Still True a Year Later

You and Annie come home today.

Annie, who now has a waist, you say,

who’ll be even more persistent in her call for supper,

given the habits she’s learned from the other kids with fur at summer camp!

I’ve made you a pot of beef ‘n barley soup to fill you when I’m away.

I’ve laid out Annie’s food mat and bowl of water to welcome her home.

Annie at Dog Camp

So much water under the bridge since I last wrote you…

We got the news we prayed for: my membership in the 30% club.

Drank a bottle of amarone with a friend to celebrate.

Gratitude and relief deep as its taste as red as my blood.

Now, how easily I’m moved to tears.

An item in the news.

A sunrise.  The birds gathering to fly to their winter home.

The green now golden glow of trees and grass in our backyard, my healing summer sanctuary.

A love song reminding me of you.

Roses at the End of Time

Winding down to the end of the line
And the falling of the curtain
I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine
Of that one truth I’m certain
I will give you roses fair
For every secret you did share
For all your words that flowed like wine
Roses at the end of time

Tonight I bless the hands of fate
That brought you to my doorway
Weary, worn and worth the wait
So willing to explore me
One rose for every vow you kept
One for every tear you wept
For all the moments you were kind
Roses at the end of time

One rose for every dream you dared
One for every wrong repaired
For all that bound your heart to mine
Roses at the end of time
Roses…

Eliza Gilkyson

Seven Star Sisters

Seven star sisters, each a Venus shining in the eastern morning sky.

 

Skin glows like moonbeams in the cloistered light of the hammam

Soft flesh – thighs, breasts and bellies

Hair loosened, free across forehead, neck and shoulder

Eyes half closed

Surrender.

 

Soaking in the warm and cool

pools of sensuous, history and story, ancient rituals

Tender dreams swirl up and through like the sandalwood incense wafting, scenting, sensing.

 

Exotic music out of time and place

Echoes of flamenco before it came to be

Imagining the route taken before making home in these Andalucian hills.

 

Hot honeyed tea, fresh with mint

a balm of generosity

Dates picked fresh

soft and warm and sweet as this moment.

 

Seven sister stars mindlessly float from hot to cool to hot again

Submerged in an elemental expanse of sky, of water

Footsteps languid on smooth clay floors

Two by two, give ourselves over to firm fingers, strong hands, primal stones.

 

Body aches and heart hurts

Monkey mind of spinning thought and worry

Give way to spacious possibility and healing hope

Up the spine.  Down the leg.

 

Tracing steps.

Following routes.

Coming home.

 

 

One From the Little Red Jot Book

Sunday, September 3, 2017: a morning walk on the lands of Finca Buenvino, Spain

The first apple, Eve’s temptation, this golden green orb of bliss.

Quince it’s called today, and many speculate this was the original harbinger of the original sin.

 

“I feel like I’m being taken care of…I didn’t expect that,” she says,

somewhat bewildered,

somewhat bemused,

her words landing softly

so as not to disturb this morning gift of remote stillness,

so different from her hustle-about urban life.

 

It’s what women do so well.

Let our hearts be broken open by love and by care.

By beauty.

Like this walnut, fresh picked from the tree.

This fig warm and honey sweet and sticky.

Juicy like Spanish love on a late summer day.

 

I have arrived, walking now with seven sisters.

Echoes of the Pleiades, that constellation of stars in a black blanket sky.

 

I am here, amidst birdsong and warm breeze.

The song of cicadas and buzzing bees.

 

Even the family’s truffle coloured pup is filled with curiosity.

What now?  Where next?

Tonglen for a Young Robin

Sitting in my sanctuary on a Saturday morning.  Journal open.  Pen in hand to capture elusive night messages.

Dream snippets.  Coffee sips.

Sudden thud on the floor to ceiling, wall-wide window.  Reverie broken.  I rise to see what damage done.

A young robin sits still amidst the tall green iris blades.  Tell-tale speckles on his rust red breast and back.  Breathing quick and shallow.  Blessedly alive though in shock.

I soundlessly kneel by the window and begin the ancient practice, trusting its promise for this fledgling sentient being.

Breathing in his incredulity. Breathing out my living yes.

In and out. Slow and steady.

I take into my heart his frozen shock.  I give out to his heart warm life energy.

Despite the solid glass that separates us, I sense a connection.  He appears to sense my prayerful presence, looking up, then finding me, looking at me.

In and out.  Slow and steady.  I direct my breath to him though the glass. Rising ever so cautiously, now through the open window.

I close my eyes.  He does, too.  I open my eyes.  He does, too.

In and out.  Slow and steady.

Head turns from side to side. Check.

Beak opens, closes. Check.

Wings flutter. Check.

Eyes focus. Check.

In and out.  Slow and steady.

And now I can’t see him, hidden under the ledge.

And now I can’t see him, having flown away.

 

Tonglen is the Tibetan word for “giving and receiving” and is the name of a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice for developing deep compassion and lessening the fear of suffering. Through this practice, we visualize receiving all the pain and suffering of another person (or other sentient being) and giving back to that person (or sentient being) all of our love, joy, well-being and peace.

Fasting From Facebook – My Lenten Ritual

“The sacred duty of being an individual is to gradually learn how to live so as to awaken the eternal within oneself.”  John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes (4)

Today is Ash Wednesday signifying within the Christian tradition the beginning of Lent, the forty days of spiritual preparation before Easter Sunday.  A week ago today, The Scientist and I made our way home from our first-in-a-decade warm winter sojourn.  We both like Alberta winters, so it wasn’t so much an escape (especially this year in the midst of an especially balmy El Nino system that’s been wreaking havoc on our city’s winter festivals) as a time for rest and renewal, with minimal decision-making and distraction.

P1010412

Packing, I finally decided to bring my tablet to continue work on the project that emerged during my first writers’ retreat in December. (I’m happy to say I did spend a warm afternoon under the cabana’s thatched roof typing away on a new love letter.  Not finished, but the bones have been set and now wait to be fleshed out once I’ve done a bit more research and reading.)  And I did check emails, only to delete spam and non-essentials so as not to be overwhelmed by an inbox of hundreds upon my return.  I’ve learned that’s a sure fire way to quickly undo the benefits of any time away.  Good plan until my little ASUS Transformer refused to turn on.  And then I received the unexpected gift of being unplugged.  Talk about a transformer!

I’ve come to know that not only am I an “adapted extrovert” – deeply introverted at heart but out of necessity and habit have learned to be “out there” and engaging – but I’m also highly sensitive by nature.  Regular doses of silence and solitude are necessary for my health and well-being.  Also, prone to anxiety and worrying, I’ve realized that too much time on computer, e-reader, and cell phone, especially in evening, overstimulate my already finely tuned system and thwart sleep.  If I’m to read at bedtime I need to feel the weight of a book’s good story in my hands to soothe, settle and sleep.

twitterinstagramLinkedinI’ve never been a big “tweeter” or “instagrammer,” and seldom go to LinkedIn except to occasionally update my profile or announce an upcoming event I’m hosting, but I really like Facebook, for lots of good reasons.  FacebookSo it caught my attention, when at our family’s Ukrainian Christmas celebration a few weeks back, I heard my thirty something nephew-in-law refer to Facebook as “Facecrack.”  It didn’t matter that I knew I used Facebook as a contemporary form of social activism, to “wage beauty” as an antidote to the day’s grief and terror. (OK, and to save a good recipe or bit of decorating whimsy.) I knew I was hooked.  For all its good, I saw how much precious time I used scrolling and sharing, distracting myself from Life, filling in the pauses meant to restore if left empty.  I felt the extent to which I’d be thrown off my centre, awash with emotions like despair, fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy in reaction to what I was reading.   And while intellectually I know there is nothing wrong with these emotions in and of themselves, the stew they created inside me took more precious time and energy to process or ignore, and then emerge ready to focus on whatever I knew really needed my attention.  So it came to me yesterday morning as I journaled that I’d continue to abstain from social media as my Lenten practice.  I would fast – from Facebook – observing the ritual undertaken by devotees across time and faiths, “to awaken the eternal within.”

I was born on Good Friday in a Christian Lutheran home, so its archetypes, stories and rituals resonate deep within, and I uphold many traditions, though now, woven with the richness coming from the various spiritual traditions I hold dear to my heart and being.  This ritual feels right, now.  I trust how it came so spontaneously, with no pre-thought, appearing in black ink from my pen as I wrote on the white page of my journal.  This is my “sacred duty.”

I look forward to what will come in these next forty days.  I look forward to the pauses that invite noticing. I look forward to time reclaimed to write my love letters, to heeding my heart’s ache that I live my life aligned with its calling.

Annie’s calling.  Time to take my ally for a walk…another sacred duty. 


If you are called to follow a practice “to awaken the eternal within,” I invite you to join me in two spring-time offerings, Lectio Poetica and Painting from Within. For details and registration please go to my website’s “Upcoming Events” and complete the contact form.  I’ll be back in touch via email or telephone.

Three at Play

It’s said there’s something auspicious about things happening in threes.

A week ago, that was the case when I tuned in The Road Home as I turned in for the night.  As luck would have it, I heard Bob, the program’s creator and host, give an update to an episode I’d heard from the previous week, wherein he recited a wonderful story by the great Persian Sufi, Hafiz, as interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky. I was deeply taken in by his first reading of “Bring the Man Here,” and then I and the community of Road Home devotees were treated to hearing it again, as context for his friend, Danny’s reply to receiving a recording of that original reading.  Then, given some restless nights last week, I heard for it for the third time, early the next morning during rebroadcast.

Bring the Man to Me

A Perfect One was traveling through the desert.
He was stretched out around the fire one night
And said to one of his close ones,
“There is a slave loose not far from us.
He escaped today from a cruel master.
His hands are still bound behind his back,
His feet are also shackled.
I can see him right now praying for God’s help.
Go to him.
Ride to that distant hill;
And about a hundred feet up and to the right
You will find a small cave.
He is there.
Do not say a single word to him.
Bring the man to me.
God requests that I personally untie his body
And press my lips to his wounds.”
The disciple mounts his horse and within two hours
Arrives at the small mountain cave.
The slave sees him coming, the slave looks frightened.
The disciple, on orders not to speak,
Gestures toward the sky, pantomining:
God saw you in prayer,
Please come with me,
A great Teacher has used his heart’s divine eye
To know your whereabouts.
The slave cannot believe this story,
And begins to shout at the man and tries to run
But trips from his bindings.
The disciple becomes forced to subdue him.
Think of this picture as they now travel:
The million candles in the sky are lit and singing.
Every particle of existence is a dancing altar
That some mysterious force worships.
The earth is a church floor whereupon
In the middle of a glorious night
Walks a slave, weeping, tied to a rope behind a horse,
With a speechless rider
Taking him toward the unknown.
Several times with all of his might the slave
Tries to break free,
Feeling he is being returned to captivity.
The rider stops, dismounts – and brings his eyes
Near the prisoner’s eyes.
A deep kindness there communicates an unbelievable hope.
The rider motions – soon, soon you will be free.
Tears roll down from the rider’s cheeks
In happiness for this man.
Anger, all this fighting and tormenting want,
Sweetheart,
God has seen you and sent a close one.
Sweetheart,
God has seen your heart in prayer
And sent me.

Love Poems from GodLadinsky is one of the west’s foremost interpreters of Hafiz, having published three volumes: The Gift, The Subject Tonight is Love, and I Heard God Laughing.  I travelled to Europe with only two books, a small handbook of Rumi, and Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God, a collection of poems from twelve sacred voices from the East and West.  Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, on their Spirituality and Practice website, describe Ladinsky as “an audacious talent with a big heart, a keen sense of humor, and a creative way of looking at things,” inviting us to make playful our relationship with the Divine.  Audacious and irreverent came to mind when I read laughing his introduction to Love Poems from God:

“I think God loves bootleggers—defiant poets who ferment the air as they sing and lift the corners of our mouths. Words about God should never bore because God is the opposite of boring. And what we say about the Gorgeous One should make Him appear a knockout. Whoever made this Universe is a Wild Guy. I think only our ecstasies offer any real clues about Him.”

Bob acknowledges that not everyone is as enamored by his audacity, and that he draws severe criticism in more traditional circles.  Nonetheless, I find his interpretations accessible, current, necessary and yes playful, inviting me to take myself less seriously.

So why so taken by “Bring the Man Here?”  An auspicious sign to have heard the story not once, but three times in a matter of days, hence worth consideration. In search of the words, I found myself at a beautiful blog called Heartsteps, a site created by someone who calls himself “Pilgrim,” as his “hook for working through a daily spiritual practice: a journal, breadcrumbs to mark his progress…to remind him to stay on the path” …the road home. Reading and re-reading, as I stayed present with my initial impulses, like dream interpretation I recognized myself in each of the characters: the Perfect One, the close one, the slave, the cruel master.

Suffice to say, there is much for me to sit with and hold light, in a playful way, which in itself might be lesson enough.  And, stumbling into Heartsteps, I realized a simple way to write more regularly here, by rescuing the moment when a poem touches my heart.

The Road Home

Threads

Earlier today, I received my daily dose of good medicine: poems and photos, courtesy of Joe Riley and his Panhala site.  Today’s gift a fond favourite by William Stafford.

The Way It Is 

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

This poem reminds me of a wonderful book I was invited to read when I visited Sufi friends in Cologne, Germany, four years ago today. Balancing Heaven and Earth is Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson‘s memoir, he the author of several pithy volumes on understanding masculine and feminine psychology and romantic love, He, and She, and We.  In it, Johnson refers to moments of guidance and right action where he followed the “slender threads” of his soul.  Introducing us to the notion in the book’s prologue, he writes:

“It is an audacious notion to put forth in this age of science and willful determination that one’s existence is somehow inspired, guided, and even managed by unseen forces outside our control.  Whether called fate, destiny, or the hand of God, slender threads are at work bringing coherence and continuity to our lives.  Over time they weave a remarkable tapestry.

…Some people seem to exert more free will over their lives.  They make plans, set goals, and proceed with full confidence of being in control.  That has never worked for me, despite my best attempts.

…In my youth I floundered around and followed the slender threads only when I felt like it or when they seemed to be taking me where I already wanted to go.  I often struggled to oppose them.  As the fruit of my old age, however, I have finally come to trust the mystery.  The mystery is this: there is one right thing and only one right thing to do at every moment.  We can either follow or resist the slender threads.”

Across the pages of his life and this book, Johnson illuminates and gives voice to these threads and their impact – sometimes subtle, always significant – on shaping him.

Of late, I haven’t been able to find the thread.  Some days, it’s felt as if I lost or let go of it, when actually it’s simply been hard to see, so fine as to be invisible.  In what I’ll call a ‘consciousness gap’ – like the knowing-doing gap – I am re-remembering how to rely on sensing rather than only seeing.  Discerning signals from my body’s knowing: Does this feel good? Make me smile? Sit lighter on my shoulders, in my heart? Does my face feel “normal” or tingle with residual, bell weather Bells Palsy sensations?

Trusting a deeper knowing that has next to nothing to do with what I think, plan, or control.

Following the ineffable.  Slender threads.

4 - The Web

Winter’s Pause

January takes her parting bow today.  After a respite that melted most of the snow and foolishly tempted both plant and birds into thinking spring was soon to be, I awoke to a once again cold, white winter.  Curious, too, my start to this year as it’s taken the month to imagine and begin to see glimmers of the returning light.

Right now, I’m in the third, middle week of the U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, Self, a MOOC (massive open online classes) hosted by MIT, featuring Otto Scharmer and his team.  Together with 25,000 people from over 190 countries around the world, we’re participating in a novel, highly experiential process to “learn how to create profound innovation in a time of disruptive change by leading from the emerging future,” by introducing the consciousness – that quality of awareness and attention – as the variable affecting the quality of the results we create in any social system.

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” — Bill O’Brien

I’ve written about Theory U before, described other times when I’ve journeyed down the U, shared how I knew in my heart and bones the quintessence of this work when I first heard Otto present his ideas in 2003 at Shambhala-Alia – even before he called it “Theory U. “ Last year several of us held a study of this course’s featured book, Leading from the Emerging Future, and twice now, I’ve co-hosted a 2-day learning lab, Leading in Emergence, designed as an abbreviated journey though the U.

ulab-overview

So given this “more than passing” familiarity, I was bowled over when last week, for the first time I actually heard that the emerging future needs me, needs us, to be born and to have life. While perhaps pretty obvious to many, I was deeply moved by this.  It’s not that I’m a passive, or even active participant.  I am, we are, midwife to that future that comes from Self, or Source, or God, or pure creativity, whatever you call the embodiment and enactment of love.

I just realized above that I wrote, “I’m in the middle of the U.Lab,” a perfect description for where I really am, both literally in the course, and metaphorically in my life – at the bottom of the U.  Work has been slow to start this year, and at the moment, I don’t see much on the horizon for the next few months.  Perhaps for one of the first times, I’m not too anxious about this.

I spend many dark dawn morning hours sitting with my Peggy dog, imagining we’re both filling up on each other before she takes her parting bow. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. Every time a vacation bargain crosses my screen, my Magpie-Crow-Raven cousins get seduced by the “shiny,” but by day’s end I delete what I know down deep is only a distraction. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now.  I feel the uncertainty, unfamiliarity and void with letting go of a life-long honed identity that once served well…with cancelling long held dreams that no longer matter …with releasing relationships that use me up.  I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. This year, The Scientist officially became a senior, and I celebrate a new decade, and face the reality that yes, while only a number, 60 is NOT the new 50; that I, he, we are entering into new and unfamiliar territory that we know will be marked by more letting go.  I remind myself, this is where I am right now.  I see how my Peggy dog has become the symbol for all that is letting go, dying, as was so starkly, heartbreakingly, blessedly revealed to me in a dream last week, a dream that when I recall, resounds deep in my gut.

So now I have time to ponder and play with something a dear friend wrote in response to my blog wherein I wrote about having been struck with Bell’s Palsy, an illness that cracked me open, whose effects continue to reverberate, and is, I now know, one of the boons from the threshold I crossed when I took leave from work and traveled to Europe in 2010-11.

“I went along for the ride (in a virtual world) when you went to Europe and I smiled and laughed and remembered my own trip many years ago. I wondered if maybe I was becoming stagnant as I don’t go too far these days and seem to be so very comfortable just being in my home. Then it occurred to me that what better way to live your truth than by getting up everyday and simply living your life? Not as a teacher or mentor or guide, but just living each day with the spontaneity that comes with a brand new day.
I am not saying we shouldn’t give back and share our knowledge, but sometimes life makes us sit back and just be, while we look at the balance or imbalance that currently is our reality.”

Perhaps this is the future that is asking to be born through me now.

For now, letting come winter’s pause to attend.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy

Consciously Attending to My New Year

Perspectives with Panache, 2014It’s been a long time since I last wrote here.  I’d started a piece on my heart’s response to being in Turkey, how I didn’t really let myself know fully “Why Turkey?” until a kind and gentle Muslim friend asked me over coffee and pastries at the Duchess one morning upon my return.  Why Turkey?  “Because of Rumi,” was my most truthful, heartful reply, as tears came suddenly.  She nodded a deep knowing.  For a good month upon my return, I reverberated with that energy, experiencing what another friend recently called “post trip stress disorder,” PTSD of a different sort, wherein we experience a range of reactions to having our paradigms and hearts cracked open.  A good thing she offered, because it means we’ve been open to the experience, letting something new come in and touch us.  Whew! So much more than just jet lag!

I never finished that piece.  I had trouble finding the words to express myself, and then time had passed with more water under the bridge.  I’ve noticed that since keeping a journal more regularly, that process holds some of what I might previously written here.  How many times I’ve noted there an even deeper appreciation for, a need for the quiet and silence that greets me in those early morning moments, and I sense this has slipped and seeped into discerning, whether or not I choose to write “out here.”

Like around Remembrance Day, I found myself pondering if and how we make space to remember those who fought on the other side, who were “the enemy.”  The notion of legitimate-illegitimate grief had been stirring inside for a couple of months, prompted by the passing of my chosen namesake. My paternal grandfather, my opa, was a German soldier killed in action and buried in France.  My father knew him for only a few short years of childhood, due to a stubborn estrangement between his parents.  Several years ago, pieces came together to help my father finally visit his father’s final resting place, taking with him his mother’s ashes, making for reconciliation, and peace.  My husband’s father, too, a young German soldier, taken as prisoner of war to England and Texas, who still eats with military-issued cutlery.  How, or do we grant those close to our hearts the honor of remembering when they have been called “enemy”?  How do we illuminate this shadowed grief and give it legitimacy? 

While questions worthy of posing here, I heeded an inner caution to take time to hold them close inside and steep in their tension.  Many times I think about Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, as it reminds me the way to reconciliation and peace “out here,” is to welcome as guest, the “enemy” inside:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Perspectives with PanacheQuiet and silence.  We’ve been having less these past weeks as our dear Peggy dog, now in her seventeenth year, has developed dementia, compounding her deafness and partial blindness.  This means she paces aimlessly through the house, nails tapping on hard wood floors, grating like nails on a chalkboard, or when cordoned off in the kitchen, ceaselessly doing laps around the table.  Sometimes we find her standing still, with her head in a corner, or open cupboard, peering into space.  Stairways, once agilely manoeuvered, now require our assistance and constant attention so she doesn’t fall. Diapers, baby food to entice her appetite, daily bathing and laundering to keep her clean, rearranging furniture and schedules, all adaptations we’re learning to make to keep safe and attend to this beloved being who has given us years of joyful companionship and wise lessons. “You’re preparing to lose her,” spoke a dear wise woman, affirming my deep sadness, both specific and amplified by the holydays.  We anticipate her time will come this year, and I make preparation to welcome that guest into my house.

It’s a grey, flat light morning here on the first day of 2015.  Right now, Peggy and our younger dog, Gentle Annie, are quiet and still, sleeping by the space heater as I write and The Scientist peruses financial forecasts.  Soon we’ll dress, have brunch, and take a family walk.  I’m thinking about my focus for the year ahead, “conscious attendant.”  It suddenly popped to mind a few days ago when, after reading my Haligonian heart-sister’s Facebook status, being reminded of her annual practice, I asked for a guiding touchstone.  A moment of discouraged disbelief, and then recognition that this so perfectly aligns with how I’ve defined myself “out here”: attending to the inner life, to live and lead with courage, clarity, compassion and creativity, and in which I am growing in comfort and confidence as I practice and value emerging gifts.  And to seal it, I discovered this thoughtful post from Parker Palmer about crossing the threshold into a new year.  Here, he references a beautiful poem by Anne Hillman, and gives us five beautiful and evocative questions to guide our crossing, and focus my attending:

  1. How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness?
  2. What is my next challenge in daring to be human?
  3. How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?
  4. Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
  5. What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?

For the Solstice I wrote this blessing and offer it to you with my sustained love and appreciation as we cross into our new year:

May the gifts of these holydays be yours throughout the coming year…

love of and for your family and friends,

health of body, mind and spirit,

work that sustains and serves,

kindness for self and others, and peace.

May you know and be peace.

The Heart’s Twin Sisters

Buddha's Daughter coverMy final summer reading was Buddha’s Daughters, a collection of teachings from women who are shaping Buddhism in the west. (In sweet synchronicity, I see the publication date is my birthday!) I didn’t quite finish, as by the September 2 due date there was a hold from another library patron. I did read enough to know that this, too, might need a home in my own library, though which book to relinquish to make space?

Blanche Hartman, in “Just to be Alive is Enough,” shared a teaching from Tara Tulku Rinpoche on gratitude and generosity. She relates a time when the teacher asked them:

“to think of everything that we thought was ours and to consider how it came to us. Our food, clothing, houses, books, tools, toys, health: anything we can think of comes to us through the kindness of others…Gratitude and generosity generate each other.” (123)

As I read this teaching, I was sitting in my “sanctuary” and paused to look around me. It was true. Everything in that room, on which my eyes rested, on which I rested, had come to me as a gift from the generosity of others. Absolutely everything. Then I looked beyond into the next room and found the same. And as I mentally reflected throughout each room in our home, I discovered much the same.

In that moment, my heart filled to overflow and came through my eyes.

I knew the truth of these words, “gratitude and generosity generate each other.”

Gratitude and generosity, the heart’s twin sisters.