Inspired Writers

Photo by Michael Anfang
Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash
The sun-bright air bites in a rush
with the swift, dry crackle of leaves set free…
All is color, all is life in Autumn’s flight:
one must get outside, or what is there to write!
The bold jay hops, dives, swoops,
on sun-splashed branches, limb to limb alighting…
Playful, free, she shines with all her glossy show:
we, like her in writing, write the soul of what we know.

Heart Reflecting the Sky

Photo by Johannes Plenio
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels
Gray her skies, so blustery her breath
whose earth awaits her living touch…
cold grief, passing slowly, pulls my heart along
My lover’s hills arise from mists;
her curves the waters follow down…
vacant heart, beating, empty, sings a lonely song
Restless sea past gentle peaks
that churns til misty weathers rise…
hidden passion stirs to no avail, my hope is gone
Come my love, for life runs thin…
come lift my heart again

Turbulence of Heart

Photo by Kourosh Qaffari
Photo by Kourosh Qaffari on Unsplash
I sit outside if only to be near you.
I sit and drink you in with eyes and breath.
I sit and stare into the sky if just to reach you,
to see you truly, yet my eyes reveal my heart…
My own heart soars if just you send your drops to touch me.
My own breath catches at your touch, at lift of gust.
My own eyes flare when all at once you come to meet me;
you come to meet my melting soul with all you are.
To be indoors when you’re about is suffocation.
To be laid bare by all you are is sheer delight!
To be apart as one embodied: sheer desire,
edge of fire in your presence…yet apart.
I was yours since as a child I heard you speaking:
yours in waking, yours at heart, and yours in dream.
I was yours as much in terrors, mists, and drowning…
So I’ll be yours, and only yours where ever I am.
Yours though aching, yours alone, and as I am.

Solitary Stranger

Photo by Johannes Plenio
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels
The moon past full lit gravel lots
while stars yet wakeful blinked above.
Illumined shadows passing, sailed aloft,
and fallen dew lay underfoot, upon my path.
A solitary trail ran under boughs;
their branches stretching hid the path…
crooked shadows passing, ranked in rows—
where fallen leaves lay trodden, hushing steps.
Then out along mist-laden fields,
where dim the glow of dawn was yet,
a tall be-shadowed figure lurking,
looming dark at edge of morning,
walking, wading (as I went):
Through fields of fog there stalked an oak!
Now blushing sky set hills alight,
its clouds the wooded ridges cloaked:
cascading shadows, layered, robed the heights
while fallen under early light,
come Otherworldly into dawn,
my solitary stranger stood unmoved.

The Wisdom of Tai Chi

Photo by Nicole Geri
Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

The world stirs at the touch of dawn’s earliest light, filtering in sideways through morning mists, and the first breeze comes like a pleasant, waking sigh. So breath and movement awaken as dawn’s veil grows thin, and all life begins a new song.

Stepping out into the dawning world, you are received. Breathing it in, its life is now your own. Known so, carried inside and out, your limbs are freed as air and light move around you. Well rested or underslept, you are met; upset or calm, you will find it meets you on its own terms.

This is how nature teaches us to practice, and Tai Chi as an art emulates nature. And so each morning we can learn the five principles of Tai Chi from a master teacher: adherence, spontaneity, softness, yielding, and rejection of brute force.

Adherence in Tai Chi means receiving your opponent, maintaining continuous and sensitive contact until you discern them. It applies in all human interactions: physical, emotional, and verbal. Adherence is listening through contact.

Seek straightness in what seems curved…
Be watchful…seek the hidden intent.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Spontaneity in Tai Chi means responding to your opponent before they fully express their intent, countering after they have initiated, but before the full cycle has been expressed. Spontaneity comes of listening with all your senses.

One part acts, all parts act;
one is still, all are still…
In stillness be rooted as a mountain,
in movement be fluid as a river.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Softness in Tai Chi means remaining relaxed in mind and body as the interaction takes form. If the mind is tense, the body will stiffen, and listening will cease. The practice of softness that listens is the cultivation of mysterious strength.

The mystery of the art is manifested in interaction.
Song of the Thirteen Postures

Yielding in Tai Chi means moving with an attack, not against it. By giving up intention you may express yourself in the movements of your opponent, but first know yourself! Yielding is self mastery that frees you from mastery by others.

Fall empty, use four ounces to deflect 1000 pounds…
Yielding to follow others, one must know oneself.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Rejecting Brute Force in Tai Chi means meeting your opponent on your terms regardless of their approach. It neither resists nor flees a powerful attack, but meets it, follows it, and defeats it after it is spent. This is the essence of Tai Chi.

In tranquility meet their movements,
in calmness operate your own.
Song of the Thirteen Postures

The ancient Chinese concept of Tai Chi is more than the martial art named after it. It is expressed everywhere there is form, in the harmony of all that is. It is how we may learn to dance with the world, and practice with the universe.

What about you? Are you ready to learn to embody the five principles? Are you willing to transform your interactions, and empower your relationships?


Light Soul, Heaving Sea

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels
Upon the sea a heavy vessel:
(upon a world of light, a soul)
creaking under press and lull, tug and give,
(adoring mists of morning, bright of dew)
breathing under sway of sea, will of wave—
(blessing branches bending, leaves that blow)
It so endures each turn of rudder groaning
(she sees the turning stars at evening waking)
as prow and hull meet storms and churning
(til eyes and heart retire, yearning…)

Canary in the Coal Mine

Photo by Ray Hennessy
Photo by Ray Hennessy on Pexels
Lovely, sweet bird, a light in the hollow:
clearly no fit, ever so fragile,
bright in the dust, dull under shadow…
such woeful sounds, dreadful song!
Why do you sing, oh ailing soul?
What do your melodies mean?
To what world do you belong,
oh little, light, brittle bird?
For whom do you cheerfully sing?
Ah that you may one day be free!
bright against the sky,
free wherever you alight,
bold without care to brighten the world…
May our world’s loss of you, be a grief averted!

The Fierce Heart of Darkness

Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb
Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb on Pexels

Wandering in the liminal spaces, walking between worlds, we meet her. She is the womb of all life, the essence of mystery, the resting place of souls. She is the undercurrent of rivers, depths of sea, eye of storms, the cavernous earth. She is both the soul of deep shadow and the wellspring of inspiration.

The Tao Te Ching sings of her this way:

The valley spirit undying,
ever dark her womb,
ever open her dark womb,
mother of earth, mother of heaven.
Her shadowy veil is only barely seen,
effortless, inexhaustible.
Translation by Caelan Rowan McCuen

It is hard to see what is barely there, but she is always with us. It is hard to keep one’s bearings at the liminal times, but that is when she guides us. She is not to be feared, but cherished; not resisted but embraced.

River’s are powerful, their currents deep, unpredictable.
It’s no wonder they gather myths around them
like clouds around mountain peaks.

Have you ever looked into the abyss, into her eyes? Maybe you have seen her in a terrifying dream, or at a moment of imminent death. Maybe it was in the grip of mortal doubt, or in that most dreadful gap of irrevocable loss. She comes to us in these ways, plays no favorites. How small we are in the tides of her presence.

The sea, the most mysterious of realms,
and all her waters, are inexpressibly beautiful.
When in movement they are passion;
When still, they are a soul mirror.

But what seems dark at first is often just the raw passion of our world, the same that quietly supports us in the calm. Yet whether in calm or storm, the beautiful giving earth is ever she who receives us as we are. We must love her as she is!

Waist deep in the frigid ocean, pelting rain coming sideways,
I saw nine pelicans, weaving, dipping, above gray-turquoise crests—
and seeing them was freedom.

Oh, but the things we do in our blindness, when we don’t even see the world…and yet the she goes on expressing herself, unmoved, ever-giving. It is not any profound subterranean darkness in our beloved world that we ought to fear, but the darkness of seeing only ourselves.

A Buddhist sage once wrote, “The virtues I practice are not my own”. Whose virtues can any of us practice? Certainly not our own—they are the earth’s.