Category Archives: Art of Living

Musings on Hope

Hope seems to be the theme of my reading today.  The poem for the day from Shambhala was “Hope” by Emily Dickinson.  Here is the text.


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Just before reading that poem, however, I read Thich Nhat Hanh‘s discussion of hope as an obstacle in his book Peace is Every Step.
Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment.  Hope is for the future.  It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. … I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough.  Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment.
I don’t think I have a point by any of this other than to say that I think the juxtaposition of these two pieces was particularly thought provoking to me today.  I think that hope may be one of those paradoxes of life that are, to some degree, unsolvable by the intellect and must just be “sat with.”

Dandelion sun
By avmaier from USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.


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How wonderful would it be to look back on your life and realize you had accomplished something like this couple in India?

I have said it before, but it’s worth repeating.  We were made for this planet. We are to be true stewards of what we find because it doesn’t “belong” to us, whatever that means in the context of our finite lives.  We belong to the Earth, and we can take that responsibility seriously, or we can ignore it at our peril.  This couple has made a serious effort to leave their part of the planet better off than when they found it.

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Poetry Month

Since April is poetry month, Shambhala Press is sending out a poem a day from books they have published. Poets will include Rumi, Chogyam Trungpa, Jane Kenyon, Emily Dickinson and more. You can sign up to get them in your inbox here:  You know you want to.

In anticipation of poetry month, here is one of my mini fridge magnet poems that I make on my filing cabinet in my office.  It’s not Shakespeare, but I’ve seen worse, I suppose.


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Food for Nerds (like me)

I can’t stop signing up for courses on Coursera.  I’m such a nerd. Now I’m drawn to this Archaeoastronomy course.  I suppose there are worse things to do with your time.

When the universe is filled with such fascinating beauty and mystery, it’s hard not to be curious about it.

UGC 1810 and UGC 1813 in Arp 273 (captured by the Hubble Space Telescope)

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Father Sky, Mother Earth

I’ve just started reading Rev. Matthew Fox’s book The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, and, thus far, it has been excellent.  I have been a fan of Fr. Fox since I read some of his work on the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart.  Fox’s spiritual journey is one that I can relate to in some ways, at least at a surface level.  He is a former Catholic priest who was investigated by Cardinal Ratzinger (the erstwhile Pope Benedict XVI) who was at the time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern successor of the Inquisition.  Ratzinger determined that Fox’s works were dangerous and dismissed him as a “feminist theologian,” as though that were something to be ashamed of.  Fox’s censure for his theological ideas, coupled with his coming out as gay, led to him leaving the Roman Catholic Church and becoming an Episcopal priest.

The “Sacred Masculine” that Fox is looking to awaken is not to be confused with the macho, sometimes sad0-masochistic version of masculinity that so many of us have experienced or even acted out in our lives.  This masculinity is one that is in all of us, whether male or female, girl or boy, woman or man and is a force for creativity and nurturance in its own right.  Fox warns, rightly, against taking masculine or feminine archetypes as “literal,” i.e., thinking that only men can draw on masculine archetypes or access sacred masculinity – that is false.

The book begins by tracing 10 ancient masculine archetypes, reconsidering them in the light of new scientific discoveries, particularly in the field of cosmology.  The only one I’ve read so far is the Father Sky archetype. This archetype speaks to how we relate to the larger universe out there, including the sun, the moon, the stars.  Science in the modern world largely killed off the conception of the universe as a living, breathing reality, reducing it to a mechanistic, cold, impersonal place that can only be understood by mathematical calculations.

Fox, however, sees a new turn in science and cosmology in the so-called postmodern world.  Father Sky has become relevant again as we have increasingly grown to understand the ever-changing, creative processes of the universe.  As Fox says, “New stars are themselves being born every fifteen seconds, while others are dying.  And supernovas, galaxies, and human beings join in this great dance. We drink in the universe, which is not static but constantly evolving and unfolding.”  Father Sky is alive again!

Bokeh wednesday (2590257896)

It’s important to note that Father Sky and Mother Earth are nothing without each other, and we cannot exist without both of them. There is a sacred marriage between them and between these archetypal forces within each of us.  Reclaiming the archetypes and metaphors of the ancients in the light of new discoveries helps us to re-enchant our world, creating a story where we belong to one another and to the greater cosmos.  This is not about forgetting our individuality, but it’s about seeing how we all fit into a cosmos and bring our own talents and perspectives to this sacred marriage.  Yes, the Earth and Sky and Stars are for us, but we are for them, too.  You are for me, and I am for you. We often forget that second part.  We want the “take” part, but we don’t like to “give.”

Father Sky and Mother Earth remind us that the world is not ours to manipulate and control.  It is our place to bring our special gifts – our reason, our intelligence, our individuality, our abilities to build community and create beauty – to this cosmos.  What a wonderful opportunity and responsibility!

Mother Earth by Fernando Garci¦üa Aguilar

Edit:  I found this wonderful Maori work of art depicting Father Sky (Ranginui) and Mother Earth (Papatuanuku) in their tight embrace before being separated.


Another wonderful depiction can be seen here:

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I once read a series of books by Tom Hodgkinson that extolled the glories of being idle.  In fact, one is titled, How to Be Idle.  It just so happens that Hodgkinson may have been on to something, according to the author of Money Ball, Michael Lewis:

Have you ever taken on a project just so you wouldn’t be inactive, just to keep things going? How many better opportunities have you missed because that project made you too busy to pursue them? Being willing to be inactive or less active means you’ll be available when something truly worthy of your best effort comes along. It also means you’ll have the time and space to go looking for those really worthwhile projects. If you’re busy being busy, you’ll miss them.

There might be hope for me yet.

Interesting links for the lazy:

I’d include more, but I’m too lazy at the moment.

Lazy Cat at Tum Bur in Hattingen Ruhr

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On Agrarianism

We agrarians are involved in a hard, long, momentous contest, in which we are so far, and by a considerable margin, the losers. What we have undertaken to defend is the complex accomplishment of knowledge, cultural memory, skill, self-mastery, good sense, and fundamental decency—the high and indispensable art—for which we probably can find no better name than “good farming.” I mean farming as defined by agrarianism as opposed to farming as defined by industrialism: farming as the proper use and care of an immeasurable gift.

–Wendell Berry, “The Agrarian Standard,” Orion Magazine

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