27 03 2013

WATER LEAVES       There are times when, unanticipated, a moment captures the spirit:

shadows cast upon a moss tinted fence…

the simple symbiotic union of grass and dirt supporting

an old red maple outside the window…

being in the presence of a child’s wonder…

looking across a pond painted with the stoke of

nature’s brush…

And in that sacred moment, we are visited by:

a peace…

a joy…

a thirst…

a longing to travel deeper,

          wanting to be deeper…

          a sense of being held tenderly, dearly…

yet offered freedom and invited to live intentionally our

“one wild and precious life”. *

Time is suspended… the Spirit stirs… and somewhere, from deep within, we hear, “welcome”…” *(Mary Oliver, The Summer Day)


Wild and Tamed – our paradox…

9 10 2012





While on a hike, I came across this fence separating the neatly trimmed grass and the free growing, untamed grass. A line from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day”, came to mind:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

(from New and Selected Poems, 1992)

I also noticed that the fence is bowed as if each side pushes toward and longs for the life of the other. I wonder if this is a parable of our own lives?

“The Presence of Slowing”

29 06 2012




In his book, The Wisdom of Wilderness, Gerald May talks about “The Presence of Slowing.”


This presence cannot be grasped nor contained;

We cannot hold it for our own…

We can only be aware;


Be ready to welcome;

Open to let this Presence wash over us…

Lean into its sanctuary…

And let it go


Mary Oliver’s words come to mind:

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

(from “Yes! No!”, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Eassays

Sky On Fire…

26 04 2012


Sky on fire…
From my window, dawn creation asks,
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
(Mary Oliver, The Summer Day)

Losing Your Life…

19 02 2011

It calls to me like a stranger. Yet, somewhere…somewhere deep down, it sounds like a voice calling me home – “let go”. It’s a scary, risky offer. If I choose this path, for real transformation to occur, I know it’s not a one-time decision. It’s not like getting an immunization shot – once and your good for life. This will be a process…a journey…a pilgrimage. I will struggle…I will get frustrated…I will fail…I will feel I am on my own – alone. But, there will be times of pure, unspeakable joy; times of deep freedom that no dictator could suppress; times when I will feel at home in my own skin – peace; times when I will know, without a doubt, that I am loved to the core, with an authentic love that continually pursues me. All through life, these times of shadows and these times of light will mingle – creating a rhythm…a dance.

As of late, this invitation to let go has been persistent, presenting itself in many forms, in a variety of places and spaces – often surprising me. Its echoes pursue me from familiar text heard as a child:

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25 (NIV)

It seeps into the ordinary routines of life like checking my email (a daily quote, Daily Faith, I receive from Well for the Journey):

“To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are, without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them…. It’s akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding onto.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life


“[I]t is essential to learn ways to free ourselves from the artificial and unnecessary limits we impose …This liberation involves recognizing and letting go of old structures and boundaries …”-Thomas Plante and Carl E. Thoresen, Spirit, Science and Health

The invitation saturates the air as musical lyrics and notes play in songs like Get Up Early by Maggie Sansone (Dance Upon the Shorewww.maggiesansone.com) and Let it Go and Vista by David Wilcox (Vistawww.davidwilcox.com)

It interrupts my thoughts as I walk through the day – a mixture of Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, with the whispers of the Spirit within me: “Greg, let go the reins of your wild wonderful life.” It haunts me as I watch loved ones slowly and unwillingly let go of themselves…loose themselves, to dementia and Alzheimer’s – where the present moment is the most important moment.  And I experience this invitation as a fire deep in my gut – a desire to…a movement toward…a welling up of – letting go. “Lose yourself Greg…loosen your grip…hold things lightly.”

My response more often than not?: ”What? Lose myself? But I’ve worked so hard to find my self…all that therapy…all that confrontation…all that struggle…I’m just finding myself – now I’m being asked to loose myself?”

But I’m learning…slowly…through daily struggles and by loosening my grip (one finger at a time) – letting go of all I think I want or need. And, I am learning that this kind of loosing myself is not the same as before…when I had no sense of self. With this losing, there is a gaining…there is a discovery of my true God-created self. I’m finding my life…abundant life. It’s like giving myself away only to receive myself back again…a little closer to wholeness.

So this is my struggle – do I accept this invitation…today?  Do I want to find – save – my life by losing it? Are the stakes that high? (I’ve lost myself before…to the point I wasn’t sure I existed). Some days I’m just not sure it’s worth it…other days I want nothing more…I want to take deep gulps of the freedom this path brings. It’s like hitting that one, sweet golf shot among all the bad ones…that one shot that keeps you coming back. It’s like among all those botched recipe trials, creating that one perfect dish that drives you to get your hands messy again.

Today, I hit a good shot…the recipe was a success. Tomorrow another invitation will be waiting for me when I awake. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

What invitation is waiting for you?


Just Breath

22 01 2011

Now I think there is only one subject worth my attention

and that is the recognition of the spiritual side of the world

and, within this recognition, the condition of my own spiritual

state. I am not talking about having faith necessarily, although

one hopes to. What I mean by spirituality is not theology, but attitude.

Mary Oliver, Winter Hours

(Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999)

In his book, God of Dirt: Mary Oliver and the other Book of God (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), Thomas W. Mann talks about natural spirituality – “how one relates to the natural world as the realm of God.” (p. 11) He then reminds us that the word spirit – at its root – has the primary meaning of “wind” or “breath.” Mann goes on to point out the interdependence of humans and the natural world; especially between humans and plants – one breathing out carbon dioxide that the other takes in as life, then the other exhaling oxygen…life for the one.

The realm of relationship with God is the same – breathing in God’s Spirit…God’s breath-giving life. And then exhaling our gratefulness; our expectant hearts’ deires; our questions; our inner quietness…listening again for God’s life-giving wind that blows in and through us. In this sacred relationship there is an ongoing conversation between the Spirit and our spirit. And like in any conversation, we learn that listening is at the heart…intentional focus on the One who is speaking. At listening’s foundation is trust and an active waiting – a trust which is a letting go…a patience that is open to and expectant of hearing God’s voice within living life. It is looking into God’s eyes and not looking beyond God’s gaze to the next thing.

Often my spiritual breathing is labored with no clear rhythm. I try to control the natural exchange of Spirit to spirit. My spirit’s knuckles become white from the firm grip I exert – trying to hold on to expectations…trying to hold everything in my mind – not giving heed to the heart. I hold my breath thinking I can sustain life on my own. But just as a deepening relationship is a process, so is the process of “letting go” – of not laboring after every breath…of trusting the natural rhythm…of learning to be open to God…to just be. The grace and good news is that we do not have to do this alone. God reminds us of the natural heart-to-heart that takes place in every day living with the One who gives life. The key is to let our breathing happen naturally – not rushed…not controlled …just being patient. For in the patience, in the waiting, in the listening, conversion happens – a little more Light shines within…we see a little more clearly through the dimmed glass… we feel our hearts begin to change – they soften, feeling more deeply for those around us. Our grip loosens. We find our palms are face-up, ready to receive – ready for servanthood. Our vision changes – ego begins to fade to the background and compassion for all creation surfaces.

God encourages us…gently speaking with a longing for us to listen more deeply – to love more intimately. And when we find ourselves breathing harmful fumes of hate, rage, manipulation, revenge, self-loathing, and passive-aggressiveness…when we are distracted by ego or by the world’s expectations, God’s breath whispers, “I am coming to you,” gently calling us back to the natural, holy breathing of Spirit to spirit.

God help us to just breath…