There is this paragraph from the Spring 2014 Tricycle (The Buddhist Review) article about Ittetsu Nemoto, the Japanese Daizenji Priest who works on suicide prevention:
“People who are in crisis and feel that they want to die have had many negative experiences. In actuality, I think that they have become full to the brim with accumulated experiences and ways of thinking, and they are on the verge of a sudden transformation. They are like caterpillars about to become butterflies, about to take flight, but because it is painful they try to suppress the pain with medicine, and they often believe something bad is happening. But I think that the self that has taken them through life up till now is in the process of being killed, and a new self, their real self, is being born.”
Hard stuff for those whose loved ones did not survive. There was an article on Ittetsu Nemoto also published in The New Yorker last summer.
The video above (which has been around quite a while, but which I do not tire of) has little to do with this excerpt from Anne Lamott’s spiritual memoir Traveling Mercies. But then again, maybe it does.
She’s talking about helping her terminally-ill friend prepare for her sister’s arrival: ”…we had just fashioned a guest room for her sister, who was coming in from Italy to take care of her. She’d been up and around all morning, trying out the guest bed here and there, putting it near the window, wanting the sun to fall on her sister just so.”
Wanting the sun to fall on her sister just so.
Marie Howe is the Poet Laureate for New York. I was very much moved by the poems she wrote about her younger brother, John, who passed away. The influence of her Catholic upbringing resonates with me.
She was also interviewed by Krista Tippet on On Being, the public radio program that explores the meaning of our human experience . The On Being site has links to some of her poetry and other readings.
I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world
would be the space my brother’s body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man
but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,
rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.
This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I’d say, What?
And he’d say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I’d say, What?
And he’d say, This, sort of looking around.
Terry Gross’ Fresh Air interview of Maurice Sendak should not be missed.
It may not appear as such from the quotes below, but this is truly uplifting, real stuff. Enjoy! Be moved!
“I have nothing now but praise for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people.”
“There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.”
And Even, Even if They Take Away the Stove
My Inexhaustible Ode to Joy
I have a stove
similar to a triumphal arch!
They take away my stove
similar to a triumphal arch!!
Give me back my stove
similar to a triumphal arch!!!
They took it away.
What remains is
And this is enough for me;
grey naked hole
grey naked hole.
- by Miron Bialoszewski (and a gift from Janet)
Feeling inspired to make quilts that resemble french hand-woven kitchen towels. Use quilted white natural fabric to give texture of weaving. Add color. Fun fabric ink stamps on back? I hope to have some photos of finished products soon.
Found an inspiring quote today in Victor Frankyl’s Man’s Search for the Meaning of Life: “What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that IT DID NOT REALLY MATTER WHAT WE EXPECTED FROM LIFE, BUT RATHER WHAT LIFE EXPECTED FROM US. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
Received a Wendell Berry quote from a man I’d met some weeks before at the Nada Carmelite Hermitage. Gratitude for such a thoughtful gift from a near stranger.
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
For those who have not had the opportunity to read Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow, I could not more highly recommend it. It’s the only novel I’ve managed to get through in years. Also a gift from a thoughtful friend.