next time…

I’ve long been a fan of  William Stafford’s poetry, so it was a delight to come across one that was new to me in an email from a friend.

Next Time

Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I’d know more — the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.

the words usher

me into

this next time

air expands

drops

rises

warms

opens

the space between around beyond

all moments

portals

of presence

right where

the hands of time

clutch

push

threaten

right there

the world breathes

with unhurried stillness

and calls your name

someone once said

“you have plenty of time

if you don’t hurry.”

plenty

of

time

stop counting

plumb

moments

proceed

from, into, with

not towards, past, by

this time

not next time

stand

lean

into

the deep arms

of here

and feel

everything

you seek

rise up to greet you

only this time

you see it

know it

feel it

no difference

between

being,seeing,giving

one

“I have a world of wisdom and Love to contemplate, that concerns me, and you, infinitely beyond all earthly expositions or exhibitions.  I earnestly invite you to its contemplation with me, and to preparation to behold it.” Mary Baker Eddy Miscellaneous Writings

“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

“prayer out of wordless sighs”

one morning i was having a tough time getting my peace, finding that prayerful window of stillness–that feeling of oneness with God that stills and lightens and illumines every thought for the day. i was in a swamp of nowhere thoughts, so threw out a line for anchor, opened the Bible at random, prepared to seek til found, and read some verses i hadn’t read before, even though i knew i had, they go like this:

“The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8: 26-28 from The Message by Eugene Peterson

this passage just took my breath away.

to think…

we are prayer
being prayed
right out of wordless sighs
wordless cries
we are some song in singing
being sung
supernal offering
Spirit etched
Soul fired
perpetual
eternal
steady
some
presence ever
of heaven
o who
would have thought
every detail of our lives
being worked into something good

and then as if out of nowhere, this hymn began to run through my thoughts. it’s not one i know that well, and crept up on me in a quiet kind of a way:

“Sometimes a light surprises

The Christian while he sings;

It is the Lord who rises

With healing in his wings.

When comfort seems declining,

There comes to us again

A season of clear shining,

To cheer us after rain.” (William Cowper adapted)

and so today, every day, i am endeavoring to live more gently. to feel the pulse pulsing me, prayer praying me, light surprising..life ever lightening…heaven springing everywhere out of earth. and in the words of a gospel hymn by Ken Whitely: “let my life be prayer.”

“To preserve a long course of years still and uniform, amid the uniform darkness of storm and cloud and tempest, requires strength from above, — deep draughts from the fount of divine Love. Truly may it be said: There is an old age of the heart, and a youth that never grows old; a Love that is a boy, and a Psyche who is ever a girl. The fleeting freshness of youth, however, is not the evergreen of Soul; the coloring glory of perpetual bloom; the spiritual glow and grandeur of a consecrated life wherein dwelleth peace, sacred and sincere in trial or in triumph.” Mary Baker Eddy Miscellaneous Writings

“eternity is not later, or in any unfindable place”

the other day i got news that a friend’s daughter had passed on. so i sent a note, and this was part of the letter that came in return:

“The ospreys are crying plaintively. They seem to understand.”

everything in me had to rise up to hold back the sea of sorrow. then i came across this poem by Mary Oliver:

Count the Roses

Count the roses, red and fluttering.
Count the roses, wrinkled and salt.
Each with its yellow lint at the center.
Each with its honey pooled and ready.
Do you have a question that can’t be answered?
Do the stars frighten you by their heaviness
and their endless number?
Does it bother you, that mercy is so difficult to
understand?
For some souls it’s easy; they lie down on the sand
and are soon asleep.
For others, the mind shivers in its glacial palace,
and won’t come.
Yes, the mind takes a long time, is otherwise occupied
than by happiness, and deep breathing.
Now, in the distance, some bird is singing.
And now I have gathered six or seven deep red,
half-opened cups of petals between my hands,
and now I have put my face against them
and now I am moving my face back and forth, slowly,
against them.
The body is not much more than two feet and a tongue.
Come to me, says the blue sky, and say the word.
And finally even the mind comes running, like a wild thing,
and lies down in the sand.
Eternity is not later, or in any unfindable place.
Roses, roses, roses, roses.

there is nothing like poetry 

just nothing like it

when it comes to carving out the spaces of our hearts

to find a place to breathe

to hear

to know past knowing

to grasp the things

so far beyond

our grasp

and then there they are

hovering ever so softly

in the midst

opening inner eyes

to glean

to glimpse

life

timeless

never not present

none of us

missing

diminished

cut short

but shining out

in sharp relief

our reference

our Source

compelling

life

on eternity’s

terms

“not later

or in any unfindable place”

but dawning up

from the very midst

breaking through the winters

of grief

to see our lives

whole

and holy

in ever tender

illuming

glances

ushering

ushering

ushering

each other on

the air

resonating

its all presence

all accounted for

all conscious

of being

forever

loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen.” Luke 24

“O come and find, the Spirit saith,
The Truth that maketh all men free.
The world is sad with dreams of death.
Lo, I am Life, come unto Me.” Elizabeth Adams

“May the great Shepherd that “tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,”
and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort,
encourage, and bless all who mourn.” Mary Baker Eddy

lifting life…

this poem by e.e. cummings came tucked in an email from my mom this morning:

may i be gay

like every lark

who lifts his life

from all the dark

who wings his why

beyond because

and sings an if

of day to yes

the perfect poem for a perfect morning…the air clear and cool, the sky a drunken blue.

ahh…indeed,

to lift our lives from the dark…

to wing our whys…

beyond because…

to sing, to sing,

yes,

to sing,

right past the ifs,

to yes.

yes,

yes, yes, and

o yes.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” Psalms 24

“Starting from a higher standpoint, one rises spontaneously, even as light emits light without effort; for “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy

“God has not given us vast learning to solve all the problems, or unfailing wisdom to direct all the wanderings of our brothers’ lives; but He has given to every one of us the power to be spiritual, and by our spirituality to lift and enlarge and enlighten the lives we touch.” Phillips Brooks

“for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes”

spring is weeks early here. the robins are fully ensconced in their nest perched on the vine on our porch, the grass is green, the sky blue. everything sings. one bird is so eager, she starts at 3 am. the joy is uncontainable.

spring.

spring springing.

life resistless emerging.

lives flowing from the wellspring of Life.

life new.

life pure.

life alive.

life unquenchable.

Song of Solomon puts it this way: “Many waters cannot quench this love.”

In Thomas Moore’s words:

“When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man in the sunshine of the world’s new spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing.”

In her article “Voices of Spring” Mary Baker Eddy says this:

As mortals awake…this adorable, all-inclusive God, and all earth’s
hieroglyphics of Love, are understood.”

And finally ee cummings…an ode to goodness, God, and  Life’s irrepressible All!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

“you will not find me where you left me…”

i found out today that a friend passed on.

he was one of those friends whom i didn’t know well.

one of those friends who just felt like a long lost friend. a brother.

as i think of him, my thoughts are awash with the love of his life,

how it touched me. how it touched so many.

there is so much in life to understand, to see yet more deeply, to perceive beyond the sense of endings.

even in absence, love reaches out to greet us, to bridge the gaps, to shower us in living presence.

it requires something more of  us perhaps.

to be still in the face of longing, a vaccuity of what we’ve known.

to find that quiet, timeless space within where grief turns to awakening, life new, ever constant, moving, growing, being ever truly what it is.

to see here. to see beyond. to see in between the lines.

to know with an inner knowing that life is so much more than what we think we see.

to feel the life, the presence, the tangibility of timeless being.

to hold and be held in a comfirmation of ever-presence.

Life’s legacy, each of our lives, living, alive, alight with Life’s love.

indispensible, never absent, unfettered, free.

this poem by Doris Quinn speaks to me of this bigger journey, assurance of broader vistas, the incapacity to ever be lost.

I have climbed mountains since I saw you last;

You will not find me where you left me.

I have scaled pinnacles and seen the vast

Horizon of a higher point of view.

There was the struggle of the mounting way,

There was the longing to go backward,

Back to the known, the loved, the day to day,

The old and tried, to save me from the new.

But there seemed no way out but up and on;

(There was a light sometimes that beckoned me)

It was as though it were agreed upon;

Now was the time and this the thing to do.

I have climbed mountains since I saw you last;

I will not find you where I left you;

No one remains in valleys of the past;

Each has his mountain, each his larger view.

“a shift of knowing…”

This poem by Lucille Clifton is from her book good woman: poems and a memoir 1969-1980:

the light that came to lucille clifton

came in a shift of knowing

when even her fondest sureties

faded away. it was the summer

she understood that she had not understood

and was not mistress even

of her own off eye. then

the man escaped throwing away his tie and

the children grew legs and started walking and

she could see the peril of an

unexamined life.

she closed her eyes, afraid to look for her

authenticity

but the light insists on itself in the world;

a voice from the nondead past started talking,

she closed her ears and it spelled out in her hand

“you might as well answer the door, my child,

the truth is furiously knocking.”

Sometimes things get so turned around. Sometimes they just feel inside out. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which way is up. And sometimes, well, sometimes things feel so upended, that there’s nothing to do but pay attention.

These are the moments that matter so much. It’s in these moments that we no longer have a way of ignoring what needs to be heard.

Sometimes the answers can come like blinding light. Other times it’s a quieter impulse, a gentle leading out, one thought, then another, an inkling rooted in the bedrock of grace within us.

I remember one particularly dark time in my life, when all “my fondest sureties…” seemed beyond my reach. All I could do was stand there, offering up my heart in the wilderness. The answers came like spring air sweeping out the grief, urging me to see the presence of life, even where all seemed frozen.

And so we are, so often hurried, trying desperately to steer the course, control the details of our lives, prompted to let go,  to be carried, to recognize the providence of present grace, a certain sense of God’s presence emerging right from within.

Here, now, in this moment, even now. Truth is knocking, awakening, singing, assuring, comforting, illuming, revealing and healing–all things made new, all things restored, all things.

“It rejoices me that you are recognizing the proper course, unfurling your banner to the breeze of God, and sailing over rough seas with the helm in His hands. Steering thus, the waiting waves will weave for you their winning webs of life in looms of love that line the sacred shores. The right way wins the right of way, even the way of Truth and Love whereby all our debts are paid, mankind blessed, and God glorified.” Mary Baker Eddy