little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

Archive for the tag “poetry”

Kindness

 

This. This poem. To heal wounds. To hold hands.

For hope. For humanity. For today and each day that may come.

 

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

 

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.

Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

 

Peace and kindness to you, dear reader, whoever and wherever you are.

The House of Belonging

THE HOUSE OF BELONGING

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
day
like any other.

But
the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
and
I thought

it must have been the quiet
candlelight
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And
I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close-grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housefly
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

– David Whyte
©1996

The Peace of Wild Things

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This is a portrait of my Gran Edie, a woman with the strength and beauty of wildflowers.

And a poem posted for her (and for new friends found in the Granite State):

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.

-Wendell Berry

 

As Terry Tempest Williams says, “I want my life to be a celebration of s l o w n e s s.”

Yes.

And today, may we slow and stop long enough to count the miracles growing from the ground.

Miracle

AdventMoon

Photo captured while on a mid-December “moon walk”…

 

Night falls.

Moon rises.

And beneath this miracle

whose ingredients are

star

and dust,

light

and darkness,

life

and death,

joy

and pain,

we go on

singing —

the low notes,

the high notes —

into the rest

of our days.

 

p.s. Thank You

for the miracle

it is

to see,

to feel,

to wonder,

to write,

to love,

to remember.

Amen.

Storage

Just recently my dear mama surprised me with the latest book of poetry penned by Mary Oliver, my forever favorite poet. At a ripened 80 years of age and blessed experience, Mary O. writes openly in this latest collection called Felicity about “The Journey, “Love,” and “Felicity,” and as always, she awakens my spirit and leaves me breathless.

During this season of my life, when I feel so much but often don’t know what to say or how to say it, Mary’s words open and fill, watering my dry places and nourishing its knotty soil.

In particular, her poem called “Storage” has settled in deeply as I have spent the past number of months getting rid of things. Yes, there are more things to clean out, and yes, there is more love – of God, of trees, of birds, of everything – to let in.

Thank you, Mary, for your inspiration, and dear God, on this first day of Advent, help us to empty our storage spaces and make room for what really matters.

Storage

By Mary Oliver

When I moved from one house to another

there were many things I had no room

for. What does one do? I rented a storage

space. And filled it. Years passed.

Occasionally I went there and looked in,

but nothing happened, not a single

twinge of the heart.

As I grew older the things I cared

about grew fewer, but were more

important. So one day I undid the lock

and called the trash man. He took

everything.

I felt like the little donkey when

his burden is finally lifted. Things!

Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful

fire! More room in your heart for love,

for the trees! For the birds who own

nothing — the reason they can fly.

Autumn

It’s a bright and chilly new morn here in Georgia’s capital city, and a clear indication that fall — autumn is here. Leaves have begun to turn and cast down their golden, scarlet, and amber bodies on the ground, and with their turning and falling, they remind us of our own lives, which house both life and death. This season is one filled with both astonishing beauty and quiet suffering, both elation and desolation.

Thank you, autumn, for telling the story of life’s fragility and life’s vitality — and of our Creator who enables the tender places of both and still holds us up.

Autumn
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all the other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one… It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands,
infinitely calm, hold up all this falling.

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Amen.

Morning Snow

This morning, I’m in love with the  miracle of snow.  I, with my little black kitty huddled in the nook of my arm and chest, took a silent stroll in the pouring snow at the break of dawn.  These words came to me as we looked into the sky, and let white petals cool our blood-warm faces, and let mystery soothe our weary souls.

Morning Snow

Just when we least expect it,

or want it,

but when we need it most,

snow comes

and quiets our souls.

It covered me this morning —

patches of a blanket

formed from grandmother’s hands,

soft, known.

 

Her delicate dance

on my brow

felt like a lullaby

that’s not been sung in thirty years.

And yet, I knew the tune,

and my heart sang

forgotten words.

 

Her falling,

desperate, lonely, full, and silent,

made all the world

stand still,

in awe

and in love

with mystery again.

-C.C.T.

Gratitude

“Take nothing for granted.  Even a rock will eventually surrender to the sea and love can slip away like sand through fingers.”

-Michael Faudet

I pray that today we are quiet and still enough to recognize right where we are and see it as no accident.

Wherever we are,

may our bodies and souls move in harmony with that which is larger than self.

Whoever we are,

may our eyes open,

our hearts soften,

and our hands and feet extend ourselves

beyond ourselves.

In a still, calm moment of today,

may we offer a simple “thank you”

for today.

“We Shake with Joy”

At the close of a  week filled with pain and thanksgiving, especially for dear friends, whom I love, Mary Oliver offers solace and peace like a pillow to the weary head.

Thank you, Mary.

“We Shake with Joy”

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.

What a time they have, these two

housed as they are in the same body.

-Mary Oliver, from her collection Evidence

At the beginning of a new week, Mary Oliver fills my heart space with hope, for we are all human beings, stumbling and shaking with both joy and grief.  And never alone.

Thank you, God.

“To This Day”

My dear buddy Z just sent this spoken poem to me, and I sit in it, heavy with both heartache and hope, knowing deeply that my vocation as a teacher has far more to do with helping kids grow up, love each other, and find themselves, than it has to do with teaching them how to fix their fragments, place their commas, and locate their verbs.

The most important verb we need to know and do and be is LOVE.

May the “success” for which we strive and teach our children to strive be far more about filling this life — our world — and the hearts that stumble alongside us — with kindness, love, and true beauty.  How could we have been made for anything more…or anything less?

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