By Mari Andrew.
"Long, long ago, before I was a tormented artist, afflicted with longing yet
incapable of forming durable attachments, long before this, I was a glorious
ruler uniting all of a divided country—so I was told by the fortune-teller
who examined my palm. Great things, she said, are ahead of you, or perhaps
behind you; it is difficult to be sure. And yet, she added, what is the difference?
Right now you are a child holding hands with a fortune-teller. All the
rest is hypothesis and dream."
- Louise Glück
"True gardeners cannot bear a glove
Between the sure touch and the tender root,
Must let their hands grow knotted as they move
With a rough sensitivity about
Under the earth, between the rock and shoot,
Never to bruise or wound the hidden fruit.
And so I watched my mother's hands grow scarred,
She who could heal the wounded plant or friend
With the same vulnerable yet rigorous love;
I minded once to see her beauty gnarled,
But now her truth is given me to live,
As I learn for myself we must be hard
To move among the tender with an open hand,
And to stay sensitive up to the end
Pay with some toughness for a gentle world."
- May Sarton
"Human beings are creatures of belonging, though they may come to that sense of belonging only through long periods of exile and loneliness. Interestingly, we belong to life as much through our sense that it is all impossible, as we do through the sense that we will accomplish everything we have set out to do. This sense of belonging and not belonging is lived out by most people through three principal dynamics: first, through relationship to other people and other living things (particularly and very personally, to one other living, breathing person in relationship or marriage); second, through work; and third, through an understanding of what it means to be themselves, discrete individuals alive and seemingly separate from everyone and everything else.
These are the three marriages, of Work, Self and Other...
...We can call these three separate commitments marriages because at their core they are usually lifelong commitments and … they involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously… To neglect any one of the three marriages is to impoverish them all, because they are not actually separate commitments but different expressions of the way each individual belongs to the world...
..We should stop thinking in terms of work-life balance. Work-life balance is a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working too hard in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain an easier life...
...I stop trying to work harder in each of the marriages and start to concentrate on the conversation that holds them together. Instead of asking myself what more I need to do, and killing myself and my creative powers in the process of attempting to carry it out, I ask myself: What is the courageous conversation I am not having?"
- David Whyte
"Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places. I learned about these qualities during my bouts with depression. In that deadly darkness, the faculties I had always depended on collapsed. My intellect was useless; my emotions were dead; my will was impotent; my ego was shattered. But from time to time, deep in the thickets of my inner wilderness, I could sense the presence of something that knew how to stay alive even when the rest of me wanted to die. That something was my tough and tenacious soul.
Yet despite its toughness, the soul is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush, especially when other people are around. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently at the base of a tree, breathe with the earth, and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance. We may see it only briefly and only out of the corner of an eye - but the sight is a gift we will always treasure as an end in itself.
Unfortunately, community in our culture too often means a group of people who go crashing through the woods together, scaring the soul away. In spaces ranging from congregations to classrooms, we preach and teach, assert and argue, claim and proclaim, admonish and advise, and generally behave in ways that drive everything original and wild into hiding. Under these conditions, the intellect, emotions, will and ego may emerge, but not the soul: we scare off all the soulful things, like respectful relationships, goodwill, and hope.
A circle of trust is a group of people who know how to sit quietly "in the woods" with each other and wait for the shy soul to show up... In such a space, we are freed to hear our own truth, touch what brings us joy, become self critical about our faults, and take risky steps toward change - knowing that we will be accepted no matter what the outcome."
- Parker Palmer
"What may be is always potential for discovery. It's never too late. This knowledge should give man his greatest challenge - the pursuit of self - his own personal Odessey; discovering his rooms and putting them in order. It should challenge him not only to be a good person, a loving person, a feeling person, an intelligent person, but the best, most loving, feeling, intelligent person he is capable of. His search is not in competition with anyone else's. He becomes his own personal challenge.
Loving yourself involves the discovery of the true wonder of you; not only the present you, but the many possibilities of you. It involves the continual realization that you are unique, like no other person in the world, that life is, or should be, the discovery, the development and the sharing of this uniqueness. The process is not always easy, for one is bound to find those who will feel threatened by a changing, growing you. But it will always be exciting, always be fresh and like all things new and changing, never be dull. The trip into oneself is the grandest, most enjoyable and longest lasting. The fare is cheap; it merely involves continual experiencing, evaluating, educating, trying out new behavior. Only you can be the final judge in determining what is right for you."
- Leo Buscaglia
"Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
on an open sky.
has to be
so you can find
the one line
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving."
- David Whyte