Jul 12 2019

Thomas Merton – Song for Nobody

Published by under Poetry

Song for Nobody
by Thomas Merton

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)


A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

— from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton


/ Image by Jonathan Thorne /

Let us sing a song… for nobody.

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

I imagine Thomas Merton on a morning walk through a dawn-lit field where nothing much is happening. Just some damp grasses and a few bright flowers waking to the sun. Those flowers stand there unnoticed, unseen until now, yet they carry such bold life, bright yellow petals radiant in the morning sun. They are an embodiment of light and spirit.

All of life, all of existence sings — but for whom?

The world dances with a golden light. Who is the real audience for this performance?

Perhaps the intended audience is God. Perhaps the flowers array themselves for their own private delight. But Merton says this song of light and spirit is for nobody because it is clearly not for him. He is utterly inconsequential to the scene. The flowers don’t care about him. They don’t adjust themselves to his presence. In fact, he is the one who is unnoticed, not the flowers.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)

Enraptured by this moment of beauty, to which he is a non-entity, Merton disappears. Thought ceases, the mind quiets and brings to a halt its endless naming and categorizing. There is just stillness and the moment witnessed. That is when the ecstatic moment of awakening occurs — O, wide awake!

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

In this state of no-mind and no-self, we, along with Merton, are somehow profoundly alive! Awake, we see the world, perhaps for the first time, as it truly is — a golden heaven. And that heaven sings all around us, all the time! For whom? For no one in particular. Life sings to life. Spirit sings because it is spirit. The nature of being is song and light and life. When we quiet the busy mind and drop our own self-importance, we too join in that living symphony.

Have a beautiful day!


Recommended Books: Thomas Merton

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton A Thomas Merton Reader The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Monk & Poet: A Critical Study


Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton poetry, Christian poetry Thomas Merton

US (1915 – 1968) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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Jul 12 2019

perfection & stillness

Why strive for the perfect
thought or action?
The perfection you seek
is found in stillness.

No responses yet

Jul 03 2019

Kahlil Gibran – Giving

Published by under Poetry

Giving
by Kahlil Gibran

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their wealth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life — while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

— from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran


/ Image by Cristian Bernal /

This week I have been thinking about the suffering and cruelty embodied by the immigrant detention camps along the southern US border. I found myself turning to this poem by Gibran, himself an immigrant to the the US…

Whom do we help? To whom do we give? Which people do we choose to care for and consider part of our community?

It seems a reasonable response to say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The problem with such a reasonable approach is that reason, for all its usefulness, is stuck in the head. The questions of giving and connection are questions for the heart, not the head. And the heart knows what the head does not:

They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

We don’t give to help the deserving. Everyone is deserving. And, ultimately, we don’t give to help those in need. We give to help ourselves, because giving is essential to our nature, while non-giving is a form of death.

When we work deeply with service and giving as part of our spiritual path, we begin to understand that the alleviation of want and the sharing of resources is not enough. That surface approach is usually a sign of ego’s touch, a way to crown oneself as the giver. We haven’t yet discovered what it means to be worthy to give. Seen clearly, there is no personal merit in giving. It is not about “karma points” or buying our way into heaven. Giving is our nature. Giving is who we are. It is what we do when we are true to ourselves. Giving and caring and help are the natural flow of life, and we are part of that life. When we give we have simply ceased to constrict our own spirit… and then our hearts untighten and we can witness life flowing through us all.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life — while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

We should daily ask ourselves, “What gift can I give?”


Recommended Books: Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet The Beloved: Reflections on the Path of the Heart Broken Wings Jesus the Son of Man Kahlil Gibran: His Life & World
More Books >>


Kahlil Gibran, Kahlil Gibran poetry, Christian poetry Kahlil Gibran

Lebanon/US (1883 – 1931) Timeline
Christian
Secular or Eclectic

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Jul 03 2019

Language

Language is the first tool wielded
and the last chain escaped.

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Jun 28 2019

Rumi – No One Here but Him

Published by under Poetry

No One Here but Him
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Andrew Harvey

Watching my hand; He is moving it.
Hearing my voice; He is speaking…
Walking from room to room —
No one here but Him.

— from Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom, by Andrew Harvey / Eryk Hanut


/ Image by Ricardo Molina Peña /

Isn’t this a lovely snippet of a poem by the great Jelaluddin Rumi? But he’s not just making a pretty, pious statement about God being the motivating force behind things.

Watching my hand; He is moving it.
Hearing my voice; He is speaking…

Mystics often say odd things like this. It makes one ask: Do they refuse to take responsibility for their actions? Do they take no action at all?

Sufis speak of an aspect of the personality called the nafs. In yoga, it is called the ahamkara. In modern English, we tend to translate this as the ego. This is the little self, the self-focused self, the self that endlessly proclaims, “I, me, mine.”

Typically we pass all action through the nafs. When I am moving my hand, the “I” moving it is the nafs. In doing so, every action subtly proclaims the doer as the center of existence. Every action great and small becomes a sort of self-hypnosis, returning us back to the chant of the nafs: “I-me-mine.”

The heart of mysticism and true spiritual communion — whatever your tradition — is to overcome this petty ruler of the awareness. When we can let go of the nafs, our sense of self expands immensely. And the heart too glows and opens. As the old fences of the self fall, everyone and everything becomes a part of us in a very real way. Or, rather, we recognize that we have always been so, and it is as if our eyes have finally opened.

Now, imagine taking action from this state. Your hand still moves, but it is no longer moved by “I-me-mine.” There is an elegant stillness and spaciousness behind that movement, with a surprising capacity to affect transformation.

But who is doing this action if not the nafs? It is the larger Self, that aspect of us that does not separate itself from the Whole Reality. And despite the once constant protests of the nafs, was there ever anything other than that Wholeness anyway? Best check to be sure…

Walking from room to room —
No one here but Him.


Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom
More Books >>


Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jun 28 2019

forgiveness and freedom

The path of forgiveness
is the path of freedom.

Forgiveness is a rebellion
against the ego’s self-importance.

No responses yet

Jun 20 2019

Gabriel Rosenstock – inch by inch

Published by under Poetry

inch by inch
by Gabriel Rosenstock

inch by inch
through the trees
— the rising moon



orlach ar orlach
trí na crainn
— an ghealach ag éirí


/ Image by Gautam & Chitrabhanu Chakrabarti /

A haiku today in honor of the recent full moon.

Notice the way this poem unfolds, each short line shifting the frame of our mind’s perception…

inch by inch…

Something is moving oh so slowly, we might even say that it is creeping up. And the phrase, “inch by inch” is so minute that the initial frame of our mental image is minuscule.

But with the next line…

through the trees…

…we suddenly have trees in our minds eye. Our inner vision has widened. It is as if we went from a peering crouch to having to stand back in order to take in the picture.

Then we get that unexpected shift — what we call the kireii or cutting word in a haiku — where the focus of the haiku leaps in an unanticipated direction:

— the rising moon

We’re not really looking at trees at all, but the rising moon behind them.

The frame in our mind’s eye has just slammed wide open to include the moon and the entire night sky. We went from our crouch to standing back to being knocked flat on our backs.

Now that’s a rising moon!

Are you wondering which language the second version is in? This poem is by the great Irish haikuist Gabriel Rosenstock, and he usually writes his haiku in both English and Irish. I’m assuming that most of you, like myself, don’t speak Irish, but try to sound it out anyway. What does the shape and rhythm of the language say to you? Perhaps you will witness a second rising moon in its lines.

==

New Book on Haiku – Coming Soon

There is another reason I selected this poem today. This is a sort of pre-announcement to the Poetry Chaikhana community that I am currently preparing a new book for publication. The new book — yet to be titled — is an exploration of haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock, a master of the art meditating on his art.

Unlike other similar books that might tend to be scholarly or focused on the technicalities of craft, this is a delightful, often playful look at haiku as a personal practice and a spiritual path — for both the reader and the writer of haiku. Through the eyes of Gabriel Rosenstock, haiku becomes a practice of attention and awareness. It is a way of stepping out of ordinary mind and encountering each moment with openness. Noticing what is overlooked. Walking in the natural world. Recognizing how the minute and the mundane reveals immensities. Ultimately, haiku is the art of presence.

From the book…

What will be the next haiku moment? Anticipation is foolish. Each moment is as unique as your fingerprints, your iris, each second as fleeting as your breath. And a haiku moment can happen at any time. But it will not happen without you. You must be there for it to happen. You must be there, before you disappear. It takes two to haiku, you and the witnessed phenomenon in a unifying embrace.

It can occur in such an intense, pure form that it appears to have happened without you. That brief, piercing insight, that moment of haiku enlightenment, strips you of the thousand and one items that are the jigsaw of your ego, the patchwork of your identity. Then we’re simply jumbled back again into the duality of the world, its conflicts, routines and distractions. But we know that another pure surprise waits around the corner, whatever it may be. The wellsprings of the haiku moment are infinite, bottomless, inexhaustible.

***

Haiku can be pursued by atheist, sceptic and believer alike. It can adapt to any language, any culture. Someone once asked the former Zen teacher, Toni Packer, ‘Can a leaf swirling to the ground be my teacher?’ Her answer is what every haikuist should know. ‘Yes! Of course! This instant of seeing is the timeless teacher, the leaves are just what they are …’

summer drought —
the dazzling stars
all become pale
~ Marijan Cekolj

I am so pleased that I will soon be able to make this book available. As you can see, its pages are filled with illuminated moments of creativity and awareness. This is a book that should be read in classrooms and meditation halls and coffee shops, as well as all of you wise, wild folks within the Poetry Chaikhana community.

Look for it in late summer or early autumn. I will let you know more as we get closer to the publication date.


Recommended Books: Gabriel Rosenstock

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Bliain an Bhandé – Year of the Goddess Uttering Her Name Haiku Enlightenment Haiku: The Gentle Art of Disappearing
More Books >>


Gabriel Rosenstock, Gabriel Rosenstock poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Gabriel Rosenstock

Ireland (1949 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Primal/Tribal/Shamanic : Celtic

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Jun 20 2019

interconnected

We are interconnected.
Our experiences
are always shared experiences.

No responses yet

Jun 07 2019

Hafiz – Spring and all its flowers

Published by under Poetry

Spring and all its flowers
by Hafiz

English version by Homayun Taba & Marguerite Theophil

Spring and all its flowers
      now joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for celebration, not for lying low;
You too — weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.

The Sabaa wind arrives;
      and in deep resonance, the flower
      passionately rips open its garments,
      thrusting itself from itself.

The Way of Truth, learn from the clarity of water,
Learn freedom from the spreading grass.

Pay close attention to the artistry of the Sabaa wind,
that wafts in pollen from afar,
And ripples the beautiful tresses
      of the fields of hyacinth flowers.

From the privacy of the harem, the virgin bud slips out,
      revealing herself under the morning star,
branding your heart and your faith
      with beauty.

And frenzied bulbul flies madly out of the House of Sadness
      to unite with the flowers;
its love-crazed cry like a thousand-trumpet blast.

Hafez says, and the experienced old ones concur:

All you really need
      is to tell those Stories
      of the Fair Ones and the Goblet of Wine.


/ Image by Ignacio Ferre Pérez /

I know it is a few days late, but I want to wish Eid Mubarak to all of my Muslim friends. I hope your Ramadan brought inspiration and renewal…

Spring and all its flowers
      now joyously break their vow of silence.

Something by the great Sufi poet Hafez in honor of spring and Norooz, the Persian New Year.

You too — weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.

Spring has something to teach us about living with selfless exuberance.

The Sabaa wind arrives;
      and in deep resonance, the flower
      passionately rips open its garments,
      thrusting itself from itself.

The Sabaa is a wind at sunrise coming from the East. Traditionally, lovers confide their secrets to the Sabaa. Spiritual poets associate the Sabaa with the breath of the Beloved; coming from the East, it is the first whisper of daylight, of spiritual enlightenment. It carries the perfumed promise of the new day. It is a messenger of awakening, subtle, playful, revealing new beauty.

I have also been told that sabaa means seven, so the Sabaa is the seventh wind, the wind of paradise. It is the seventh and final wind that causes the flower to shed its petals, its material garments in order to release its inner glory.

Pay close attention to the artistry of the Sabaa wind,
that wafts in pollen from afar,
And ripples the beautiful tresses
      of the fields of hyacinth flowers.

A reference to “beautiful tresses” of hair is often used in Sufi poetry to suggest the enticing beauty of the Beloved. The beauty of God is embodied in the field of hyacinth flowers, in the flowering earth.

The bulbul is a songbird, a nightingale.

And frenzied bulbul flies madly out of the House of Sadness
      to unite with the flowers;
its love-crazed cry like a thousand-trumpet blast.

The bulbul’s song in the garden aches with love for the flower’s beauty. But, to the spiritually minded, to the lover, this “House of Sadness” is sought, not avoided, for yearning becomes union. Then the House of Sadness becomes the House of Revelry, where the wine of bliss flows and stories find their fulfillment.

And a note about that final reference to wine. Why do so many Sufi poets write in praise of wine?

Sacred poetry traditions from all over the world compare ecstatic union with drunkenness. The wine described is real, but not the wine most people think of. In states of deep spiritual communion, a subtle flowing substance is sensed upon the palette. Its a taste of ethereal sweetness can be compared with wine or honey. There is a sensation of drinking and a warming of the heart. The attention blissfully turns inward, the eyelids grow pleasantly heavy and the gaze may become unfocused. A giddy smile naturally blooms for no apparent reason. When the ecstasy comes on strongly, the body can tremble, sometimes the consciousness even leaves the body.

With these experiences, it not only makes sense for mystics to use the language of wine, observers sometimes mistake this state for actual drunkenness.

The Way of Truth, learn from the clarity of water,
Learn freedom from the spreading grass.

I hope you have a beautiful spring weekend!


Recommended Books: Hafiz

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Love’s Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia, with Lectures by Inayat Khan
More Books >>


Hafiz

Iran/Persia (1320 – 1389) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

If you are looking for versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky, click here.

More poetry by Hafiz

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Jun 07 2019

into the present

It is impossible to settle
into the present
without first cultivating
contentment.

No responses yet

May 31 2019

Leza Lowitz – Waiting

Published by under Poetry

Waiting
by Leza Lowitz

You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,

catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off
the great things you’re meant to do in your life,

but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift

the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.

Meanwhile, the pile of papers, the laundry, the dishes the job —
it all stacks up while you keep hoping

for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.

Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.

But all the while, life goes on in its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty…

and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom —

when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,

and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die —

and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
it’s because the thing is too small, too small,

and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom

that this is what transformation looks like —
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,

the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day

you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn

and the dusk of the body,
glistening, beautiful

just as you are.

— from Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry, Edited by Betsy Small


/ Image by geekounet /

It is part of my morning ritual, I shuffle to the sink and wash last night’s dishes by hand. I like the tactile quality of it, the warm soapy water on my hands, slowly watching the order of clean, neatly arranged dishes emerging from the mess. This is spiritual practice at midlife: a fifty year old man, hair sleep mussed, still in his bed clothes, doing the dishes.

I like the poet’s suggestion that the wisdom of midlife is not raging against the chaos and mess of life, but the interaction with it until we ourselves emerge transformed.

We stop expecting the mess to go away or somehow be made right. When I do the dishes in the morning, a whole new stack of dirty dishes have reappear with the next meal. Sometimes I’m convinced that my wife and I couldn’t possibly have created so many dirty dishes in such a short time, that hungry house hobbs have been secretly adding to the stack.

That’s the thing, life is about mess. The act of living and interacting with the world, with other people creates a certain amount of disorder. We don’t want to be utterly free of mess and chaos or even problems. They are the signs of life being lived. We make a mess. We clean up the mess. This is the natural rhythm of life.

until one day, one day

you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn

and the dusk of the body,
glistening, beautiful

just as you are.

I love the way she contrasts the embrace of the dawn while also embracing the “dusk of the body.” Embracing dawn suggests to me that we recognize in ourselves something filled with new life, something vast and glowing. But there is also the increasingly sense of the fading of the body. Even if we remain healthy and strong as we grow older, maturity requires us to recognize that this body is limited and has a looming expiration date. And this is wisdom, the integration of these two truths.

Seeing both, at peace with both, we step into the present moment and come to know ourselves– “glistening, beautiful / just as you are.”

Have a beautiful day! Enjoy the mess. And enjoy cleaning it up again.


Recommended Books: Leza Lowitz

Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By


Leza Lowitz, Leza Lowitz poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Leza Lowitz

US (1962 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Leza Lowitz

4 responses so far

May 31 2019

treasures

The mediocre and the mundane:
treasures for awareness.

No responses yet

May 29 2019

Radio Interview – The Val Leventhal Show

Published by under Poetry

Over the Memorial Day weekend I did an extended radio interview on The Val Leventhal Show, which airs in Chicago. We had a fascinating conversation about how poetry, music, and the visual arts become expressions of spirituality and social activism.

If you’re interested in listening, you can find a recording of the full show online through SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-389699281

Val Leventhal begins her show with her own commentary — or as she calls it, her “righteous rant” about The Golden Rule found in all the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions — followed by a few songs and a discussion of some news stories.

She introduces me at about 26:00 minutes into the show.

I hope you enjoy it…

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May 29 2019

Mahmud Shabistari – One Light

Published by under Poetry

One Light
by Mahmud Shabistari

English version by Andrew Harvey

What are “I” and “You”?
Just lattices
In the niches of a lamp
Through which the One Light radiates.

“I” and “You” are the veil
Between heaven and earth;
Lift this veil and you will see
How all sects and religions are one.

Lift this veil and you will ask —
When “I” and “You” do not exist
What is mosque?
What is synagogue?
What is fire temple?

— from The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology), Edited by Ivan M. Granger


/ Image by Pieroc /

With the recent ratcheting up of tensions between the US and Iran, I thought it would be worthwhile to be reminded of the cultural and spiritual richness has come to us from Iran/Persia. Mahmud Shabistari is one of my favorite poets from the golden age of Persian Sufism…

“I” and “You” — What is Shabistari talking about here? “I” and “You” is the normal perception of existence. Here “I” stand, and “You” are a separate entity over there. It is the perception of duality in which we see the entire universe as a fragmented space of disconnected beings and objects. On the one hand, that perception allows us to feel supremely important in contrast to all else, but it also isolates us and imprisons us in a physicalized notion of reality. Even when we touch, we never quite make contact. The heart ever yearns for real unity.

To show us the way out of this perceptual trap, Shabistari has given us an image to contemplate: a lamp surrounded by latticework. The lamp shines with a single light, but the lattices divide up the radiance into several individual shafts of light. He tells us the world of separation between “I” and “You” is like that — one light divided into many rays.

Think about this image for a moment. So long as we look outward, we only see separated beams of light reaching through the air and patterning the wall. But the moment it occurs to us to look at the lamp itself, we turn around and discover the single light that is its source within. Finally seeing that one light, we then know that there has only ever been that one light. Does the lattice somehow create many lights of the one light? No. It is still the one light, but expressing itself through the many beams. To prove this to ourselves, all we need do is remove the latticework, and then the light shines everywhere, undivided. And the whole time the light itself has never changed its action or nature.

Shabistari makes an interesting shift in the second part of this verse. The separation of “I” and “You” expands to encompass the realm of the world’s religious divisions. And the metaphor of the lamp’s lattice has become a veil (which, of course, covers the face of the Beloved). Even the many sects and religions are one—when we finally look inward toward the light that shines at the heart of each tradition. To one who has lifted the veil and witnessed the underlying Beauty, the distinctions of each tradition and theology no longer separate them. Instead, we can say that the best of each religious tradition adorns the Face differently—but it is the same Face.

Lift this veil…
…and separation is lost, the soul’s isolation ends. And every place becomes a place of worship.


Recommended Books: Mahmud Shabistari

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom The Secret Rose Garden: Mahmud Shabistari Beyond Faith and Infidelity: The Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari


Mahmud Shabistari, Mahmud Shabistari poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mahmud Shabistari

Iran/Persia (1250? – 1340) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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May 29 2019

all effort will cease

One day all effort will cease
and the Earth shall recognize
its inherent heavenly nature.

No responses yet

May 17 2019

Wendell Berry – The Peace of Wild Things

Published by under Poetry

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

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.

— from Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, by Wendell Berry


/ Image by DeingeL /

Rereading my comments from a few years ago, I smile at the memory. A special moment, a special day…

My wife and I have been going for walks recently in an area called Roger’s Grove. The park has a small lake with a couple of islands at its center. It is a favorite spot for Canadian geese this time of year. As we stroll around the lake we sometimes see a gray heron standing in meditative stillness among the reeds along the banks. Most recently we noticed some new visitors: one and then two bright white pelicans, looking a bit awkward in form but moving with the grace of swans upon the lake’s surface.

Yesterday, we had an unexpected sight: Those two pelicans had become thirty pelicans! The lake was filled with the bright white beings! We walked around the lake in an awed daze. We watched as the birds paddled around the lake in groups, tacking together in their movements, like a synchronized drifting dance, all gliding to the left and then, with some unseen signal, all turning right again. They even dipped their heads beneath the water all at once, sometimes several times in a row, down and up and down and up, a quiet undulation rippling through the group. They seemed to revel in this sleepy synchronicity of movement beneath the warming sun.

It was a magical moment. A healing moment. An encounter with the peace of wild things.

That’s just it– these, like all living beings, experience struggle, trauma, death, yet they continue to reside in the present moment and celebrate the bliss of a sweet afternoon when it is upon them. And in this way wild things are teachers to us all.

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Recommended Books: Wendell Berry

The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982 Given: Poems Selected Poems of Wendell Berry A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 The Mad Farmer Poems
More Books >>


Wendell Berry, Wendell Berry poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Wendell Berry

US (1934 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Wendell Berry

8 responses so far

May 17 2019

opportunity

Everything is an opportunity
for awareness.

No responses yet

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