Writings: Rain, rain, and more rain…


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What do you do when your kid say, “Let’s go play in the rain?” Click on the picture above to see the little video…

When I was kid, I used to take my shoes off when I had to walk to the bus stop when it was raining, so my socks & shoes wouldn’t be wet all day at school. I found that I really liked walking in the rain, sloshing in the mud with the inter-toe mud & squishiness of it all, and the feeling of freedom it gave me. Of course, I never told my parents, even now.

So the picture of me, walking under my little umbrella (yes, in grade four I had an umbrella!), with my shoes tied by the laces & hanging from my shoulder, taking twice as long to get there, because it was fun…it’s a picture I have in my scrapbook of a head.

That’s why I like the little video above. Especially the English accents (when I was a kid, I was bi-dialectic – I spoke with a Southern gentleman-in-training’s drawl, and my thoughts were in a British accent)…I sure like it. See what you think.

Just another way to take a shower…

The video below reminds me of university – I was at the University of Alabama, walking home from work at the dining hall, when the rains came, warm & hard & wet, with home too far away to even walk fast or run. It was wonderful, walking in the Alabama rain.

Years later, I went on a hike with my sister’s pal Hilda in an thunderstorm in north Alabama, where we walked up the side of a hill to near the top, where the lightning was, and it was a week after I had first heard the song below. Summertime rain washes you clean, so I wanted to share that with you today!

Thanks for listening, and singing along, my friend.

Love you & so glad you’re there!
Brother Ian

Remembering: Seamus Heaney reminds me of hope…can you see it? feel it? taste it?

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney

It was 1989, and time to come up with a name for my just-born son. In an move I’ve never regretted, we named him Seamus (Shay for short), and though we agreed we weren’t naming him after anyone specific, it was cool that his name echoed this fellow from Ireland, who passed away late last month.

During that period 24 years ago, folks asked us, baldly, how can you bring a kid into this world? It’s all so dark, so hopeless, so unforgiving, they said. I think this poem by Heaney answers the question far better than I did at that time. As I look at the tracks my sons both are leaving, as well as the ones they trace out as they make their paths, I believe in miracles, and the chance for hope & history to rhyme.

from “The Cure at Troy ” by Seamus Heaney

Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted or endured.

The innocent in gaols
beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

Call the miracle self-healing:
The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
the outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

– Seamus Heaney

Poetry of music: The place of loving in each of us, as infants….

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.40.55 AMFrom Shantala:

My heart has been broken by the violence, polarization and xenophobia that have been escalating so much in recent weeks. If things had been like this in 1933 when my father’s family came to the US to escape the Nazis, I simply would have never been born.

I’ve felt deepening anger, despair, sadness and frustration as these messages of hate and division increase in their frequency and intensity.

I must respond.

So here is my response, inspired in no small part by the kind and gentle percussionist Mike Wofchuck, who stayed with us in our home recently. Mike shared with me that, since he became the father of an infant, he’s been able to see people he encounters as infants, and he can instantly connect to a place of loving them. This song invites each of us into that place and, I hope, into living the lessons of the great Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba:

Love people.
Serve people.
Feed people.
Always remember God.

The opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those in need is a gift beyond measure; I was given such a gift over 20 years ago when I was called to help dozens of Bosnian (and yes, Muslim) refugees here in Portland. It remains one of the true peak experiences of my life.

Our time to love is NOW. Our time to help is NOW.

Shantala, The Music of Heather and Benjy Wertheimer
Visit their Facebook page here

Thoughts: The Peace of Wild Things, with Wendell Berry

A walk last autumn, on the west side of San Juan Island in Washington State, USA....photo by Ian Byington
A walk last autumn, on the west side of San Juan Island in Washington State, USA….photo by Ian Byington

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Poetry of music: Save the Earth, with a few of our friends…

Can one song change the world? Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Fergie, and others are finding out.

You’ve probably never hung out on the moon.

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Shot from NASA

But if you were to, that aerial view of Earth would surely get you thinking. It puts everything into perspective.

You’d probably be thinking: Huh, the Earth kind of looks like a little marble from here. Or, whoa, that little blue marble is home to everyone I’ve ever known — and everyone I haven’t.

When you take time to zoom out to see the bigger picture of the world, you realize that we all have one important thing in common: our home.

It’s that thinking that has some of the world’s most popular musicians coming together to sing about the home we all share and one major problem it’s facing: climate change.

Ahead of the Paris Climate Change Conference in December, superstars from Paul McCartney to Colbie Caillat to Sean Paul to Fergie are calling on our world leaders to protect our Earth. You can join them.

Give “Love Song to the Earth” a listen, and download it here. You may just help change the world. As the campaign says:

“Every time the song is purchased, streamed, or shared, the royalties go directly towards the efforts of Friends of the Earth to keep fossil fuels in the ground and lower carbon emissions, and to the work of the U.N. Foundation to inspire international action on climate change.”

A song that earns royalties for the Earth?! That’s gotta be a first.

It’s too easy to get caught up talking about our differences. What if we started talking about our biggest similarity instead?

We may just be able to help reverse climate change. Together!

Posted, with thanks to Upworthy

Poetry: In the circle of the warriors…

Ashore, near Tofino, BC – photo by Ian Byington

The Warrior
by Hafiz

The warriors tame
The beast in their past
So that the night’s hoofs
Can no longer break the jeweled vision
In the heart.

The intelligent and the brave
Open every closet in the future and evict
All the mind’s ghosts who have the bad habit
Of barfing everywhere.

For a long time the Universe
Has been germinating in your spine
But only a Saint has the talent,
The courage to slay
The past-giant, the future-anxieties.

The warrior
Wisely sits in a circle
With other men
Gathering the strength to unmask
Sits, giving,
like a great illumined planet on