The Ancient Sequoia

The California giant sequoia trees are a miracle of nature. Like the redwoods, a sequoia can have a trunk that has been hollowed out and made into a small cave by nature. There is room enough inside the trunk to sit down and eat our lunch and still the tree keeps growing. Inside, we are surrounded by the energy of a living growing tree, yet it is dark, and quiet with a mysterious emptiness.

The Sea of Isms

I am suffering from Ism Fatigue, a condition with no known cure. It seems that everything can become an Ism, that is, a customary way of thinking and being, which influences everything we do. How can we escape from all these Isms?

The Sun That Never Sets

The Sun That Never Sets April 24, 2022Oakland, CACool and sunny I am walking slowly home from the beach in Santa Cruz, California, feeling, warm, relaxed and peaceful, the sound of the waves having obliterated the usual thoughts that besiege my mind. The sun, setting behind me in the west, is casting my shadow in …

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The Camellia and the Poplar

The poplar tree grew tall on the street in front of my Oakland, California apartment. The two-story building was constructed in 1923 and the poplar must have been only a small shoot at the time. Only a year ago, it’s thick branches arched over the roof, protecting the apartments, and their occupants, from the burning afternoon sun in the summer and rain in the winter.

The Navajo Rug

The Navajo Rug January 18, 2022Oakland, CACool and overcast When I was living in New Mexico, I purchased a Navajo rug. It was the weaver’s first rug and a picture of the young Native American woman standing proudly beside her rug was included. It was entirely handmade. Even the dyes had been obtained from native …

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A Harmony of Opposites

“What is man that Thou art mindful of him? Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.” How come the poet, John Donne, knew that and we don’t know it?

Welcoming the Stranger

“HELLO- O-O-O!” The sound rings out throughout the whole Post Office. Milan is greeting another customer. From his place behind the window of his station he welcomes the next person in line with the kind of greeting most people would reserve for a long-lost friend—a mixture of surprise and delight. When I lived in Santa Cruz, CA, I used to time my place in line to arrive in front of his window, just to experience Milan’s
heart-felt “HELLO-O-O-O-O”. One time I stood in line, determined to “Halloooo!” Milan before he “Helloooooed!” me, but I was unsuccessful. I could not beat Milan to the “Hellooooo!”

Empowerment at the Post Office

Grocery store clerk, postal clerk, ticket taker at the movie theater, check-out at Walgreen’s, the clerks are everywhere, usually taking our payments with a smile and an automatic “Thank-you.” And we respond with a similarly mindless “You’re welcome.” But supposing we respond with true appreciation for the service rendered.

A Healing Shrine

The day was warm and sunny with just a whiff of salt water in the air from the Aegean Sea, not far away. There were four of us, American pilgrims to the shrine of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotunda Italy: my mentor, two other students, and myself. We walked silently on the cobblestone path from our hotel to the church, already under the spell of the great healer.

Rhythm

The Pied Piper of Hamlin used music and rhythm to kidnap the children of Hamlin and lead them, dancing, to oblivion. The sound of Krishna’s flute drew the respectable housewives of Vrindaban to a divine, spiritual experience in the jungles of Vrindaban. Whose rhythm are we following?

Joined at the Roots

Walking past the flower-filled front-yard gardens on Lakeshore Avenue near my apartment in Oakland, I suddenly stopped, arrested by the sight of two palm trees, which had grown together but had remained separate. Emerging from the ground, their roots had grown into a living container about a foot high, from which their two trunks had grown in close proximity, but separately.

The Vietnam Veteran

“Be sure you wait for the “walk” sign” said a man’s friendly voice behind me. I was attempting to cross Lakeshore Blvd., the heavily-trafficked nexus of our neighborhood shopping area. I turned to see a slender man in his mid-seventies, wearing a dark blue and red cap, jauntily tilted to one side. “I am a Vietnam War veteran, he told me proudly…

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