Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Moon and Star

 

Capricious Moon

Moon and Star, my guideposts, my lifelong journey-mates.

Each evening I look into the vast Cosmos, and there stands my Star.

Constant. Vigilant. Unmoving, unwavering. True and final as fate.

This giant fireball, just a speck from here, is my lighthouse. No matter what life brings to me on this tiny blue ball, Star remains steadfast. It is comfort and security. All else not in my control, all things that may seek and befall me, fall away before the great, silent, faithful friend.

One day, Star will carry me home.

My Moon is capricious. One day she’s up, and another she is not. Her gamesmanship at hide and seek is second to none. Trickster and magician and muse. Today she is a big, round ball, bringing “the luster of mid-day to objects below”. Tomorrow she will be a sliver, rising in the morning, setting in the afternoon. As upside down as she can be. Each day is a challenge, as the seeker, to find Moon, “Tag!”.

Star is my anchor, reassuring me always that this little life, this tiny speck, is but a part of The Great Wonder. Never to die, but to return to the Cosmos from which I came.

And Moon? Moon is much younger, spritely, lively. Moon is on the move, and she always reminds me that I am, too.

Star and Moon and Earth ever constant in motion, I follow their leads wherever they may take me.

Always Home.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

In Depth of Winter

Frosted Wonder Woods

In these, our bitter days of winter,
As bare trees stand, their feet cold in the snow,
Above our heads icy north winds blow,
And from our eaves hang frozen crystal splinters,

Let us then retire to our rooms,
Where we’ll sip hot tea and clasp our hands,
And know the warmth of love still stands
As overhead the winter rage looms.

No embers of wood, nor burning coal,
As the fire radiates its heat,
Upon our faces, upon our feet,
Can, as the heart, warm the soul.

 

Stay warm,

 

Paz

Farewell 2017

Depth of Winter

Outside there was that predawn kind of clarity, where the momentum of living has not quite captured the day. The air was not filled with conversation or thought bubbles or laughter or sidelong glances. Everyone was sleeping. All of their ideas and hopes and hidden agendas entangled in the Dream World, leaving this world clear and crisp and cold as a bottle of milk in the fridge. 

 -Reif Larson

Remind me why we do this

 

December 30 First

 

Remnants

All around lie the remnants of summer and fall.

These dry brown grasses, the tall and the small.

On Thursday Trail

Each conifer stretches, the low and the high,

Each stretches in vain its limbs to the sky.

Winter Sun

The sun swings low in its arc, non-chalant,

Neglecting her Earthbound petits-enfants.

Tug Hill snow

Tug Hill Snow

The Snow comes to slumber, and lumber around

Packing the Earth to hard, frozen ground.

Snow Devils

Smoke from chimneys dances and twirls, 

Having never seen the Summer World.

Fire ring

I’ll shutter the windows, put logs on the fire,

And patiently wait for the year to expire.

Sharon Center Sunset

As into the pink night sky sets the sun,

Another year’s ended, as another’s begun.

 

Best of fortune to all in the new (paper) year.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Welcome the New Year!

Solstice Sun

A circle is one of the most common shapes in our Great Cosmos (silica-based crystal chain structures right behind), and it is today our New Circle begins. In my view, today begins the new year. As our almost-perfect circle planet revolves around its perfect-circle sun in a far-from-perfect ellipse of an orbit, the Winter Solstice marks the top of the curve. Now days begin to lengthen incrementally for the next six moons until we reach the opposite end of our rolling year, and the longest day of Summer Solstice.

This marks a point on my journey. Like returning to home port, or passing the same old oak on a favorite trail. It is an ending and beginning in a single stroke. It is a benchmark, a touchstone, a point along a very long line when I make a hash mark as I hurtle past. There’s a slight thrill seeing the 57 past hash marks, and a certain excitement as I reach out, take a swing, and hang on for another orbit, another grand circle in the concentric and overlapping circles that make up the life of an old Armchair Zen master.

Not only is the New Year commenced, but also the “official” season of winter. Life in a Northern Town takes winter in stride. Not only passively, but in tangible and active ways. The Yankee winter is an integral part of our lives. It serves a great purpose for those of us that will undertake the understanding of it. It’s a trial and a test and a testament to our spirits. Not just surviving winter, bit thriving within and through it.

Each year, our Earth sort of throws down a gauntlet. Each year, we rise to the challenge and pick it up. It’s not all about active young people oblivious to cold and snow, skiing the High Peaks and snowmobiling 27 miles up the frozen Sacandaga Lake. It’s about the everyday and the mundane. Firing furnaces, sealing up drafts, shoveling the steps. Getting out the “Let It Snow” box filled with hats and gloves and scarves and mittens. It’s about getting to work when it’s 18 degrees and there’s four inches of snow on the road and it’s forecast to fall all day. It’s about walking the dog and fetching the mail from the box, checking the car’s oil and unloading the wood pellets while frigid air tries to sneak in around your collar, while your fingers grow numb with cold.

And when winter is done, there’s more reward than the flowers of spring and the return of American Robins. Even for those that may be unaware, surviving and thriving through a Yankee winter reminds us of just how strong we are. A reminder that gives us the strength to carry on for another year, another wonder-filled lap around our atomic anchor.

I have a covenant with winter. A vow to honor and cherish and forsake all other seasons when she comes to call, all gleaming and silver. I welcome and embrace her with open arms. Revere her. Laud her beauty. In return, she brings me gifts.

A quadrillion snowflakes. Vast tracts of ice-covered ponds and lakes.

Glazed hoarfrost dawns and golden ice-ringed sunsets.

Birds, the color of summer flowers, blue and red, black and white and yellow.

Like the migrations of fall or tulips of spring, she returns faithfully each year to me. She covers me with her downy quilt and beckons me to slumber.

Yet within each hour are wonders, joys and beauties to behold. Adventures to seek as only Dear Winter can oblige.

She calls me forth from my den, to drink it all in.

Before it is gone.

 

Happy New Year, and Merry Christmas to those that observe it.

May the peace of the Cosmos find you and keep you throughout the year.

 

Paz

Tree Attitude

“Getting back to the roots” of Armchair Zen, so to speak. This post was originally published in May, 2011.Stand for somethingThe mighty oak from the tiny acorn grows.

This old adage seems to reflect a wonder and reverence for this amazing feat.

I love trees, I really do. I could easily personify them, impune them with human attributes, worship them as spirits. Something about a tree, standing firm and tall in the same place, day in, day out, year ’round…it brings a sense of stability, longevity, solidity, groundedness.

I like to subscribe to what I call Tree Philosophy, or Tree Attitude. So many things in our lives appear to be a conspiracy of circumstances, the times we live in, where we live, the way we live, with whom we live. Choices we made back in…when? Things we shoulda woulda or coulda done.

My grandfather always told me “Take shoulda, woulda and coulda in one hand, and a nickel in the other, and see which one will buy you a donut.”

Trees waste no time on such worries. A little tree seed plants its first tendrils into the soil—and is committed! From day one, that tree is going to live or die, stand or fall, right on that very same spot.

I like to imagine trees thinking about that. “I’m going to be the best tree I can right here, where I am, working with what I have.”

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from President Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  That is, after all, a description of our entire lives, really, isn’t it?  We are where we are, there’s no denying that. We must work with what we have, be it employment, a dwelling, our people, money, transportation, brain power, energy or spirit. And doing the best we can within these parameters is all we can do.

For philosophers such as President Roosevelt and myself, this means we don’t throw in the towel just because the odds are stacked against us, the task is overwhelming, or we’re short on assets, even if tasked with great challenges or the seemingly impossible. It also means recognizing that there are limits to what we can do, and we shouldn’t punish ourselves for being unable to do more.

I imagine a tree’s life is similar, but to the greatest extent. Tree doesn’t agonize over location. Perhaps prospects for success might be better elsewhere. Perhaps the climate is something humans would want to escape. Perhaps the very home of Tree is in a precarious place, on the side of a cliff, at the edge of an eroding riverbank, or at the last edge of the tree line, far up a tall mountain. Tree can’t move, but can only hang on and throw all of its efforts into the present.

Neither can Tree do anything about the changes in its life. Perhaps it’s struck by lightning, maybe loses a limb or suffers damage to its trunk. Perhaps humans come along and saw pieces off. Maybe its roots are immersed “knee-deep” in water during a flood season, or a drought season makes survival difficult.

If Tree is an evergreen, it will keep it’s needles as it goes into a dormant season. Granted, I have wished more than once that I could have a dormant season for myself, to rest and recuperate from the rigors of my own seasons, storms, lightning, chain saws, floods and blizzards. If Tree is deciduous, it will awaken, depending where Tree lives, sometime between February and May. As it stretches its limbs to the sky, it gets down to the business at hand: budding, developing and flowering. Sounds a bit like our lives again, doesn’t it? For its season, however long it may be (and without groaning that it is either too short or too long) Tree will produce thousands of leaves, each one a near-perfect copy of the others. For pines, tens of thousands, maybe millions of needles. Year one, year 50, year 200, Tree goes right on doing what it is born to do, producing those leaves or needles, growing when the conditions are right, and resting when it is necessary.

Tree will keep up the good fight, no matter what, and will try until defeat and death. As it is with all living things (and, in fact all things in the universe on its grand scale), eventually there is an end. I like to imagine Tree retiring. “I’m going to lay down, right here, next to the rest of you.” At that time, Tree is okay with this end, whether it is after 5 years or 500. Call it destiny, call it nature, call it the randomness of the universe, the circle of all things.

Saplings can be heard all around “Good job, Tree, and thank you for your silent service. You have been a fine example of patience and perseverance. A great neighbor in our community, shading the tender shoots and plants at your base, welcoming, with open limbs, the wildlife; squirrels, chipmunks, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, wasps, and anything else that came to you seeking refuge, a home, safety, security, something meaningful and solid that we can know and understand and rely on.”

Even after death, Tree remains an influence. Flora and fauna of certain types will flourish thanks to Tree’s legacy. The many generations growing around Tree will look on, seeking and seeing the testimony to its determination, learning and benefitting from the example, and the knowledge that Tree stood by them, and gave selflessly whenever called upon to do so.

I don’t need riches, recognition or immortality. If my life, and its own end, can be to any degree worthy of Tree’s example, I too will be able to lay down in peace, and return to the earth from which I came.

Be at peace.

Paz

Cosmic Course

Breakfast Club

You must do just two things.

Practice these, and your place in the Great Cosmos will become clear to you.

 

  1. Look
  2. See

 

Seek Peace,

 

Paz

Kind Words versus Critical

Rerun: This post was originally published in 2011. – Paz

 

I was reading a thing recently about a crew demolishing a building. Someone asks the foreman how long it would take to knock the building down, and what sort of skills were required by the crew. To sum it up, the guy replies that they should be able to knock the whole thing down within a week, and aside from knowing how to work safely, no special skills were required. The observation concludes that it would take many weeks or months, maybe a year or more, to construct the building, and the construction would require many people with well-developed skills. Masons for foundations, welders for steel, electricians & plumbers, painters & roofers, and perhaps consultants for interior design.

In short, it takes longer and requires more skills to build something up than to tear it down.

This is also true of people, and the words we use with one another.

Like the unskilled demolition crew, anyone can speak words of criticism. Complaints, judgement, even derision. These words are pretty easy to come by in the human brain, especially when motivated by aggravation, frustration or anger.

By contrast, it requires greater effort to hold one’s tongue, keep one’s opinions to one’s self, to avoid getting on the band wagon with others complaining or condemning, and especially to keep hurtful things from spitting out of our mouths in the course of an argument, particularly an angry one.

So too, it requires a different and perhaps greater skill to look for the good in situations, to compliment people on the degree to which they got things right, not criticize them for the degree of wrong.

In the heat of battle or when someone is railing or ranting, the conversational side of the brain will feed you many thoughts that it wants you to speak. Maybe it’s the way you feel, or maybe you want to defend a position, or maybe you want to agree with a condemnation being offered.

The sage will understand the old adage “less said the better”. With concentrated effort, one can express that one understands or at least hears the other’s point of view without agreeing or arguing.

In any situation, look for the positive. With any person, look for the chance to share a kind word, and watch for those verbal grenades your automated-language-based brain tries to toss past your teeth.

We went to see an apartment into which someone had recently moved. The street was not well-to-do, or of the newest part of town. The houses were mostly multi-family rentals, and were generally well-worn. One could not describe the sidewalks or alleys as neat or clean. The apartment was at the top of a steep, narrow, windowless staircase. The windows could have used cleaning, and with some effort one could see above the dormers of the house next door, and catch a sliver of the sky and the city beyond. The kitchen floor was from the last century. It looked, in many places, exactly like what is was: a medium-sized second story apartment in an older house, whose tenants probably never stayed more than a year or two.  A few marks showed on the walls and woodwork, where families had probably raised rambunctious children, and the landlord probably repainted only when needed.

When asked, I described it thusly:

“It’s quite spacious, with good-sized rooms. It has a brand new carpet in the living room, and a brand new space heater, like the ones I have in my house. A Big kitchen! The windows are big. Tall, old-fashioned windows that let in the light. On sort of  a side street, where the traffic seemed pretty light. And cozy! Probably quite efficient to heat!”

Next time you have a chance to describe something or someone, an apartment or even adversary, put your effort into the use of the skills of “craftsmen of the human spirit”, “masters of language”, developed by being practitioners and tradesmen in the arts of compassion and empathy, and build with the materials of positivity, hope, caring and dignity.

Be at peace,

Paz

Power

Sunset & Starlings

 

You do have the power.

You can prevent this

Beautiful World

From finding you.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

I imagined I took all my worldly possessions with me, and carted each and every one thousands of miles, across the Atlantic.

I ventured to Egypt and Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Bangladesh and Yemen, South Sudan.

“Here I am to help!” I declare, as the transport plane lands and is surrounded by half -naked children, stooping grandmothers, skeletons of men, skin stretched over bones.

I unload my possessions and offer them for free.

A boat with motor, a canoe, a kayak.

Two couches, three recliners, an armchair, a china closet.

Twin beds, bunk beds, a king-size.

End tables, coffee tables, a kitchen table with matching chairs.

Vases, glassware, genuine Belleek porcelain, leaded crystal, fourteen carat gold-plated tea service, sterling silver flatware.

Three televisions, a dozen antique tube-set radios, a Victrola with a hundred 78 r.p.m. records.

Four, maybe five guitars, maybe more. A banjo, a clarinet, an 1880’s pedal player piano, an unrestored Stradivarius violin from 1900.

Two 35mm SLR cameras with lenses, 8mm film projectors, 35mm slide projectors, a DSLR camera with lenses, a DVR.

Wall art, framed paintings, original works, Wyeth prints, Renoir prints, a gilded hall mirror.

Jewelry; gold, diamonds, gemstones, pearls.

Tools, tools, tools. Chainsaws, circular saws, drills, wrenches, air compressors, hammers, hatchets, sledges, shovels and rakes.

A John Deere riding mower, a Honda four-wheeler, an Arctic Cat snowmobile.

An entire closet filled with decorations; Easter, spring, Independence Day, harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter, Christmas.

When the movement stopped, the air fell silent.

A million people stood before me, speechless.

A boy of perhaps four years, clad only in a pair of shorts, walks right up to me and takes my hand.

“Do you have water?” the boy asks.

“Water? Well, no. But look at all these great things! Two swingsets! Balls and bats, kites and coloring books!”

The boy carefully looked over the heaping pile. Nothing catching his interest, he returned his gaze to me.

“Do you have any food?” he asks.

“Food? There was no room for food. This plane was packed. Look- towels, soap, an electric foot massager, an electric heating pad.”

The hope in the boy’s eyes faded. His countenance fell grim. He walked away.

Stricken by the truth, I fall to my knees.

 

Pity me, the poorest man in Engleville.

All I have is this wretched gold,

Which they cannot eat.

Seek peace,

 

Paz

http://www.unicef.org

 

My Syrian Children

Our instinct is to protect ourselves. My spirit calls me to protect everything else.”

Pazlo

7.5 million refugee children depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

More than 12 million people have been displaced by the conflict.

9,000 schools are unusable. 40% of all children in the area are not attending school.

Children have lost or will miss about 5 years of school, on average, due to the displacement.

One in three asylum seekers in Europe are children.

Many children have lost their parents and families. Children are arriving on foreign shores, strange lands, homeless and alone.

2.3 million children live as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

I read somewhere recently, that as many as 130 children die of starvation each day in refugee camps.

I compel others to do what they can to help with relief.

Right now, the situation is most dire, as even humanitarian aid is not making it to these people in desperate need due to armed conflict preventing aid shipments.

Again, I feel like the Light keeper. The light of the beacon I tend is swallowed by this raging storm in the night’s blackness. My desperate cries drowned out by the violent surf. All I can do is count the bodies as they wash ashore.

http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/emergencies/child-refugees/syria-crisis

Lutheran World Relief (one of the highest-rated and most effective relief organizations)www.lwr.org

Please help if you can.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – President Ronald Reagan

If you can’t give monetarily, please pray for the children.

 

More than ever, let us seek peace,

 

Paz

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