Open Space at The Zoo Fence

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Journal Selections
contributed by
Tom Strong
gshoulton@ainop.com

Each morning we wake we step back into the rapids. We don’t know why, but only know that the water is leading us somewhere, to some place where the water reaches its lowest level, and stops flowing, where we can stop paddling, and rest, rest in a way that doesn’t require questioning or direction or control. We’ll know we are at rest because we made it through the rapids; we had to experience the rapids to understand the true meaning of rest. Rest is our everlasting state, and can only be understood through its relationship with the rapids.

Life, sweet life.

I am the obstacle to my own being. I am the living sunshine that blinds myself to the stars and, therefore, I act as if they cannot exist. I refuse to extinguish myself, to see if there are stars, from the fear that I will never shine again.

Life, sweet life.

There once was a leaf who didn’t want to fall from the tree. The leaf didn’t want to leave, even when he saw all the others leaving. The leaf was afraid, not of entering the unknown, but of leaving the known. So the leaf stayed and suffered through the harsh winter. The following year, the leaf remained, brown and tattered, but nonetheless secure in his familiar surroundings. He watched as the new leaves hatched, grew, and greened. When it came time to leave again the leaf managed to convince a few others to stay. And so they did, and the next season a few more, and on and on, until the tree ran out of living leaves. The tree died, and eventually fell to the ground, to become soil, to feed trees, which feeds leaves.

Life, sweet life.

When it’s raining the sky is crying, over all the sorrow it sees in the world. The world creates its sorrow because it needs the water the crying provides, to sustain life. Such is the cycle of the world.

Life, sweet life.

Two people enter a dark room, and sit at a right angles to each other. A cigarette is lit, and all they can see is the deep red glow of the burning tip. The cigarette is moved in a circular pattern at such high speed that the burning tip creates the illusion of being continuous to both people. One person is asked what he sees, and he says he sees a deep red colored circle. The other person is asked what she sees, and she says she sees a deep red colored vertical line. Both descriptions, as experienced, are true. Each person knows the burning end of the cigarette is the source of what he and she perceives, but each sees a different manifestation of its being. Different angles produce different descriptions of the same thing. Does this explain the variations among religions?

Life, sweet life.

It’s not what you have, it’s what you is. If you have a big house and lose it, isn’t you still there? If you have a good job and lose it, isn’t you still there? If you have a child and lose it, isn’t you still there? If you lose a finger or an arm, isn’t you still there? Find the you that’s still there, and there is where you is.

Life, sweet life.

Resting, or being silent, or being very still, is very important. Take our heart as an example. There is no harder working organ in the body. Yet, even it knows it must rest. Studies have shown that the human heart contracts only 9 hours out of a 24 hour day. The other 15 hours, it is resting, it is silent. The between beats is just as important as the beats.

Life, sweet life.

A speck of dust blows into the clouds over the ocean. As it rises through the clouds it becomes a point of condensation, and a rain drop is formed. As it grows heavier it ceases to rise and begins to fall. It continues to grow as it collides and combines with smaller bits of moisture. It leaves the cover of the nursing cloud as a reluctant drip, plump to the edges and falling, alone. It is moved, to and fro, and forever downward by temperamental winds and gravity, attempting, constantly threatening, to pull the droplet apart. Then, the droplet dies as it merges, upon impact, into the infinite serenity of the seven seas.

Life, sweet life.

Stem from roots, blossom from stem, seed from blossom, roots from seed. In the same way, a human is a continuance of the earth. To say that our children are from ourselves, and ourselves alone, is like the blossom saying to the stem “I created the seed”. We, our children, and the rest of humanity are products of the earth and its endless recycling of life.

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