01 March 2010

we are not so big

A man of great compassion and teaching called Sam Dunlap officiated the ceremony of my wedding more than twelve years ago. And while I cannot quote him exactly, as he offered up prayers to the Four Directions, he said of us humans, "We are so small and weak."

And we are.

12 January 2010. Léogâne, Haiti. Earthquake magnitude 7.0. Currently 230,000 confirmed dead.

27 February 2010. Off the coast near Concepcion, Chile. Earthquake magnitude 8.8 on the Richter scale. Damage is still being assessed.

28 February 2010. 7000 miles away from Chile, in Hilo Bay, Hawaii. The waters of the bay ebbed and flowed in 20-minute cycles to the depth change of about one meter. All the water in the entire bay.

Each of these events has been widely broadcast. Yesterday, I watched a live feed from Hilo on the internet. All Pacific islands were on tsunami alert, as far away as Japan and the Aleutian Islands. The wave did hit, but thankfully caused less damage than was expected.

For all our human accomplishments, the world in which we are but Guest is a big place. We tap into the very smallest fringe of its enormity when we launch rockets into space, erect towering skyscrapers, transmit the Olympic Games from Vancouver, B.C. Canada.

The earth below us shifts in what must be a relatively minute way in the greater Universe, and Haiti crumbles. Chile collapses. All the water in Hilo Bay rises and falls. Over and again.

In keeping with the rules of Universal Paradox, as small as we are, we remain a part of the greater whole. Understanding what that means is reached through the practice of compassion. Meditation. In the extension of service to others.

My wedding ceremony more than twelve years ago was held in a meadow at the foot of Mount Adams. Before our families, friends, and the Universe itself, my husband and I spoke vows of love and commitment to each other and to our children. To All that is Sacred and Greater than Us All.

Because it is an honor, and also a great responsibility, to have the opportunity to carry love with us on our journey through this big universe.


"For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."
~ Carl Sagan

21 February 2010


In times of change, I reach back for those most familiar, my touchstones to old foundation.  

Meus terra firma.

(*groan* my readers say. she's going to quote Joyce or Tolstoy or Yeats. some classic favorite she's mad about.)

Perhaps near the end. But here, near the beginning, I give honor to the name returned to me three times yesterday: Seth Godin. His blog rolls into my iGoogle every morning; he was referenced in a job application I completed; and his Facebook page sent me a notice. You can't ignore that.

Seth says:

"Your most vivid fears are almost certainly not the most important ones. We pay attention to the loud and the urgent. This can lead us to ignore the important and achievable paths open to us--because we're so busy defending against the overwhelmingly dangerous (but unlikely) outcomes instead." (Seth Godin's Blog, Feb. 21, 2010)

Life happens. Jobs change. People change or go away. Or come back. Medical procedures happen. Grief happens. I ride out the sorrow, fear, joy and hope, as tossed as the crab fishing boats on a stormy Bering Sea. I can only hope to be half as graceful as the mighty Hillstrands or the late Capt. Phil Harris.

Early this morning when the light was still pre-dawn out my window, the words of George Webber came to me, through unsettling dreams and foggy half-sleep:

from Chapter 47: Ecclesiasticus

". . .the essence of belief is doubt, the essence of reality is questioning. The essence of Time is Flow, not Fix. The essence of faith is the knowledge that all flows and that everything must change. The growing man is Man-Alive, and his 'philosophy' must grow, must flow, with him." (You Can't Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe)

In this moment, the white and yellow daisies in a glass bowl on the table were given to me in love. I can hear my youngest child awake in the other room, and I'm fairly certain there is another cuppa tea in my very nearest future.

I remain grateful.


13 February 2010

this is called the Mystical Whole

Reading the Teh Ching today, and the chapter suddenly sounded far more familiar than from my own studies:

from Chapter 56: "He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know."

Jackie Chan's voice spoke the words in my head. It took my brain a few minutes to do a data sort, seeking the recognition (visualize the Windows turning hourglass or Mac spinning rainbow).

From The Forbidden Kingdom (2008):

Jason Tripitikas: What do we do now?
Lu Yan: How good is your Gung fu?
Jason Tripitikas: [puzzled look]
Lu Yan: He who speaks, does not Know; He who Knows, does not speak. Surely you're masterful.

One of my favorite movies. How could anyone not adore the first and only movie (so far) starring both Jackie Chan and Jet Li? I've watched it more times than I can count. First at the HD theater, Cinetopia, and lately every time I'm channel surfing and it's on HBO.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to hear Taoism from a Chinese Immortal, Jackie's character, Lu Yan. Sometimes the dots don't come together too quickly for me. Probably means my learning is not complete.

No surprise there.