Thoughts: Probably my favourite fable in the world…good? bad? who knows?

Good news? Bad news? Who knows?
Good news? Bad news? Who knows?

I’ve heard this story in several places, most notably as told by Dan Millman, Derek Sivers, and others. I feel it’s a nice cautionary tale about celebrating too early, before we know how the whole story is going to turn out, or getting down because we think we’re losing in the game. Either way, wait & see.

What do you think, dear heart?

An old man and his son worked a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow. One day, the horse ran away.

“How terrible,” sympathized the neighbors. “What bad luck.”

“Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck?” the farmer replied.

A week later, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.

“What wonderful luck!” said the neighbors.

“Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” answered the old man.

The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg.

“How terrible. What bad luck!”

“Bad luck? Good luck?”

The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war, but the farmer’s son was of no use to them, so he was spared.

“Good? Bad?”

trree

Writings: We were made for these times….

Working toward the light includes each step that it takes to get there....photo by Ian Byington, Maui division
Working toward the light includes each step that it takes to get there….photo by Ian Byington, Maui division

One of the greatest & most motivating things is to know, deep inside, that each of us can make great things happen. Even better, we don’t have to do it all at once…it’s a step by step journey, and each step, not matter how small, is part of what gets us there.

Sharing starts here. Healing starts here.

Let’s do this together.

– Brother Ian

We Were Made for These Times

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Thoughts: How about a hundred dollar Christmas?

Only $100? Right!
Only $100? Right!

I hope the season finds you well & good, and that you’re making plans to be close to friends & family & loved ones. My little gift to you: I’d like to offer what I think is a pretty reasonable suggestion: Don’t go broke this holiday season.

For the past several years (back into the nineties, at least), my family & I have enjoyed a hundred dollar Christmas – spending no more than that. Does that mean no presents?

Hardly! It means homemade candles (one year), specially burnt CDs, certificates for babysitting, log-splitting and other “chores,” home-cooked banana bread, homemade calendars…great fun.

I just noticed how many times I said “home.”

Anyway, I’ve posted this before, but I’d like to offer this essay by Bill McKibben once more as an articulate explanation of this notion – see what you think, then see what you do:

+++++++++++++++

A Hundred Dollar Christmas
A small revolt takes hold in the author’s New England hometown.

By Bill McKibben

from the November/December 1997 Issue of Mother Jones

Can you keep it under a hundred?

You CAN spend less, ya know….keep it simple. :)

I know what I’ll be doing on Christmas Eve. My wife, my 4-year-old daughter, my dad, my brother, and I will snowshoe out into the woods in late afternoon, ready to choose a hemlock or a balsam fir and saw it down — I’ve had my eye on three or four likely candidates all year.

We’ll bring it home, shake off the snow, decorate it, and then head for church, where the Sunday school class I help teach will gamely perform this year’s pageant. (Last year, along with the usual shepherds and wise people, it featured a lost star talking on a cell phone.) And then it’s home to hang stockings, stoke the fire, and off to bed. As traditional as it gets, except that there’s no sprawling pile of presents under the tree.

Several years ago, a few of us in the northern New York and Vermont conference of the United Methodist Church started a campaign for what we called “Hundred Dollar Holidays.” The church leadership voted to urge parishioners not to spend more than $100 per family on presents, to rely instead on simple homemade gifts and on presents of services — a back rub, stacking a cord of firewood. That first year I made walking sticks for everyone. Last year I made spicy chicken sausage. My mother has embraced the idea by making calendars illustrated with snapshots she’s taken.

The $100 figure was a useful anchor against the constant seductions of the advertisers, a way to explain to children why they weren’t getting everything on their list.

So far, our daughter, Sophie, does fine at Christmas. Her stocking is exciting to her; the tree is exciting; skating on the pond is exciting. It’s worth mentioning, however, that we don’t have a television, so she may not understand the degree of her impoverishment.

(Here’s the rest of the story)

Read more “Thoughts: How about a hundred dollar Christmas?”

Writings: We are SO alike….

SO alike. Hard to tell us apart....
SO alike. Hard to tell us apart….

Just wanted to share, my friend:

It was a couple of years ago that I was having lunch with my Indian friend Anand. He said something clever (can’t remember what), and I responded, “Yeah, I do it that way, too. Great minds think alike, hey?”

He smiled and said, “In India, when we have a situation like that,  we say, “Fools seldom differ.

Love you, all the same,
Brother Ian

 

CBC: Whale wars: humpbacks versus orcas focus of new study

A new study in the Marine Mammal Science journal has found that humpback whales (left) will defend other species from orca (right) attacks. (First image: Joe Kearney; second image: Ken Balcomb/Explore)
A new study in the Marine Mammal Science journal has found that humpback whales (left) will defend other species from orca (right) attacks. (First image: Joe Kearney; second image: Ken Balcomb/Explore)

It’s a strange marine phenomenon: humpback whales actively defend other marine mammals like seals and grey whales from orca attacks, according to a new study.

But while some people might call it a rare example of interspecies altruism, the study also found that these attacks are likely a survival behaviour due to orcas’ tendency to feed on humpback calves.

Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in southern California, is the lead author of the study recently published in the Marine Mammal Science journal.

He told The Early Edition he first became intrigued about the phenomenon during a research trip to Antarctica.

“One day, we saw a killer whale chasing a seal. [The seal] started swimming out towards where a humpback was at the surface, and the humpback rolled over, and lifted the seal up on its chest,” he said.

Read the rest of the story:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/whale-fight-1.3718931

Writings: Living the answer

1536490_10154067926960157_3623193719837876300_nI would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.

Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke,
Letters to a Young Poet, 1903