May 17, 2023
My Dear Grandmother and Grand Kids:
Here’s my letter for today.
I’m sitting in my computer, looking out into the growing marine layer of the Los Angeles Great Basin to the northeast. The climbing roses are a spray of pink, especially the ones that are holding up the rotting metal fence. Why don’t we do something?
I am looking at the fake grass and the waning light in the late afternoon and thinking about you and everyone else as well.
I drove Rebecca to the Stein Eye Institute today for a consultation with her surgeon about double-vision. We spent more than 30 minutes with a young doctor, a fellow who was working with the doctor. She did all kinds of prism assessment, trying to find out what eye muscles to cut and suture back in the surgery. It was fascinating and helpful and clarified things for Monday’s surgery.
Suddenly, scooting across the heart-shaped cement patio, there were three large rabbits, running after one another or something. They can’t eat the fake grass but love the herbs we have planted and here we are.
I just want to say that every month, I help (well, mostly, it’s only myself) to organize what the Santa Monica Quakers and myself call, a contemplative reading group. It’s such a delight and so wonderful because it’s looking at various texts from Quaker and other writers, including poets, who are creative, devotional and more.
This month, I choose to look at sections of a new book by Valerie Brown, an African-American Buddhist/Quaker who happened to be one of the research participants in my study of the Quaker gathered meeting (more later). Anyway, Valerie worked closely with the great Quaker writer, Parker Palmer, he of the book The Courage to Teach and many other books as well.
Here’s what struck me and has entered into my bloodstream.
“It wasn’t what I had expected. The unexpected sense of safety and acceptance opened me up to a deeper part of myself. Feeling fluid, free, and unscripted in my body but mostly open to the presence of Mystery, I had discovered a way to listen to the call of soul through spiritual discernment, the heart of Quaker spirituality. Something stirred inside my bones and became an awakening as I realized that not just the mind but also the body held an intellect, a core awareness. My super serious, panic-driven life was pot-bound in the vessel of my body, which, like a plant that has outgrown its container, was too tight, too rigid to contain the suppleness of the soul. I was beginning to listen to the direction of my soul, to discern the path ahead.” This is from Valerie Brown’s 2022 book, Hope Leans Forward and what a wonder.
Love to all and holding you close to my heart,
Grandson and Grandfather Stan