Thursday, April 21, 2011


Unfortunately, my postings since the beginning of the year have been few and far between. This has been a disappointment for me because I derive great nourishment from the beauty, wisdom, and inspiration that I discover in my conversations with friends in the blogging community.  From time to time, however, the pressing demands of everyday life escalate to a level that leaves little breathing room for either pleasure or reflection. 

With the demands in my own life compounding lately, rather than abating, I woke up and came into my office around 3:15 this morning, intending to post a note stating that I would be taking a sabbatical from blogging until things improve.  As soon as I retrieved  my blog, however, the banner of current postings by others reminded me of how much I need these conversations in order to meet the challenges of life. That caused me to pause for a moment and pick up the book I have just finished reading, namely, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, by the late John O'Donahue, a fine Irish writer and one of my favorite  navigators of the human heart.  Turning to a dog-eared page, I reread a passage that I read a couple of nights ago and which has resonated deeply with me since then.  I quote that passage below because it speaks more eloquently than I can about the terrain through which I have been passing for several months.  The depth and power of these words convinces me that I must not allow the distractions of the day to divert me from the sources of strength that I will require for the journey.  Thus, rather than take a sabbatical from postings, I am going to redouble my efforts to post on a more frequent basis.

From Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, under a subsection titled "The Lost Voice" — 
A time of bleakness can also be a time of pruning.  Sometimes when our minds are dispersed and scattered, this pruning cuts away all of the false branching where our passion and energy were leaking out.  While it is painful to experience and endure this, a new focus and clarity emerge. The light that is hard won offers the greatest illumination.  A gift wrestled from bleakness will often confer a sense of sureness and grounding of the self, a strengthening proportionate to the travail of its birth.  The severity of Nothingness can lead to beauty.  Where life had gone stale, transfiguration occurs.  The ruthless winter clearance of spirit quietly leads to springtime of possibility.  Perhaps Nothingness is the secret source from which all beginning springs. 
There are also times of malaise, when life moves into the stillness of quiet death. Though you function externally, something is silently dying inside of you, something you can no longer save.  You are not yet able to name what you are losing, but you sense that its departure cannot be halted. Those who know you well can hear behind your words the deadened voice, the monotone of unremedied sadness.  Your lost voice cannot be quieted.  It becomes audible despite your best efforts to mask it. Sometimes even from a stranger one overhears the pathos of the lost voice: it may speak with passion on a fascinating topic, yet its mournful music seeps out, suggesting the no man's land where the speaker is now marooned.  Put flippantly, no-one ever really knows what they are saying. The adventure of voice into silence and silence into voice: this is the privilege and burden of the poet.

Since first reading Anam Cara, I have long treasured O'Donahue's insights into the spiritual landscape of the human heart.  I did not discover O'Donahue's meditation on beauty, however, until after reading Fireweed Meadow's wonderful posting, Beauty by John O'Donahue, which I heartily recommend to other readers.   Thanks, Fireweed, for bringing this book to my attention and inspiring this post. 


  1. Through tears I read your post. Your own words and experience are a mournful dirge in my ears. Then O'Donahue's lines are so perfectly rendered, and perfect for you in this context, I just sit and stare, letting them sink in.

    That you came to your blog, expecting to close your notebook, at least for a time, but discovered that you needed it, my heart rises up to yours.

    I had a very similar experience yesterday. I am in the dearth of dread in my job currently. It will only last this way a couple more weeks, thankfully. There are more problems and seemingly irreconcilable circumstances that will effect my role for years to come. I was beneath it and utterly spent yesterday. Then last evening, I suddenly got inspired to write something. And everything changed in my outlook. This is, I think, what you mean here. That you receive sustenance from the blog posts you yourself create, you receive nurturance from the interactions here when you feel how people respond so beautifully to your inspirations, then you feel it at the other blogs around the blogosphere and find yourself renewed. What a wonder this is, and I rejoice. In all of it.

    I have long loved the image of pruning for this concept. The image of grape vines being trimmed all the way down, so drastically! And everything in this passage you wrote about that, it's brilliant.

    Godspeed, George.

  2. To Ruth,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and unfailingly kind comments, my friend. I suppose I'm "putting myself out there," as they say, but O'Donahue's words seemed to capture the challenges and opportunities of the difficult passages that are part of every human journey. I, too, love this concept of pruning, the process of removing old growth to make room for the new.

    Good luck with your job situation, whatever the challenges may be. Having just read your wonderful post on you, Dean Martin, and your father on Saturday nights, I'm quite confident that you will continue to flourish, even if a little pruning occurs from time to time.

  3. George, O'Donohue is one of my favorites, too. I'm offering his "Echoes of Memory" in my poetry contest this month. Do you know his "Bless the Space Between Us"? I often quote from it; the book contains blessings that are always perfect for the particular occasion.

    May the heaviness of your heart lift soon.

    Ruth, may peace come be with you.

  4. Hi dear George:

    I hear a lot of pain and sadness whispering from between the lines of your post, and the lines you chose to share from John O'Donohue's book (one of my dearest life companions - that book) confirm that perception. I am both sorry that you are experiencing such times, and not sorry - for these are the periods that burn away what we no longer need on the journey, difficult as they may be ...

    My first copy of Beauty: The Invisible Embrace is falling apart. I purchased another copy - but continue to use the first worn copy, unable to separate myself from the pain, growth and healing that wear represents. I can hear his purr in my ear as I read his words and came to think of him as a life companion/guide and was devastated to hear of his untimely death. His death makes every word just that much more precious ... a light I would not want to be without.

    So glad to know O'Donohue is accompanying you through this time and that his words encouraged you to reach out rather than pull back.

    I will always have an eye out for your posts - whenever you choose to make them.

  5. To Maureen,

    Thanks for your lovely comments, Maureen. Yes, I do have "Bless the Space Between Us" and I have been reading selections from it recently. Thanks also for your good wishes.

  6. To Bonnie,

    Thanks for your kind comments, Bonnie. I hope my post didn't sound like self pity. I simply wanted to call attention to O'Donahue's insights and wisdom on the challenging terrain that must be traversed sooner or later by all of us.

    You are so right about this book. It deserves to be read slowly, thoughtfully, and frequently. Have a nice day. It's nice to hear from you.

  7. Life is a journey through various seasons…though unlike those of the calendar, their length and order are seldom very clear. Sometimes, it seems, moments of more than one become mixed in together, complicating, presenting choices and insisting on decisions.

    Like the dog that didn't bark in the nighttime, your quietness of late has been noted, with cause for concern since it did not seem the reassuring stillness of reflective tranquility. Perhaps I recognize it because it is a country I know all too well.

    You are absolutely right in that you "must not allow the distractions of the day to divert me from the sources of strength that I will require for the journey." When assailed by a life-season of bleakness, trouble, fear, illness, or any of the countless negatives which seek to extinguish light within the human heart, it is all too easy to give into the notion that to do proper battle, one must immediately divest oneself of every non-essential or ancillary moment, giving undivided attention to the task at hand. This is like a general expecting his army to fight endlessly with neither nourishment nor rest.

    Might I humbly say that in my experience life's gravest battles are seldom won by action, but rather by spirit. And spirit is a vessel that needs constant replenishing. Gird and charge the interior, and the exterior will fail to rob you of your walk.

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers, my friend…for I believe I know just what it took for you to write this post. Whatever the life-season you're currently journeying through, find those wellsprings of strength and drink both deep and frequently. And do not fail to ask if there's anything whatsoever I can do…

  8. To Grizz,

    I cannot begin to tell you how much your comments mean to me. The fact that you know and understand what I am talking about, without even knowing the details, provides me with great comfort. It's reassuring to hear you say that you, too, have traveled through this country.

    Your words capture what I was trying to say, specifically, that I must resist the temptation to put aside all so-called "extraneous" matters so that I can give my undivided attention to the tasks at hand. Your simile nails the point for me: What is to be gained by having an army fight without nourishment or rest?

    I also appreciate your reminder that the gravest battles are seldom won by action, but rather by spirit. I know that to be true — indeed, I treat it as an article of faith. Unfortunately, challenges often come so swiftly that our reptilian defense mechanisms preempt our deeper wisdom.

    Thanks again, Grizz. I hope that you and your family are doing well, and I am deeply moved by your kind and perceptive heart.

  9. Thanks, George.

    I hope my comment didn't over-emote, though that is something I can't help much, I'm afraid. (I is what I is.) My response was as much about me as about you. You did not sound self-pitying one bit.

    I did not thank you outright for O'Donahue, someone I was not acquainted with, but I seem to be in the minority here. Thank you to Maureen, too, for her kind peace wishes.

  10. Ruth,

    Thanks again, my friend. I posted the O'Donahue quote because I felt his insights would resonate with others as well as me. As I just said in my response to the comments of Grizz, I have been struggling with the perceived need to put aside all non-essential matters in order to have the strength and time to deal with immediate issues. As Grizz points out, however, nothing is more essential than giving attention to those matters that nourish and sustain the spirit.

  11. I'm so glad to see you back here. I've missed your insightful posts. They've often been exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. I think that's the beauty of being here, sharing our thoughts, you never know what will speak to someone else as it did to us and the strength, and even illumination, that can be offered to others.

    I have been through similar periods and have often appreciated this quote by Longfellow: "The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide."

    I am not inferring you are at a low ebb, but I feel many of us who look deeply at Life's questions understand that space of "voice into silence and silence into voice." Ebb and flow.

    Thank you, so much, for sharing your thoughts.

  12. Dear George,

    I don't know what your troubles are, but may I say that 'putting yourself out here', as far as you are able, will bring kind words. compassion, understanding and even wisdom in the form of shared experiences your way. It has for me, every time I opened myself up, and kind friends who gave their time and thoughtfulness have lifted my spirits.

    This space is an amazing world and the knowledge that I am speaking to kindred spirits helps me feel much less alone than i would do otherwise.

    I wish you strength and fortitude.

  13. To Teresa,

    Thanks so much for your kind and supportive comments, Teresa. Yes, I have sensed that you are a kindred spirit, and I always value your thoughts.

  14. George, I hope that you are also able to sleep.
    I am struggling with this quotation. To prune a tree or shrub effectively can be difficult, we have to know when to carry it out and how much we should remove.
    The second part is more elusive for me. I will have to print it off and take it for a walk.
    Keep up the nourishment.

  15. To Friko,

    Thanks, as always, Friko, for your kind and heartfelt comments. As you know, I have tremendous respect for the raw honesty which has become the hallmark of your blog. Your writing constantly reassures me that neither intellect nor high ideals can isolate one from the pain that is inherent in being human.

  16. To Tramp,

    Thanks for the comments, Tramp. It's great to hear from you.

    Sometimes the pruning comes through forces outside of our own choices, like a tree limb being pruned by heavy winds. The key, I think, is to accept those things which pass and remain open to the possibility that what is to come may be even lovelier. If you have further thoughts after your walk, feel free to come back and share them with me.

  17. George - just so lovely to read you again. Even if you only blog now and again, do try to keep it up - I would miss your words of wisdom.

  18. Sounds well worth reading. I've added it to my Amazon Wish List, if it had been available on Kindle I might be reading it already.

  19. To Pat,

    Thanks, Pat, for your lovely words of support. I hope to get over to your site later to day and see what you are up to, now that spring has come to England.

  20. To Loren,

    Thanks for your comments, Loren. I think you will like the book. As for your Kindle, you might consider his most popular book, "Anam Cara," which is beautifully written and rich in wisdom.

  21. George: You do not sound self-pitying in this post. You sound authentic.

  22. Bonnie: Thanks for your comment. Sometimes a little bird sits on my shoulder and cautions me against posting anything that is not consistently positive and upbeat. On the other shoulder, however, is another bird that tells me to speak truthfully and authentically about the passage, including the storms encountered along the way. For better or worse, it is the second bird that has my ear.

  23. Dear George,

    I want to tell you I'm glad you're here, blogging when you can. Whatever you can do and must do (in this and any situation), coming from silence or even mindfulness in loss - in the way you know how - may feel difficult but will perhaps be what allows the branch to bear sweeter fruit.

    I have to say, I don't trust the first bird much. I know the second bird, who is judged severely by many, can sing out from silence as well as any other and being willing to tell about the country through which he's flown and the branch upon which he perches grants him much more credence when he chooses to sing a sunny song.

  24. To Neighbor,

    Thanks so much, my friend, for your kind and supportive words. When I try to figure out what we are doing with these blogs, I always come to the conclusion that we are trying to speak a truth that is difficult to speak elsewhere, trying to hear something that is difficult to hear elsewhere, trying to bring form and order to a world that often seems wildly chaotic. If we cannot speak the truth, why speak at all?

  25. 'tis the day that needs the night.
    and people that need one another.

    you have displayed a lovely shot of tulips,
    and the rendering of your heart.

  26. A bit of quiet time to just sit in silence (even in the middle of the night) is what we sometimes need, George. It is at these times we come to recognize what is truly important to us. Pruning in Nature is often painful but is necessary for stronger growth. My best wishes to you.

  27. George, I'm glad you're back! I think all of us feel keenly disappointed, even despairing at times, even those of us who strongly favor giving the mic to the happy songbird. It can be a trap, though, because then we don't know how to let the "blues" bird sing. We someone does find the courage to wail a bit, we all respond with resonance. We all suffer.

    Thich Nhat Hahn makes the point that suffering and nirvana are not two. When we embrace our suffering and look deeply into it we discover that the suffering will transform into something new, beautiful, joyous, and wondrous. The compost becomes a rose; the rose becomes compost.

    As others have said, this blogging work may prove to be essential. Welcome back! Have you seen my pruning shears?

  28. First of all, George, welcome back once more, and never doubt it may be the wrong thing to post anything less than upbeat! Emotional honesty and sincerity are the prompts to follow, and any desire for communication which ensues will then come naturally and from the heart. Rest assured you will find friends, and a warm and empathic response, in this sector of the blogosphere. Whether you post or not, whether you post daily or hardly ever, you yourself will know in your heart what you want and need to do, and others will understand and respect that. There is never any obligation or duty to post; the desire what to say, and when and how to say it, arises naturally, I find.

    There's a satisfying synchronicity (something that happens unbelievably often in blogland) between your post and my recent one on Buddhism, I think. Through O'Donohue's words (whose book 'Anam Cara' has a privileged position on my bookshelf incidentally) you talk of staleness, nothingness, malaise. Yes - normal, natural, unavoidable states, each one. In fact, as you know well, all are aspects of 'dukkha', that eternally present background of affliction, adversity and suffering which is part and parcel of the human condition. Our response to 'dukkha' is 'samudaya' - again a perfectly natural thing, a spectrum of reactions ranging from uncontrollable passion to the desire to take flight, from blame, rage and hate to flagellation and ascetic self-denial. In his book 'The Feeling Buddha' David Brazier argues both 'dukkha' and 'samudaya' are natural and inevitable states, not things ever to deny/feel ashamed about/try to avoid etc. On the contrary, if possible we should feel grateful for them, embrace them, use them. For they are the spark which ignites an essential fire, a fire which, if controlled ('nirodha'), can bring about enlightenment ('nirvana') and a good life on a good track ('marga'). All in the here and now, this second - even within the very distractions we feel we must somehow avoid! In fact, especially within those distractions, actually.

    Growing means constant change and adaptation, as we continually meet the fresh challenges of 'dukkha', as I know full well, having been in the slough of despond many times. As O'Donohue writes in 'Anam Cara': 'In a poetics of growth it is important to explore how possibility and change remain so faithful to us. They open us to new depths within. Their continual, inner movement makes us aware of the eternity that hides behind the outer facade of our lives.'

    I'm glad you posted this, George, and am not surprised it has elicited such warm and sympathetic responses in others. For we have all been there, and we are there still.

  29. To Nance Marie,

    Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. Yes, the day and night are defined by the opposites, and perhaps that tells us something about why people need one another. Glad you liked the shot of the tulips. The rising of color against a dark background is a promise of hope.

  30. To Barb,

    Thanks, Barb, for your insightful thoughts. Yes, the heart often requires stillness to repair itself. In our madcap world, however, it is sometimes difficult to find that stillness. Perhaps that is why some of us seek refuge in the middle of the night.

  31. To Dan,

    I am lifted, Dan, by both your insights and your good humor. Yes, indeed, it is necessary to let the "blues" bird sing from time to time; otherwise, the world becomes a tinsel imitation of reality.

    Since you are well-schooled in Buddhism, I'm curious about how you reconcile the notion of embracing suffering with the notion of avoiding suffering by acceptance and the relinquishment of desire. Do you see any conflict here? Should we practice nonresistance to unfolding reality and thereby avoid suffering and the lessons it might teach, or should we resist circumstances, take on the inevitable suffering that resistance causes, and then hope to redeem ourselves through new growth, becoming the rose that rises from the compost? Personally, I have tried to eliminate suffering by eradicating desire. There are spheres of life, however — social justice, for example — in which the desire for a better outcomes seems appropriate. By the same token, being attached to better outcomes seems to be a recipe for suffering. Again, if you have any further thoughts on this issue, please feel free to share them.

    Thanks again for your good thoughts.

  32. Re. your comment to Dan - I don't think Buddhism teaches the avoidance of suffering by acceptance and the relinquishment of desire. On the contrary, my understanding is that suffering is inescapable and must be faced - so why not use the experience, debilitating and difficult as it may be, to beneficial effect? I don't think desire must be eradicated - indeed, that's impossible - but desire can be moderated, and harnessed, as can all the passions. The fire can be tended so that it doesn't get out of control, as Brazier says in his book.

  33. To Robert,

    I am overwhelmed by your kind and thoughtful comments, Robert. I have always felt that we are covering much of the same terrain, both literally and figuratively, and I deeply appreciate your insights.

    Yes, I think that we must remain authentic and follow our natural instincts when it comes to deciding what and when to post. To use Yeats' words, we "must lie down where all the ladders start, in the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart." Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done.

    Your discussion of the Buddhist approach to the problem of suffering (dukkha) is most welcomed because, when all else fails, I return to the deeply held belief that suffering is a mental affliction that can be overcome by relinquishment of cravings and desires. As you will see from my response to Dan's comments, however, there is an area of ambiguity on this issue that perplexes me. Citing David Brazier's book, "The Feeling Buddha," you state that suffering (dukkha) and our emotional reactions to it (samadaya) are both natural and inevitable conditions of human existence, and that it is better to embrace these conditions, rather than attempt to avoid them. That certainly makes practical sense (which is one of the reasons I am so attracted to Buddhism), but it seems to cut against the notion (also found in Buddhism) that we can avoid suffering in the first place if we simply engage in radical acceptance of reality and relinquish our desires and cravings for specific outcomes in life. How do you see this? If all suffering comes from desire and craving, but suffering is a path to enlightenment, should we worry less pruning the desire limb from our lives and concentrate more on embracing the inevitable suffering? Perhaps I am seeing a conflict where there is none, but I have always thought that the Buddhism stood in contrast to the Christian idea that suffering was a path to salvation. As I have understood Buddhism, suffering can be avoided by the relinquishment of desire, and that, in turn, can lead to enlightenment.

    Needless to say, I am looking forward to reading Brazier's book. Perhaps he can shed some light on this idea of embracing suffering, rather than avoiding it by nonresistance to reality.

    I love the O'Donahue quote from "Anam Cara." The idea that possibility and change will remain "faithful to us" is worth deeper meditation. Perhaps the essence of faith itself is confidence that change will always be faithful to us.

    Thanks again, Robert. Your response has moved me deeply.

  34. To Robert,

    Thanks for your additional comment. I appreciate your insights on this. Perhaps I have placed too much emphasis on the idea that desire and craving are the roots of suffering. In any event, I agree with you that it is almost impossible to eradicate desire from our lives. That being the case, it does seem that suffering is inevitable, which leads one to the conclusion that our energies are best spent by nonresistance to suffering, rather than nonresistance to desire. Thanks again.

  35. Yes, desire and craving coming first is perhaps the traditional Buddhist view? But Brazier argues cogently and convincingly that the Buddha actually meant desire and craving (for the end of our pain) come AFTER suffering (ie all sorts of negative emotions result from the inescapable suffering which is part of the human condition). After all, how can our desires and cravings be anything to do with the universal sufferings of illness, disease, the death of loved ones? (Though obviously they can also cause some amount of suffering, ie discontent and unhappiness through desiring only material goods etc.) We recognise the suffering, we recognise the passions resulting from suffering, we understand that without suffering there can be no joy just as without night there can be no day - and then we progress, tend the fire, channel our energies, and begin the eight-fold path of right view, right thought and so on.

  36. To Robert,

    Well said, Robert. Your latest comment helps me reconcile the conflict I was perceiving. I have just ordered Brazier's book and look forward to reading it. Have a wonderful weekend! I deeply appreciate your thoughtful comments on this posting.

  37. Please don't ever stop blogging. I've only just found you.

  38. To Anonymous,

    Thanks for your kindness, Anonymous. I promise you that I will not stop blogging, and I'm delighted that you have found things on this site that are meaningful to you. I hope you make return visits.

  39. Dear George,

    I am happy to learn that my comments lift your spirits. They are doing what I intend.

    To embrace suffering is to recognize suffering when it arises, accept it, and get to know it, especially how it has come to be in our lives. Did we do things to bring it on? Often we do. The Eightfold Path offers a way to attenuate this sort of suffering: needless suffering we create for ourselves.

    Just as Robert says, there is inescapable suffering that cannot be avoided, so we must learn how to live with it so we can transform the suffering, compost it into something of value. Examples abound: the reformed drug addict who counsels teens against drug addiction; the mother who lost her child to a drunk driver and starts MADD.

    The question of desire is a big one, too big to go into fully. Here may I suggest that we can discern which of our desires are wholesome and which ones are unwholesome? Our work is to nourish our wholesome desires (saving all sentient beings is one of the Bodhisattva vows) and starve our unwholesome desires. Doing the latter will simultaneously reduce our suffering.

    Your desire for social justice is wholesome. As for me, up-close personal kindness is plenty challenging. Kindness more aptly describes my aspiration; I have learned to trust that the “ripple effect” of my personal kindnesses (when I manage to "do" them) will do my social justice work.

    At the end of your comment to me you say that wishing for better outcomes is a recipe for suffering. Yes, that's right. To desire anything is to argue with what is. Any desire will set you in opposition to reality as it is. Better to accept it as it is and tend to “what is” with empathy, compassion, care, kindness. It’s amazing how doing only that transforms the situation. Real solutions appear.

    Jeez. I this comment is longer than most of my posts! Ah well. I’m enjoying the conversation.

    Be well, my friend.

  40. To Dan,

    Thanks for the additional comments. Your insights are welcome and it's nice to find people who enjoy the exploration of these ideas.

  41. Dear George,
    I have watched your interactions on this and other blogs for some time. Never be afraid of posting about the downtimes as well as the upbeat ones. Your integrity and honesty about your struggles speak volumes about the man that you are. It is often from the experience of our most difficult times that we are able to reach out to others.
    My thoughts are with you as you travel through your struggles and may you stand in the knowledge that, in time, the page will be turned and a glorious new chapter will be waiting to explore... x

  42. To Elizabeth,

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your kind and thoughtful comments. My goal in this blog is to speak openly and honestly about the terrain through which I make my passage. If that means addressing the dark side of our journeys from time to time, so be it. Ultimately, however, I know that this is a glorious journey and that all will be well. Have a wonderful day!

  43. Dear George,

    I rarely post and do not blog but am a follower of yours. I teach yoga part time and your blogs have often inspired themes and quotes for my class. And your book references have helped me immensely in my own journey. (as well as all the good comments from your posts) I'm so happy you are back!

  44. To Brenda,

    Thanks, Brenda, for your lovely comments. I'm delighted that you have been following the blog and have discovered words and ideas that have been useful in your own life. Your comments are always welcome. Have a nice day!

  45. Hi George, I know what you mean when you feel that life and art demands can get pretty busy and hectic.. and I sometimes think I should move on from the blog world as well-- and then I come around to other blog posts like yours which are always so insightful or poetic and then I write a blog post and get such wonderful comments and I realize how important the blog world is to me as well... I loved your passage from BEAUTY.

  46. To Donna,

    Thanks for the very thoughtful comments, Donna. I, too, feel that conflict between the demands of blogging and the demands of my day to day life. As you recognize, however, we often need the inspiration we receive from the blogging conversations in order to effectively navigate through the other parts of our lives. Glad you liked the passage from "Beauty." O'Donahue has proven to be a great counselor for me in matters of the heart.

  47. To Fireweed,

    Thanks, Fireweed, for your thoughtful and meaningful comments. I'm delighted that you enjoyed your New Zealand adventure and rediscovered how vital it is to be engaged with the world beyond our computers. As you will see from Lorenzo's comments, many of us are struggling with this question of balance when it comes to blogging. I salute your decision to blog less and less in the forseable future. Without a doubt, your inspiring words will be missed. By the same token, however, I respect your choice. None of us should be enslaved to any notion of regularity; we should post only when we are compelled by the heart to do so. Good luck, and i look forward to reading your future postings, regardless of their frequency.

  48. To Lorenzo,

    How great to hear from you, Lorenzo! It's reassuring to know that I am not the only person struggling with this need to balance a passionate love of blogging with what you aptly describe as "the draining distractions of the workaday world." As you will see from the comments of Fireweed, there are many of us who are feeling the tension of being pulled in different directions.

    Like you, I have been challenged in recent months by demands that require my physical, intellectual, and emotional attention. As a result of these demands, I have not had the time or inspiration to do any meaningful blogging, and this, in turn, has left me feeling somewhat guilty. Like you, my inclination is to believe that I should either post regularly and often or not at all. Having thought about this for several weeks, however, I have come to the conclusion that we should simply treat the blogosphere as "free space," a place where we can come and speak as often as it feels authentic in the heart. It may be that we will go through periods of blogging feverishly. There may be other times when we simply do not have enough creative space in our days, or we may just prefer a period of silence and reflection. Whatever the case, we should not be making any blogging demands upon ourselves. There is enough "regularity" in the other aspects of our lives. Perhaps we need to keep our blogging lives in the unstructured space where authenticity, spontaneity, and creativity thrive. Your words sum it up perfectly for me: "The important thing is to return, whenever we are so moved by our inner compass and so allowed by our outside circumstances, and let our voice be heard."

    Do read more of O'Donahue if you get the chance. Here is a man who was deeply spiritual and magnificently poetic. My favorite books by O'Donahue are "Anam Cara" and "Beauty."

    Thanks for your warm words of friendship, Lorenzo. Rest assured that I feel the same, and I raise my glass to you in return. May we have both a springtime and a summer of possibility!

  49. Knowing how important you are to my sister Ruth, George, I am immensely grateful that you've made the choice to carry on here at your blog. This is my first time to visit you here, so I'm glad to meet you. Thank you!

  50. To Ginnie,

    Thanks, Ginnie. As I said in my back-channel response to you, Ruth is such a good friend that you now seem like family to me. Best of luck to you and Astrid on your journey. And, once again, my deepest condolences for the loss in Astrid's family.

  51. Good point - one might neglect activities that sustain you when you are going through a time when one most needs that sustenance. I hope I remember I'd read it next time I find I've taken a break from the blog due to pressure of work. Trouble is, at times like that I find it impossible to find words to write.

    Great quote. As it says, "no-one ever really knows what they are saying." I suppose talking is a voyage of discovery whether we are aware of it or not. And, similarly, no-one knows what is being said. The shadow falls in different places, according to your viewpoint. And no-one really knows what they are thinking - we're only aware of a small part of what's going on in our heads at any one time.

    "suffering can be avoided by the relinquishment of desire"... There is a balancing act involved here - is the desire to relinquish desire any more desirable than any other desire? Can desire be relinquished, or do we, like Yeats' horseman, cast a cold eye on it -not quite the same thing- and see it for what it is? I think this is touching on the stuff of Zen. As soon as one thinks one has the answer, one realises it's eluded one.

    Glad to see you're around again! I've been away for a bit myself - just posting on the band's blog now and again. One can get so busy that one's inner life is put on hold, or so it feels. I'm sure this is bad for us!

  52. To Dominic,

    Thanks for the very insightful and thoughtful comments, Dominic. It's great to hear from you. I haven't posted as much lately either; sometimes one must simply wait for the mood to strike. I'm delighted you found meaning in the O'Donahue quote; he was a thoughtful, spiritual man from whom I have learned a great deal.