Friday, January 30, 2009
Thou hast made me endless
By Rabindranath Tagore
(1861 - 1941)
English version by Rabindranath Tagore
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Praise Song for the Day (Elizabeth Alexander)
Here is the poem that Elizabeth Alexander read at Obama's inauguration:
Praise Song For The Day
Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky. A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."
We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side;;I know there's something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe. We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign. The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Learning to Read (Franz Wright)
Learning to Read
If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word
so what. I looked them up.
I had nowhere important to be.
My father was unavailable, and my mother
looked like she was about to break,
and not into blossom, every time I spoke.
My favorite was called the Iliad. True,
I had trouble pronouncing the names,
but when was I going to pronounce them, and
My stepfather maybe?
Number one, he could barely speak English;
two, he had sufficient intent
to smirk or knock me down
without any prompting from me.
Loneliness, boredom and terror
I get down on my knees and thank God for them.
Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke.
Life has taught me
to understand books.
This poem expresses what many of us relate to--books as a way of getting through childhood--its loneliness and sense of being somehow "different from the others" (even when we were not abused in the usual sense.) And even with important spiritual openings, books can serve a similar purpose. Sometimes they are all we have. They link us with other spirits, great teachers of the past and present, those who have traveled the road before us.
(Picture is from Wikipedia. Achilles and Patroclus were two Greek warriors at the battle for Troy, which is the subject of the Iliad. They were intimate friends, with love for one another "surpassing the love of women.")
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Road Taken (Larry Robinson)
The Road Taken
(with apologies to Robert Frost)
The wood was green,
though it could just as well
have been yellow.
The roads did indeed diverge, though.
Those who know me would not be surprised
to hear that I took the one
marked "No Trespassing".
On the other side
I found myself already there.
I won't say what else I found there.
I will say that I will be back.
I'll leave it to you
to decide which side
was in and which was out.
Two roads converged
and that erased
all the difference.
(picture from supersam5 on Flickr)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Black O'bama Irish Song
Here is a bit of fun for Sunday morning. Truly a delightful song!
The Barack Obama Irish song
Moneygall is a small village in County Offaly, Ireland. It has a population of 298 people, has a Roman Catholic church, five shops, a post office, a national school, a police station and, of course, two pubs.
President-elect Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, emigrated from Moneygall to New York City at the age of 19 in 1850 and eventually resettled in Tipton County, Indiana. Yep --that makes our lad 3.1% Irish
And now for the SONG...Crank up your speakers and enjoy. (Above text from e-mail forward.)
(Gives new meaning to Black Irish, said someone.)
Saturday, January 24, 2009
A Description of the Election from Kurdistan
Here is an e-mail which was forwarded to me, written by someone who works at the American Embassy in Kurdistan (I have left spelling, etc., as it came through in the original):
The group I work with at the Embassy (locally here in Kurdistan) have permission to leave our compound 1 time per week for social reasons. With a significant, but unnecessary, security detail. (Erbil is very safe if you are American) We planned a trip to a German Kurdish restaurant for tonight 2 weeks ago, without considering the inauguration when we did so. This morning, I called the restaurant to see if there was a TV there, as we all wanted to see the event. (note that many there are political appointees here of the prior administration) the restaurant staff said they didn't have one, but would "see what they could do" being the middle east, we didn't have high expectations... when we arrived, there was a huge American flag flying outside the restaurant. Inside was another large flag (our reservation was for 10 people) and a 20' x 30' projection TV with CNN on a wall! The most amazing thing happened when the swearing in took place. When the (elect) took his place at the podium, every employee came out of the kitchen, every Kurdish and Iraqi patron stood up...we followed their lead, and many cried while he was sworn in...i cannot even attempt to understand the emotions which took place here, in a non descript restaurant, in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq...and we had to argue with the owner to be able to pay our full bill...they wanted to cover it...in a place where people earn an average of 3k per year. I thought that you might be interested in this observation of what just happened, in this remote part of the world, as American democracy shows its face yet again.
(Map found on Wikipedia)
Friday, January 23, 2009
Things to Take With Me
Things to Take with Me
If I must choose,
then of course
it would be that day
in the mountains,
the sun rinsing the pines
to a new clarity,
glistening in their
lush green beds,
you lying there,
me watching in wonder.
That day I had hoped
but it was instead
a rare purity,
a sense of everything
cleansed and new
as if a rainbow had come
to announce stillness
a softness of light
appearing after bright sun,
everything in place.
And if I could choose again
it would be meetings after absence,
kisses too strong to endure,
lighting the room
as if in trance.
And then of course
Something that speaks
not from without
but inside your veins,
coursing like determined
rivulets of joy
through your body
which is neither flesh
but some strange alchemical joining
of the two.
And, finally, surprise of
Who could have thought
such things possible?
Who would believe
that moments like this could happen?
January 22, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Poem by Linda Pastan
The Almanac of Last Things
From the almanac of last things
I choose the spider lily
for the grace of its brief
blossom, though I myself
but I choose The Song of Songs
because the flesh
of those pomegranates
all the frost of dogma.
I choose January with its chill
lessons of patience and despair--and
August, too sun-struck for lessons.
I choose a thimbleful of red wine
to make my heart race,
then another to help me sleep.
From the almanac
of last things I choose you,
as I have done before.
And I choose evening
because the light clinging
to the window
is at its most reflective
just as it is ready
to go out.
(Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998)
(photo by Susan Voison)
(Note: The spacing on this poem is incorrect--my computer seems to have a mind of its own and doesn't want to take orders from me. But the images are indeed sublime. Linda Pastan is one of our most gifted poets.)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Patricia on Obama
As is so often the case, Patricia has summed up beautifully what so many of us felt as we watched the inauguration. Here is her reflection on yesterday's events:Inauguration Day 2009
by Patricia Lay-Dorsey
Like millions of people around the world, I spent hours in front of my TV set today. Much of it with tears rolling down my cheeks. Occasionally sobbing aloud. Often grinning from ear to ear at the same tiime. What can I say? This was the most emotional inauguration of my long life, more so even than John Kennedy's in 1961, the first presidential vote I ever cast.
And why was it so emotional? For me, the fact of a black man being sworn in as President of the United States was enough. But add to that a man of character, intelligence, maturity, honesty and compassion, a man who offers our beleagured country a message of hope and sees his role as one of helping us rejoin the global community. Well, it's no surprise that there were few dry eyes around the world.
As Laurie Brown just said on "The Signal," her nightly radio show on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company), "It didn't feel like just an American event; it was a global event." I received an email tonight from my photographer friend Reimar Ott who lives in a small town in Germany. He and his mother watched it live on TV and he said they both wept.
It was just that sort of day. Now maybe our communal tears were partly tears of relief that the Bush years are finally over. I'm sure there's some of that in it. But really it is more about the sense of hope that President Obama--my first time writing that!--personifies in his very being.
Don't worry. I'm not idolizing him. I already see important areas where he and I differ. I know I will be a dissenting voice in the months and years to come. But that's good. That shows my willingness to be a critical thinker and to analyze things for myself. And I know Barack Obama does the same. That's one of the things I like and respect about him. I know we're in for a rough number of years. But at least I won't feel ashamed of my country, as I've felt every day for the past eight years. At least I know if our president makes a mistake, he'll reflect on it, admit it, apologize, and try to change what can be changed.
Tonight I feel as though I'll sleep more soundly than I have in years.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Psalm for the New President
Lord, who can be trusted with power
and who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have let go of selfish interests
and grown beyond their own lives;
who see the wretched as their family
and the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
and worthy of the people's trust.
Their compassion lights up the whole earth,
and their kindness endures forever.
(A Book of Psalms, translations by Stephen Mitchell)
(photo from N.Y. Times)
Friday, January 16, 2009
poem by Ivan Granger
Here is a beautiful poem by Ivan Granger, well known to many of you as the creator of www.Poetry-Chaikhana.com
His site contains rich offerings, including poetry, music, interpretation, video sites, listing and excerpts from poets early and modern as well as other items pertaining to the spiritual path.
Ten Ways to Lose Your Head on Maui
Piercing the clouds, fingers
of sunlight caress the valley floor.
The Iao Needle stands, its immense
Staring blindly out the window,
no work getting done –
a stolen moment when silence
has stolen me.
Reading, I shiver in the Upcountry chill.
Already old in the new year, the island
and I shiver
and grow still.
Baldwin Avenue meandering to Paia
beneath an empty sky,
surge in the sun.
At the altar: Breath
aglow in my throat.
Golden treacle pools
upon my heart.
The path to Twin Falls, dusty
between my toes. Ginger points
to the upper pool. Fallen guavas
Hana Highway, pausing
at each bridge to let traffic pass.
Around the bend –
Fasting on Saturday –
empty stomach, empty head.
Cinnamon-red and blue, a pheasant stares
through the window. Michele
calls me, whisper. I see them
see each other.
In the cave among the eucalyptus
up Alae Road – a fine seat
for a city boy
In bursts of wingbeats
a cardinal darts by. The red
bird finds himself lost
among the red proteas.
The sun setting beyond
Ma’alaea Harbor. The golden ocean,
I see, drinks the tired eye in.
I am gone.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Detour (poem by Ruth Feldman)
I took a long time getting here,
much of it wasted on wrong turns,
back roads riddled by ruts.
I had adventures
I never would have known
if I proceeded as the crow flies.
Super highways are so sure
of where they are going:
they arrive too soon.
A straight line isn't always
the shortest distance
between two people.
Sometimes I act as though
I'm heading somewhere else
I narrow the gap between you and me.
I'm not sure I'll ever
know the right way,
but I don't mind
getting lost now and then.
Maps don't know everything.
~ Ruth Feldman ~
(The Ambitions of Ghosts)
(Image from source)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
It is this:
this bird cutting
its fine arc
across our sky
Or perhaps this:
which swam right
to the surface,
as if to say hello
from some other planet
or plane of being.
Maybe it was the wild deer
which stood at attention
as we passed by,
then thundered away
to its hidden lair.
Or even that one flower
still spreading its wondrous
purple wings bravely
after all the others
taken shelter below.
Where did it find
its enduring intent?
Any one of these
says, This is sufficiency,
January 12, 2008
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Still More Love Poems
to the Invisible
Whatever You Do
Whatever you do,
don’t tell anyone
They make laws against
put people in prisons,
lock them away
They do not wish
to hear our story,
our tale must not be told.
Except, of course,
to those ready to listen,
the ones enfolded
in this precious cloak,
of god’s flesh.
January 2, 2008
Monday, January 12, 2009
Or Even Sunsets (poem)
More Poems to the Invisible
Or Even Sunsets
You say, all these poems
are beginning to sound alike.
Tell me, can you tell one kiss
from another? . . .
One night of pleasure
from the one before? . . .
Or even sunsets.
Don't they begin to look alike
after so much looking?
Or the stars on different nights?
January 2, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Like Lovers of Zeus (poem)
Yet More Poems to the Invisible
Like Lovers of Zeus
When I come near you,
I fall backwards
in my joy.
There are waves
around your body,
from your flesh.
If you held me
in your arms,
I think that I
the way the lovers
went up in an
after the first glance.
January 2, 2009
Semele was a mortal woman in love with Zeus. Despite his warnings, she used a trick to lure him to come to her “in his full glory.” When he did so, she was immediately annihilated by the fire of his lightning bolts.
(Image from tribe net)
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Only the Lovemaking
Only the Lovemaking
The Lover is always beside you,
The Lover is patient,
like a devoted friend,
or someone who gave you food
But you must give the signal.
You must say,
"Now, I am ready.
Come to my bed at midnight."
The Lover will come,
still without a name.
Only the lovemaking
will be real.
January 2, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
What I Have Given You (poem)
Still More Love Poems
to the Invisible Within
What I Have Given You
What I have given you
What you have given me
Now we are one being,
both of us giving
flame and candle
January 2, 2009
(Image from Wikipedia)
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Poem by Rumi
A Poem by Rumi
The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
nor is it bought by going to amazing places.
Until you've kept your eyes
and your wanting still for fifty years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
Burning the Old Year
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn't,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn't do
crackle after the blazing dies.
Naomi Shihab Nye
This poem appealed to me because I am currently sorting and discarding, just as she describes. I suspect many of us are involved in this same process. It is always hard to decide what part of your past to let go of, since in fact each item is a part of your history, who you are. Everything goes into the making of your identity, including your spiritual self. And some of it is too precious to relinquish. I myself do not wish to forego the past, but rather to honor it and integrate it into who I am now and who I am becoming. When we rummage through our boxes, we relive our lives and see the threads of relationship and the process of unfolding over the years. We took many steps, went through many phases to arrive at where we now are.
(Image from Wikipedia)
Monday, January 05, 2009
Poem by John O'Donohue
Awaken to the mystery of being hereand enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Patricia has done it again!
Patricia has done it again--or "A Star is Born"
As most of you know, it was Patricia Lay-Dorsey who originally set up this blog for me and has monitored it ever since. I have written before about her many, many talents and achievements--as an artist, teacher, social worker, musician, social activist, writer and others too numerous to mention. Then she became a digital photographer as well, and began to incorporate her photos of friends and strangers, places and interesting perspectives into her blog site, which was read by a world audience.
But now she has done something even more remarkable. A few years ago she began to focus on what some call "art photography." These are carefully selected and meticulously composed images which take us beyond the usual parameters of seeing. The art photographer is an artist of a special kind. Patricia began to put her work up on a photography site (PBase) and it soon attracted the attention of other first class photographers, some world renowned.
Patricia has now had her own album of photos included in the launch issue of a new on line photography magazine named "Burn." This is a great honor, accorded to very few, for the editors maintain extremely high criteria for their selections. Her work is magnificent, and the result is that congratulations are pouring in from all over the world. Most of those responding are themselves photographers of a high order--some are world famous. They are lavishing high praise on her offerings--such enthusiasm is rare in any art field, I think. They recognize that a gifted talent has now emerged into the larger world community of visual artists.
I too am celebrating Patricia's triumph. She has poured thousands of hours into perfecting her craft which now is displayed so brilliantly in this collection. And I feel much like a proud parent, for I have watched both Patricia and her talents grow over the years, and now see her reaping the notice and recognition which she so totally deserves.
Do go to her site and see her exhibition--and be sure to read the many comments which have poured in. Indeed, a star has been born.
Friday, January 02, 2009
Poem by Kalidas (Lawrence Edwards)
This lovely poem by Kalidas (Lawrence Edwards of the Anam Cara Center) is a wonderful way to begin our New Year. It offers much material for reflection, and reminds us of the joy to be attained through dedication and service to the Mother. The Mother is the Mother of all, giving birth to the universe along with all beings in it, and Kundalini is one of Her many names.
Now is the End.
Now is the Beginning.
Give your attention to this point.
Give all your attention! Now!
My dear one,
All beings are born longing to be enveloped in love.
All beings long to be joyous, free and at peace.
All are sons and daughters of the One Loving Source,
longing for that sublime union once again.
The one who harms a child brings pain to the Mother.
One who loves and protects Her sons and daughters
receives the joy and blessings of the Mother.
Harm none and win Her favor!
Her gifts are beyond the mind's vain imaginings!
She will fill the space emptied of selfish pursuits
with boundless Ecstasy
as She embraces every cell of your body
making it quiver with joy!
Had you forgotten that this was possible?
How many life times have you sought this?
All desires are but desires for the One.
All joys are but projected fragments of the One.
The Wise, taking refuge in the One,
Relinquishing the one and
Choosing the One,
Moment-by-moment 'til choiceless awareness remains,
Walk in freedom,
Radiating Compassion for all.
Following the Way,
Let us walk,
skip, dance together
until all are free!
Thursday, January 01, 2009
This simple prayer, taken from the Upanishads (sacred books of ancient India), seems like an appropriate one for this special day, the beginning of a new year and of a new era:
Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
Note: The beautiful picture at the top is by N. M. Rai. It seems a good choice for a day such as today when we are celebrating in thanks for the beauty of creation and seeking to find ways to protect our world in future.
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND BLESSINGS TO ALL. MAY YOUR YEAR BE FILLED WITH ALL THE RICHES YOU CAN IMAGINE, ALL THE CREATIVITY YOU CAN HOPE FOR, AND ALL THE LOVE YOU CAN CONTAIN.