December 31, 2011
This is now the end
of unfinished beginnings.
Exit the entrance.
“For where the beginning is, the end will be.”
- The Gospel of Thomas
Everyone has a here and now. That is all a person can live. Wherever you are, whenever you are, people need your smile.
This completes my year in circles. This haiku is the latch that not only closes the month-circle connecting back to December 1 (“Who Are We?”) but also the year-circle connecting us back to January 1 (“Beginnings”).
This is not the end; in a circle, there are no ends. Let’s strap on our boots; there is more Word to be spoken.
December 22, 2011
up and down round into one -
a wreath for the door.
Most of us think linearly, live linearly, set up a goal ahead of ourselves and start here and end there.
But the wreaths on our doors speak of something different; they attest to our faith in the circular, the eternal, the turn and return. There is no starting block; there is no finish line. We needn’t make a mad dash for some arbitrary endpoint. We can jump in, as in all epics, in medias res (into the midst of things) and partake in the great and wonderful, strange and marvelous adventure we call life. It is never too early; it is never too late. You needn’t hurry; you mustn’t wait. Just jump in.
December 20, 2011
A wheel appears stopped -
the repeating year-circles
of this old pine stump.
Here begins the closing of the rings with this haiku speaking across the year-ring to the haiku from June 20 (“Ouroboros”) where the mid-turn of the ring composition for the year began. Both are signaled by a circle – the green garter snake curling round to its tail and here the stump of an old felled pine with its own repeating year circles.
November 30, 2011
Time ticks time tocks time
till time is taken to mesh
The ring composition structure which I have chosen for this year-long haiku series requires at this point more days in February than February can muster and thus we have two days – yesterday and today – that remain outside the compass of our structure. For both haiku I deal with the problem of time. Together they also create a latch for the month-ring of November connecting back to the haiku from November 1 (“Running Out of Time”) which introduces the idea of Eternity.
Eternity to me does not mean time going on and on endlessly, but rather the ability to get outside of time (“running out of time”), where one becomes oblivious to the clock and lives eternally in the Now, when one escapes the endless circles of the clock and resides in the creative Moment.
November 4, 2011
Rather than worry
of winter when autumn falls,
dance in the moment.
Here is a symbol of the circle of the seasons from our backyard. After an evening rainstorm, a collection of leaves have gathered in our bird bath. The bird bath looks almost like the Earth with the waters dividing North American leaves to the left and European and African leaves to the right and the Greenland leaf – green no more – floating near the top.
Life, like the Earth, goes round and round and no worries or wishes will stop it. Autumn, as it always does, will fall into winter, but why make a winter of fall? There is Beauty now. Dance in the colors. Waltz with the wind. Take a step. Then another.
And then eventually when winter does come and our world freezes over, we can follow the example of Woodstock and Snoopy: strap on the skates and go ice-skating.
October 6, 2011
The peony stalks,
clipped again to the ground, fill
round bushel baskets.
Every year in fall we cut down a lot of the dead and dying vegetation in our garden prior to winter’s onset and throw it in our compost pile. However, peony stalks are susceptible to diseases and thus we do not compost them here, yet they too will return somewhere to the ground and continue their journey round the circle of life.
August 5, 2011
An oak leaf turns brown
I was unprepared.
Perhaps we are always unprepared. A leaf turns brown. A hair turns gray. The sun suddenly seems to set significantly earlier. A wrinkle appears at the corner of an eye. It is surprising that mortality always comes as a surprise.
Perhaps our culture should consider a gray hair symbolic of wisdom rather than infirmity, a wrinkle symbolic of experience rather than failure, and age a badge of honor rather than shame.
Perhaps we need to understand the circles in which we live - the day, the month, the year, the lifetime, and the larger circles beyond that – to appreciate the unity of which we are a part and its unfathomable beginninglessness and perpetuity.
July 1, 2011
Only shadows fall
on the silent new black moon.
Now is the night’s time.
So this is the beginning of a new month (and wonderfully coincidental for this year, a new moon) and the start of another circle comprising the July haiku. However, it is with this haiku that the large ring, the annual ring, starts its return back toward its beginning as it moves to the end of the year. There are two ways to make the journey back: 1. in a circular fashion in which the haiku talk across the year to their counterpart across the circle (so July 1 speaks to January 1; July 2 to January 2; July 3 to January 3; etc.) or 2. in a parabolic or pedimental fashion which is the traditional structural form used in many ancient writings such as the Iliad, the Book of Numbers in the Bible, and Rumi’s Mathnawi (see Mary Douglas’s book Thinking in Circles) and thus the haiku talk across the parabola to their mirror image (so July 1 speaks to June 30; July 2 speaks to June 29; July 3 speaks to June 28; etc.).
I found both ways appealing. The first because it matched the pattern set by the smaller monthly rings, and thus followed Hermes Trismegistos’s edict: as above, so below, with the microcosm being structurally the same as the macrocosm. The second traditional pattern is appealing because it matches what we observe in nature; the year is parabolic or pedimental reaching its growth peak at mid-year before taking its turn back toward winter’s slumber.
Both ways in fact were so appealing to me that I foolishly decided to do both. So some haiku are circles or parabolas in themselves (I have pointed this out in a few cases in my blog). But each haiku is part of three other rings: the monthly circle (for example, this haiku will speak with July 16 – “Descending”), the annual circle (for example, this haiku will also speak with January 1 – “Beginnings”), and the annual parabolic ring (for example, this haiku will also speak with June 30 – “Ringslangen”).
It is a rather ambitious undertaking as I attempt to do this and remain true to the changes in both weather and garden that I daily observed in 2011. How successful am I? It is not my place to say, but it might be worth the effort to see how the various rings fit together even imperfectly. Once in a while I will refer to the haiku that are speaking to each other in this blog to point out the connection.
April 1, 2011
So it is the fool
who looks down from where he’s climbed
and is satisfied.
Today, on April Fool’s Day, we start a new month-ring. We all take our turns playing the fool and it happens a bit like this. Consider moving along the circumference of a circle starting at the lowest point and moving up. We look ahead and see how far we have to go and feel humble as we work our way to the top of the circle. As we approach the top of the circle, we begin to look down and feel good about how far we have come. We stop looking up, lose the humility and the vision we need to continue to grow and thus we foolishly follow the circle downward again. It is a path we follow round and round, revisiting our same mistakes until we become wise.
Consider the circle as a wheel which we ride up, around and down countless times until we find the center, the hub where there is no movement, the stillpoint where there are no ups and downs. Here we can just be.
January 2, 2011
Open the gate wide
even though we may trespass
on one’s Time and Space.
“Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling bewildered like atoms?”
Intentions, like most things, have lives of their own, find their own circuitous way in spite of our efforts to manipulate the world for our personal convenience. My original intention as mentioned at the outset was to write a haiku for every day of a year to illustrate the changes that occur through the seasons in our garden and in the immediate surroundings of northern Illinois. I also wished to develop the habit of writing poetry again, something I have done and enjoyed at different stages of my life. Both of these intentions have been fulfilled but, alas(?), not in the way that I initially imagined. What began as a simple linear project, Point A to Point B – or specifically January 1 to December 31 – rounded slowly in a circle (appropriately enough when following the cycle of seasons), and as it rounded it began dancing into circles of circles, playing with my preconceptions of Time and self-constructed fences of Space. Is the path to awakening a circle?
What began as a simple exercise in writing became a profound experiment in seeing more clearly (and sometimes, in fact, seeing things for the first time again) and living more mindfully. These experiences entered into my haikus as well.