Swift as Trembling Breath

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Quietly I sit, back braced against fading night,
Watching for first break of morning,
Breathing cold mountain air, arms sweatered against the chill.
This dawn— blue mountains frame the Great Face,
Slowly lifting as it always does above shapeless sleep,
Mysterious vapor rising from dreamy lake.

This sacred moment passes quickly— never to return—
Like smoke, like victory, like God that wakes to
Walk across this pristine Earth, tranquil and at peace.
There is no need to pray, for prayer is everywhere,
Emerging so deeply within my Being that words
Seem stiff and strained while wordless wonder reigns.

Just before light breaks forth— comes a sound—
A doe slowly walks across this holy sight,
Her silhouette dark against the water’s mirror
As in some ancient fairy tale where breath is held,
Waiting for entrance of the Prince of Peace.
Even a sigh might startle this broidery of opal sight.

Swift as trembling eye kisses newborn day,
Spirit hastens on her way— Orison comes,
Consumes the night and in succession
Casts his splendor upon awakening Earth.
I stretch my limbs and stand to claim,
Preserve this gift in quiet memory and verse.

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Clarity, Too Soon, Will Come

Clarity Will Come
Waking to sound of tinkling chimes,
Only to discover that morning mist
Almost hides the world in silver fog.
Leaves of grass still hold the dew,
Lingering for a brighter sun.

Sitting upon stone steps above the lake,
I pray for blessing upon this precious world,
Seek within sounds of singing birds,
A hint, a subtle theme that elevates the mind.

Although the world is softly muted now,
Clarity, too soon, will come. For now,
This precious moment hangs upon a charm,
Wanders in the rising breeze to touch
Eyes filled with mercury and tears.

Somewhere close, God walks—
Breathes and quietly moves
Upon the distant hills, across blue water,
Through mists meanders slowly,
Dancing thoughts not mine to know or claim.

 

Learning Through Every Curving Path

I know you as Love
It’s taken years, most of a lifetime,
To hear voice within that’s distinctly mine.
Already I am old, my heart stretched thin
From hearing other’s voices—
Those who taught me
Right from wrong, how to walk,
Measure carefully each word upon the page.

Now, I sit in dark of night,
No longer wearing other people’s faces,
Sorting many times and places,
Sitting here alone— needing time to be alone,
No longer shaken or confused, but clear—
And praying that by end of poem,
My clarity will still be here.

Time itself is never old—- Time is forever young,
And in this Time I do not move or
Madly run away in fear.
Each morning, I sift within the mind,
Am taught by dreams that visited in night.
Finally, I’ve learned to tell the Voices
To give me space to breathe—
An inch of space and silence
Makes all the difference when house is
Solely mine and yet remains so quiet.

I walk outside, watch early moon,
Know that in regions I cannot see,
Sun still moves, remains forever Source.
I know that if, when morning comes,
As shadow falls upon the page
My hand still holds the pen.

And where in all of this is Love?
Love is not like leaves that grow and fall
From branches on the trunk.
Love is tenacious root that runs deep within,
All the way down to bedrock.
Love is sometimes fertile, never detached,
Spending itself, flowing unless blocked—
Stopping love within the heart
Always comes with hidden, hurtful cost.

All I know is that I do not know enough to know.
Here, where darkest need is the only guide,
I do not move, but pause, accept this present hour
Is also where Time is young.
There will yet be other days.
Darkness of night is not complete and
None can halt rising of the Sun.
With morning’s light, we shall part one last time—
Forever leaving as we come, arriving as we go,
Learning that through every curving path
We begin to glimpse the whole.

When at Last the Door Thuds Shut

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Looking out across the lake in early morning,

I thought I saw shimmer of God

Quietly glimmering within reflection of God

Each small gust of wind creating waves

Dissolving God back into God.

 

I could not take it within myself,

Too dangerous it seemed, too vivid, too vague.

So I drove to church and sat in a pew,

The one place where I felt safe from God.

My hope– that these thick Christian walls,

Made of dense stone, might protect me,

Save me from an ephemeral, alluring God.

 

As Larkin once said in a poem:

“Once I am sure there’s nothing going on,

I step inside, letting the door thud shut….

Up at the holy end, the small neat organ;

And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,

Brewed God knows how long.”

 

Hopefully, here I could be at peace,

Watching the light cross the floor,

This sacred place where birth and death

Are married in an eerie silence.

Here, where so much seems obsolete,

I am surprised by a deep

Hunger to be grave and solemn

In this solitary, soft moment of quiet.

 

Whispering within my mind, I heard

“Here endth the reading of these holy words….”

Scripture seemed written upon my heart—

A pilgrim’s progress, if you will, smoldering,

Burning deeper, alive and distinct from my own will.

Why, I wondered, did Nietzsche say:

“It is indecent to be a Christian….”

 

I sat, as Buddha sat, in lotus fashion

Upon cold stone, close to weeping,

Close to praying, slowly breathing,

Raised from death into enlightened spaciousness,

Sitting in this House I did not build,

Yet here, at last, finding myself at Home.

 

Meister Eckhart said it this way:

“Man’s last and highest parting gift

Is when for God’s sake,

He takes leave of God.”

This is what Jesus would say:

“Verily, verily I say unto you

Except that a seed of wheat

Fall into the ground and die,

It abides alone,… but if it die,

It brings forth much fruit.”

 

Only in this moment of dying,

As I let go, do I begin to cross over

Into the vast return to God,

Spiritually naked, yet blessed—

Slowly walking all the way down

Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail,

High cliffs casting morning shadows

Until I reach what might be

Called the Colorado—

At the bottom of the world it flows.

And here, I kneel and drink.<img

Slowly, I Wake

Slowly I Waken

Slowly, I wake; slowly do I move

From invisible sleep to visible world,

The boundary itself lies unseen,

Beyond my thinking grasp, yet vaguely there.

 

So much do I take in during each day,

My vision goes for miles and miles,

Sees images all over the moving world,

Touches and reaches out into the air….

 

As much as is visible, more is invisible—

Unseen, unknown, hidden in darkness,

Yet I sense it there, waiting beyond.

I sense something is aware.

 

I shrink within from the smallness I am.

Nothing to do but take off my shoes,

Kneel in trust, feeling great Love out there.

No, even further Out There.

 

Yet also found deeply within…

It is as silent as moonlight,

Whispering wordless promises,

Inside a secret, inside dark mysteries.

 

Finally I turn myself into a mirror.

Whole, mature, I feel the whole universe in me,

And I am in turn a universe smiling back,

Being the Whole and Seeing the Whole as One.

Every Path is a Return to God

Words Are Unwelcome Here

Every path is a return to God.

How could it be otherwise?

But before, you must reach

Your arms into emptiness,

Silent darkness, and run through

A world of lies until you

Finally glimpse the deeper truth.

 

Along the way, you’ll suffer–

No matter which side of the road

You pitch your tent for the night.

Perhaps you’ll gaze upon the stars,

Feel you’ve lost the entire universe.

But within the heartbreak, you’ll

Learn deeper ways to see Light.

 

Even those who love you,

May see you on one side or the other,

When perhaps by grace

You know you only belong to God.

Many times, you’ll look and think

You see deeply into the truth of yourself.

But your eyes are not the whole of you.

 

Each of us changes, some of us

A hundred thousand times and more,

Searching through wave after wave of

Transformation in attempt to touch the soul.

Maybe you’ll find a distracted man

To be your guide, a beautiful woman

For healing, a blind man who might prophesy.

 

You may find hope in those who interpret dreams,

Yet find later that the hope you’ve found

Has led you to darker confusion, bewilderment,

Storms that dissolve foundations that take you

Deeper into Presence, into laughter—

Where crying out for mystery gives way

To even deeper forms of longing…..

 

Be gentle if you can, to others and yourself,

For the mistakes you’ll make are many.

How many will it take to teach you how to forgive?

A sailor who only sails upon calm water

Never learns to master his art, to sail

Through ocean storms or survive the risks of love.

Only then might you grow outwardly old,

Inwardly young, and live the resurrection.

 

Keep Open the Gate!

Jerusalem_Damaskus1900
Jerusalem is never far away,
Massive gates sometimes open wide,
Swing closed when what lies behind
Surfaces in teeming city of the dead.

The war is old, as is the singing in the streets,
Rabble roused before the temple square,
Tall barricades in place by order of the priests–
They fear the dreaded victory that waits.

High upon the lonely hill, the savior died.
Still he lives to raise the band,
To flourish in the fray, to march, to strive,
Arms waving, dancing in their hearts, alive… Alive!

What of the gates that close upon the heart?
Fortified, they guard the holy city deep within.
Blow the horns and wake the soul!
For Heaven’s sake the battle must be won.