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 ....  
—W.S. Merwin 1927


I have made it
 to the two year mark,
thankful.  I made it with a wife
 who was the light out of the dark place
where I was not sure I could go on.

The chem doctor says “Two years is key
 though for three, we’ll watch carefully
and then free you to fly on your own at five.”

I’ve learned compassion, to suffer with,
 because now I have enough
suffering of my own to begin
 to hear, to understand, to relate, though
no two sufferings are the same.

I’ve learned humility, painfully, bumped
 off the place of privilege
that an 800 lb gorilla mind carries.
 I now see sometimes where it sat
was on me and my relationships.

I’ve had a rainbow of guides through a place
 where there are travelers
but no natives; caravans in fact
 because solo travelers
seldom thrive.

Though insurance picked up
 most of the bills, I can pay more
in the coin of the realm: in thanks,
 in good news, in being a success story
where not all
 are so successful.

—Jeffery Taylor


Writing Group
November 29
Thanks by W.S. Merwin
Sarah brought the prompt

Bro. Stendl-Rast says,
“If thank you is the only prayer we ever say
it will be sufficient.”

Thank you.
Here is the key,
Centering Prayer—
the prayer of silence—
teaches me to listen
and the world
of trees, and birds, and fountains,
small kitten-size fountains,
sunrises and sunsets,
glows and shimmers with new light
after the silence of listening.
Thank you.

Other things, too,
come sharply into focus
with listening.
Swastikas on churches,
churches burning,
violence done—victims blamed.
To say thank you
is not so easy as
thank you to small, kitten-size fountains.

To say thank you
is Bhakti—devotion.
Is it also Karma—service?
And is it Jana—knowledge?
Re-incarnation—to be made flesh again—
would be thank you
in this system
and the spiral would
come round again.
A single incarnation is perhaps not enough
to encompass so vast a response
as Thank you.

—Janelle Curlin-Taylor



WS Merwin begins the poem which is our prompt tonight, with the word


on a single line.

...but I'm all thanked out, so I guess I can talk about anything else.

Oh, just before arriving here, I went to Wheatsville to buy coffee beans, and ate half of a rosemary & salt bagel with some Gouda cheese. And you can probably smell the aroma of French Roast wafting out of my orange colored daypack. If that bothers anyone here, let me know and I will go shopping after Zen Writing in the future.

While walking into Wheatsville I met a fellow gardener from Sunshine Community Gardens where we both have plots.  She said she had been looking for me. Seems her eggplant plants have more produce than they can eat, and she invited me to  pick all I can use.

Thank you Marianne & John.

In my 'checkin' before we started writing tonight I mentioned making crockpot beans and having the electricity turned off by Austin Electric to allow the Asplundh crew to safely clear some tree limbs from the wires on the next block.

My building was not notified, but that's another story.

The power went off promptly at 9 AM. The Pinto beans had been going on high since about 7:30 or 8:00 AM.  I had just added the sautéed onions, garlic and green bell peppers from the frying pan when the lights went off and so did the crockpot.

During the power outage I rode my bike to the HEB grocery store at 41st Street and Red River, even though the HEB at Burnet Road and Koenig Lane is closer. I had to use up some time before the 1 PM scheduled power outage was over.

The terrain to 41st Street is mostly flat with some gentle slopes, whereas the route to Burnet/Koenig is up, down, up, then going back it is down, up, down. Added to that route are 2 four-lane road crossings, always difficult for pedestrians and cyclist.

I'm always thankful when I get across a busy avenue either on foot or bike. The four lane roads are more dangerous even at intersections with traffic lights because of vehicles making turns.

Those beans turned out real nice.... eventually.


Stomach full

Mind dull

Second guessing every thought

Better to Listen on empty.

—Dave Royal


Do we just say thank you for the good things that have been happening? Are there even “good” things, or is everything a mixed bag? Does everything glitter just a little? Are we being over dramatic when we say “this is bad”?

It was so cold we invented the furnace. Someone's kids moved far away, so the telephone was invented. Is it not worth saying "thank you" for anything?

Buddha was continually harassed by Mara, who tried to take him off the path. Some say Mara was evil and even the devil. I think we should say “thank you” to Mara, who so skillfully kept Buddha on the path by challenging him over and over again. How steadfast would Buddha have been without Mara? Would his journey be worthwhile if it wasn’t met with challenges?

On a beautiful day, my wife had to walk to pick up the kids because her car didn't start. “This isn't how I wanted to spend my day,” she said. Thank you. David's electricity was turned off. Thank you. His life became a little more surprising. Thank you.

I bought really good five cheese macaroni for my four year old. He didn't say "thank you", nor would he eat it. So I bought kid’s mac and cheese tonight. “Take the cheese off,” he said. “Thank you for four-year-olds,” I thought.

Gomer Pyle said “Thank you thank you thank you.” (Or was it, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!"?). He pretended, at least, to be really appreciative.

It seems so easy to bemoan that the world isn't as we'd like it to be. But if it was, it would be boorrriinnng. So thank you for that. I'll wake up tomorrow morning and say "thank you"... because I don't know what the world will serve me for breakfast. Just like when I sit zazen. What will come into my little noodle? Or when I open my mail. What will I see? Will someone scold me because I was a little too this or that? Will someone tell me that I won the lottery? Will faux Microsoft Bodhisattvas call me to tell me that they will fix the virus on my computer? Will all my machines work right? My gadgets? Thank you (I hope they don’t… they’ll have time to rest).

I love surprises. I like when the car doesn't start. I love when I'm at Home Depot and told that I should come right home. I love when I try to go home, and the road is closed. Thank you for making this life so unpredictable and so exciting.

What will happen next? Will I say "thank you"? When my four-year-old says thank you he doesn't look up. So I say to him, “Charlie,” and then he remembers and looks up, and says once more, this time with a smile, “Thank you!!!!!!”

Kim Mosley


In Face of Dark
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is —W.S. Merwin
Figures are fading from us
into the trees, high-branched and dark.

We reach for them, for the hands that clasp back,
the fur and claw that surprise our clutching fingers.
We know these things we love may go—
the wind may blow them from us,
trail them in smoke from us
as this world passes, as it spills
its wrong and its beauty like coin.

We turn toward the dark
that has risen from the sea below us,
the fingers of fog that run up the notches of the rivers,
and we bow and we say, welcome.
You have come to show us a new way
terrible in its newness, terrible in its beauty.

We do not know what lies in this dark.
We do not know if any way can be walked through such a dark,
such a fog blind and cold and reaching for us,
but still we turn to it and bow.


When the Cup

When the cup has fallen,
we do not lap the water from the sand.
It has gone and our hopes with it.
We set it upright for rain to fill,
a drink for some other traveler.
Come now, we will climb the rocks together,
follow the line where feet have worn away the lichen.
We will trust that scuffed line.
We will trust there is water ahead in some crevice.
We will trust there is a way.

Sarah Webb

No comments: