Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And now, after a month of poetry...

...we must prepare to let ourselves go into May.

But not let go of poetry!

Inside the Quiet
by Anne Powell

You could learn a lot

just sitting watching God

take tea with Buddha

in the tent at the top of the world.

They keep the flap open

so you can walk inside the quiet and cool

and see the small cups that you thought

too tiny for the hand of God

who after all holds the whole world.

That’s why God needs to rest

on a cloud of cushions

and contemplate with Buddha

the art of letting go.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Jump Into the Age of the Spirit

This weekend our community experienced the energy and spirit of Miriam Therese Winter, a Medical Mission sister, who spoke during our spring community weekend. The energy and spirit she created at the Mount seemed palpable to everyone in the room.

One thing Miriam Therese (MT for short) said repeatedly was that there was a very real energy present; she couldn't articulate what that energy was, but she could feel it. I agree; it was definitely alive and well.

MT also told us that we are living in the Age of the Spirit. In this age, we are coming to understand life through a new perspective, one where old models, rules, dogmas, and straightforward practices will no longer suffice. This Age of the Spirit is one defined by chaos and change.

As I sit and reflect on everything I heard, I, too, find it difficult to articulate what happened in our community room over the weekend. In this Age of the Spirit, as we learn to embrace chaos and change, it follows that we also must embrace risk. When predictability is no longer a reality, we have to learn to trust the Spirit and take a chance on the things that give us energy and life. It is our faith in God that must be unchanging.

This new perspective is very challenging and quite uncomfortable for someone like myself who loves organization and order, but as MT also explained, it is often the very thing that doesn't quite fit in that is the harbinger of the future. Am I ready to jump? Am I ready trust the energy and spirit felt this weekend? Here is a poem from MT called, Quantum Leap.

Let go
of the need
to be secure,
of the urge to be
absolutely sure,
the luxury
of certainty,
as if
"as it were"
could ever be.
within worlds
within subatomic entities,
beyond worlds,
galactic immensities,
give us a glimpse,
though never enough,
of quantum connectedness
and quantumstuff.

The mystery
we cannot see
in the hidden fields
of energy,
that sumptuous
tantalizing, terrifying, mystifying, mesmerizing,
enticing us
to the very edge
of forever and ever.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hopefully I'm Not Too Late... giving you this reminder.

Tomorrow is National Poem in Your Pocket Day! Are you ready? While I am still up in the air about which poem I am planning to carry, one of my favorites from Wendell Berry has been popping up lately, so it is the one I will share in this entry to celebrate National Poetry Month. It is called The Peace of Wild Things.

When despair for the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I also love these words about poetry that I received from a friend earlier today.

Poets, like detectives, know the truth is laborious: it doesn’t occur by accident, rather it is chiseled and worked into being, the product of time and distance and graft. The poet must be open to the possibility that she has to go a long way before a word rises, or a sentence holds, or a rhythm opens, and even then nothing is assured, not even the words that have staked their original claim or meaning. Sometimes it happens at the most unexpected moment, and the poet has to enter the mystery, rebuild the poem from there.

They come from the writer Colum McCann.

Now go find a poem before it's too late! (Though it's never too late for poetry!)

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


How quickly winter allows me to forget just how good spring is! Our poem today is Ingratitude by Carl Dennis.

Spring, I remembered you all these months.
I spoke of the green yard under the snow
To my slumped visitors.
I sobered the giddy neighbors.
"You may think you're still happy,"
I cautioned, "but recall the tea roses,
The lost leaves of the dogwood tree."

But now you have fallen upon us, Spring,
Without warning,
So much greener than I remembered.
Friends I kept from forgetting
Laugh at me as they run outside
For falling so short in your praise.

Last weekend it was snowing. This weekend I am running in shorts and a t-shirt. Yesterday I even added a sunny trip to Niagara Falls. This is the view that people might often associate with Niagara Falls.

But, I was even more taken by what happens leading up to the falls.

The force of all the water as it powers toward the same end was amazing to watch.

Of course, then there was also this lovely cardinal. Spring and sunshine, you never cease to amaze me. I have been singing this line from our closing hymn at Liturgy all day:

Praise is our grateful choice; Alleluia! Amen!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Just a Thought

One Hundred and Eighty Degrees

Have you considered the possibility
that everything you believe is wrong,
not merely off a bit, but totally wrong,
nothing like things as they really are?
If you've done this, you know how durably fragile
those phantoms we hold in our heads are,
those wisps of thought that people die and kill for,
betray lovers for, give up lifelong friendships for.
If you've not done this, you probably don't understand this poem,
or think it's not even a poem, but a bit of opaque nonsense,
occupying too much of your day's time,
so you probably should stop reading it here, now.
But if you've arrived at this line,
maybe, just maybe, you're open to that possibility,
the possibility of being absolutely completely wrong,
about everything that matters.
How different the world seems then:
everyone who was your enemy is your friend,
everything you hated, you now love,
and everything you love slips through your fingers like sand.

(by Federico Moramarco)

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Liminal Life

Our poor earth. She has been on the receiving end of some weather-related tricks these past days. I know this for myself, and my Facebook newsfeed reminds me all the time.

As I contemplated what I might write today, I was looking out my window. I haven't posted any pictures updating the view in a while, a view that only provides confirmation of what I wrote above.

The word that came to me in that moment was liminality: the space between one thing and another. We are clearly somewhere between winter and spring right now, so I thought this untitled Rumi poem would be appropriate as we continue to celebrate National Poetry Month.

look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love 

look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend 

why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known 

why think separately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last 

look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs 

look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once 

the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together 

look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox 

you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me 

be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don’t get mixed up with bitter words 

my beloved grows right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be

As someone living in a world of gray who does better when things are black and white, I can always use another reminder to embrace "how things blend." Even the forecast asks me to do the same!

During this time when nature is giving us daily lessons on liminality, may we embrace the space in between where union grows.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Phenomenal Women

As some of you already know, if you've visited the monastery in the past few weeks, or if you stop by for a few weeks to come, you are in for a treat.

In our hallway that leads to the community room, you will find our annual Women's History Month Art Show. This year, as Pope Francis called us to a Year of Mercy, we used the theme of mercy for all the submitted pieces. I have appreciated the gift of art in the hallway, and I still notice new things about the photographs, quilts, wood designs, and more when I am passing through.

For those of you on the other side of the state reading the blog, worry not! Another talent within the community is bringing the art show to a larger audience. Click here, and you can see everything online.

As we now enter National Poetry Month, I've decided to include a related poem with each post throughout April. I think Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman fits the bill for this particular entry.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April Showers of Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, so to start it off, a little reminder as you indulge in the gift of words:

By Phyllis Cole-Dai

Stop whatever it is you’re doing.
Come down from the attic.
Grab a bucket or a basket and head for light.
That’s where the best poems grow, and in the dappled dark.

Go slow. Watch out for thorns and bears.
When you find a good bush, bow to it, or take off your shoes.
Then pluck. This poem. That poem. Any poem.
It should come off the stem easy, just a little tickle.
No need to sniff first, judge the color, test the firmness.
You’ll only know it’s ripe if you taste.

So put a poem upon your lips. Chew its pulp.
Let its juice spill over your tongue.
Let your reading of it teach you
what sort of creature you are
and the nature of the ground you walk upon.
Bring your whole life out loud to this one poem.
Eating one poem can save you, if you’re hungry enough.

When birds and deer beat you to your favorite patch,
smile at their familiar appetite, and ramble on.
Somewhere another crop waits for harvest.
And if your eye should ever light upon a cluster of poems
hanging on a single stem, cup your hand around them
and pull, without greed or clinging.
Some will slip off in your palm.
None will go to waste.

Take those you adore poem-picking when you can,
even to the wild and hidden places.
Reach into brambles for their sake,
stain your skin some shade of red or blue,
mash words against your teeth, for love.
And always leave some poems within easy reach
for the next picker, in kinship with the unknown.

If you ever carry away more than you need,
go on home to your kitchen, and make good jam.
No need to rush, the poems will keep.
Some will even taste better with age,
a rich batch of preserves.

Store up jars and jars of jam. Plenty for friends.
Plenty for the long, howling winter. Plenty for strangers.
Plenty for all the bread in this broken world.

Let us walk in the holy presence.