Welcome to Ask Gail–a place to share questions and answers about what matters to us most: family, friends, community, health, peace, books, favorite resources, what feeds our soul… Ask Gail is also where we can create and share very important information like my “Gail’s Guide to Going to the Hospital.” Stay tuned for more…
You Are Viewing WISDOM
I lived on concrete, a tree here and there,
a field of poppies behind our house that
mysteriously appeared every spring and
was burned off in summer, spreading its
musky euphoria through the neighborhood.
I understood only this about nature:
it was either day or night, raining or not.
After I went on the water,
I felt the nuance of every breeze,
how moist or dry it was, how cool or hot.
I tuned my self to the tides,
and saw how the water moved in and out and up and down.
I slept, rolling on the waves, moving in my dreams back to the womb,
feeling water all around me, holding me, soothing me,
sending me for my swim upstream into life.
Dark Charms by Dorianne Laux
Eventually the future shows up everywhere:
those burly summers and unslept nights in deep
lines and dark splotches, thinning skin.
Here’s the corner store grown to a condo,
the bike reduced to one spinning wheel,
the ghost of a dog that used to be, her trail
no longer trodden, just a dip in the weeds.
The clear water we drank as thirsty children
still runs through our veins. Stars we saw then
we still see now, only fewer, dimmer, less often.
The old tunes play and continue to move us
in spite of our learning, the wraith of romance,
lost innocence, literature, the death of the poets.
We continue to speak, if only in whispers,
to something inside us that longs to be named.
We name it the past and drag it behind us,
bag like a lung filled with shadow and song,
dreams of running, the keys to lost names
Something to remember as we live these cold and often gray winter days. Enjoy the invitation to nest, to curl up with a book or magazine, to cuddle with your pet, to sit close with loved ones, even when they are miles away. Light candles and make fires in the snow. Burn up all you don’t want to keep in this new year. Make space for all that is your true nature to come forth and blossom. And above all, be kind to yourself and everyone you meet.
Barn burned down, now I can see the moon. Basho
My family taught me, in word and deed, about tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repair the world). But I came to gratitude, hikarat hatov, much later in my spiritual development, while exploring Hinduism and Buddhism. I now understand my life’s purpose to be one of both service and gratitude–to be grateful every day for the biggest and smallest things, and to be of service to others. One just naturally leads to the other; the more I feel gratitude, the more I am moved to serve.
My husband and I end every day telling each other what we are grateful for. Sometimes, I can only say how grateful I am that we have a house, heat, and food on the table. Other times, my list goes on and on. But always, there is gratitude. Viktor Frankl reminds us in Man’s Search for Meaning that even in the camps there was gratitude, often for the absence of things: a work camp without a chimney, a cook who doesn’t look up when he serves the soup so plays no favorites.
As Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes, “Gratitude rejoices with her sister joy, and is always ready to light a candle and have a party. Gratitude doesn’t much like the old cronies of boredom, despair and taking life for granted.”
“Love, Serve, and Remember” sung by John Astin
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone. You are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha
From my friend and colleague Laura Marciano who arranged for us to spend a day at Enders Island off Stonington, CT yesterday writing our hearts out.
Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.” Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours. We belong is a bundle of life. A person is a person through other persons.”
A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness