Breathe and Smile

It’s not original, but it is a potently-simple reminder this morning.

Kazuaki Tanahashi introduced the phrase within his Dharma talk entitled “Joy Density” (find the Dharma Podcast  here).  And it’s been following me around since we first heard it at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe.

Breathe and smile.

It’s probably one of those things best practiced more than talked about, so I’ll leave it here.  With you, and hopefully with me throughout the day.

Saved by the Sparkle

I am saved by the sparkle.

In a far-off tree
one flash of light invites me to look longer than a random glance.
I pause.
The sparkle continues just outside of my east window,
here on Chevy Chase.
Here in the city.

I watch in wonder as one small glint of shiny becomes a series,
a mid-morning twinkle;
a giggle of sunlight against massive yet lazy swaying limbs.

Thought suggests that these survivalist drops just might be
what remains from last night’s promise of rain.
That disappointing spit of random ounces finding redemption in the morning dew?

I am soothed by the sparkle.

It invites me.
Holds me.
Entertains my soul just long enough to make staring-out more appealing than staring-within;
derailing the train of reason as the more valued code;
offering Nature as the prayer and translator that She is.

Deeply, richly, simply and truly calling me to the quiet and wonder of fireflies in the summer,
smooth-as glass bay waters at dusk,
baby bunny rabbits near the edge of the meadow,
seamless vistas of pudgy clouds tinted in Payne’s Grey tones
against 180 degree backdrops of indigo skies;
and standing in Texas twilight;
being a witness to last light’s fade so subtle
as to denounce defining the lazy day’s end.

I look again.
By evaporation or angle, leaves are again flat green fringes on large limbs of our oaks.
The sparkle is gone but not it’s effect.

I have been shifted by the sparkle.

Her spark reminded me of the beauty I see now, and have experienced this year in Galveston, Pecos, Abiquiu, and Brenham;
and here.
Yes, God is in the City.

My Stolen Breath

TOPIC: Receiving compliments and praise; living in the tension of want and worth.

Recently I received an unexpected and touching compliment on my writing. They “got it”, which meant for me that they “got me”.

Because it was so specific, and because they shared that it had helped them in a deep and personal way, I dropped to my knees in tears. And right along side all that came the old familiar fear – of liking it, wanting it to much.

The words that followed showed up as confession and prayer.  And I wonder that they may spark a familiar sting and invitation to others, like me, who struggle between ego and worth. For those who want and fight praise and encouragement for what feels to be their very breath, and yet by faith accept the intended tension of being wonderfully and fearfully made.

In the hopes that they do bring a sense of connection and peace, I share here. Continue reading