None of Those Things

The Shambhala teachings speak of “effortless effort,” the quality of effort without struggle. I’ve never been very good at this myself – at one point in my career my nickname was “the bulldozer.”  But I’m workin’ on it…

This poem speaks to it as will a “Reflection” that I’ll publish soon.

sunset sky

sunset clouds

none of those things

there’s a voice in my head

that drives me to try,

always

to seek to change the shape

 

of the world, the insidious

insistence that simply living

within this life is

 

insufficient.

 

knee deep in the stream,

nothing I do seems to alter its course.

my hands grow numb

from holding back the water,

 

from trying to force it

back up the mountain.

 

we manufacture none of those things

that might actually

save us.

 

drop the sharp tools, the knives

the axes

and the snaggle-toothed saws.

the heart’s work is to stop

 

striving,

 

to attend

to this day completely,

to bear witness — come,

 

let’s find ourselves a hillside

and watch the gathering of the clouds.

 

the grass here is cool beneath our feet.

perhaps in the deep night

the waters will again begin to rise,

 

but for today,

ours is but to abide,

 

and await the coming of the rains.

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

My Father

My father, Allen Medford Fink, died of lung cancer in 1986 at age 72. He was not an easy man. As I explained once to an adult nephew, he was our father, so we wanted to be close to him, but it could be a dangerous place to stand. He taught us to be strong. But as I grow older myself, I can see that if my brother and I are, in our own ways, more gentle, well, he must certainly have given us the seeds of this gentleness as well.

 My father was 42 years old when I was born, so he was dead by the time my sons Patrick and Nathan were born. But his presence remains. In the Buddhist cosmology, the “three times” of past, present and future and not as solid as we ordinarily take them to be. Perhaps this is how I know that if he were to meet my sons today, I am certain he would be amazed. I am certain that he would be most pleased.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

Written April 2015 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah —

rains

the wind

is beginning to howl

a late season snow coming in.

by morning, everything

will be blown back

into white.

 

I remember my father

staring out the kitchen window,

massive and simmering,

considering the evening sky.

 

he left the farm just before the war-

came North, but never lost the habit

of weather,

 

of watching the clouds

for signs of impending danger

of flashing from sun into thunder

with no warning.

 

we’re grateful for the snow-

it’s been dry here for too long.

 

redemption can come

through the blessings of rain

of a rain that falls hard all day

of a rain that might protect us

 

from the lightning

from rage without warning

from the flames

t

hat can race up from the valley

and sweep us all away

incinerating everything

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com