Jun 13 2018

Lynn Ungar – Boundaries

Published by at 9:44 am under Poetry

Boundaries
by Lynn Ungar

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless nor ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.
Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

— from Bread and Other Miracles, by Lynn Ungar


/ Image by Matt Brown /

You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

We want to cement ourselves and our place within the wider reality. We want to grasp, hold, own, and so stop change and uncertainty. But reality slips through our fingers. Everything is fluid, as are we ourselves.

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless nor ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.

This is such a startling image. A koi or a minnow suggests a serene, easily forgotten metaphor, but a shark makes a point! Part of why a shark is so ferocious is because it is ferociously at one with its environment. They say that sharks never stop swimming, but sharks are not restless. They do not struggle and exhaust themselves amidst the ocean currents. They cruise with a quiet fearlessness through their realm.

It is a form of communion they express, “absorbed in and absorbing / the native element.” The shark is in the water and the water is in the shark. They are one.

Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again.

It raises the question, what is a boundary? When we move through the environment at the same time that the environment moves through us, where is the border line between ourselves and everything else?

Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

We tend to talk about unity and interconnectedness on spiritual levels, but we forget that it is just as true in the physical realm, and in every level in between. Everything we identify with, our emotions, thoughts, health, our very breath, are not possessions that exist in a private isolation. Everything is an interaction with the environment. Everything is part of the cycle of inflow and outflow.

This raises an unsettling question: How then do we protect ourselves from the disharmonies and toxicity of the world around us? There are a few ways to answer this, but I am going to give a harsh answer this time: How do we protect ourselves? We don’t. We are in the world and the world is in us. What happens in the world happens in us. The world is us and we are the world.

Whether we are talking about nature or human emotions, disharmony and toxicity is never just “out there” to be stopped at the border of the skin or one’s private thoughts and feelings. We don’t avoid, we can’t. We participate. We hurt with our fellow beings as much as we delight with them.

They. Us. Where is the boundary, really? We participate in a shared experience of being.

But– and this is important, it is not just about the outside coming in. There is also the outbreath. What is inside also flows outward into the world. This is where the power of the individual truly expresses itself. We may take in hurt, pain, poison, but we can, if we choose, pour out love, healing, joy. And that too becomes part of the natural environment in which we all swim with our porous boundaries.

I don’t want to suggest that I believe that boundaries are not real or necessary. They are. But boundaries are more like membranes than walls. Whether we are speaking about the physical body in the natural environment, the psychological self within society, or even national borders, no boundary is lasting or impermeable. Nor should it be.

The more we identify with our boundaries, the more harshly we try to enforce them as absolute and unchanging, which is inherently doomed to failure. But the more we identify with the heart, with our core, the less important those boundaries seem, and we allow them to function as living membranes of exchange, while we are free to navigate the world without fear.

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

It is not about separation of self from other. Ultimately, such a separation is impossible. There is no real separation.

We vibrate, we hum. We are caught up in a grand universal symphony. We tune each other and are harmonized by the whole.

We sing, whether we realize it or not. Which song are we singing?


Recommended Books: Lynn Ungar

Bread and Other Miracles Blessing the Bread: Meditations


Lynn Ungar, Lynn Ungar poetry, Christian poetry Lynn Ungar

US (Contemporary)
Christian
Secular or Eclectic

Lynn Ungar’s first book of poetry, Blessing the Bread, earned her fans around the world. In her professional life she serves as a minister for the Church of the Larger Fellowship, an online congregation for Unitarian Universalists and other religious liberals. In her free time she trains dogs for competition in obedience, agility and canine musical freestyle (dancing with dogs). She is also an avid singer and contra dancer. Lynn lives on the east side of the San Francisco Bay with her wife, teenaged daughter, two dogs and a cat.

~ from lynnungar.com

More poetry by Lynn Ungar

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Lynn Ungar – Boundaries”

  1. Christineon 13 Jun 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Ivan… Lovely piece today…

    “Everything is an interaction with the environment” – love that! Everything *is* a universal symphony indeed. 🙂 It seems we must *create* a harmonious environment for ourselves in the midst of the world chaos, in which to live, in which to vibrate clearly, and sometimes for me that means withdrawing from the harmful, invasive, toxic energies/people into the deeper Silence at the Core of my Being, until my vibration becomes clear again. Creating a “soft” boundary until and there is something to offer, otherwise I get too caught up in the clatter of the world and my energies become dissonant in the symphony 😉 and I suffer physically. There are so many ways we can do this for ourselves, whether it’s meditating, listening to music, spending time in solitude and silence, which I don’t see as a boundary but a way of nurturing ourselves to be available to the harsher energies around us. Just my experience… 🙂

  2. Carol Burnson 14 Jun 2018 at 1:48 am

    Beautiful and thoughtful poem – thank you Ivan. And I love the Thought for the Day.
    Poetry Chaikhana is such a nurturing and healing site. Very much appreciated.

  3. Annaon 16 Jun 2018 at 4:39 am

    Hi Ivan

    to add to this singing, lovely poem,
    a beautiful piece of Kip Mazuy’s relaxing
    music and the joy of life, as he is transferring and
    radiating himself…

    Enjoy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jknwTINW6Bs&feature=youtu.be

    http://www.bliss-music.com

  4. Annaon 16 Jun 2018 at 8:38 am

    Hi Ivan,

    I sent two times comments about the poem “Boundaries” and
    they both disappeared…

    Something wrong with me…or from your site?

    Anna

  5. Ivan M. Grangeron 16 Jun 2018 at 9:04 am

    Nothing wrong with you, Anna. 🙂 Sometimes there is a delay between when you enter a comment and when it appears on the page. That is because I have to approve all comments first in order to prevent spam. If it is at night or I am away from the computer, it may be a few hours before the comment is approved.

  6. Annaon 16 Jun 2018 at 9:14 am

    OK!

    I always forget about day and night and that we live in different continents, in different hour zones. I hope I didn’t troubled you much in your early morning…:)

    Have a lovely day!

    Thank you, Ivan! 🙂

  7. Ivan M. Grangeron 16 Jun 2018 at 9:22 am

    No trouble at all!

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