A NEW BLOG

A NEW BLOG

48 Comments on A NEW BLOG

My website disappeared again recently. However, this time, my initial response of anxiety and frustration gave way to an examination of some assumptions, like what is my intention with this website, and specifically the Blog?

I recalled that my initial intention when I started 10 years ago was to reflect on my past to help me see where I am now and how I should proceed into the future. Part of this reflection included a pilgrimage back to the important places in my life, like Ireland where I grew up, Africa where I worked as a priest, and Rome where I studied. So, my first general conclusion is that this reflection is essentially over and, in fact, I’m beginning to see – at least a little more clearly – where I am and what I want to do now in this next stage of my journey..

This general conclusion suggested that the appropriate decision should not be to restore the site – and especially the archives – as before, since they had served their purpose. Having said that, I discovered that making this decision was not that simple since it involved some measure of letting go, which, like most of us, I find hard. The reason for my somewhat heightened sensitivity, perhaps, was that letting go of the archives felt like letting go at a more fundamental level, something that recent health issues and my increased years have made very real for me. I think I realized during these moments of fragility that letting go of even the most important things will happen quickly enough and without any real – or at least obviously real – choice on my part. My close friend highlighted a related aspect of this letting go when he described how his children have told him that they are not that interested in his stories of the past unless they are obviously related to the present.

In short, it seemed to me that it was time to move on from simply musing on the past to living in the present in a way that was now more informed by it.

So, where do I think I am now and what do I think I need to do? Well, first, I’ve settled on what you might call a cosmic framework that goes something like this: Growing scientific knowledge of the universe suggests that all life is relationship; that life emerges out of the interaction of things. This occurs at every level, from the creation of solar systems to the germination of plants. So my first response to these fundamental questions about where I am is that I am participating in the emergence and unfolding of life. I would go further myself, and say I am participating in the unfolding of God, though that is a thought that bears more reflection that I will bring to it at another time.

Of course, this framework implies that everything – every form of life – is participating in the unfolding of life/God, and does so by simply being what it is. In the case of human beings, while what we are is certainly only ‘one thing among many,’ which is a helpfully humbling realization, we do have our unique contribution to the cosmic process which is our self-reflective mode of consciousness.

It is important that we understand this appropriately, within the context of the cosmic framework I have described, lest it create a sense of superiority over other things, which, unfortunately, has been the case, especially in modern culture  In this context, I can say two important things: one is that life/meaning (God) has unfolded/evolved into self-reflective consciousness in us. In the human species, the universe becomes conscious of itself. More poetically put, through my eyes, the stars look back on themselves in wonder. The second important thing is that this self-reflective consciousness, come-to-form in us, is not to suggest that we are the purpose of the universe or the goal of evolution, a conclusion that is known in the world of Quantum Physics as the ‘Anthropic Principle’. Rather it suggests that this consciousness belongs to the entire universe and is simply part of its unfolding; and that, therefore, our role as the species in whom this has taken form is to serve the unfolding process by deepening and widening this consciousness. As the wonderful mystic-like poet, Mary Oliver, puts it: ‘It is what I was born for –to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over in joy, in acclamation.’ Another poet, Czeslaw Milosz, highlights the service aspect of this role when it is seen in the context of an unfolding world: ‘Then he wants to use himself and things so that they stand in the glow of ripeness….’

These two aspects of the human contribution to life’s unfolding are how I have come to understand spirituality: not as ideas and activities that are separate from or even different to everyday things, but rather as the deeper dimensions of things: meaning, identity and purpose – the soul of  things. Spirituality, then, is also cultivating awareness of these deeper dimensions and having them inform everything I do: soul care?

So, what does this mean for my new focus and my new Blog? Well I intend to explore how I can bring this soul work, not only to every aspect of my own everyday living but also to the various fields of human activity. I realize that I am already doing this in a couple of places that have become truly important to me: one is the Leatherman’s Loop which is an annual 10K run I have written about elsewhere. I am known, in fact, as the Loop’s spiritual adviser – which, apparently, seems fairly normal to everyone – and have attempted to help participants deepen and widen their experience of the event through the metaphor of beauty. I’ll write about this again soon as the Loop takes place this year on April 23: a veritable rite of spring.

Another place where I have attempted to bring this spirituality or soul work is the world of health care where I have worked for over twenty years. This has happened progressively and more explicitly in the past few years through my efforts to offer dialogue – what I now call Dialogue for Life – to health care workers to help them deepen and widen their consciousness in order to enrich their personal lives as well as their work.

In this next chapter of blogging I will reflect on my efforts to reach into these and other fields, including finance, community development, and even religion (!!) in order to bring this soul dimension. My hope is that the reflections will inspire some good conversations that may continue even after we move onto other topics.

Perhaps, by way of concluding these remarks, I would suggest that this small effort of mine is part of a larger process – a movement even – of redefining and re-building our institutions; our entire culture, in fact. Many of you would no doubt agree that our institutions and the assumptions they are founded on and the culture they serve are no longer adequate to the increasingly complex challenges we face, from species survival in the face of climate change to survival in the more immediate sense in the face of the related human challenges of poverty, justice and violence of all kinds. This global process needs deep – in the sense of honest and open – and wide – in the sense of inclusive and skillful – conversation. I hope you’ll join me in this new blogging chapter as we move into our uncertain but exciting future together.

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48 Comments

  1. Jimmy  - March 13, 2017 - 7:58 am
    Reply /

    Best wishes and blessings as you plunge deeper into Life, Danny. I am glad we hike the road together. Easier said than done as you know. For the road is steep and unpaved.

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 5:36 am
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      It is good to walk the road with you Jimmy. It seems to me that companionship is one of the greatest gifts and assets we have. We need it more than ever today…

  2. Bridie  - March 13, 2017 - 7:59 am
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    Love this idea of life as an unfolding – elements of surprise
    And wonder are implied. Looking forward to
    Reading more of these insights in light of a new decade.
    It will certainly be interesting – the unexamined life is a life not worth living after all!

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 5:41 am
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      Surprise, of course, is a two-edged sword. However, I’m increasingly inclined to participate in an unfolding that surprises than one that I have to somehow direct myself. In any case, this unfolding has been going on for a long time and, given the amazing beauty and intelligence that it reflects, it seems to know what it’s about….

  3. Stephen Holton  - March 13, 2017 - 8:05 am
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    In some of our Episcopal Eucharistic theology, humans are the Voice of Creation. Ideally we do not tell the other parts what to do, but articulate praise and beauty and need. Does our articulation serve the purpose of nurturing the connections, and completing them, one to another?

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 5:58 am
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      Rilke develops this idea of humans as the voice of the universe so beautifully:
      ‘…Isn’t it the secret intent of this taciturn earth, when it brings lovers together
      That inside their boundless emotion all things may shudder with joy…’
      It is certainly not about telling others how to live, rather about using our self reflective capacity to highlight, to speak on behalf of:
      ‘..Earth isn’t this what you want: to arise within us,
      Invisible?…’

  4. Rev. Franklin Vilas  - March 13, 2017 - 11:14 am
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    Well said, Danny, a fellow traveler on the spiral of spiritual evolution– informed for me at 82 by Teilhard’s idea of the” passivities of diminishment”. As the body ages, the spirit is ever young.
    With love from your friends, Skip and Joyce.

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:02 am
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      Skip, I’ve always admired your wonderful capacity to live into each stage of your journey. Certainly there is a self – soul – that doesn’t seem to age. It changes yes, but not simply the way the body does: grows even….
      Let’s keep exploring this strange and wonderful paradox.

    • Ginnyv  - March 18, 2017 - 1:30 pm
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      So beautifully stated…I too have found that as the body ages, the spirit does not.

      In my recent experience with cancer and it’s treatment…I had several deep lucid moments when I clearly experienced the permanence of the spirit….conception, birth, incarnated life and death …the words had no meaning..I experienced all as ‘one state’ and it was accompanied by a pervasive sense of peace…beyond words. It has stayed with me ….

      Thank you Rev. Franklin

  5. Maria Fisher  - March 13, 2017 - 12:44 pm
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    I look forward to your continuing thoughts and new directions in your 70th year

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:08 am
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      And I to yours Maria. Wisdom is certainly not the prerogative of older people so I would love to hear the things that surface in you about who we are and what we contribute to the great mystery we participate in…

  6. Peter K.  - March 13, 2017 - 12:45 pm
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    Danny,
    I’ll drink to that!
    Its sort of like the “Green Flash” at sunset; it only lasts for a fraction of a second. And then, its on to the next…………………
    Best,
    Peter

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:09 am
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      At this stage of my life it feels like the whole thing was a fraction of a second…

  7. Erik Allgoewer  - March 13, 2017 - 1:40 pm
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    Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
    A wise Roman some years ago

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:18 am
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      ‘The times change and we change with them”. I think the phrase is attributed to Ovid who wrote a whole book on change – Metamorphoses – where he also said:
      ‘Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all….’ Now this would be something to help each other attain.

  8. Elena  - March 13, 2017 - 1:53 pm
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    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre…
    the falcon cannot hear the falconer…”. (Yeats)

    I live my life in ever widening circles
    That move out over the things of the world…

    I am circling around God, the ancient tower, and
    I have been circling for a thousand years,
    And I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or
    a storm, or a great poem. (Rilke)

    Volgeva…il mío disio come rota che igualmente è mossa,
    l’amore che move il sole e l’altre stelle. (Dante, al fine de “La Commedia Divina”

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:27 am
      Reply /

      So good to ‘see’ you again Elena. I recall – with deep appreciation – the gift of your compilations of poetry years ago.
      I love the piece from Dante you offer here, particularly the line ‘l’amore che move…’ – the love that moves the sun and the other stars… – which reflects what I was suggesting above: how I am more inclined to trust an unfolding like this that manifests itself in such beauty and intelligence than to simply trust my own constrained and often frightened efforts. I don’t think that this is a passive stance, but rather one that allows a measure of confidence…

  9. Michael Hauck  - March 13, 2017 - 2:22 pm
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    Thank you for this Danny.

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:27 am
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      You are welcome Michael. Thanks for joining in the exploration…

  10. Diane J. Abatemarco, PhD, MSW, Mother, Grandmother  - March 14, 2017 - 6:46 am
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    A wonderful writing, both honest and courageous. I resonate with the sentiments you’ve articulated in your newest blog. As a 63 year old human I too am experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. While our political and social environment is contentious it seems to me that more now then ever we have an opportunity to examine our lives, and to live more closely with ourselves and one another.

    Its an interesting concept for we as older Americans to begin to think of “intentional transition” a term I using to say that there is a mindful and purposeful way to direct our productivity and engagement in meaningful life choices that contribute to individual quality of life and health as well as to influcence institution health.

    I look forward to continuing our dialogue and I’m excited about how we will transform as individuals and as a community.

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:34 am
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      Thanks Diane. I would emphasize the ‘opportunity’ aspect of the present environment. I need to highlight this for myself to counter the anger that it sometimes rises in me.
      In terms of ‘intentional transition’ there are lots of good resources – Transitions by William Bridges (yes!), Designing Your Life, Burnett and Evans… – that offer tools for this.

  11. Pat Oceanic  - March 14, 2017 - 9:04 am
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    Danny, Thanks for showing us the way to learn the power of letting go, despite the pull to the past. Looking forward to continue the walk with you.

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:41 am
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      Another friend texted me when he read this post to highlight this aspect of ‘letting go’ and how hard it is to do so: ‘to get out of your head’ was how he put it. It has stirred in me the sense that there is another way of interacting – with life and with each other – that is not confined and constrained by the kind of thinking that dominates. ‘Feel and be’ is how my friend put it, versus trying to understand. Another friend described an experience of meditative-writing where she found herself in a place of mindfulness – ‘feel and be’ – that directed her writing. I think there is something in this worth exploring.

  12. Sue Wootton  - March 14, 2017 - 6:40 pm
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    First, I have to say how devastated I feel about the loss of your archives!!! Surely there must be some young, techno-whiz who can help you recover them??? I do hear your point about “letting go,” yet still, I think there’s such meaning in those evolving, very articulate reflections you wrote that applied way beyond your own journey. Perhaps among all of us, we could try to collect as many of them as we can find to send to you??
    Of course, the new blog is wonderful too, and I am one of many who are so grateful that you are traveling with us in this time and space – which currently seem to me to be more chaotic and confusing than anything we’ve endured so far!! Somewhere there’s a quote or a book about “Eldering into Wisdom” & I try to hold onto that concept in my own experiences of the 70’s – which have brought many changes to my life. As Joseph Campbell said so wisely, “We must let go of the life we planned in order to live the one that’s waiting for us.” Just wish the one that’s waiting for us was a bit more in focus, however, heartfelt thanks for always articulating inspiring ways to continue the journey together!

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:45 am
      Reply /

      Just to put your soul at rest, Sue, I discovered that I had most of the ‘archives’ on saved files in various places. That was after I had clearly let go of them. Maybe there’s something in that: letting go in order to find in another way! I’m hoping that’s what we can do together. We need another way and I don’t think it is being shaped or led by present leadership in any of our institutions (with rare exceptions, like Pope Francis…)

  13. Tayria Ward  - March 14, 2017 - 8:16 pm
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    Danny, I remember the story of when you resigned from the priesthood that you told them you were off to “challenge Western civilization!” And so you have, and do, and will – ever with grace, wisdom and compassion. You have been an important teacher and inspiration to me always, and I’m with you in the musings on the journey ahead for all of us. Much love.

  14. danann  - March 15, 2017 - 6:49 am
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    You see this is one of the reasons we need friends: to remind us who we are and what we are about, because we can allow our anxiety to cause amnesia. ‘To challenge western civilization!!’ Yes, I still believe that this is what I – all of us – are about, even if I might say it a little more humbly these days… I read some of my Ph.D dissertation again recently and realized that this indeed was the basis of my critique of the missionary work I had been doing. Still is…
    Thanks Tayria

  15. Anne Pearson  - March 15, 2017 - 8:42 am
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    Dearest soul, how courageous, and with what profound wisdom you write to share this opening of your heart. As ever, I am hugely grateful that Thomas Berry brought me to you all those years ago when I had embarked on the greatest search of my life. You continue to delight and humble my path. I feel as though I have relinquished my thoughtful pursuit and listen to your words with a sense of the enormous rightness of them. How I wish I knew how to bring all untrue thinking into the heart of yours…..as I had once thought I was meant to do. All love, Anne

    • danann  - March 15, 2017 - 4:33 pm
      Reply /

      The greatest search of your life continues Anne…you have relinquished nothing. Your own unique consciousness benefits us all… As the great Rumi says:
      If you’ve opened your loving to God’s love,
      you’re helping people you don’t know
      and have never seen.

  16. Rev. Deborah Moldow  - March 15, 2017 - 3:54 pm
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    Bravo, Danny – couldn’t agree more! You say so beautifully, “life/meaning (God) has unfolded/evolved into self-reflective consciousness in us” – and my response is the Garden of Light.

    I look forward to your further chapters in this profound exploration, right at the cusp of the current evolutionary leap of humankind.

  17. danann  - March 15, 2017 - 4:34 pm
    Reply /

    It is good to share the road with you dear Deborah….
    And you are right, I believe, to suggest that we are on the cusp of an evolutionary leap.

    • Rev. Deborah Moldow  - March 15, 2017 - 5:34 pm
      Reply /

      We’re all in this together – thank God! I cherish your insights and your open heart.

  18. Michael Weamer  - March 18, 2017 - 6:25 am
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    Good morning..

    I have a friend who writes a daily Haiku. He sent me a wonderful paperback titled “Haiku in English” The First 100 Years. It is a bit of a daily dose of Danny.

    Here is one of my favorites by Janette Marotta which ties to our conversation:
    Dew clings to the branch.
    Night bows to the rising sun.
    It’s time to let go.

    Have a peaceful weekend.

  19. Hans  - March 18, 2017 - 7:52 am
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    Dear Danny. Thank you for inviting me to your new blog.
    Happen to have a couple of reflective days in beautiful Golden Colorado, a suburb just outside of mile-high Denver. Am once again reminded that mediation on eternity is always a peak experience, in which both past and future loose their addictive attraction.

  20. Danny  - March 18, 2017 - 8:56 am
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    Maybe it’s a matter of practicing Golden Colorado-type experiences that allow us to see what is always already there: To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower. Enjoy the mile-high experience Hans

  21. Kathleen  - March 18, 2017 - 9:53 am
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    Danny,

    I did not know t hat you lost your archive – and tho it is quite the opposite from what you propose here, I AM SORRY !!! And I commiserate with you! Your words, stories, reflections are like lights on a path which however much a retrieval of the past, a gleaning of its graces, are always for going forth.

    That little heart murmur being offered, I too have been this year especially, in a divestment mode – a letting go, not so much of past musings, but of those little treasures and relics of seasons of joy and perhaps sadness that I have wanted to “house” in memory.

    Ironically, as you venture forth within the “New Story,” I am discovering my meaning and archaic identity in “the old stories” of my tribe(s). Delight now is to read till 3AM the wild and wonderful translations and transformations of Celtic mythology by John Moriarty – “Invoking Ireland,” “Dreamtime,” “Sacred Sounds.”

    Stunning how his words activate an ancient knowing, consonance, resonance of my soul – ever seeming mis-matched for where it has landed – with this more primordial, even boggy realm of landscape/seascape/pre-urbanscape.

    Nostalgia or romance, maybe, but once in my Jungian years I read a phrase that has ever stayed with me: regression in the service of transformation. I want to flee the Enlightenment world that somehow has endarkened us, and research, as a real life task, the “silver branch” being held out to me…

    You inspire and embolden us in the discovery Daniel !!!

    PS did you ever realize (probably you have !) that your acronym for internet DANANN, is not just the communion of your and Ann’s names, but is the Celtic name for the People of Danann or Anu, the Goddess and the Tuath de Danann her “gifted people?”

    • Danny  - March 18, 2017 - 12:49 pm
      Reply /

      Let me begin with the danann reference: deliberate indeed from the beginning of our Dan and Ann relationship. And another little synchronicity that relates to a new beginning for me/us, is that we are going to hear Danu – the Goddess herself – tonight at Purchase (are you familiar with this group of wonderful Irish musicians?)
      Another gift was, as soon as I let go of the ‘archives’ I discovered most of the essays (they did tend to be longer than the normal Blog post !!!) on scattered files that I’ve since brought together in one place, though no longer to be part of the new Blog.
      I love your parallel story venture: into the old. Strangely again, I just printed out a piece by Moriarty last week for my ‘musing’:
      Clear mornings bring the mountains to my
      doorstep.
      Calm nights give the rivers their say.
      Some evenings the wind puts its hand on my
      shoulder.
      I stop thinking.
      I leave what I’m doing and I go the soul’s way

      In a sense the old stories come together with the new in the moment he describes: ‘I stop thinking. I leave what I’m doing…’
      I too once spoke about the ambivalence of the Enlightenment to shocked listeners. Now, I truly am seeking – and finding ways to contribute to various situations – a way of thinking that goes to the ‘deep heart’s core.’ I’ll write soon about what I’m calling ‘core conversation’.
      Blessings Kathleen

  22. Bernie  - March 18, 2017 - 12:51 pm
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    Danny,
    Do I detect remnants of the past in your recent blog?I well remember some of the wonderful writings you wrote and we distributed them to a wide audience
    Looking forward to your new blog.
    Bernie

    • Danny  - March 20, 2017 - 1:35 pm
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      Thanks Bernie. Yes, shades of the past: some things don’t change.

  23. Douglass DeCandia  - March 18, 2017 - 4:15 pm
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    Thank you, Danny.
    blessings


    In silence there is eloquence.
    Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves.

    You suppose you are the trouble,
    but you are the cure.
    You suppose you are the lock on the door,
    but you are the key that opens it.

    It’s too bad that you want to be someone else.
    You don’t see your own face,
    your own beauty.
    Yet no face is more beautiful than yours.

    Only from the heart
    can you touch the sky.

    People of the world
    don’t look at themselves
    and so they blame
    one another.

    Your task is not to seek for love,
    but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
    that you have built
    against it.

    Rumi

    • Danny  - March 20, 2017 - 1:37 pm
      Reply /

      Thanks for the great piece by Rumi, Doug:
      The heart of where I hope to go with this Blog is reflected in the lines:
      Only from the heart
      can you touch the sky.

  24. Liz Keenan  - March 19, 2017 - 6:39 pm
    Reply /

    Danny,
    So glad to be walking with you! As I read your new blog I was reminded of what Richard Rohr, and guest writer Cynthia Bourgeault have been writing about shifting from binary to ternary. Most intriguing and inspiring to me is the invitation to think bigger when faced with opposition – to hold tensions and allow creative energy to find a third way forward that is not synthesis or compromise, but something large enough to embrace the disparate parts.
    If this is also intriguing to you, here’s the link:
    https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/2017/
    This specific thread started last week and continues this week. This ternary thread started with a similar frame regarding the Trinity that began around February 25th – happy reading! Liz

    • Danny  - March 20, 2017 - 1:44 pm
      Reply /

      Thanks Liz. In a similar way, my old colleague, Thomas Berry, described the basic cosmic forces (reflected throughout the universe) as Differentiation, Interiority, and Communion. It seems right – no rather essential – that we take traditional insights, whether religious or political, and allow them to expand to fill the spaces of each new era. I have found Dialogue as the art of doing what Rohr and others suggest: as generating new life in the form of awakening, insights, meaning, relaitonships out of the interaction (and tension) between differences.

  25. Gayle Pershouse  - March 20, 2017 - 4:02 pm
    Reply /

    The sun sets over my still pond. The water is black –except where it is peach and lavender from the sunset. A swan glides by leaving a long white trail in the water. Two sea gulls lift off in flight, white against dark pines. The far bank is white with snow.

    This eternity is my “front yard.” I am not old or young. I don’t need to speak. I am here watching the majesty of the silky water.

  26. Danny  - March 21, 2017 - 9:18 am
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    This is beautiful Gayle: your ‘eternity’…. Thank you.

  27. Melissa Boyer  - March 29, 2017 - 7:00 am
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    “Through my eyes the stars look back on themselves in wonder.” Thank you, Danny. I’m so glad I know you.

    • Danny  - March 29, 2017 - 7:06 am
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      Missed you the other night….I comment on the gathering – at least indirectly – in the new post.

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