For Karen on the day of her ordination
Never do we stand alone.
Mystery always impinges on history
As part of larger wholeness—
Family, community, tribal gathering,
Company of souls in silent grand communion.
Even in midst of darkness, there is light,
Though we may live in fear that God has turned away…
Still the light shines on.
We are like pregnant women in final stage of agony,
Who scream that the doctor is dead.
But if we see with eyes and hear with ears,
The healing comes, continues age after age.
Our fate is intertwined.
In the face of despair, in times of defiance,
When crisis engulfs and alienation is the very ax
That cuts into white bark and bone of flesh….
When loneliness claims our consciousness—
Cry together until the road of self-reliance crumbles.
It is not safe to think yourself in isolation.
Interdependence is now a fact of your situation.
When disorder and darkness reign,
Even in some small obscure country or region of the heart,
Anxiety floods the world.
Use your unique gifts to find the lost, the outcast….
Bring them home again,
Miles and miles into the center of the heart….
Fix a bowl of soup, offer warm bread,
Steep the cup of tea in love.
Last night, it rained before I fell asleep.
Wind screamed against the windowpane.
Dog paced around the room,
Lay down, soon was snoring up a storm.
In my dreams, learned that I had drowned,
Washed up upon some distant shore.
Watched red sun sink into the lonely sea—
To see such light fail nearly broke my heart.
There have been far too many betrayals,
Each time someone spills the wine,
Red stain ruins yet another white shirt,
Pain seeps through thin skin again and again.
Willingly, I drown, too tired to swim—
Finally having learned the cost of love….
Comprehend only now futility of grief,
Too many drown; too much death.
Even now, I cannot tell if I am the worse
To learn how many times I’ve drowned.
Enlightened, I carry pain more lightly,
But sting of betrayal burns more painfully than grief.
Take the chance.
Push off from shore alone,
even though dark surrounds….
Sun hiding behind black clouds.
So improbable, light breaks forth,
Inevitable this dream that summons,
Shows the way to go.
Suddenly the darkness loses.
Clouds part revealing eternal light.
Without shroud, vulnerable world exposed….
Clearly see who and where you are,
Safety of home upon distant shore,
Here, there and all the way to paradise.
Watching blue heron glide
Across the edge of silver lake,
I got arrested, not by spindly legs
Trailing out behind.
Attention was detained by
Sturdiness of expanded wing,
The slender throat, the long beak
Ready to spear a fish for lunch.
Blue heron erupted into view,
Swooped low above the water’s edge,
Bringing beauty in its navigation—
Not perfect in awkward landing,
Though there is also beauty found
In what’s broken… slowly,
Slowly watching healing come,
Not flying upon broad wings
But silently creeping inside the bone,
Marrow mending break,
Knitting together across the space.
I have dear friend who fell from tree,
Found he could not fly to ground,
Broke bones and could not move….
Lay for hours, back fractured.
Unlike blue heron,
He missed the marsh in landing,
His muscled arms no good in flapping,
Flailing hard until he hit hard Earth.
He was no blue heron, though now
I sometimes think of him
Black and blue with broken wing and
Secretly name him Icarus.
My life is divided,
One foot in each world.
My sensory self is seeing, hearing,
Walking through smelly outer world
While I am also aware of
Supersensory world, inside interior,
Pervading whole field of vision,
Alive in a world of pervasive light.
Interior energy burns,
Fills imagination with splendor,
Stuns with beauty, ravishes with wonder.
Though I have never claimed to
Speak with God, there is consciousness of
Living Radiance, within and without myself.
Each day, a growing power,
Looming perception of this Lustrous Light,
Luminosity present in dreams and waking hours,
Aware of color now where yesterday I was blind.
This Light seems as alive—
More alive than any sense of self,
More instant than flowing breath itself,
Pure energy and intelligence,
Life in purest form, pregnant with creative force,
Pulsates in Infinite Ocean of Awareness,
Seeps into my own small, quiet pool
While I float within external world through five senses.
Is the Universe alive? Is there Purpose?
I cannot fathom reasons why or why not,
Though Presence looms left, right, behind, above,
Surrounds every object and event, unblinking,
Silent, serene, still and unmovable.
Today I have lost myself among forest of trees,
Each standing alone, though together in tribes,
Strong thick trunks signs of wealth,
Storms and fires endured, wind blowing
Through drought and narrow years,
Roots run deep thirsting in the dark….
Rings of years a history of their scars,
Prosperity disclosed in tallest growth.
Like penetrating preachers,
I honor their righteous loneliness,
Spaces where they do not lose themselves,
Standing stalwart as they reach for Sun.
Never do they run away or hide,
Even when lumberman comes to wound,
Hack and slash into their lives, brings a naked cut—
Reduced in death, they fall to ground.
In all the rustling world, I cannot find
More noble wood, more worthy of our reverence
Than these great holy groves of trees.
Sometimes, not often, but on occasion
I lie upon the ground, arms folded across my chest,
Tightly shut my eyes to see how dark the darkness is,
Sense cold dead leaves gather round,
Hold my breath and wonder how long
Before the snow will drift, make a heap
Against my feet, legs together, body still.
I practice my own death,
So I can know the grief— now, for what it is.
Saying goodbye while dying is a speechless task,
All within the mind, aware,
Worse than falling asleep….
If sun is setting, every rose descending,
Petals falling senselessly,
Joining the line of waiting in this
Greatest circle of beauty and time.
Whatever sadness flees as dusk proceeds,
Eyes of stars blink open eternally.
Do you love your death this much to see or
Run away each and every day,
Refuse to think such ill-considered thoughts?
Do you stand on the beach, fall upon the sand,
Watch waves of water wipe away each footprint
As though you never learned to walk…..
Or when you wake within your bed,
Too early comes the sun, the licking dog,
Kids screaming, responsibilities knocking—
And you want to sleep for one more hour,
Calmly pull sheet over your head,
Surrender to temptation of lasting peace.