WILDFLOWERS

We love to see a meadow of wild flowers

And take delight in sweet pea, bluebell, pansy

But if we try to pick and hold their beauty

We find they fade and wilt in only hours

 

Still after we have placed them in a vase

We love their delicate pedals and scent

Like flowers, time with friends is only lent

Though beauty in friendships gives life grace

 

And we love it when our friends are nearby

But time with friends tends to be uncertain

If long or short, impermanence is certain

People change; in time we’ll say goodbye

 

Buddhists say that joy in friend or lover

Still is dukkha, suffering or grief

I see the transient nature of all life

Yet still take joy, delight, and pleasure

As it is in friendship, love, or flower

KNOWLEDGE, APPRECIATION, AND ENJOYMENT

I enjoy reading Shakespeare when I’m moved to

Richard III is thrilling

When I don’t have to study it for a course:

Memorize plot, character, Act and scene

Nietzsche on Greek Tragedy is enthralling

When I don’t have to place it in relation to

Zarathustra, Christian criticism, Ubermensch, herd

Education is a mixed blessing

A blessing, if it serves to enhance

Joy in culture’s works

Mixed if it serves merely to teach

Appreciation only, or worse, criticism

Still, without education, I wouldn’t read Shelley

And Shelley teach me to enjoy Shakespeare

BEFORE AND AFTER YOU

There was a time before you

life was hollow

There was a time before you

time itself was a bitter pill to swallow

 

There was a time before you

I cowered in insecurity

Now you are with me

I measure my steps with confidence and surety

 

Now you are with me

in every trying situation

Now you are with me

with constant affirmation

 

Now you are with me

life is meaningful

Now you are with me

for you, for us, I am grateful

 

You and I are us

your joy is my study, my occupation

You and I are us

our joy is a continuing vacation

TO RECAST A NARRATIVE

Outrage, grief, and pain pour forth from passion

From broken experiences of deep love

The other side of joy, ecstasy, and connection

Experiences of love fulfilled

Plato’s fear of passion nearly ended in renunciation of it all

He, Buddhists, the Hindu Sanyasis

Plato kept friendship, Buddhists kindness, Sanyasis peace

Into this Jesus was born with love

And recast the narrative

Giving place for grief, pain, and ecstasy

For sin, forgiveness, and new life

The great soul perfected in virtue recast

For a God who is near His children

Indifferent, diffident, vindictive Olympians recast

“That your joy may be complete.”

GOOD LOVE

You know me in my higher aspirations

And when I’m in a trying, troubling mood

In either you maintain loving relations

For which I feel eternal gratitude

 

The love we know and our fidelity,

The good life our love creates together

Gives us each a place of stability

In a world of inconsistent weather

 

I am pledged to you and you to me

In joy, in trials, and in confidence

We’ll be together to eternity

And live the timeless now as lovers and as friends

Moderating Rage: Trump’s Antics

I am appalled and galled at Trump’s antics.  Lately, I am sad that 800,000 government workers are facing life issues because Trump won’t pay them.  I am worried that the US government is closed for business.  And there’s so much to do.  And, finally, I am troubled at how many people still support Trump, and that those people are fellow Americans, citizens of my own country.  (However, I am somewhat relieved that lately only 34% of Americans support him, meaning that 66% don’t.)

So shall I pass my time galled, appalled, worried, and troubled?  If I do, Trump is getting me.  He’s pushing my buttons from his luxury resort in Florida or in the White House–way, way far away from where I live.  So I have a dilemma.  Shall I go about my business and not care about my home country’s problems?  That kind of callous disregard strikes me as un-Christian, and unbecoming.  I care for my fellows.  Yet, I’m not strong enough to stretch my concern to the whole world.  I have sufficient concerns in my personal life, and in the world I touch.

I’m re-thinking Voltaire’s concluding line from Candide.  “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”–“We must cultivate our garden.”  In Voltaire’s novel, after innumerable calamities which were explained away with a metaphysics that said we live in the best of all possible worlds and all things work out to the best that they can, the small group we follow through the story finally ends up tending a garden they collectively own.  When the metaphysician tries to explain why ending up tending a garden is the best possible outcome in the best of all possible worlds, then we get that line, “We must cultivate our garden.”  What that means, I think, is that we have enough to handle with the immediate problems we tend to in our lives.  Whether we live in the best of times or the worst of times, all that really matters is what we can manage in the life we live in and the lives we touch.  I did act with passion in my 2018 vote, in absentia, reading the instructions, printing up the ballot from the emailed copy sent me, mailing it snail mail to the district in which I vote.  And that is all I can see that I can actually do about the troubling matters in my home country.

There’s another quote relevant to this issue.  “Turn it over.”  While I have limited power to care about the whole, wide world, there is One who does have the power to care about it.  I do wonder, at times, what that One is up to in this world.  But that One does know what He/She/It is up to.  Where does that leave me?

What I am finding is that I need to come to terms with my own passions.  I didn’t like George W. Bush.  I couldn’t watch him on TV.  I didn’t, however, feel outraged and appalled as I do now.  So am I going to ruin my present getting mad at politicians I don’t agree with?  The real issue is how I come to terms with those things I disagree with.  I have come to a decision.  I will no longer watch MSNBC and wallow in gall, and drive around town perseverating about all the bad things Trump is doing to the US.  My heart and soul matters more than that.

My own heart and soul is the garden I must cultivate.  How I spend my now, my eternity, matters to me.  I have cultivated peace in relation to my personal enemies.  I now need to do that in regard to my disagreement with Trump’s antics.  There were people appalled with Obama, too.  I can remain in the ready in relation to my vote; I can stay informed about the political development in my home country; I can act in my immediate environment for the good of the world I touch; and I can remain personally at peace.  There are heights I can ascend to in my soul–joy, peace and love.  There are broken individuals I can buy a sandwich for at the convenience store near where I live.  And these things matter more to me than going about my business appalled at Trump.  “Il faut cultiver notre jardin.”

NETI-NETI

So many people want

Life to be sweetness and light—

In fact, saccharine sweet delight.

The eventuality of death repressed

As consciousness sleeps into unconscious;

Care only for affairs here comprises awareness,

Carefully, fearfully forgetful of death’s despair: the buzz-kill.

Others preoccupy themselves with

The eventuality of death and

Dour and gloom diffuse through a joyless disposition, joyless life.

Some say a middle way makes of life what it is

Neither blind nor dark

Enlightened by the happiness we find now, by knowing.

To me meaning is in passionate undertaking,

When in all one takes on the stakes are mortal:

The joy in work, creation, recreation, the music we hear

The clothes or jewelry we wear.

The footfalls we leave behind us, remain in us

Walking into time today; waking in time

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