Heart of Morning

Photo by unknown artist
Photo by unknown artist on Pikist
Your heart is the morning
a beautiful mist
dappled in sunlight
each touch is a kiss
Your thought in the weather
of tremulous heart
is song like a child’s
I’m taken apart
Ah land ever lovely
I sing at your thought
in your lull I will listen
breathe never for naught

Wind Song

Photo by Dan Meyers
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash
Old as the sound of the wind
new as its touch unseen
Soft as the world’s own whisper
suddenly heard
Fair as mist-bright weather
dark as mystery’s heart
So the song of the one I call my land
of voice so small come
sea-deep words

Loss of an Hourglass

Photo by Gif Frame
Photo by Gif Frame on Unsplash
A frustrated hourglass, stiff and fragile:
the sand slips through grain by grain.
They slip through smoothly, time still passes:
its curved body cannot contain.
The glass bends inward to grasp each grain
as sand dances through its open hand.
Each crystal falls like precious rain
the sand so fine flows on like time.
A lonely hourglass has lost its last:
an empty peace so calm and still.
The desperate pain left nothingness,
but the glass is turned and so the sand will spill.

My Land, My Love

Photo by Peter Steiner
Photo by Peter Steiner on Unsplash
I am here…
holding your heart with each thought
breathing your presence as written words take form
sighing of each inward breath
until of my labor at last I birth
song enough to say my secret
verse enough to voice this truth
poem enough to remember these moments
that should I be drawn away
I should find my away again
find again my love and know her

Our Sacred Stories

Photo by Ric Perin
Photo by Ric Perin on Pexels

Sacred stories are narratives from which peoples, cultures, and individuals derive hope, a sense of continuity, and of belonging. They tell our sacred truths with a power like myth: the truths we believe about ourselves, the ones that feel like freedom and lightness of heart. They are also the ones we miss when we have lost touch with them.

But sacred stories are not just about communities. We each have our own. For instance, consider this quote from Professor of Psychology, Dan P. McAdams:

A personal myth delineates an identity,
illuminating the values of an individual life.
The personal myth is not a legend or a fairy tale,
but a sacred story that embodies personal truth.
The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self

Within each of us there is an abiding sense of self, a knowledge of who we are that grounds us like an internal magnetic North. To be in tune with it is peace; to live otherwise is suffering. Discovering our personal sacred stories can be a means of reorienting our lives to be in alignment with that inner knowledge.

It is hard to live apart from the person you know yourself to be. It can feel long and hard, but as soon as you remember, it is like finding you are suddenly free. Seeing yourself as you are, with child-like eyes, is gladness of heart…

But what can we do when we have lost touch?

First of all, it is important to surround yourself with people you trust. Trusted friends and family members can reflect our hearts back to us when we feel lost and vulnerable. Your trusted community will help you remember when you forget, but it can also help to have a practice of personal reconnection.

How does one go about creating such a practice? Consider the following:

Take some time for yourself with the intention of making space for your heart. Go to a place where you have felt most like the person you are glad to be, and ask yourself questions like the following:

  • What has my heart been telling me I am missing?
  • What have I been longing for, or going without?
  • What has seemed impossible to me, or impractical?
  • If nothing were out of reach, what would I joyfully ask for?

Resist the tendency to think of these questions as happy endings; rather, consider each one a gateway to an exciting beginning. Let them inspire you, and then listen to your dreams as you would to a child speaking in earnest. Be merciful to them as they try to express themselves.

Take your time, and write them down in a way that is easy to remember, powerful to repeat. Or if there are too many, try putting them into meaningful word pictures that can be invoked by a phrase, perhaps like a mantra, or maybe just a simple affirmation. For example, here are a few I wrote for myself:

I want to channel the living beauty
of my lovely world
in words and stories that inspire connection
I want to be free, to have time
to give myself, body and breath
in relationship with my beautiful land
to put words to her ever-flowing thought
shared with me, confided,
til not one of her precious thoughts goes unheard
I want to reach others
I want to see her light in others’ eyes
and have the joy of knowing she is seen in mine
I want this life, this work
to radiate wellness, healing, blessing
to transcend age, brokenness, human constraints
I want to see it realized in the here and now
I want to begin today

When you reconnect with your dreams, your sacred truths will emerge. It can be a first step to living as the person you were meant to be. So what are your sacred truths? Who were you born to be? Are you ready to begin today?


Athirst for Naught

Photo by Mike Birdy
Photo by Mike Birdy on Pexels
Alive, like flame undying flickers;
Bright of heat like friction, hope?
Yearning, yearning,
tendon, bone
from thirsty soul
that birthing wind
in labor must hold still.
Starving, starving,
let die what will
to strip what won’t
til finding naught
at last one must let go.

Sensuous World

Photo by Ray Bilcliff
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels
The grasses swayed of her sweet whispers,
singing silent songs in dance,
bathed in aromatic breath,
til soaked in scents of sun and soil:
She stood, she met them
soul caressed,
immersed with them in sighs of light and color.
The boughs, bending in wooing winds,
slowly swinging cradling limbs,
breathing, in a breezy bath,
were waving leaves in windy waters:
She leaned, she let her
body rest
in rhythmic arms as restful as a mother’s.
The sensuous world so spoke in oceans,
flying seas and colory floods,
bore up her own in tide and tow,
drew hearts away, a-sway in surge and lull:
She slept, she gave her
heart’s consent
to she whose charms were soothing as a lover’s.

Whispers of the Sea

Photo by Rodrigo Soares
Photo by Rodrigo Soares on Unsplash
Beautiful love
My lovely joy
Ah joyous heart here with me
I sing
I sigh
these simple words
are all I have to give
Oh gentle soul
My soulful song
With songful eyes you meet me
I sway
I swoon
and breathe your winds
my light, you make me live
Do come my heart
Whose heart I love
Whose lovely eyes so take me
My one, my all
whose own I am
your sweet voice comes to me
My land, my love
who whispers of the sea

Beauty’s Light

Photo by Shagal Sajid
Photo by Shagal Sajid on Unsplash
Each light flecked drop
with ring shaped splash
Each sounding splash
in blissful puddle
In every glassy, watery note
in every pulse of joy…
My love so speaks to me her heart
expresses so her soul:
My love so shares with me her all.
Each splash of light
through swaying leaf
Each dancing leaf
on wispy sprig
In every touch of color bright
and every whispery sigh…
My love so speaks to me her heart,
expresses so her soul:
My love so shares with me her all.
Ah wilting heart in beauty’s light:
Why this grief?
Why such sorrow?
What throws so long and dim a shadow?
If I could go from here, to she
who comes in winds across the sea…
Then I would go with her for this,
to be with her in soulful bliss…
Then I would be with her, my light,
ever living, fair delight!

Oneness We are Made Of

Photo by Aaron Burden
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The matter we are made of is as old as the universe, and yet because the life cycle of the longest lived cells in our bodies is seven years, we cannot be older than that. We are at the same time young and ancient, growing older while continually being renewed.

As such we are part of the dragon of change, our lives like waves in the waters of an ancient sea, rolling forward with a momentum not our own. Zen master Dongshan put it like this:

It is now me, I now am not it.
One must see it this way…
to merge with all that is.

But leaving aside the matter of physical existence for the moment, what is “seeing it this way”? What eyes besides these have we to see it with?

At the very least we have sensory experience and its echo in our memories, or perhaps its resonance in our beings. But who is it that actually remembers? Zen masters Huineng and Nanyang once said:

Senses discerning objects are not consciousness.
True seeing has no emotional consciousness
or binding attachments.

So whatever it is within us that remembers, expresses, interacts with the world, it is free by nature, having “no binding attachments”.

Perhaps we can think of our lives as notes held in some great song, or melodies carried by the supporting harmonies of all the living, whether through rests (when we feel alone) or modulations of key (when all is in flux around us) as our dissonances (conflicts and growth) are worked out to find resolution.

If so, we are anything but alone. We are profoundly connected, or boundless (another way to translate “shunyata”, the Sanskrit word for emptiness). Two ancient Buddhist scriptures put it this way:

Rivers, birds, trees and groves
all invoke the Buddha and the teaching.
Infinite Light Scripture
Lands teach, beings teach,
all things in all times teach.
Flower Ornament Scripture

So we hear through our physical beings what “all-that-is” perpetually says of itself, but we still see it through our own eyes, our own narratives, the habitual thought patterns our minds create to deal with the sheer immensity of existence. Zen master Dongshan once said:

When you hear the sound with your eyes
then you’ll know.
Even if you yourself don’t hear…
you shouldn’t hinder that which does.

So narratives can be a hindrance, but they can also be eye opening; they may also be individual or societal. They might aptly be compared to Indra’s net: an infinitely large interweaving of reflective jewels that each imperfectly reflect all the others. If so, then where is our grounding in all that is seen?

Perhaps the only true seeing is seeing as part of the dragon of change, with our own eyes and through the eyes of others. Perhaps it is in the humility of listening to every perspective, no matter how small, while thinking in accord with the heart of “all-that-is” through a practice of compassion…

Grounding, sanity, compassion are only found in the seeing of oneness.

The fluttering moth,
bathed in the electromagnetic spectrum,
expresses in its seeming wayward movements
a wisdom we may never know for ourselves.

What about you? Have you really seen the world of which you are part?