Sampler of Hero’s Path 2003   


To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy, 1989
Circles on the Water




"The Runnings: what a family! Each brings a richness nearly indescribable and a generosity of heart that is unsurpassed. Raechel’s presence on this trip is what put my experience "over the top." She is one of the most delightful, unique, unforgettable human beings I have ever met!"


Reading and Poem

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it!' Begin it now" (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe).

W. H. Murray, from "The Scottish Himalayan Expedition" 1951



"Painting: I had so much fun participating and sketching — could never have done so had y’all not brought the paints and brushes. This will change my life."


"I have some comments on the Hero’s Path, the poetry, and the meditations.
As I told you on the first evening, I am not a poet. We were talking about
my facetious goal to remain "unchanged" by the experience. I have to say
that I failed to achieve that goal. I come back invigorated and refreshed.
Perhaps the most surprising thing for me was the situation was such that I
was comfortable singing in front of the group. I have always been very shy
about this."

The Burl

Why this particular limb? Too close
to the cliff, or angled, so,
unable to bear the weight of ice? Or grown
too long away from light, an imperceptible
weakening? Some questions can’t be answered.
Nevertheless, a limb falls
to the forest floor. The loss a sudden tearing,
audible splintering, bark gone. The core shivers,
but endures.

For a time it seems the scar
is fresh each day, but with years
the tree enlarges and the roll of burl
diminishes the emptiness, envelops
the emptiness, until all that remains
to the outward eye is an odd surface

It is this very place that binds
the woodsman’s axe, that dulls the saw.
Here the grain is twisted tight, solid
beyond imagination or belief. Here
I study the anatomy of loss.

Ted McMahon, 2001




"I appreciated your sensitivity to what individual people wanted to do or could do. You let it flow and did not force the issue. I think that is why I felt so comfortable. If we were tired, you adjusted. If there was noise or the need to take care of some chores, you waited."



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A Day on the River     ~     Sampler of Hero’s Path 2003
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