Doug Wilson - A poetry friendship
Doug is a Soul Flares reader who has written to me over the years with poetry, powerful insights and recommendations. This is a series of letters worth reading.
I have purchased my plane ticket and rented a car for the workshop.I will fly into Burlington the Thursday before the workshop and return home the next Thursday, which will give me a week in the northeast.I'm looking forward to it.
I'm about to head out the door for Knoxville, TN to see my daughter.Yesterday was a beautiful day.The sky was so blue with white clouds floating around in it.It was incredibly beautiful.And the it was short sleeve and shorts weather.Really nice.
I really like the motto of Heron Dance.Beauty and peace.Those two things go together so well.
I thought about Rod after writing the following poem:
There are too many
words in this world,
that break the silence,
and come tumbling out,
like clanging coins
from a slot machine,
pouring and pouring and pouring,
down, into a dreamy pile,
Even the words of this poem,
pray for an audience.
Someone, to read them.
Someone, to need them.
Someone, to caress them,
and tell them,
they are good.
But maybe, just maybe,
a man can rise up,
and go down,
to the river,
where all his words,
will be washed away.
And his roots will run deep,
at the rivers edge,
beneath the spreading sycamore,
watching the leaves,
drop, and set sail,
for some unknown and distant shore.
And through the corner
of his eye,
he spies a little butterfly,
little lazy butterfly,
perched upon his hat.
line up on a log,
to sit, and sit, and sit,
beneath the noonday sun,
while the river
goes on rolling by,
until the day is done.
And all his words
were washed away.
And all his words
were washed away.
Have a good day Ann!
September 12, 2004
A poem I wrote lately....
The Snake Skin
from the translucent skin
lying on my lawn
that he had been there.
Blown brittle by August winds,
this tubular trail of scales
could have belonged
to a common chicken snake,
like the snake that stole
the Bantam’s young
from beneath her steadfastness.
And maybe that’s not so bad,
to bypass Buddha’s "First Noble Truth"
that had been written from the beginning
in their delicate yellow yokes.
After all, they never knew struggle,
not even to break free
from their creamy shells.
But enough of that, somewhere
in these nearby woods
a snake lies naked and vulnerable,
weakened from the trail of death
he left behind.
As the Cardinals brought
their metallic chips
to the bird feeder at dusk,
he slowly slipped
from the protective scales
that had become too small for him,
and retreated, up under a mimosa,
with its deep green fan-like leaves
and chartreuse pods
hanging over his head,
where the only answer
to whether he was dead, or alive,
was the occasional piercing of the air
by his tongue.
November 18, 2004
"A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."
November 20, 2009
It is late May on Church street
where a young girl, five or so,
in a blue flowered dress,
runs through a fountain.
Falling, she looks up at me,
her tight auburn curls,
like corkscrew pasta,
falling upon her forehead.
Her mouth tightens into a perfect oval.
And with arched shoulders
she looks back at her father,
the shadow of the red brick building
has moved across the fountain,
and the crisp night air
is coming across Lake Champlain.
A young boy stands at attention
as his mother’s napkin wrapped finger
sweeps the pizza crumbs
from the porch of his pursed little mouth.
And over there,
a silver haired lady in a navy knit sweater,
peruses her newspaper
through her dark, horn rimed glasses,
while sitting beneath a rainbow of chip bags
clipped to her hotdog stand on wheels.
And here are two bleached blondes,
with tatoos and facial piercings,
walking their dachshunds
along the cobblestone pathways,
leading them on long leather leashes,
past people who are lounging,
and eating, and drinking
at tables with umbrellas.
And I am sitting on a red bench
with two scoops of Ben and Jerry’s
chocolate ice cream
on a cone.
December 3rd, 2004
Some more poems for you...
We watch the water falling.
It looks just like a man
At the moment he says
I do at a ceremony
That the water, still so long
Doesn't fully understand
Or agree with.
We see fire that is hungrier
Than any workman wanting
Dinner after a hard day's labor.
It gobbles up everything.
In both worlds and refuses
To go out no matter how much
Rain it receives.
Being told "Good morning would
You like tea or coffee?"
By a friend that watches water,
Loves fire, and other sacred
Ordinary moments, and scenes
Is like a visit to the rim of a
Canyon.We're not exactly sure
Whether to jump, to fly or
To simply stare and weep.
-John Levy,"Watching Friendship"
I've read all the books but one
Only remains sacred:this
Volume of wonders, open
Always before my eyes.
The million little things that drop into your hands
The small opportunities each day brings
He leaves us free to use or abuse
And goes unchanging along His silent way.
The reality that is present to us and in us:
call it Being . . .Silence.
And the simple fact that by being attentive,
by learning to listen
(or recovering the natural capacity to listen)
we can find ourself engulfed in such happiness
that it cannot be explained:
the happiness of being at one with everything
in that hidden ground of Love
for which there can be no explanations . . . .
May we all grow in grace and peace,
and not neglect the silence that is printed
in the centre of our being.
It will not fail us.
And finally this one.
the truth about myself
how beautiful it is!
December 4th, 2004
And I like this from the forward of the book, A Grateful Heart.
I've always viewed mealtime as a humbling moment.The need to eat not only unites us all but underscores a basic human frailty. Nature marks time in eons, yet each of us needs to eat every few hours, a fraction of time almost too infinitesimal for nature to even measure . But the need is true and unrelenting for each and every one of us, no matter how rich or poor, powerful of oppressed, weak or strong--it is an emblem of our humanness. It's almost as if nature had created an infallible way to remind us, daily and nearly hourly, that we are bound to and dependent upon every other living thing in this universe, a knowledge that is surely the ultimate blessing.
And this from the introduction.
I encourage you to try using A Grateful Heart every day as a ritual and see what happens as a consequence. "When was the last time, if ever, you saw anyone at McDonald's offer an expresion of thanks (a prayer, a song, a dance) for his or her food?" asks Stephen Hyde in an article in The Sun entitled "Great Man Going." Billions of burgers consumed yet not a solitary act of gratitude, individual or coporate, no festival to honor the bovine being in myth and art and imagination, or to celebrate the annual resurrection of the potato. How can this be? What kind of monstrous indifference to the taking of life does this suggest?What kind of henious disrespect for the life that sustains human life? What is the real price we pay for the convenience of fast and plentiful food? Apathy, neglect, isolation? Or is it something deeper, the loss of relationship, of wholeness, of soul?. . . Once the rituals of gratitude informed nearly every aspect of human life. Most of these we have abandoned of forgotten. Now, try to imagine this:forevery one of those burgers sold, a song raised, a life recalled, a measure of grace restored?"
January 3, 2005
You took their tiny island
and left them begging
for bowls of rice and jugs of water.
You took everything,
and left their hollow faces looking
for loved ones among the living.
Tell me Tsunami,
is God angry,
or are you just a hiccup
in the celestial scheme of things?
Either way, we all bow
to your power.
A half a world away, and still
you have taken out televisions
and the talk at our coffee shops.
You question our generosity.
You make us look over our shoulders.
You make us call our children
to tell them we love them.
Because of you, we now live our lives
I watch the death and destruction
and somehow feel safe.
I turn out the lights.
I go to my warm bed. My belly is full
and I lie there in the dark, wondering,
Tell me Tsunami,
January 27, 2005
I found this excerpt interesting from Wherever You Go, There You Will Be, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
The next time you find yourself making fists out of anger, try to bring mindfulness to the inner attitude embodied in a fist. Feel the tensions, the hatred, the anger, the aggression, and the fear which it contains.Then, in the midst of your anger, as an experiment, if the person you are angry at is present, try opening your fists and placing the palms together over your heart in the prayer position right in front of him.(Of course, he won't have the slightest idea what you are doing.) Notice what happens to the anger and hurt as you hold this position for even a few moments.
I find it virtually impossible to sustain my anger when I do this. It's not that the anger may not be justified.It's just that all sorts of other feelings come into play, which frame the anger energy and tame it---feelings like sympathy and compassion for the other person, and perhaps a greater understanding of the dance we are both in . . . The dance of one thing inevitably leading to another, of the concatenation of consequences impersonally set in motion, the end result of which can (mistakenly) be taken personally and lead to ignorance, aggression compounding aggression, with no wisdom anywhere.
When Gandhi was assassinated at pointblank range, he put his palms together in this way toward his attacker, utterd his mantra, and died.Years of meditation and yoga practice, guided by his beloved Bhagavad Gita, had brought him to the point where he was able to bring the perspective of non-attachment to everything he was engaged in, including his very life.It allowed him to choose the attitude he would take in that very moment he was being robbed of his life.(End of excerpt.)
(Emails from July to October were lost.)
October 21, 2005
Silver Toy Soldiers
And the day came
when a voice from heaven said,
"Let the day write itself."
It must have come from heaven,
for where else do words like these come from?
And the day became an Easter basket,
wrapped in blue cellophane sky. And my eyes,
turning on a wind from the east, saw two
toy soldiers standing by the tracks,
resurrected from the cemetery
of The Familiar and Recognizable,
silver guardians of the parallel rails, who stand
in Buckingham Palace poses
until the Union Pacific comes thundering down
the 4-foot, eight-and-a-half inch wide tracks.
Then they move, lowering
their mechanical arms, red eyes flashing,
sounding their persistent ding! ding! dings!
while flatcars and boxcars go barreling by.
It is quiet now, the soldiers having raised
their arms as the last frame of the steel wheel
motion picture disappears into my senses, rescued
from all the other frames that lie clipped
on the edit room floor.
October 23, 2005
I want to share this quote with you.Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors whose books have had a tremendous impact on my life.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. -- Henri Nouwen
October 23, 2005
I think that you and Rod would enjoy the David Whyte piece at the below link. It's on creativity.It's fairly long, but very good.
Peace to you.
October 30, 2005
When I read this quote I thought of Rod and you Ann.Hope you're doing well.
The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do. -- Henry Moore (English Sculptor, 1898-1986)
November 7, 2005
I like this poem.
The Art of Disappearing
By Naomi Shihab Nye
When they say Don’t I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say We should get together
It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with you time.
November 19, 2005
I thought you might enjoy these exceprts from Terry Hershey's book Sacred Necessities.
by Marcia Falk
Three generations back
my family had only
to light a candle
and the world parted.
Today, Friday afternoon,
I disconnect clocks and phones.
When night fills my house
I begin saving
(And then this part he took from Winnie the Pooh.)
Christopher Robin said, "What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best"—and then he had to stop and think . . . When he had thought it all out, he said, "What I like best in the whole world is me and Piglet going to see you, and you saying, ‘What about a little something?’ and me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing."
"I like that, too," said Christopher Robin, "but what I like doing best is nothing."
"How do you do nothing?" asked Pooh, after he had wondered a long time.
"Well, its when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin,’ and you say, ‘Oh, nothing,’ and then you go and do it."
"Oh, I see," said Pooh.
"This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now."
"Oh, I see," said Pooh again.
"It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering."
"Oh!" said Pooh.
They walked on, thinking of this and that, and by-the-by Christopher Robin came to an end of things, and was silent, and he sat there looking out over the world, and wishing it wouldn’t stop.
January 15, 2006
Hope you're doing well these days.
Here is a little poem from Bismarck.
Your Double Helix
While stars and planets
through the apparent void,
God patiently knitted
your double helix,
then cut the string.
But you fell
into another rhythm
and ran away
and never saw it.
May 31, 2006
I have a new book by Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks.It is sooooooooooooo good.It's like God, or the Universe, or whatever you want to call it, just dropped this book in my lap right now because it's what I needed.I am so ready to hear what it is saying.Here are a few excerpts from the frist 6 chapters that I found very meaningful.The book is made up of short statements that point beyond the teaching.
From the introduction:
A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct.The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being.The spiritual teacher is there to uncover and reveal to you that dimension of inner depth that is also peace.. . . A vibrantly alive peace is one of the characteristics of that dimension, so whenever you feel inner peace arising as you read, the book is doing its work and fulfilling its function as your teacher: it is reminding you of who you are and pointing the way back home.
From the first six chapters:
Stillness is your essential nature.What is stillness?The inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts.Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world.
You are that awareness, disguised as a person.
When you become aware of silence, immediately there is that state of inner still alertness. You are present. You have stepped out of thousands of years of collective human conditioning.
True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.
The human condition:lost in thought.
In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought.It is the very essence of who you are.We may call it presence, awareness, the unconditioned consciousness.In the ancient teachings, it is the Christ within, or your Buddha nature.
If you can recognize, even occasionally, the thoughts that go through your mind as simply thoughts, if you can witness your own mental-emotional reactive patterns as they happen, then that dimension is already emerging in you as the awareness in which thoughts and emotions happen---the timeless inner space in which the content of your life unfolds.
Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don't take your thoughts too seriously.
Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.
The next step in human evolution is to transcend thought.This is now our urgent task.It doesn't mean not to think anymore, but simply not to be completely indentified with thought, possessed by thought.
The mind is incessantly looking not only for food for thought; it is looking for food for its identity, its sense of self.This is how the ego comes into existence and continuously re-creates itself.
What will be left of all the fearing and wanting asociated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention?A dash---one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone.
To the egoic self, this is a depressing thught.To you, it is liberating.
The egoic self is always engaged in seeking.It is seeking more of this or that to add to itself, to make itself feel more complete. This explains the ego's compulsive preoccupation with the future.
By giving your full attention to this moment, an intelligence far greater than the egoic mind enters your life.
You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.(I added this bold type.)
Most people's lives are run by desire and fear.
Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be yourself more fully.All fear is the fear of losing something and thereby becoming diminished and being less.These two movements obscure the fact that Being cannot be given or taken away.Being in its fulllness is already within you, Now.
How often each day, if you were to verbalize your inner reality at that moment, would you have to say, "I don't want to be where I am"? What does it fel like when you don't want to be where you are---the traffic jam, your place of work, the airport lounge, the people you are with?
Do you really need to mentally label every sense perception and experience?Do you really need to have a reactive like/dislike relationship with life where you are in almost continuous conflict with situations and people?Or is that just a deep-seated mental habit that can be broken?Not by doing anything, but by allowing this moment to be as it is.
The habitual and reactive "no" strengthen the ego."Yes" weakens it.Your form identity, the ego, cannot survive surrender.
There is much, much more in this book. But I wanted to share these with you.
Peace and love to you Ann.
March 15, 2007
The wind had fussed all day,
something about the war in Iraq,
or what happened to Anna Nicole Smith.
Don't try to tell me the wind doesn't care
about such things.
not set up black picket lines
and protest all that is unfair?
I go into my yard and pick flowers,
the tiniest, delicate flowers I can find,
and hold them, between thumb and forefinger,
while I listen to their whispered prayers for mercy.
Later, while lying on my bed, I dream possibilities.
If I can hold the tiniest, delicate flower
with gentle care and compassion,
can I not hold myself?
And if I can hold myself,
can I not hold you?
And if I can hold you,
can I not hold
August 13, 2007
Here is what I wrote this morning in my journal before going to school.
Most people's lives are run by desire and fear. Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be more fully yourself.All fear is the fear of losing something and thereby becoming diminished and being less. These two movements obscure the fact that Being cannot be given or taken away. Being in its fullness is already within you, Now.
Shame says I have to DO something to be more fully myself or to prevent myself from being diminished.
Grace says I just need to BE.
I think that one of the important things that has happened, and continues to happen this summer, is that the picture is being made clearer to me about who I AM and who I am not.When I begin to think, I now know that is not who I am.And when I am in the Now, I now know that is who I am and that I have come home.
(And this is what I am writing to you now after being at school today.)
I had a really good day at school.I felt relaxed and upbeat.I had a couple of people come into my room and talk about their problems.I had work to do but surrendered to the moment and listened.
Several times when I met folks in the hall I would think, "They cannot diminish my worth."
Then I started working on the algebra II (new course this year).I was working the problems, everything was coming out like it should, I was figuring it out by reading the book . . .and then I had this thought."I am smart."That was a new thought for me.I had reasoned it out before in the past.But today it was a spontaneous thought that affirmed my intelligence, but more than that it affirmed my goodness and my coming home, which allowed me to have that thought.I felt capable.I felt like I belonged in that classroom, teaching that class.
This was a day of joy, and the joy is a very deep joy about coming home to myself.Typing these words is touching me deeply.It is like someone who has been waiting 51 years to come home, or a POW being set free after 51 years of capitivity, or the stepchild who has finally been allowed to eat at the table with the rest of the family.
August 15th, 2007
There is a book that I always go back to when I am feeling like you seem to be feeling now. It is The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen.It is made up of spiritual imperatives he wrote during the dark night of his soul.I will paste a couple of excerpts into this e-mail and you can see what you feel about it. I always believe that when he says "God's love for me" that I could substitute the words, "My love for myself."I think that when we come home to God, we are really coming home to ourselves, and vice versa. I personally don't think you can separate the two.
Excerpts From The Inner Voice Of Love, by Henri Nouwen
Work Around Your Abyss
There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible. You have to work around it so that gradually that abyss closes.
Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it. There are two extremes to avoid: being complete absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal.
Cling To The Promise
You have to close yourself to the outside world so you can enter your own heart and the heart of God through your pain.
Stop Being A Pleaser
But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you.
Always Come Back To The Solid Place
But keep saying, "God loves me, and God’s love is enough."
Bring Your Body Home
But you need to keep searching for your body’s deeper need, the need for genuine love. Every time you are able to go beyond the body’s superficial desires for love, you are bringing your body home and moving toward integration and unity.
Keep Living Where God Is
Every time you do something that comes from your needs for acceptance, affirmation, or affection, and every time you do something that makes these needs grow, you know that you are not with God. These needs will never be satisfied; they will only increase when you yield to them.
Go Into The Place Of Your Pain
What is your pain? It is the experience of not receiving what you most need. It is a place of emptiness where you feel sharply the absence of the love you most desire.
Open Yourself To The First Love
The love that came to you in particular, concrete human friendships and that awakened your dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic.
Befriend Your Emotions
Do not be discouraged. Be sure that God will truly fulfill all your needs. Keep remembering that. It will help you not to expect that fulfillment from people who you already know are incapable of giving it.
Stay With Your Pain
It is not easy to stay with your loneliness. The temptation is to nurse your pain or to escape into fantasies about people who will take it away. But when you acknowledge your loneliness in a safe, contained place, you make your pain available for God’s healing.
It is understandable that everything you did, are doing, or plan to do seems completely meaningless compared with that pearl. That pearl is the experience of being fully loved.
Live Patiently With The "Not Yet"
Since your intimate self does not feel safe with you, it continues to look for others, especially those who offer it some real, though temporary, consolation. But when you become more childlike, it will not longer feel the need to dwell elsewhere. It will begin to look to you as home.
Let God Speak Through You
It will take a great deal of time and patience to distinguish between the voice of your wounded self and the voice of God, but as you grow more and more faithful to your vocation, this will become easier.
Give Your Agenda To God
Start by not allowing these people and issues to possess you. As long as you think that you need them to be yourself, you are not really free. Much of their urgency comes from your own need to be accepted and affirmed. You have to keep going back to the source: God’s love for you.
Face the Enemy
As you see more clearly that your vocation is to be a witness to God’s love in this world, and as you become more determined to live out that vocation, the attacks of the enemy will increase. You will hear voices saying, "You are worthless, you have nothing to offer, you are unattractive, undesirable, unlovable." The more you sense God’s call, the more you will discover in your own soul the cosmic battle between God and Satan. Do not be afraid. Keep deepening your conviction that God’s love for you is enough, that you are in safe hands, and that you are being guided every step of the way. Don’t be surprised by the demonic attacks. They will increase, but as you face them without fear, you will discover that they are powerless.
What is important is to keep clinging to the real, lasting, unambiguous love of Jesus. Whenever you doubt that love, return to your inner spiritual home and listen there to love’s voice. Only when you know in your deepest being that you are intimately loved can you face the dark voices of the enemy without being seduced by them.
The love of Jesus will give you an ever-clearer vision of your call as well as of the many attempts to pull you away from that call. The more you are called to speak for God’s love, the more you will need to deepen the knowledge of that love in your own heart. The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inner journey must be. Only when your roots are deep can your fruits be abundant. The enemy is there, waiting to destroy you, but you can face the enemy without fear when you know that you are held safe in the love of Jesus.
(This is not from The Inner Voice of Love)
Love And Relationships
All our struggles in relationships are connected with what I would call the relationship between the "first love" and the "second love". The first love is from God, who loved us before we could love each other. The second love is from our parents, brothers and sisters, and friends, and it is an expression of that first love. Sometimes we expect from the second love what only the first love can give. That’s why we experience anguish. My personal struggle has always been that I expected a first love from someone who could only give a second love.
As soon as you demand a first love, an unconditional, total self-giving love, from another human being, limited inability to give and receive, you will be disappointed. Quite frankly you can even become violent because you expect from a person what that person cannot give. The other person has no choice but to back off, cut loose, and perhaps get angry and feel guilty.
Gracious God, may I remember that the only perfect love comes from you. May I humbly offer my own limited love to those around me. -Henri Nouwen
Excerpt From The Return Of The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
But there are many other voices, voices that are loud, full of promises and very seductive. These voices say, "Go out and prove that you are worth something." Soon after Jesus had heard the voice calling him the Beloved, he was led to the desert to hear those other voices. They told him to prove that he was worth love in being successful, popular, and powerful. Those same voices are not unfamiliar to me. They are always there and, always, they reach into those inner places where I question my own goodness and doubt my self-worth. They suggest that I am not going to be loved without my having earned it through determined efforts and hard work. They want me to prove to myself and others that I am worth being loved, and they keep pushing me to do everything possible to gain acceptance. They deny loudly that love is a totally free gift. I leave home every time I lose faith in the voice that calls me the Beloved and follow the voices that offer a great variety of ways to win the love I so much desire.
Almost from the moment I had ears to hear, I heard those voices, and they have stayed with me ever since . They have come to me through my parents, my friends, my teachers, and my colleagues, but, most of all, they have come and still come through the mass media that surround me. And they say: "Show me that you are a good boy. You had better be better than your friend! How are your grades? Be sure you can make it through school! I sure hope you are going to make it on your own! What are your connections? Are you sure you want to be friends with those people? These trophies certainly show how good a player you were! Don’t show your weakness, you’ll be used! Have you made all the arrangements for your old age? When you stop being productive, people lose interest in you! When you are dead, you are dead!"
As long as I remain in touch with the voice that calls me the Beloved, these questions and counsels are quite harmless. Parents, friends, and teachers, even those who speak to me through the media, are mostly very sincere in their concerns. Their warnings and advice are well intended. In fact, they can be limited human expressions of an unlimited divine love. But when I forget that voice of the first unconditional love, then these innocent suggestions can easily start dominating my life and pull me into the "distant country." It is not very hard for me to know when this is happening Anger, resentment, jealousy, desire for revenge, lust, greed, antagonisms, and rivalries are the obvious signs that I have left home. And that happens quite easily. When I pay careful attentions to what goes on in my mind from moment to moment, I come to the disconcerting discovery that there are very few moments during my day when I am really free from these dark emotions, passions, and feelings.
Constantly falling back into an old trap, before I am even fully aware of it, I find myself wondering why someone hurt me, rejected me, or didn’t pay attention to me. Without realizing it, I find myself brooding about someone else’s success, my own loneliness, and the way the world abuses me. Despite my conscious intentions, I often catch myself daydreaming about becoming rich, powerful, and very famous. All of these mental games reveal to me the fragility of my faith that I am the Beloved One on whom God’s favor rests. I am so afraid of being disliked, blamed, put aside, passed over, ignored, persecuted, and killed, that I am constantly developing strategies to defend myself and thereby assure myself of the love I think I need and deserve. And in so doing I move far away from my father’s home and choose to dwell in a "distant country."
Peace be with you Annie.
March 23, 2008
I love the direction your interior life is taking!!!!!!!!
I recently wrote this poem you might enjoy.
I did my best
And God was
Have a blessed Easter Annie.
June 30th, 2008
So Much Happiness
By Naomi Shihab Nye
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs
But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.
June 1, 2009
THE TABLE OF YOUR LIFE
You are not
That needs to be solved,
To be accepted.
May we all join hands
Around the table of your life
And give thanks.
Here are a couple of my latest "Window Poems."
OUTSIDE THE LINES
As the sun rises in your eyes,
A thousand angels
Gather at the pool of beauty
In the crook of your arm.
(I write outside the lines.)
Because we are all
So very thirsty
A LOVE LIKE THAT
Every day, an acorn
Who grew to be a hundred-year-oak
On a knoll in brother Daryl’s yard,
Stands the simmering sun of summer,
Giving shade, and clean air,
And the sweet music
In his leaves.
We should listen to a love like that.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL POEM EVER WRITTEN
I awakened last night
To the sound of Shakespeare and God
Arguing in my living room.
And now it’s been decided,
Are the most beautiful poem