Sanity Savers 12: Point Zero

Point zero

Photo: Jean-Jacques Breton, Paris à vos pieds, editions Parisgramme, Paris 2013, p. 106. (Scan and color-adjustments, Aliss Terrell)

Embedded in the cobblestones in front of Notre Dame Cathedral is this marker, the starting point of all main roads leading to French cities and the endpoint used for measuring their distances, the very heart of the country. DSC03304The cathedral itself is a visual encyclopedia of French culture and history.DSC03305

Beside the main altar stands a 14th century statue of the Mother. No matter what tradition you come from, she is the incarnation of compassion enfolding soul,  reminding me of Kwan Yin, (Guanyin) the Buddhist bodhisatva, sometimes compared to Mary.

DSC03307I’m grateful to have this sanctuary nearby, to sit in silence, in candlelight, sending and receiving love through this portal, always, but especially in times like the ones we are living.

To be continued xxxxx Aliss

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Sanity Savers 10: Noticing

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(Noticed this tree noticing the first flowers)

Leafing through The Great Work of Your Life (see previous post) for quotes I want to share about Dharma as our soul’s highest calling...

Stephen Cope refers to the Gnostic Gospel of Saint Thomas, “If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you.” And he adds a codicil of his own, “If you bring forth what is within you, it will save the world.”

“How do we discern our dharma? How do we discover the magnificent inner blueprint?… 1. Trust in the gift, 2. Think of the small as large, 3. Listen for the call of the times…” (p. 23)

In the background I notice Kate Bush on the radio,

“And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building…”

Back to Stephen Cope, “The first encounter with dharma is very often like falling in love. When we see our dharma–smell it, feel it–we recognize it. It is chemical. Undeniable.” (p. 141)

And, “Having first named and claimed our dharma, we next begin to systematically organize all our life’s energies around our calling. The dharma gradually becomes a point of radiance that focuses and unites our life force. Our lives begin to move into orbit around our vocation.” (p. 89)

“When a person is devoted to something with complete faith,” said Krishna to Arjuna, “I unify his faith in that form.” (p. 103)

Let us notice what we love in our world, in our times, follow it with complete faith and run up that hill, run up that building…

To be continued xxxxx Aliss

Fontainebleau Solstice

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Horizon, Tour Denecourt, Fontainebleau, December 2016

This may be too long for minds used to soundbites, but if you have the patience, it’s worth your time and concentration:

“Over there, on the horizon, the sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail…

…Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.

One by one, Lord, I see and I love all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life. One by one also I number all those who make up that other beloved family which has gradually surrounded me, its unity fashioned out of the most disparate elements, with affinities of the heart, of scientific research and of thought. And again one by one… I call before me the whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them; those who come, and those who go; above all, those who in office, laboratory and factory, through their vision of truth or despite their error, truly believe in the progress of earthly reality and who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.

This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us; this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm: it is to this deep that I thus desire all the fibres of my being should respond. All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering…

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day.

This bread, our toil, is of itself, I know, but an immense fragmentation; this wine, our pain, is no more, I know, than a draught that dissolves. Yet in the very depths of this formless mass you have implanted — and this I am sure of, for I sense it — a desire, irresistible, hallowing, which makes us cry out, believer and unbeliever alike:

‘Lord, make us one.’ “

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Mass on the World

Thank you Marion Woodman for your beautiful reading in “Rolling Away the Stone”

xxxxx Aliss

 

Stillness and Dancing…

Is it possible to keep an open mind and heart?DSC03113.JPG

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets

Thank you Marion Woodman for introducing me to these lines in your lecture, “Rolling Away the Stone.”

My life inside an impressionist painting (shimmer)

Early autumn, Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19dsc02968

If you contemplate Monet’s waterlilies and then turn your gaze back to the present world, everything seems to glow with an inner light, especially here, near where he painted, at about the 50th parallel, a similar latitude to Quebec and Seattle, much farther north than the Washington, DC suburb where I was born, so much closer to the equator. When I first came here, I had no idea what this meant. Something felt “off”…not quite the way it was supposed to be, grayer, muted. In time I understood that the closer you are to the poles, sunlight enters the atmosphere more at a slant, with less intense luminosity, and perhaps a prismatic effect depending on the weather. You have to seek out radiance everywhere you can, but once your eyes adjust, you learn to detect a shimmer in the air, a subtle sparkle in each color…

To be continued…. xxxxx Aliss

Forest Bathing (2) (US style)

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Time with the trees, from the Catskills to the Taconic Range….

In an earlier post on February 22, from the Fontainebleau Forest south of Paris, I

“Recalled running across a new term: ‘forest bathing,’ translated from Japanese and Korean, meaning to spend relaxing time in the woods. (French version: sylvothérapie)

Highly recommended reading, how trees secrete natural antibiotics, essential oils, and other substances that heal infections, comparison of number of germs found in cities (lots) and in forests (none), beneficial effect on stress symptoms such as blood pressure…etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/forest_bathing

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvothérapie

Disturbing to think that seeing the information presented scientifically is more persuasive than just being there. Are we so removed from our senses that we can only take them seriously when they are expressed in statistics? Why not trust what we feel when we’re there?”

Above picture taken at the top of Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts, on the Appalachian and Mohawk trails, overlooking 4 states. Very moving and uplifting because the mountain that inspired Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville  was once completely devastated by logging and charcoaling. Only a stand of old growth red spruce were spared due to their inaccessible location. In 1885 a group of local businessmen bought up 400 acres to create a conservancy and eventually turned it over to the State. Since then the preserve has grown to more than 12,500 acres and the forest has healed itself.

For an enlightening look at how trees communicate and support each other through living underground networks, “The Wood Wide Web,” featuring Merlin Sheldrake:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-secrets-of-the-wood-wide-web

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Learning from the trees…. To be continued xxxxx Aliss

 

Summer Days

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Waterfall, Hurley Mountain Road, NY

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Thank you Krista Tippett for the reminder