Friday, December 12, 2008


It took a leaf at a time.

It's Advent and signify a change. "We moves wiftly through time;passing,in the course of a single hour, literally thousands of potentialities for perception, thought or action."

I should slow down.I should develop a habit of patience, to have time to observe or just simply look.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Walking discipline

The 8th day. 8 successive days of either walking or going to the gym. The idea is to develop a discipline for fitness.Walking is simple and may not involve any driving. Although I like to drive to Kennedy Park which is 5 minutes drive from our place. The walking path is along Napa River. There more walkers, roller skaters or walkers with dogs. The SPCA is along the pathway and encourages walkers to volunteer in walking the dogs.

Walking along the river, I see the open space, the hills and people enjoying the park.There are days when the model airplane aficionados fly their airplanes. They have their own airstips in the park.

Scientific studies showed many benefits of walking.It can be a form of prayer or meditation. It can be a time for thinking or day dreaming.Sometimes I study my chess games while walking.

David Steindl-Rast, a Benectine monk, writes ( Common Sense Spirituality )"...every human being is a kind of mystic... the strictest sense, as the experience of deep union with Ultimate Reality-those moments of blissful wholeness and harmony that break through to us every once in a while... What does distinguish mystics, however, is their willingness to give these experiences the central place they deserve in our lives. Mystic allow these moments to influence how and what they do and , in so doing, to give meaning to their lives."

He cited Abraham Maslow's "peak experiences"..."transient moments of self-actualization." David Steindl-Rast "think of them simply as moments that 'makes life worth living'..." you get an insight into meaning; there's a moment in which meaning really touches you."

I don't experience 'peak experiences' often. But I have experienced those moments.

( the photo is from Glenstal Abbey:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Taking pictures

For the last three days I have been walking to the river. I took my camera and started taking pictures in the manual mode instead of the auto.I have to keep going back to the camera manual to determine how to use the aperture, ISO and speed. I have to acquire the beginner's mind again.

The last two days were warmer and a lot of fishermen idling or enjoying the day.The crane was basking in the sun and the tide filled the river.

I read from the New York Times 3 days ago that there are classes on how to walk. The class emphasizes correct posture.It helps relax the body while walking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A walk to the river

The sky above the western hills was orange brown when I walked out of the door towards the river. It was cool and practically no breeze. I twirled the staff or was it was really a cane I was carrying?. I was fond of carrying a swagger stick since I was in high school after I saw that Gen. Douglas McArthur carried one all the time.At other times I carried a paperback book. I guess I like to carry something light in my hand. A cane is handy when I am walking. I can use it as a barrier between a jumping, barking dog and me.

I paused now and then to clear my sandals of pebbles.The tide was slowly coming in when I reached the river.The dredged part of the river bank was exposed. The two fishermen were preparing to pack their gears. There were no good bites they said.

The full moon shined brightly over the eastern hills. I regretted that I did not bring my camera which often I did whenever I take a walk.

I could still see the trail, dimly lighted by the street lights, when I returned home.

The NY Times article I was reading before I went out was the improvement of memory in the elderly. It advised to play mental games and physical exercise.

It was an envigorating walk and leisurely. One Benedictine said leisure is a virtue.
I was happy.

Monday, November 10, 2008


"Poetry-writing it, reading it, and sharing it-provides insight into all mysteries and pursuits." ( Poetry as Spiritual Practice" by Robert McDowell)

I read and wrote poetry when I was in high school and on and off during my adult life. For the last several years my mind became barren for poetry. I could only write a line not enough even to wite a haiku. But lately I am hearing a new "stirring of pages", a glimpse of inspiration from tidbits of reading about irelevant things, about giants and pigmies, what GK Chesterton calls Tremendous Trifles ( from Willa's Spacious Space). I borrowed from the library Robert McDowells' book.

Maybe I should start again reading and writing poetry, develop that discipline to pick up the pen and jot something in my notebook and maybe after carrying some ideas and pictures in my head it will develop into something like giants and pigmies. They can look around and see things, an empty bench, a crowded sidewalk, a fisherman lost in day dreaming. Maybe I will climb the rocks and boulders along the trail or describe cut logs arranged like a fence.

The songs will sing again in my head, colors will paint my eyes and I can listen to the silent passing of the dark clouds and sleep dreaming of rain tapping my window pane.

It is Monday in November and cold. I will take a walk bundled in sweat shirts and a basebal cup. Walk to the cafe in the downtown carrying the Poetry as a Spiritual Practice. I will sit with a cup of coffee and sharpen the pencil.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


"We can spend a whole lifetime enjoying
various benefits and not appreciate their value until we
are deprived of them. How many lovers boldly contemplate
separation, fondly imagining that they have enough
of the beloved. And yet as soon as they actually experience
separation, they burn up with longing."
- Jami (Quoted from "Attitudes of Gratitude" by M.J.Ryan)

There is no other opportune time. The time is now. Life is fragile. Life is a mist. Write your letter and say thank you. Express your gratitude.

Say I love you.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Psalm 23

I attended a funeral mass of a 17 year-old girl who died from a car accident 4 days ago. The mass and the eulogy of the girl's parents and friends were solemn though with some laughter were still filled with grief.
The priest recited psalm 23 and told the congregation that the passages may help everyone in experiencing the grief. One has to remember the good times: " He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: leadeth me beside the still waters..."

It will not answer the question why, he said,but may tell us what the psalmist experienced in the dark valley that may help us in our valley of sorrow. " ...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil: for thou art with me thy rod and thy staff they comfort me... thy annointest my head with oil... surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

We are not forsaken. The Lord will comfort us.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Hike in Spooner Lake

Last Friday, Cheri and I hiked the North Canyon Rd. trail from Spooner Lake to Marlette Lake ( Lake Tahoe).We did halfway only and did not reach Marlette Lake. It was a sunny day with a cool breeze. The aspens were all yellowing with leaves scattered along the trail. The upward climb was gentle and less in physical burden. There arranged cut timber along the trail and looked a sculptured fence. The meadow was golden and surrounded by pines. We heard the conversation of birds.

We sipped cold water and ate dry magoes while sitting on the picnic bench when we finished our hike.

" Dream, dream, dream and put it into words."

I thought of the meadow and the upward climb. They refreshed my body and soul.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Cheri & I were spending a little more than a week at Lake Tahoe, resting, reading and hiking and visiting with friends. I hiked with Bill Saturday, by myself on Sunday and with Bob & Gloria and Cheri on Monday. Yesterday was rest day.

I was still short of breath climbing the trail even after 3 days of acclimitization. Or I was still out of shape. The air was clean except for the remnants of the controlled burn nearby on Friday.

Physical activity really enhances the mind. Currently I am reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. I seem to understand what the author was saying.

The weather was cool with a cool breeze and sunny.

I will post some pictures when we get home.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I took a stroll along the river this time from the Kennedy Park 2 days ago about 10 in the morning with my camera and staff. It was a comfortable walk. There were benches along the way where now then sopped to adjust my shoe laces or simply rest. The paved walkway was dotted with young tree saplings that in years to come will provide shades.

It was a sunny day, a little cooler and there was a mild breeze. There a few walkers with dogs and a mother with her 2 children who were enjoying the splendid morning strolling. The solar panels installed by the college were all facing the sun. The panels have sensors and are mobile that allow the panels to follow and face the sun.One then two then three hawks circle the sky. They flew near then far from each other. They did not fight but only seemed to acknowledge the presence of each other. I took several photos.

Thomas Merton in his Search for Solitude wrote about his need for solitude. He looks for it in the fields, in the hills and his small hermit dwelling in the abbey. I thought that walking can be a form of solitude. Walking and not particularly thinking of what I see though I sensed their presence passed through my mind. I’m trying to learn the awareness of the present moment, glimpses of detachment. I try to learn how to let time pass without craving for anything, to walk without really thinking. Carrying a camera perhaps negates my purpose. I learned somewhere that forsaking attachment does not prohibit us from experience.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Good habits

It will be comforting to have a well developed habit and a relaxed atmosphere and feel the unconscious effort of creativity. In Susan L's blog autumn early morning routine... she described how she starts her morning which I found inspiring and may help me start a good habit.

This might be my first step against procrastination, against the seduction of idling in another path.

In the past, I read the book in my reading list first before I settle down to write in my notebook. But then my mind wanders which leads me to read another book that is not in my list. This is my distraction.

It is seducing because it seems to bring new ideas which are completely separate from what I intend to do but it is another thread to follow leaving behind a previous pattern unfinished. There lies my procrastination.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Reading "The Gift of Rain" by Tan Twan Teng brought back memories when I was a young adult. Frangipani (photo above), an exquisite flower that was a central part of the story reminded me that flower too was part of my life story. May, the month when the young and the unmarried scoured the countryside and gathered different flowers to build an altar for the Virgin Mother. Every morning her devotees and the children offered her garlands.
Frangipani tree blooms with 5-petal fragrant flowers. Frangipani on her hair or a sampaguita lei on her neck. Of course the ilang-ilang, flower of flower with the lasting fragrance and the ephemeral white gardenia ( the rosal).

And there is pure long stem and white lirio, the flower carried by the bride.
These colors and fragrance all came back so clear to me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yesterday, I walked the 1500 feet long promenade along the river in downtown Napa. The sun drenched the new downtown park. There were only a handfull of people walking. Some of them wore straw hats and carrying shopping bags. Others were simply enjoying their walk and looked like with no destination in their mind. Simply exploring. My camera hanged across my chest and a paperback copy of the Magic Mountain in my right hand. There was a residential building being built along the the promenade and a huge crane moving high above the construction site. I could smell the scented aroma of food and heard garbled conversations as I passed one of the restaurants.It was lunch time.

Now and then I took pictures of the river, the bridge and the construction. There was a couple of fishermen on a boat fishing.

I continued my walk inside the shopping center. Next to the a store, I rested on the ledge around a fountain and read a few pages of the Magic Mountain. Hans and his cousin Joachim were talking about time and space."Yes, when you watch it, the time,it goes very slowly."..."But it takes such a varied length of time-to our senses." I understood maybe for the first time how enjoyable it was to read slowly. Most often I was in a hurry to go to the next page to learn where the story was going. I did a few stops along the way, once, sitting on a bench across a restaurant with outdoor sitting. Once a in a while to rest my eyes from reading I watched people walking by.

After maybe an hour I went back to my car and drove home.