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Discerning is a skill I practice every day.

I forget to take from what I give

And I’m left with a hollowness needing solace

So I’m comforted by this poem

And bask in my silence.

Thank you for sharing my space.

You know those days when the sky calls you out for a walk between being busy and your heart needs soothing

that’s when you take your soul for a stroll and there before you the trees are with you green isn’t only grass but all of creation

the hills under your feet pulse their heartbeat you can feel how you aren’t alone but carried

breathing becomes the swell with floral and fauna the flowering of your fruitfulness flows freely

how succulent the translation a poignancy within nature it transforms the expressions your heart seeks

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you. The first word that came into my mind about nature was the spaciousness of it. When I am in nature, I no longer focus on whatever is troubling me. There’s just a spaciousness and openness. It doesn’t have to be a big piece of nature, a huge landscape. It can be a single order of a garden, or a single shrub or butterflies. But it takes me out of myself. I got thinking about the many poets who write about that. Whether they see spirituality in nature or they don’t. It’s about the spaciousness, the graciousness that we live within. One poem I especially like by Wendell Berry is called The Peace of Wild Things. It starts when despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound.”

  • Thank you for discerning what you need. When I was writing about my philosophy for spiritual direction, my spouse read it and didn’t think people would understand the word ‘discernment.’ I was saying discernment is the key to spiritual direction. Listening to that voice within and what it means for you in your life. That’s the main deal. I rewrote it in different words, but I thought how far I’ve come that that just seems like a common word. It’s common in spiritual direction but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. It helps clarify by going through that process. I want to thank you for getting me to think about how important that is.

  • Thank you. I really appreciated hearing what you wrote about being in nature and the poem as well. In terms of discernment, I have to ask myself sometime whether I’m discerning or I’m being judgmental. I don’t know if others have that problem as well. And yesterday, I was sitting in a parking lot about to go into an appointment and there was a loud mockingbird in the tree. I had to go in but I didn’t want to leave the mockingbird. I realize that happens to me, where there is something in nature that draws me in and I want to stay with it. I stretched out sitting there as long as I could and it made me happy and changed the moment for me. It’s true, it doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be some teeny thing that changes everything.

  • Thank you so much. I loved this poem. When my heart needs soothing, it’s true, it’s about how one treats oneself. I am in the process of eating less so I am anxious more. I’m aware of my anxiety, and instead of staying in the anxiety, I’m an observer watching myself finding ways to gently soothe myself. And not go off the rails trying to do my day. This is a good reminder. I’m very aware of my anxiety. I just keep bringing myself back to the fact that I am okay. If I need a rest, I can take a rest. I can drink water. Music is soothing and joyous for me. I find ways to be gentle with myself. That’s what this poem is talking about, soothing and gentleness for myself.

  • The other day I talked about the onion layers (see blog post May 10). This is another layer for me to understand myself. All my life I’ve had a metric of what doing a good job means and then I double it. That’s my metric. I push beyond in order to be worthy. I’ve done that with everything including what I present here. I’m going to fizzle out to nothing if I keep it up. So I have to pull back and still honor what is true for me. After I finished reading the poem, I thought that’s it? That’s all you have to say? Just bear with me. I’m working it through. It’s just another layer, another lovely layer.

  • I appreciate your frequent reminders that we be gentle with our ourselves and I mirror that back to you. This reading was quite rich for me. The line that spoke to me was ‘take my soul for a stroll.’ I wrote it down and connected it to a heart. That felt good to my soul. This morning, I was up before sunrise and I was glad to be up and outside. I wrote something that reflects how nature can soothe us: ‘Sunrise. New day awash in bird song. New chances water me.’ All my adult life I’ve had a list that defines how much energy I put into anyone or anything on any given day. I used to not make the list. And now, to survive, I have to bump myself to the top. And when I do that, I bring a real, more whole, self than I ever knew before.

  • On the issue of short things, don’t forget Mark Twain said ‘I would have given a shorter speech but I didn’t have time to write it.’ Often those short, at the heart of the onion, statements are the ones that are the most insightful and the ones we keep with us for a long time.

  • ·That was some reflection. It through me into something. I was feeling alone and lost. From that piece, I began reflecting on this group collectively. We are a group discerning itself. There’s a mass of change moving. I’m glad you were able to share where you are. It helps the shift because we are all moving somewhere. And if we stay together, it needs to be together. It is okay to share just a poem or a piece from a book. We can do that individually. It’s just trying to figure out how to do that.

  • It’s the collective wisdom. I don’t want to lose the ability to share where my heart is in the moment of the reflection. For me, that’s where I feel the wisdom—it’s from the collective. The blog shares the collective wisdom. It’s a profound experience to read it. I’m glad it’s there.

  • I couldn’t agree more about the collective wisdom. It’s one thing if you were preaching from on high and everything derived from that. But the richness of the dialogue and the collective wisdom is mind-blowing. I am averaging 90 minutes a day of meditation so I could get along without meditating in this group. But my other meditation practices aren’t the same as this one: the others are solitary. The richness of this group experience is wonderful. You have set a process in motion and who knows where it will lead.

  • Thank you for all your thoughts and feelings and reflections. I’m practicing. You’re practicing. It helps to voice it; it helps to share it. There is such wealth in community. Thank you for making up the culture in the dish where we all grow in this incubator. I hope you all have a gentle day and enjoy springtime where it finds you wherever you are. I value discernment. The intentions of discernment are to understand. That’s my companion today as I go throughout my day, to gently understand where I am coming from and to keep the door open so I can go back and forth. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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