Kathleen Hirsch | Blog and spiritual writings of Kathleen Hirsch
Blog and spiritual writings of Kathleen Hirsch including an archive of her columns for BostonGlobe.com and Cruxnow.com
Spiritual writing, Kathleen Hirsch, crux, cruxnow
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Eternal Dog

Finally, a year and three months after her death, I was ready to lay my sweet daschund to rest.  The plan was to set her ashes high up on a hill overlooking the meadows, at the ridge of our farm.  I would plant a magnolia and some ferns, and find a flea market bench, so that every time I went north I could climb the hill and talk to her.

But what did I know?  She had other ideas.

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Simple Attention

My friend Anne, who lives in South Carolina, recently undertook a major simplification project.  She and her husband downsized from a vast antebellum home in which they’d raised their family to a sleek and simple house on the beach, complete with meditation room and art studio.

Her aim was radical attention.

It took her two years.  But in many ways, I think of it as a project of a lifetime.

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Hidden Away for a Season

This weekend, my street is hosting a yard sale.  Nearly every household up and down the lane is contributing old rockers, and mismatched sets of glasses, mini-fridges and used rugs.  Once this extravaganza of purging is over, most of us will retreat for a season — to lake or simply to our backyards — to weed rows of peas, watch for the red-tailed hawk, read a novel.  We will ease up, even if our lives don’t conform to academic schedules.

I tell friends that once I have submitted my grades and ordered my books for the fall, I look around for the nearest invisibility cloak.  An acquaintance used to refer to her “bubble” — the necessary month of detachment from school friends and gossip and subtle, omnipresent competition, in which she could remember the sound of the ocean, and think long thoughts by herself without smiling into the school years’ endless pick-up lines.

Summer has always promised a hiddenness that I value beyond measure.  In a beautiful new book by the poet, David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, the author offers delicious and wise reflections on words we use often without appreciating their laden-ness — the richness of nuance and suggestion that are there for the picking.

In his entry on “Hiddenness,” he writes this:

“We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early, and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with ideas that oppress ours sense of self and ours sense of others.  What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us doesn’t not care to be known by the ind in ways that diminish its presence.”

To this, I saw, Amen, and thanks.

Beneath the cloak of summer, I plan to let what is real unfold at its own pace.  I invite you to do the same.

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Letter from Venice

Going on a journey is a lot like stepping into an orchard at harvest time. Our sacks are empty. Even if we have had breakfast on the way, we arrive hungry for the feel of something we haven’t known in a long time.

Several weeks ago, I travelled to Venice for the first time in 25 years. I was full of hope that the city would be as magical as it had been when last I’d seen it. I took my adult son, which only raised the ante. Would he love the museum-quality of its postcard views and narrow calles? How many churches would he endure? Would we have enough space to see anything in the Piazza San Marco amid the cruise ship crowd?

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