A Morning Practice

Be easy about this. Be playful about it. Don’t work so hard at it. Let your dominant intent  be to feel good, and if you don’t feel good, then let your dominant intent be to feel relief.


There is a songbird singing in the distance.  The color of the lake is the same milky white color as the sky.  There is no horizon line yet and the shore across the lake is not visible.  The day almost warrants a fire in the the wood stove; but it feels like too many tasks would  lie between getting the warmth to come out of the stove and now; so i put on a sweater and sweat pants and I feel dressed for the morning.

Coffee is an option, but not yet a necessity.  I can still feel the sleep that encompassed me only a shortwhile ago and part of me is drawn into a semi-meditative trance where my thought flow before me, but none stand out with sufficient pronouncement to get my attention.

I love to sit and write from this state.  My ego is not so awaken to be directing me, and my right brain is not so asleep as to require complete quiet.  The place is somewhere in the middle…I feel somewhat like the milky-white scene before me.  Almost as if I have merged into a stillness and the words that I write are like soft drops of rain.  I can see them through the window and I can see the dark rigid outlines of the leaf-less april trees, but I really have no desire to be anywhere else but right here, gazing out into the world and being entertained by the day that softly dances before me and the soft drop of words that fall into place one after the other like dominoes falling in slow-motion, or the ripples in the lake that seem to forever be moving one after the other toward the shore.

Gratitude is so darn easy from this location.  Everything feels right and when I reach for a thought it is dangling in front of me like low-hanging fruit, ripe and mine for the picking.  I love to watch the words as they stretch themselves into sentences and the sentences as they stretch themselves into paragraphs, and the paragraphs as they become dominant thoughts that are guided by my feeling that all is right and that for the moment I am as much in heaven as I am on earth….

My Peace I give to you.  My Faith, my Hope, I give to you and ask that you treat this fragile human condition with a gentle hand and a gentle mind.  I do not expect it to be easy for you to accept these gifts from the universe that I offer you through the intercession of my own awareness of a larger presence.  I expect that it might even be difficult to read these words in the slow and deliberate way that I am asking you to read them…

I ask you to read them and to read them slowly because there is a cadence, a rhythm that you must follow if you are at all eager to find your own brand of serenity and stillness.  I am not offering you anything that is mine to give, I am simply a channel, a portal through which these moments of solitude are passed on from one human heart to another.

God did not teach this to me.  If he did, he did so by passing it through his creations–the songbird, the milky-white sky that touches down in the horizon to merge with the milky-white lake, and the multitude of friends and strangers who were generous and wise enough to share their essential souls with me.

How much can be said about stillness before you are breaking the meditative silence of truth that resonates like Maria’s cello insisting that I be glad with a love of life.  I pause here–you can too.   Pause…., breath…., pause again…breath again.  Listen &  let your senses direct you to where you store the stillness of the universe inside of you.  Do not feel rushed to end this moment.  Let this moment end itself in a gradual way.  A moment, you know is very different from a second or a minute. Seconds and minutes and hours and life times are measurements of quantities of time.  But a moment is a timeless thing.  It can go on and on, or it can be slashed down to an instrument of time in less than a second.  A moment is a location not a quantity.  As this moment awakens me to a new day, I like to savor the sensation of being here now, of experiencing for one more moment my vitality which lends itself to my psychic energy and blends itself into an emerging day.

At some point soon in time, I will let my egoic self take over–make a list, shower its body, comb its hair and brush its teeth.  At some point, I will be ready to awaken from this wonderfully quiet meditative moment, half past five and a quarter to the hour, still dark from its evening sleep. The day will begin to have a mind of its own.  I will follow it into events, some of which I can anticipate and other which will surprise me with deep feelings of joy, or sadness; or an event will spark a spartan anger that I will let flare into a full pain-body.  I have no idea where life will bring me today.  It may look remarkably like yesterday did, or it may be nothing like I have ever experienced before.

But before I let this awakening moment go, I want to follow it into one more round of stillness.  You can stop reading here, or if you like you can follow me into one other aspect of stillness.  I won’t be long.  I can feel the pulse of life calling me.  My piano is calling for me to browse its keys, my pen is calling me to draw lines and cross-hatches and shades of walnut-brown onto a blank canvas. I am slowly beginning to hear more of the sounds emerging from the world.  Appliances are humming in the background, a scarlet cardinal bird is whistling a conversation to its mate.  (they seem louder, the birds do, in early spring then when it was winter on the pond.)

O.K.  my eyes are closed, my fingers are punching keys and my mind is reciting words that I am processing onto the page. Part of me regrets that it is not my fountain pen that is capturing these words, but it would never handle the speed that the words are rolling out onto the page.  I hear the words coming from a voice inside of me.  I think it is my voice, or at least it is that voice which I have always heard in the background of my mind.  But now I give those words their due diligence.  I pay attention to what is being said and I let those words see the light of day.  They are partially my words, but they come from an accumulation of life times some of which were not mine.  I am not at all concerned with who the words are coming from–they could be all mine or they could belong to a god.  But regardless,these words speak a different tone then they have ever spoken before.  I am allowing them to be gentle, to be soothing.  I am thinking of these words as a morning prayer.  The kind you might imagine a monk or a nun praying before breakfast.   They are words that belong to a devoted soul.  They belong to a soul devoted to discovering the truth of stillness not so much as a means to an end, but more as an end in itself.    I speak them with caution and they ramble from me with no particular goal in mind.  The words are streams of consciousness emerging into a world already brilliant and resplendent with gems. They take their rightful place at the right hand of god.  They are words of salvation because they savor the essence of life by contributing and guiding me, & you if you like, toward whatever it is that we call sacred.

The moment is still but fading and the world that my ego is use to is coming back into form.  The noises are more clashing and clanging then they were just a moment ago.  I am aware not only of my breath but of the limited breaths that we each are given by who ever it is that is doling out these moments in time.  As the stillness gives way to the world we live in, I surrender to giving thanks for one more day in earth’s paradise, and I hope that when I run into some situation that threatens to make my blood boil, I hope I have the presence of mind to recall this one everlasting moment that I had a chance to savor even before the coffee was brewed.

It is as equally important to know where you left your stillness as it is to know where you left your keys.

Sanctuary Road: a state of grace

Stuffed Pumpkins & baked  apples, cardigan sweaters & wood fires, long lingering evenings after short cold days these are a few of my favorite things.

I am basically lazy.  In part my not wanting to leave home may have something to do with where I have chosen to live.  I am situated on a dirt road between Burlingame State Park & the Kimball Bird Sanctuary.  The name of the road is Sanctuary Road.  No wonder my house feels like a church to me.  There are no street lights and I look out over what has affectionately become known as Walden Pond 2

Walden 2When Saturday morning arrives, I usually feel ready for just about anything.  I think that arises from the sense of freedom that I have come to give myself on Saturday mornings.  I can write, paint, draw, play my keyboard…or, if I prefer do nothing.  Doing nothing, just ‘putsing’ around,. is a leisure time activity very near meditating for me.

This morning is gray, the leaves are still green, but it is clearly a fall morning.  The wind is a lot stronger than a breeze and everything seems to be moving slightly, although everything is clearly attached and feels very secure.  The day sets itself up for me as a canvas to contemplate.  I am acutely aware of muted colors.  The reds are more of a rust and the browns are actually a light gray & the greens are more dusty than brilliant.  I feel a painting coming on.topaz & corel pen ink2

But, before I begin what ever activity the universe leads me to, I want to spend another moment with this conscious connection with my soul.  I have become aware, again,  that it is gratitude that feeds my spirit.  And although I am not always able to muster up the energy to get myself there whenever I contemplate the list of “things” and “conditions” that nourish me, I FEEL better.  However, I am not always capable of praying in that way.  There are time when worrying, and filling my mind with fear and negative words takes my breath away.

I say, my breath because when I sit in meditation there are always two things that immediately come to my mind.  I am breathing and I am thinking.  When my thinking is so strong I forget to remember that when I concentrate on my breath I can remove my focus from my egoic thinking mind and for a brief time,  I feel calm and spiritually fit.

I am reminded that I am in touch with my soul by the energy  that I have for creative projects when I am in a state of gratitude instead of a state of fear and worry…..below is a recent watercolor that I titled, Island Meadowbridge island meadow