3.21.23 – Numbers Comfort Me

@ BBC Bitesize

Today’s poem: Numbers Comfort Me

one, two, three: numbers comfort me

I watch them parade with perfect symmetry

I love how they add, subtract and multiply

consistently predictable, enough to make me cry

with tears of joy and calm security

numbers so reliable; perfect harmony …

(From my poem Seven Figures in I Am Furious (c) 2009)


Mar 20 – Soul Friend?

Today’s senryu: Soul Friend?

is it possible

a focused soul friendship



Anam Cara is a phrase that refers to the Celtic concept of the “soul friend” in religion and spirituality. The phrase is an anglicization of the Irish word anamcharaanam meaning “soul” and cara meaning “friend”. The term was popularized by Irish author John O’Donohue in his 1997 book Anam Ċara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom about Celtic spirituality. In the Celtic tradition “soul friends” are considered an essential and integral part of spiritual development.[1] The Martyrology of Óengus recounts an incident where Brigid of Kildare counseled a young cleric that “…anyone without a soul friend is like a body without a head.”[2] A similar concept is found in the Welsh periglour.[3]

The Anam Cara involves a friendship that psychotherapist William P. Ryan describes as “compassionate presence”.[4] According to O’Donohue, the word anamchara originates in Irish monasticism, where it was applied to a monk’s teacher, companion, or spiritual guide.[5] However, Edward C. Sellner traces its origin to the early Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers: “This capacity for friendship and ability to read other people’s hearts became the basis of the desert elders’ effectiveness as spiritual guides.”[3] Their teachings were preserved and passed on by the Christian monk John Cassian, who explained that the soul friend could be clerical or lay, male or female.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anam_Cara

Mar 19 – Note-to-Self: The Purpose of Life is Joy

The Benefits of Laughing at Yourself @ shondaland.com

Here is today’s senryu: NTS – The Purpose of Life Is Joy

Ha! You make me laugh.

Laughing is such a relief.

Do it more often.

Below is a repost of Matthew Fox’ message from last Monday (which I just read today, ha)

Joy! Why We Are All Here.

The Divine Joy.  Did you ever consider that maybe the “Big Bang” was a Big Laugh?  Or a Big Shout of Joy?  That the Trinity could not take it any more—that is the joy of being, the joy of existence, the joy that is the joie d’vivere, the celebration of a universe where “existence itself is the miracle.”  (Rilke).  Or—even more likely because scientists tell us there was no sound at all when the universe began–a big, quiet smile of mischief when the Creator came up with the crazy idea to birth a universe (and put homo sapiens into it)? 

The Big Laugh, the Big Smile. Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

Why is there a universe?  In order to share the joy, of course!  A new and unheard of surprise to launch a universe smaller than a zygote that would expand over 14 billion years into two trillion galaxies?  Each with hundreds of billions of stars?  And would include giraffes and hippos and forests and oceans, mountains and rivers, fishes and birds, flowers, plants and human beings—all born from 13.8 billion years of birthing from the time of the Big Laugh, Big Smile, overflowing exuberance, playfulness and the bubbling over of divine Joy? 

Thomas Aquinas had such an idea when he proposed that “Sheer Joy is God’s and this demands companionship.”  The purpose of the universe is Joy.  Ours and the Creator’s.  Joy does not want to be contained, it demands to be shared, like fire or like a laugh.  It wants company and nurtures community.  Which was very dear to the Trinity which ultimately birthed all of creation.  And the beauty and original blessing of it all started things off with, as we say, a big bang, a big laugh, a bursting joy, a twinkling and mischievous smile matched only by unbounded beauty and wonder.

Photo by Competitive Insight on Unsplash

For this reason, “joy is the human’s noblest act” and “God is supremely joyful and therefore supremely conscious.”  (Aquinas)  If Joy—ours and God’s—renders us ever more conscious, can we spread the joy? 

Welcome aboard!  Welcome to existence, to creation, to the universe, your home.

Wouldn’t it be good to teach this to our children very early and before and instead of teaching them about divine wrath or a place called hell or original sin or guilt or shame or despair?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 33-40.  

And Fox, In the Beginning there Was Joy: A Celebration of Creation for Children of All Ages. (Coming soon!)

Mar 18 – Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

Parker J. Palmer is an American author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. He has published ten books and numerous essays and poems and is founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage and Renewal.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_Palmer

Only 117 pages, Palmer’s small book, Let Your Life Speak, (c) 2000 by Jossey-Bass, is filled with candor and wisdom about his (and our) search for right livelihood, for a meaningful vocation.

A couple of quotes from this book inspired by his Quaker practice are:

“there is much guidance in what does not and cannot happen in my life as there is in what can and does – maybe more.” p.39

“If I try to be or do something noble that has nothing to do with who I am, I may look good to others and to myself for a while. But the fact that I am exceeding my limits will eventually have consequences. I will distort myself, the other, and our relationship – and may end up doing more damage than if I had never set out to do this particular ‘good’. … It took me a long time to understand that although everyone needs to be loved, I cannot be the source of that gift to everyone who asks me for it. There are some relations in which I am capable of love and others in which I am not. To pretend otherwise, to put out promissory notes I am unable to honor, is to damage my own integrity and that of the person in need.” pp.47-48

“We can make choices about what we are going to project, and with those choices we help grow the world … Our complicity in world making is a source of awesome and sometimes painful responsibility – and a source of profound hope for change.” p.78

“Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility, for the intuitive hunch that may turn into a larger insight, for the glance or touch that may thaw a frozen relationship, for the stranger’s act of kindness that make the world seem hospitable again. … if you receive a gift, you keep it alive not by clinging to it but by passing it along.” pp.104-105

Today’s senryu: Let Your Life Speak

I can do myself,

I cannot do you – that is

yours to make happen.


St. Patrick: A Sonnet

Today we recognize our patron saint. May we all enjoy a peaceful and joyful day. And cheers to Malcolm Guite for another beautiful sonnet. Thank you!

Malcolm Guite


Here is my sonnet for St. Patrick’s Day

While Patrick is of course primarily associated with Ireland where he flourished as a missionary in the second half of the fifth century, he was not Irish to begin with. He seems to have been a shepherd on the mainland of Great Britain and was in fact captured there, at the age of sixteen, by raiding pirates and taken across the sea to Ireland where he was sold as a slave. He was six years in captivity before he finally made his escape and returned to Britain. And this is where the story takes a truly extraordinary turn. While he was enslaved in Ireland, working as a shepherd for his masters, Patrick became a Christian and when, having made good his escape, he returned home he had a vision in which a man gave him a letter headed ‘The Voice of Ireland’…

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Mar 15 – Two Types of Ancestors

Sister Annabel Laity – author at the Plum Village Shop plumvillage.shop

In her book, Mindfulness – Walking with Jesus and Buddha (c) 2021, Sister Annabel Laity identifies the two types of ancestors:

“Our blood ancestors are not the only source of our lives. We also have spiritual ancestors who transmit to us the spiritual direction that our life takes … Our blood ancestors are one of our roots, and our spiritual ancestors are no less important a root … Mindful of our blood and our spiritual ancestors, we shall see their qualities that we want to continue, and we shall also see their shortcomings. We cannot reject our ancestors, because of their mistaken ways. Who are we, who are by no means perfect, to do that? … We accept all our ancestors as they are, and we feel well because, by accepting them, we are accepting ourselves.pp. 116-117

Today’s senryu: Two Types of Ancestors

Dearest sister and

crazy old uncle Friedrich,

did God really die?


Nietzsche dismissed Schopenhauer and Christianity and Buddhism as pessimistic and nihilistic, but, according to Benjamin A. Elman, “[w]hen understood on its own terms, Buddhism cannot be dismissed as pessimistic or nihilistic“. Moreover, answers which Nietzsche assembled to the questions he was asking, not only generally but also in Zarathustra, put him “very close to some basic doctrines found in Buddhism”. An example is when Zarathustra says that “the soul is only a word for something about the body“. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra

Mar 14 – “What Betrayal of the Soul”


In his book Living Between Worlds, (c) 2020 Sounds True, Dr. James Hollis, asks:

“What betrayal of the soul transpires when we collude with our debilitating fears? And who, besides us, will pay those debts of unlived life – our children, our partners, our colleagues, our society? Do we not see the best thing we can do for others is really to bring our best, most nearly authentic selves to engage them?” (p. 42)

Today’s senryu: What Betrayal of the Soul

Hide it or use it,

share it or lose it – what calls

out to you today?


How the Divine Abodes Work

Love the final paragraph especially. We can’t free anyone else but we are responsible for liberating ourselves. May we be free.

The Buddha's Advice to Laypeople

Over the years, Thanissaro Bhikkhu has cleared up a lot of misunderstanding about what metta – and its companion mindstates – is and is not.

The brahmavihāras, or sublime attitudes, are attitudes of goodwill, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity that you spread to all beings, without limit: in other words, with no limit to the amount of goodwill, etc., that you spread, and no limit on the number of beings to whom you spread it. Each of these attitudes is an antidote for mental states that can get in the way of training the mind.

• Goodwill, a wish that beings will be happy, is an antidote for ill will, the desire to see beings suffer.

• Compassion, a wish that those who are suffering will be freed from their suffering, is an antidote to cruelty, the desire to actually harm others when they’re in a position to be harmed.

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