the gift of presence

“…The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through…”



prayer changes space



Another beautiful thing about prayer is the way it changes space. Physical space is full of distance. It is distance that separates people and things. Even between two people who love each other and live with each other, the short distance between their bodies is the colossal distance between two different worlds. The magical thing about prayer is that it creates spiritual space. This alters physical distance. In spiritual space there is no distance. A prayer offered for someone in New Zealand reaches her as swiftly as the prayer offered for someone right beside you. Prayer suffuses distance and changes it. Prayer carries the cry of the heart innocently and immediately over great and vast distances. ~ John O’Donohue “Eternal Echoes” (Harper Collins 1999).

Photo: “Birds in the Sky” © elwetritsche.

late fragments


photo & poem from fb memories a year ago.

Raymond Carver’s Late Fragment –
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

…once, years ago…


“On the windless days, when the maples have put forth their deep canopies, and the sky is wearing its new blue immensities, and the wind has dusted itself not an hour ago in some spicy field and hardly touches us as it passes by, what is it we do? We lie down and rest upon the generous earth. Very likely we fall asleep.
Once, years ago, I emerged from the woods in the early morning at the end of a walk and — it was the most casual of moments — as I stepped from under the trees into the mild, pouring-down sunlight I experienced a sudden impact, a seizure of happiness. It was not the drowning sort of happiness, rather the floating sort. I made no struggle toward it; it was given.
Time seemed to vanish. Urgency vanished. Any important difference between myself and all other things vanished. I knew that I belonged to the world, and felt comfortably my own containment in the totality. I did not feel that I understood any mystery, not at all; rather that I could be happy and feel blessed within the perplexity — the summer morning, its gentleness, the sense of the great work being done though the grass where I stood scarcely trembled. As I say, it was the most casual of moments, not mystical as the word is usually meant, for there was no vision, or anything extraordinary at all, but only a sudden awareness of the citizenry of all things within one world: leaves, dust, thrushes and finches, men and women. And yet it was a moment I have never forgotten, and upon which I have based many decisions in the years since.”
– Mary Oliver

i remember


we walked the pier on a summer evening.  & as we sat down on a bench, he told me all the things i needed to do.  try harder.  get out more.  volunteer for something.

he said other things that i don’t remember.  i stared at the water in front of us.  then at my hands as i tried not to cry.  he hadn’t heard a word i had said in forever.  he had walked out of the room once as i was crying & saying i was getting sicker & didn’t know why.

now he was fixing things.  & there was no reason for me to talk anymore.  he looked satisfied & happy.  i don’t think he even noticed that i was silent & distant.

after his dad died, he grew more distant & angry.  it took me awhile to realize the anger was directed at me.  one night, he told me about his latest work idea.  it had many flaws but i said nothing, other than noting that it would entail him being not around at all as my health continued to decline.

he was angry i was not cheerleading his idea.  i told him in the end he must choose the path that held his heart.  he told me to stop with the buddhist bullshit.

then he recited a litany of all the things lacking – me not wanting to go out to parties or hear live music or …..any number of things that people do.  that all i did was take these walks or go to the park or visit his family.   i started to answer & explain & then stopped.

that night i took off my wedding ring.  he never noticed.  he chose the job.

within months, after walking out on yet another doctor who told me to take up running & do high intensity aerobics (i asked him if he had not heard the part about the days i could not get up from the couch.), in the throes of increased marital conflict & trauma, on the heels of failed marital counseling & inconceivable behavior, i collapsed severe with the disease i had only recently figured out that i had.

i was frightened out of my mind.  he paused in the kitchen on his way to a party & said, “this changes nothing.”

it changed everything.



“Bodhicitta is available in moments of caring for things, when we clean our glasses or brush our hair. It’s available in moments of appreciation, when we notice the blue sky or pause and listen to the rain. It is available in moments of gratitude, when we recall a kindness or recognize another person’s courage. It is available in music and dance, in art, and in poetry. Whenever we let go of holding on to ourselves, and look at the world around us, whenever we connect with sorrow, whenever we connect with joy, whenever we drop our resentment and complaint, in those moments bodhicitta is here.”

~Ani Pema Chödrön