber.
I harvest the first cucumber around the third week of June. The first one is never truly large enough to pick, but I have no patience to wait any longer. It is usually only one inch in diameter and three to four inches long, barely large enough to slice.
I pick the first cucumber, bring it into the house, and wait until everyone in the family is present. I slice it into pieces and place it on the glass plate reserved for this occasion. I carry the plate around the house, and offer slices to Liz, Ben, and Joe (and Anne, though she refuses). As I distribute the slices, I ask everyone, “Isn’t this incredible? Can you believe the flavor? Have you ever had a better cucumber?” I badger them until I get what I think is the appropriate response.
The first cucumber is incredible! It is perfectly crunchy. It has a subtle sweetness and a pure cucumber flavor. There is no toughness to the seeds. In fact, they are not even fully formed seeds yet, but merely little pockets of moisture embedded in the center. The color of the flesh is a light but rich green with no translucence. The cucumber needs no dressing, as any added flavor would diminish its essence. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve read Anne Waldman since 2001 (Fast Speaking Woman: Chants and Essays got me started). Her epics, poems, interviews, and edited anthologies (from the Kerouac School at Naropa) stimulate and open up possibilities. One of her most engaging books is OUTRIDER: Poems, Essays, Interviews. For you, friends in the writing sangha, I offer the following passages: May one or more of these be a goad, an encouragement, an invitation.
Worry the essential library. Write what you would want to read. Utopian poetics, what you want to read. 15
A good idea: Contemplative education. Non-competitive education. 17
Maker of books she might be. Maker of schools. 23
Encourage street corner culture. What happens below the radar. 27
Nowhere to go again but the library. 29
To contend, to enliven, to distance, to advocate, to investigate, to rally, to prioritize, to surprise. 31
To vocalize. To mouth the impossible. 31
I have declared in one manifesto, a writing beyond gender, and have tried to inspire a poet’s Bodhisattva Vow, in which one becomes a bridge, a path, a shelter, whatever is required, for others. And one reads and studies and performs… for the benefit of others. 46 Read the rest of this entry »
Ten years ago, because of a Social Justice theology class, I got to know Melissa Banerjee, a Bengali-American. It made sense to me to give her a hardback edition of the The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Later on, after staying several weeks in India, she brought back to me Letters of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s foremost disciple. Melissa inscribed the book this way: “Dr C., Hope this brings you a small ‘piece’ of the peace I experienced at Sri Ramakrishna’s Mission and Math at Belur, Kolkata.”
This selection of Vivekananda’s letters range from 1888 to 1902, and address members of his community as well as Westerners eager to learn more about Indian spirituality. The following is a small sample of passages I noted of the swami’s observations, advice, exhortation, and insight…
On the Buddha: His greatness lies in his unrivaled sympathy. 18
Have faith in yourselves, great convictions are the mothers of great deeds. 64
Every soul is a sun covered over with clouds of ignorance, the difference between soul and soul is due to the difference in density of these layers of clouds. 69 Read the rest of this entry »