Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight - from TED

Summer Snow

I am awakened this summer morn to a world gone white,
to the stillness of a world with my soul muffled
by the dense snow-like mantle of change.
All that I knew of me is made silent, yet it is My voice I hear calling.

As surely as silting snow disguises, then dissolves
the raucous colors and forms in Autumn’s garden,
so surely has the hunger of my longing to Become palled my past,
leaving me this summer morn—vacant.

Walking in the stillness of this unexpected day I ponder
colors and forms of that which I was but no longer am.
I lay myself in the soil of my muffled soul, draw around me
a chrysalis of silence, and ache for Spring.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Something to Offer the Newborn

          I believe in the giving of gifts. Not the giving of things—like neckties or fruit cakes—but the giving of the unique gifts with which we are all born, the hard to define “something” we bring with us into this world.            
          Today is the day of the birth of my grandchild, Tyler Lee Demarest. I knew Tyler was coming into this world before my daughter Rachael told me. Some thing in me anticipated this new soul, this mystery of a person who is now among us. My daughter and her husband have made a place for Tyler, made room for him at the banquet of their lives. They are good people, people who have chosen to center their lives on a family, to give from within themselves the gifts of parenting; love, humor, dignity, adventure—all the wondrous things loving parents can bundle together in the gift of nurturing a new soul.
            I . . . I was an absent father, a father who, for a list of meaningless reasons, gave very little to Rachael, else than the part I played in giving her life. I have within me an abundance of gifts, but I withheld them from my heir, withheld them not from greed but rather from a not-knowing of myself, a not-knowing of the nature and value of my unique gifts. Rachael has grown to be a remarkable woman, but she has achieved that without benefit of that which I alone could have given, without, perhaps, some essential essence only I could have imparted.
            As I contemplate Tyler’s first day I am humbled by the richness of his person, by the unblemished possibility of him. As he unfolds I hope those who love him will be generous of themselves. Tyler, for his part, has already given me the opportunity to know a bit more about myself, the opportunity to cast around in the belly of my being for something to offer the newborn.
            But the gifts we offer need not be profound. The casual but sincere smile of benevolent indifference one offers at checkout at the market—that is a gift. The holding of an elevator door, the choosing not to hear a slur when appropriate, or speaking to it when necessary—these are gifts. Being present in the moment, in every moment, is a gift to those who depend on our counsel, and rely on our native wisdom.           
            A single sun rises each day, but there are billions of daybreaks. I believe—I know—that when the day breaks tomorrow the promise of Tyler Lee will be a promise I can keep. Each face I see tomorrow will be a face reflecting the renewal of our kind—and the renewal of the need for me to bring forth of myself the offering of a better day.            

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Still Water in William Cowper's "The Task and Other Poems"

What mystery draws me forth to the becoming which is my task?  Idle searching this morning has led me blind and deaf to this evocation of life's purpose from William Cowper's The Task and Other Poems.

How various his employments, whom the world
  Calls idle, and who justly in return
  Esteems that busy world an idler, too!
  Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen,
  Delightful industry enjoyed at home,
  And nature in her cultivated trim
  Dressed to his taste, inviting him abroad—
  Can he want occupation who has these?
  Will he be idle who has much to enjoy?
  Me, therefore, studious of laborious ease,
  Not slothful; happy to deceive the time,
  Not waste it; and aware that human life
  Is but a loan to be repaid with use,
  When He shall call His debtors to account,
  From whom are all our blessings; business finds
  Even here: while sedulous I seek to improve,
  At least neglect not, or leave unemployed,
  The mind He gave me; driving it, though slack
  Too oft, and much impeded in its work
  By causes not to be divulged in vain,
  To its just point—the service of mankind.
  He that attends to his interior self,
  That has a heart and keeps it; has a mind
  That hungers and supplies it; and who seeks
  A social, not a dissipated life,
  Has business; feels himself engaged to achieve
  No unimportant, though a silent task.
  A life all turbulence and noise may seem,
  To him that leads it, wise and to be praised;
  But wisdom is a pearl with most success
  Sought in still water, and beneath clear skies.
  He that is ever occupied in storms,
  Or dives not for it or brings up instead,
  Vainly industrious, a disgraceful prize.

And the mystery, like a fog, is pierced by a teasing glimpse and the call of that still small voice.