Nothing Is Holier

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For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” From “Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte” by Hermann Hesse

WOW! I will never look at a tree the same again. I am grateful to Mr. Hesse for widening my view.

Love the trees until their leaves fall off,
then encourage them to try again next year.
Chad Sugg

From the Twisted Metal

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Every morning I make a posts on two other blogs I keep other than this one. With the description “love is so short, forgetting is so long” www.brokenheartsanonymous.com is centered on the pain and sorrow love can bring. On the flip side is my blog www.loveletterdaily.com which celebrates the sweetness of love at its best (“Passages from Poetry, Love letters and Expressions of the Heart”) .

Do I love “love”? You betcha, but if I ever was lost in the fantasy and make-believe of it, I am over that. However, I am grateful for the reverence I hold for love that is possible between a man and woman. “Once upon a time…” still has meaning!

I have not loved often, but I have loved deeply with all my being. To have felt such deep emotion once is a blessing. More than once is something I never imagined possible, but have experienced.

With each heartbreak I learned about the value of love. My mistakes have been great teachers. The lesson that hurting one I love left great pain in my heart and was an important teaching to suffer through. In my pain was forged a faithful heart.

I dreamed I spoke in another’s language,
I dreamed I lived in another’s skin,
I dreamed I was my own beloved,
I dreamed I was a tiger’s kin.

I dreamed that Eden lived inside me,
And when I breathed a garden came,
I dreamed I knew all of Creation,
I dreamed I knew the Creator’s name.

I dreamed–and this dream was the finest–
That all I dreamed was real and true,
And we would live in joy forever,
You in me, and me in you.
From “Days of Magic, Nights of War”
by Clive Barker

Healthy love” is the warm cherishing of another person without expectation and clinging. This love “accepts” all aspects of another person and “requires” nothing from them. This love is something we create in our own heart and give as our gift, freely, willingly. With a compassionate, open heart, we truly, sincerely, authentically want the best for the other person: the best seat in the restaurant, the best of ourselves, the best job, the most fulfilling life they can have. We create this contentment in order to share it; we don’t depend on the other person in order to feel it. This “unselfish” love doesn’t need the other person’s happiness in order to exist, but it knows that when we increase someone else’s happiness, everyone’s happiness, satisfaction, and contentment multiply exponentially. Love is an essential part of life. It is the expression of inner happiness and contentment. Karuna Cayton

And so my once dysfunctional love affair with love, is no less strong than before, but has morphed into a positive presence within me. No longer the untrained steed, loves power can take me safely upon its back.  I am grateful for each woman I have loved and who loved me. Each one was a blacksmith of my heart who helped burn, shape and forge the faithful heart within me from the twisted metal it once was.

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.
Rumi

My Close Relationship with Melody and Rhythm

-------------------040ede0eFrom the time I can remember, music has been around me. My young parents were music fans who had a radio on most of the time. My youngest formative years were spent with Elvis, Hank Sr. and Patsy Cline.

By grammar school it was “Top 40” of the 60’s that was a soundtrack for my life. Today to sort out roughly what year a song came out all I have to do is think about what memories the tune brings up. From what I recall I can tell you where I lived and what was going on with me around the time the song was a big hit.

Lacking good examples of healthy emotions from my family of origin, many of my deepest feelings were developed through music. Every meaningful relationship I have ever had is associated musically in my memory.

During my brooding late teens/early twenties of the 70’s, lyrics like James Taylor’s influenced me (I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend…).

Early memories of falling in love are associated with songs like Chicago’s “Beginnings” (When I’m with you, it doesn’t matter where we are, or what we’re doing. I’m with you, that’s all that matters…)

By the 80’s such feelings were better described by George Michael (If you are the desert, I’ll be the sea, If you ever hunger, hunger for me, whatever you ask for that’s what I’ll be…)

REM spoke about the type confusion I felt in the 90’s when success turned out to be mostly an empty achievement (That’s me in the corner, That’s me in the spotlight, Losing my religion…). Collective Soul’s “Shine” was another song for my quandaries then (Teach me how to speak, Teach me how to share, Teach me where to go, Tell me love will be there…).

In more recent times lyrics like Ha ha ha, bless your soul, You really think you’re in control? Well, I think you’re crazy… from Knarles Barkley or Confusion never stops, Closing walls and ticking clocks from Coldplay suggested change. Forgiveness and renewal had begun within me when Linkin Park’s words hit home (For what I’ve done, I start again, And whatever pain may come, Today this ends, I’m forgiving what I’ve done…).

Music exists in every culture, and infants have excellent musical abilities that cannot be explained by learning. Mothers everywhere sing to their infants because babies understand it. …certain cells in the right hemisphere respond more to melody than to language. Evidence suggests that long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards–in language skills, reasoning and creativity–and boosts social adjustment. Music exercises the brain. Norman M. Weinberger

There is equipment that plays music in just about every room in my home. I can’t imagine life without it. Music has been companion, solace, teacher, compatriot, consoler and more. Whether they bring up a happy thought, a sad memory, a painful recollection or a delightful remembrance I am profoundly grateful for my close relationship with melody and rhythm. Music has been a friend that has never forsaken me.

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words
and that which cannot remain silent.
Victor Hugo

Home Sweet Home

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There are stories from the American Civil War before a battle when the soldiers of one side would begin to sing and the opposing arm would then join in from the distance. Singing “Home Sweet Home” in unison was said by many who fought to be one of the few good memories of the great conflict.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home!
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.

I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child
As she looks on the moon from our own cottage door
Through the woodbine whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.

An exile from home splendor dazzles in vain
Oh, give me my low, thatched cottage again,
The birds singing gaily that come at my call,
Give me them with that peace of mind, dearer than all.

How sweet ’tis to sit ‘neath a fond father’s smile,
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile.
Let others delight ‘mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh give me the pleasures of home.

To thee I’ll return overburdened with care,
The hearts dearest solace will smile on me there
No more from that cottage again will I roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

Home! Home! sweet, sweet Home!
There’s no place like Home!
by John Howard Payne, 1823

Dearly I love to travel, but even more  I love coming home after a satisfying journey! I was just away on for a long weekend filled with more fun and joy than I have experienced in a long time exceeded only by the good felt walking through my front door last night. I am grateful to be able to travel and even more to have a home to come home to that I enjoy so much .

How often have I lain beneath
rain on a strange roof,
thinking of home.
William Faulkner

Photo credit: Denis Collette…!!! / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Feelings and Health and Longevity

ShowYourFeelings1Many of us hope for lives that imitate beer commercials, all happiness and fun. But that fantasy sets us up for disappointment because our lives have more than one dimension, and true emotional health is about experiencing the breadth and depth of our feelings and our lives.

The very nature of life means we will all face losses and difficulties. Yet many of us have been socialized from an early age to ignore loss and hide our real feelings. Most of us have seen the angry child dragged over to a playmate to hiss through clenched teeth, “I’m sorry.” Many of us were once that child. Not to say misbehavior should be ignored; but we can be responsible for our behavior without having to lie to ourselves and others about what we’re feeling.

Think of the stress and wasted energy many of us expend struggling to submerge our feelings instead of learning to express them in healthy ways, such as crying when sad or being assertive when angry. In 1992 The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that emotions are tied to our autonomic nervous system, which controls our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, respiration, and perspiration, showing clearly that physical and emotional health are interdependent. A 1997 Journal of Abnormal Psychology study reported that not expressing feelings impacts our health and longevity.

Expressing feelings may be difficult in part because we’ve been trained to see certain emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear as negative. Often we’ve learned to repress these feelings by distracting ourselves with sugar, adrenalin highs, drugs, alcohol, accomplishments, and sex. Yet anger can be a great motivator for change. It was anger about the loss of clean air and water that got people lobbying for change through the environmental movement. Fear can have similar positive effects, causing us to step back from the abyss and live another day. Case in point: it was only when my mom faced a serious bout of pneumonia that she quit smoking.

The challenge is to step towards emotional health and learn to experience and express our emotions appropriately. We need to become familiar with our emotions in order to express them well. A first step may be to reflect often on the question, “What am I feeling right now?” Another option may be to talk with someone who can listen without judging – a family member, friend, or a counselor. If expressing your feelings with others is too intimidating, consider expressing them through writing, drawing, music, or even screaming into a pillow while in the bathroom with the shower running.

Anymore I wear my feelings out in plain sight most of the time and express them willingly. It has impressed me how much more people seem to relate to me and I to them once “feelings” are consistently out on the table . It’s simple really, letting my feelings show to those I care has made my relationships and my life better. And I’m grateful one of those relationships is with myself.

Never apologize
for showing your feelings.
When you do,
you are apologizing
for the truth.
Jose N. Harris

Pleasure From Such Little Effort

old booksflat,550x550,075,fGladly I can point my finger at my high school English teacher for awakening my awareness to Victorian poetry. What began when I was fifteen has grown to become a treasured appreciation. I find solace in words as they dance off my tongue when I read evenly metered rhyming poems aloud (or mentally to myself); so much pleasure from such  little effort.

If love were what the rose is,
And I were like the leaf,
Our lives would grow together
In sad or singing weather,
Blown fields or flowerful closes,
Green pleasure or gray grief;
If love were what the rose is,
And I were like the leaf.

If I were what the words are,
And love were like the tune,
With double sound and single
Delight our lips would mingle,
With kisses glad as birds are
That get sweet rain at noon;
If I were what the words are,
And love were like the tune.

If you were life, my darling,
And I your love were death,
We’d shine and snow together
Ere March made sweet the weather
With daffodil and starling
And hours of fruitful breath;
If you were life, my darling,
And I your love were death.

If you were thrall to sorrow,
And I were page to joy,
We’d play for lives and seasons
With loving looks and treasons
And tears of night and morrow
And laughs of maid and boy;
If you were thrall to sorrow,
And I were page to joy.

If you were April’s lady,
And I were lord in May,
We’d throw with leaves for hours
And draw for days with flowers,
Till day like night were shady
And night were bright like day;
If you were April’s lady,
And I were lord in May.

If you were queen of pleasure,
And I were king of pain,
We’d hunt down love together,
Pluck out his flying-feather,
And teach his feet a measure,
And find his mouth a rein;
If you were queen of pleasure,
And I were king of pain.
A Match by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

My high school English teacher was Miss Upchurch, who I have written about before –  https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2011/05/23/388/ Her personal unrequited love story combined with what she taught created a permanent place in my mind and heart. I am grateful to have known her and for the love of poetry she caused to begin in me.

A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same
once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change
the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge
of himself and the world around him.
Dylan Thomas

Today is Your Day!

Dr Suess 2

” Life” by Susan Polis Schutz

dreams can come true
if you take the time to
think about what you want in life

get to know yourself
find out who you are
choose your goals carefully

be honest with yourself
always believe in yourself

find many interests and pursue them
find out what is important to you
find out what you are good at

don`t be afraid to make mistakes
work hard to achieve successes
when things are not going right
don`t give up – just try harder
give yourself freedom to try out new things
laugh and have a good time

open yourself up to love
take part in the beauty of nature
be appreciative of all that you have
help those less fortunate than you
work towards peace in the world

live life to the fullest
create your own dreams and
follow them until they are a reality

Grateful for life is how I woke up this morning. I am thankful for this day and especially that it’s Friday. The weekend will be filled with lots of time with people I care about. Being healthy, having a life rich in possibility, appreciation, loved ones, peace of mind and direction, I am indeed a very wealthy man.

Congratulations!
Today is your day!
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
oh the places you will go
Dr. Seuss

Understanding, Knowledge, and Insight

234849801_6cebb4feabDo not believe in…
anything simply because you have heard it.

Do not believe in…
anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in…
anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in…
anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do not believe in…
traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. Buddha

Less than a hundred words makes a positive starting point for my day, far more than a thousand words could have.  Truth is usually not complicated. Authentic wisdom is typically easy to comprehend. Certainty presents itself readily to one interested in what really is.  Understanding, knowledge, and insight are never more than a thought away if I am open to it. Gratitude brings a lightness to me as the sun comes up. It will be another good day.

There is no knowledge
so hard to acquire
as the knowledge
of how to live this life
well and naturally.
Michel de Montaigne

But Are We Grateful?

Green-Forest-Wallpaper-green-20036570-1280-1024What an irony it is that these living beings
whose shade we sit in,
whose fruit we eat,
whose limbs we climb,
whose roots we water,
to whom most of us rarely give a second thought,
are so poorly understood.
We need to come,
as soon as possible, to a profound
understanding and appreciation
for trees and forests
and the vital role they play,
for they are among our best allies
in the uncertain future that is unfolding.
From ” The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees,
and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet” by Jim Robbins

water%20sunset%20sunHere in plain sight I make a public commitment to pay more attention to the abundantly present, but mostly overlooked, building blocks of  life such as trees, water and the sun. All deserve my earnest gratitude and will receive more of it. I will look up and take notice realizing that the greatest bounty of life lies outside of me and not within my usual thoughts.

The things that most deserve our gratitude we just take for granted.
Without air we cannot live for more than a minute or two. Everyday
we are breathing in and breathing out, but do we ever feel grateful
to the air? If we do not drink water, we cannot survive. Even our
body is composed to a large extent of water. But do we give any
value to water? Every morning when we open our eyes, we see
the sun… offering us light and life-energy, which we badly need.
But are we grateful to the sun?
From “The Jewels of Happiness: Inspiration and Wisdom
to Guide Your Life-Journey” by Sri Chinmoy

Great Wealth of Life

daffodil-bill-wakeleyGrab  your imagination hat and put on your best fantasy shoes.
Dress up in daydreams and set your mind on make-believe.
Then come along with me in a delicate journey of words arranged to inspire.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
“I, Wander’d Lonely as a Cloud”
by William Wordsworth

memories dock EDITOld favorite memories are treasures carried invisibly inside. There is no one who has the same ones stored away as I do. My memories are mine and mine alone to keep as long as my mind works enough to recall them. The dearest ones don’t fade. Those memories grow more vivid over time, embellished perhaps, but more beautiful just the same.

Just as Wordsworth later remembered seeing “ten thousand daffodils” by a lake when he laid on his couch and daydreamed, I have my own cherished reminiscences. Memories are the great wealth of life. To realize that while I am not too old to remember them is something to be grateful for!

If you have true gratitude,
it will express itself automatically.
It will be visible in your eyes,
around your being, in your aura.
It is like the fragrance of a flower.
In most cases if there is a beautiful flower,
the fragrance will be there naturally.
The flower and its fragrance cannot be separated.
Sri Chinmoy