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Aug 13
Arts and Poetry
Imagine a Town

by Jeff Fink, sangha member from Park City, Utah

After a long cold spring, it’s full-on summer here in Utah at last. Recently, I have had a few amazing conversations with friends about how difficult it is to stay open, and to not shut down. Imagine how nice it would be to live in a world with no embarrassment. In response, out poured the following poem on this topic, which paired beautifully with a quote from Pema Chodron, as well as this visual invitation to slow down, and be still.

imagine a town

where everyone carries their heart
on their sleeve, where the people
have become eskimos of tears
with thousands of words to describe
the infinite shadings–maybe “splendid”
for tears of joy, or “graceful”
for tears of respect or perhaps even “true”
for the tears of profound loss
in this town the priests wear robes
of many colored stripes, the stains
from their practice of tears, and everyone
takes to the streets on sunny days
to view the double rainbows
spread by their own flavor of tears.
while on days of rain, when the whole sky
appears to cry, the old men gather
to wash each others faces with rain
to mix their tears with those of heaven
telling and retelling the ritual stories
of the cold and dark times, back
when rain was merely rain, back
when the human heart
was a cause for shame

J.A. Fink
May 31, 2011

And from Pema —

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Your world seems less solid, more roomy and spacious. The burden lightens. In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along. It begins to turn into a longing to be there for your friends when they’re in trouble, to be of real help to this poor, aching planet. Curiously enough, along with this longing and this sadness and this tenderness, there’s an immense sense of well being, which doesn’t have anything to do with pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, hope or fear, disgrace or fame. It’s something that simply comes to you when you feel you can keep your heart open.

~ Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are, p. 128-129

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3 responses to “ Imagine a Town ”
  1. lauren ide
    Aug 27, 2011

    OK, that came at just the right moment….I have been closing down to the heat, 108 forecast today here in Austin, TX. I am opening to it and to my sadness right now…..

  2. GracielaMarin
    Aug 18, 2011


    I will remember your fine words as I move through this opportune, precious day.

  3. Craig Adams
    Aug 18, 2011

    Thank you Jeff. You helped me touch into my own heart of joy and sadness this morning. I am on a farm surrounded by the lush green Wisconsin hills and trees. There is just a hint of autumn in the air.

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