Centering Clay

Dig something you think might last from the earth and wedge the air from it. Then clean the wheel, the one which spins on its side, the one which goes nowhere. Slap the clay on the wheel and sit forward with your legs firmly planted. Brace your forearms against your thighs. And wet your hands. [Read More…]

In Full Praise

When asked about the difference between a slow-witted boy and a sage, a rabbi said, “Humility and Praise.” His students were puzzled. He went on, “The unaware one grows like a stone—solid and enduring. The awakened one breaks through the dark like a sapling breaking ground—its reach mirroring its roots. The self-conscious one darts like [Read More…]

Chant

What we want and what we’re given often serve two different Gods. How we respond to their meeting determines our path. [Read more…]

Transformation

It could be the letter never answered, the one in which you declared your love in such a tender way, admitting to every- thing. Or when the shell you brought all the way from the Philippines is dropped by some loud stranger you never wanted to show it to in the first place. It could [Read More…]

Singing the Same Question

For a poet whose fidelity has been to the timeless voice of that underground stream in which all that is wiser than us sings, speaking of God has produced an interesting echo throughout the years: like singing the same question in different weather; first into the wind, then into a crowd, and now before and [Read More…]

The Waterbird Way

In speaking about the non-dependence of the mind, Dōgen says, “Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace, don’t follow a path.” There are many ways to understand. Driven by our need to be seen, the mind can understand in the manner that a plow cuts the earth, overturning everything it encounters; leaving nothing as [Read More…]

Love Is As Love Does

This is the world of Grandma Minnie, the Brooklyn of my youth so full of unknown wonders and windows as far as I could see, out of which countless heads would lean and call for children I didn’t really know. But the open windows everywhere made me feel we were all connected, made me feel [Read More…]

To See and Hear

I couldn’t keep the damn glasses clean. Kept wiping them and curs- ing them. And my left ear was get- ting worse. Those across the room were shouting secrets behind a water- fall. But I wasn’t ready. Kept wiping the damn glasses. Kept trying to make sense of things I couldn’t hear. I didn’t feel [Read More…]

Before the Moon

How this ache stops me, old teacher that it is. Often on the way home when the wiper won’t clear it away. Or after a call with a friend who longs for something he can’t quite name. After utter companionship, not knowing what to say, when everyone has gone to bed, and the moon has [Read More…]

Breaking Trance

It is raining lightly and the sheep are standing still in the wet field, stopped by beads of water from the sky on their ears, their eyes, their mouths. They look like statues breaking their trance. Alive for the first time, they wonder, what is this magical place where the very air kisses you everywhere. [Read More…]