The Wonder that Just Outweighs the Suffering

A note from Erin:

Salutations!

I’m writing to you on a lively, rainy spring morning here in Salt Lake City. We’re alive! We get another spring! Yippee!

A few notes before today’s writing:

Local friends – this weekend in Salt Lake City we’re offering a wonderful workshop and Feldenkrais immersion: Improve The Way You Move. It will be a powerful and delightful weekend of embodied learning and we can’t wait to begin!! We currently have 3 spaces open on Saturday (upper body focus) and 5 spaces open on Sunday (lower body focus.) Read all about it and register here.  

I’m also sooooo excited about a new online course I’m offering later this spring. The Art of Attention: Inspired By Mary Oliver will happen during the merry Mary month of May. It’s going to be pure delight. We hope you’ll check it out. The more the Mary-er!

Thanks again, dear humans, for supporting us as we head to California in a few weeks to deepen skills at holding community Grief Tending Rituals. We have been blessed to raise $1410. WOW!!! Our training costs $1450, plus travel and lodging. Your support helps us immensely. We’re so grateful!

And a reminder – we have a community grief tending ritual coming up after we return on Earth Day, April 20th. Details are here. You’re warmly welcomed to join. A donation of any amount signs you up.  Thank you to our friends at Vitalize Studio, who are donating space for the time we spend together in circle in the city before heading out to the shores of Great Salt Lake.

And some other big news: we’re aiming for June for the birth our new online offering which we’re so thrilled about – The Embodiment Lab. Details coming soon!

 

I’ve just learned that today is National Poetry Day. And I do believe April is National Poetry Month. These holidays strike me as a little funny – one day to celebrate poetry, one day to celebrate women, one month to celebrate black history, one day to celebrate Mothers and Fathers, one day to celebrate indigenous people.
But the first day(s) of spring? Now that’s a holiday I’m all for celebrating. And since for me, every day is poetry day, why not celebrate that too?

Another gem of a poet and human being, W.S. Merwin died last week. I’m so grateful we get to relish his life’s work. Just think – he could have kept it to himself. Thank goodness he didn’t! (Are you keeping yours to yourself? Please don’t!)

One of the lines, not penned by him but about him, that has been with me all week, was this one by his friend, poet Jane Hirshfield. She’s telling a story of the last time she saw him at his home in Maui:

“William was almost completely blind by then, yet still poured the tea Paula had made, asking only for a little guidance to know where my upheld cup was. His superb memory allowed him to move through the long familiar spaces and our conversations’ various rooms with equal ease. One of his beloved chows was still alive, keeping near. The Merwins offered me a tin of organic bug balm to keep at bay the mosquitoes. What William’s eyes could no longer take in, it seemed to me, radiated instead outward from them: the world’s wonder, along with — and just outweighing — its suffering.”

That is pure beauty to me.

Eyes that radiate (or take in) wonder, along with, and just outweighing, the world’s suffering.
It’s an equation I’ve been carrying with me all week.

I recently listened to our podcast conversation with Stephen Jenkinson and again was moved by a line from our conversation. He spoke about a mentor who was visibly moved, face full of tears, after watching a heart-cracking film. I said, “And didn’t he say something like, “My heart is broken and I hope it never heals?” And Jenkinson said, “No, he said, “My heart is broken and I never want it to heal.” That’s much stronger than “I hope it never heals.”

Oh – that broken open heart, intimate with the world.
Intimate with the suffering. Intimate with the wonder.
And purposely paying attention in such a way that the wonder just outweighs the suffering.

Howling at the news of the tragic NZ shooting.
Lit up by the birth of my cousin’s brand new daughter.
Aching as I hear of the sudden death by cancer of a dear woman in our community.
Celebrating the first crocuses, the first robins, the first ladybugs of the season, and delighting in my son’s delight.
Agonized by news of devastating floods.
Heartened and celebrating the kids’ climate strike.
Holding a friend’s heartache with tenderness.
Thrilled to be learning more about permaculture and planning a food forest in our backyard.
There’s room for it all.

It’s how I want to live. With wonder just outweighing the suffering.

Like e.e.cummings wrote in his gorgeous springtime poem,

Now the ears of my ears are awake
and now the eyes of my eyes are opened.”

May the hearts of our hearts be broken open too. 

Here are two by Merwin. Thank you, dear man.
In receiving your gifts, may we find the courage to give and live our own.

The Laughing Child

W. S. Merwin, 1927 – 2019

When she looked down from the kitchen window
into the back yard and the brown wicker
baby carriage in which she had tucked me
three months old to lie out in the fresh air
of my first January the carriage
was shaking she said and went on shaking
and she saw I was lying there laughing
she told me about it later it was
something that reassured her in a life
in which she had lost everyone she loved
before I was born and she had just begun
to believe that she might be able to
keep me as I lay there in the winter
laughing it was what she was thinking of
later when she told me that I had been
a happy child and she must have kept that
through the gray cloud of all her days and now
out of the horn of dreams of my own life
I wake again into the laughing child

Thanks

W. S. Merwin, 1927 – 2019

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Thanks for reading!
With love,
Erin

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Erin

By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.