The Empty Bowl and the Spider Web (Updated)

By Collie Agle

There are several intentions that drive this blog.

I find myself in two simultaneous stories.  The first is that I feel as if I am a small child learning to walk for the first time.  And, I am aware of the limited time I have before I am on the final glide path.  And I am excited by both- finding my way as an infant, and dealing my remaining years.

So this blog will help me to develop a tracking device for myself.  As such, it will be living notes.

The other intention is to do this in the full presence of the communities of friends and family to which I belong.  I feel that this is an important part of my legacy that comes out of deep, quiet Kairos moments.

The title of the blog, Empty Bowl and Spider’s Web, has particular significance for me:  when I empty by bowl of all my busyness, be still, and listen, some pretty amazing things start to happen.  The spider’s web is all about how we are individual shining jewels at the intersections of an infinitely large spider’s web: we all reflect on each other, and whatever we do reverberates through the entire web.

Here are some pretty fundamental parts of me:

1: Belovedness

I live in interconnectedness rather than in a small cardboard box.
I am beloved by my truth
When I belove another being, that belovedness may ripple through the entire net.
2:  Doing small things with a big heart
I often feel overwhelmed by what feels like the collapse of so much of what is important to me. I have to remind myself, as Mother Theresa would say, “We can’t do big things but we can do small things with a big heart.”
3:  Energy flows:
I often feel as if my batteries are drained, and that my long list of involvements can’t be sustained.  An insight that I had from our last trip to Honduras suggests something else going on:  when I put out energy and compassion, it comes right back to me.  If I put out empathy and loving kindness, then it comes right back to me. .
4: Foundation blocks:
I operate from foundation blocks.  Some of these are my own hard core intuitions, while others are writings coming from such diverse individuals as St. Francis, Thomas Merton, the Buddha, Mary Pipher, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, and so many more.  This is a pretty eclectic list.
5:  Nothing is permanent:
To think that I can live my life with fixed guide posts in my life simply doesn’t work.  What is real is the moment.  To quote from one of Kris Kristofferson’s songs, “Yesterday is dead and gone, and tomorrow is out of sight.”
6: Consistent interconnected  networks:
I have been operating from a number of interrelated networks for a number of years.  These include Honduras, our place in West Virginia, the Anacostia, Monday night meditation, St Marks, and family.  All of these come up in both engagement and and heart work.
7:  Being and Doing
Striking a balance being and doing is challenging.  Put another way, it is operating from both the realities of the ticking clock and just being in a deep, timeless spaciousness.
8. Hero’s trip
We are on a hero’s trip, as Joseph Campbell would describe it.  We are constantly leaving safe and comfortable place, on the road, encounter darkness, lightness, adversaries, and allies, and then come home transformed.  And this trip repeats itself time after time again.
That is about it, at this point, for the foundations.  I am sure they will change and morph.
A bit about my thoughts of how this blog will emerge.  On the one hand, a lot of thoughts have already been happening, so that this will be a cataloguing of those.  On the other hand, a lot of stuff just comes to me, mostly in the early morning.  My brain has nothing to do with what emerges.  So I will be attempting to catalog these thoughts and feelings without brain-filled self- editing.  And I intend to do weekly postings, right through the summer.  The next set will be from our farm in West Virginia.
I am grateful for your participation in my life.


2 thoughts on “The Empty Bowl and the Spider Web (Updated)

  1. One of the key life lessons I gained from you many years ago is that what we most have to give each other are our stories. Yours is always intriguing, as is the metaphoric, iconic photo of your place of many places.


  2. Love your blog, Collie. Here is a poetic thought from our very own Marilu Sherer on the death of a dog that I particularly love:
    They waltz in to our hearts without a care of how vulnerable we are. We take them out at all hours, confide our deepest fears, walk them endlessly on rainy days, sing them foolish songs, learn to read their sighs, watch TV with them, worry about brushing their teeth, laugh at the silliness of being alive with them, and then all of a sudden we realize we have fallen head over heels crazy in love with them and cannot imagine our lives without them. We didn’t mean to do it, but we just couldn’t stop. And then one day we have to say goodby. And we know it’s best this way because after a lifetime of their being present for us we can finally repay their kindness. And we try our best. Then we truly become adults.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s