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The Befriending Hour

Pre-sunrise over the Flathead Lake, August, 2017

 

I have and could and will continue to write verses, haikus, opening paragraphs in letters, slam poems (no, not slam poems), and asides in my journal dedicated to the splendors of predawn early morning – the time when slumber is the collective activity most commonly engaged in.

And it’s not only the townly stillness that perfumes the air so sweetly, but it’s the dimming of heart-static, too. A time when communion with self is on an open frequency.

Hence, let us call the time before sunrise The Befriending Hour. And it is in this hour that we have the power to heal.

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Posted by on September 6, 2017 in Creative Writing

 

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Diversity Training #4

For the purposes of this particular post, I plan on focusing on Diversity Training #4 – to read all 7 of the Diversity Trainings, please click here: https://goingoutwordsandinwords.wordpress.com/?s=diversity+trainings. Our local sangha, Be Here Now, which meets on Monday nights at the Open Way Mindfulness Center here in Missoula, MT, has taken up the 7 Diversity Trainings as a 7-month series. Once a month, on the first Monday, we have a different sangha member give a short talk on one of the trainings, and then we open up for community sharing centered around whichever training we’re on. Tonight, we’ll be on #4.

I only recently became aware of these Diversity Trainings this past January, so I am still getting familiar with each of them and forming my own relationship to them. As a writer, what better way is there to foster this relationship than by writing about it?!

Diversity Training #4:

Aware of the suffering caused by intentional or unintentional acts of rejection, exclusion, avoidance, or indifference towards people who are culturally, physically, sexually, or economically different from me, I undertake the training to refrain from isolating myself to people of similar backgrounds as myself and from being only with people who make me feel comfortable. I commit to searching out ways to diversify my relationships and increase my sensitivity towards people of different cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, physical abilities, genders, and economic means.

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9-Minute Practice Talk: Three Karmas

 

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Train Song

This is the un-earthing of a song I wrote around 10 years ago, while riding on a train bound for North Dakota. After scouring a dozen old journals for all the lyrics, I finally found them this morning!

Train Song

Written by Nicole Dunn

What once were mountains now are hills
under cover of night they’ll flatten still,
until little distinction can be made
between the icy landscape
and the over-casted sky

Winter comes but once a year
staying however long it takes
for mother earth to rest –
and we while cloaked in warmth,
know little of her journey

So rest now, if you can,
en route to your destination
on cold slick metal tracks –
Rest now, if you can,
sweet people,
through the clicks and the clacks
through the bumps and the jolts

With a gentle rocking beneath it all,
we’re on a land bound boat
gliding between ripples of time

And we ride on with a soft whistle
blowing early in the morning
or late at night
I’m not sure which

What once were mountains now are hills
under cover of night they’ll flatten still,
until little distinction can be made
between the icy landscape
and the over-casted sky

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Creative Writing

 

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Smoke

Missoula Valley. Photo Credit: Brian Christianson Photography

Here in Missoula, Montana we’re in the midst of our fifth annual season: fire season. In western Montana, the order is as follows: winter, spring, summer, fire, fall. So the “water cooler” talk right now in town is centered largely around air quality and wildfire activity. Whether at the check-out line in the grocery store or during a chance occurrence with a friendly acquaintance, the topic de jour is about how awful the smoke settling in the valley is, how sad it is to know our forests are burning, and how everyone hopes it’s over soon.

Regardless of the season, this dialog is no different than our collective griping about the weather. Come winter time it shifts to how cold and gray it is. Come spring time it’s too rainy, or not rainy enough. Come summer it’s too hot. Come fire season it’s too smoky. And fall’s biggest detractor is that it has arrived too soon and isn’t summer.

This post isn’t my own gripe about other people griping, but instead is my way of trying to process this cultural phenomenon and shed light onto an opportunity in which to practice. Despite my propensity for writing – which I do A LOT of – in person, I gravitate towards the quieter side of the verbal scale. So, when people I meet proceed to talk about how awful the smoke is, my tendency is to simply smile and listen. But I do invest contemplative time in trying to fashion some kind of response that would be an authentic expression AND also not be dismissive of what someone is saying. Once in a while I manage to say something that I hope will serve to rally against the commonplace mentality of complaining about the weather, but mostly I have found little to offer in return when it comes to this dialog exchange.

I’ve written about this topic here on my blog a few times over the years. How we engage with the weather is a litmus test for how we engage with life. Our reactions to the weather are an indicator of how well we deal with uncertainty and change, how well we are able to go with the flow of what’s being presented in the here and now, and how skilled we are in the art of letting go. It’s worth our time and energy getting in touch with what our own relationship is to the weather, and paying close attention to what it is we say and how often we talk about it with others.

Our quality of life depends on what we do in the in-between-the-cracks moments – those instances we disregard or let fall to the wayside or way underestimate as being important. There is no such thing as an insignificant moment. Every weather-based conversation and simple exchange matter.

So, as always, the practice continues…

 
 

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“Me”

Every influence I’ve ever encountered has shaped my character and disposition. I am who I am because of an endless parade of circumstances, people, and input. There is no “me” in which to point to directly. Instead, one must point to every single other person and everything else – and continue pointing, as the “me” you’ve grown accustomed to is always shifting.
 
I would be someone all together different if I wasn’t a student of Thich Nhat Hanh’s – if I wasn’t a devoted listener to Ani Difranco or, back in the day, the Grateful Dead – if I hadn’t moved across the country to Montana days before I turned 19 – if I had had different BFF’s growing up, different boyfriends, different parents – if that grade-wide ecosystem project hadn’t happened in 8th grade – if I hadn’t been raised by the Jersey shore in the summers of my youth – if I had shaved off all my hair only twice, instead of three times – if even one flower or butterfly I’ve met had not caught and held my breath in its beauty. 
 
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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Creative Writing

 

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8-Minute Practice Video: Gratitude

Video #5 of my 8-week video pilot project :)

 

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