I have a big announcement: The Poetry Chaikhana is moving – and so am I. After many years of living in Colorado, my wife and I have decided to move back to our hometown of Eugene, Oregon.
I am a traveler, You are my road.
I go from You to You.
~ Zeynep Hatun
Deciding to Move
We had discussed the idea of returning to Oregon before, but it never felt like the right time. My part-time job as a computer programmer is here in Colorado. We have friends and spiritual circles in Colorado that are important to us. Though we had been vagabonds as young adults, we now felt like “grown ups” who had finally settled down.
Then some big shifts began to happen. Several friends moved out of the area. Covid hit. And just as the first Covid lockdowns started, both of my wife’s parents died (unrelated to Covid). The grief she felt was magnified by the isolation of Covid world. We felt increasingly disconnected in Colorado. Reconnecting with our extended families in Oregon began to feel essential.
(Downtown Eugene, Oregon. Image: Rick Obst, Flickr)
Oregon, Poetry and Nature
In addition to people who are dear to us in Oregon, the land itself has always quietly called to us. Oregon’s deep green forests and its generous rain inspires a contemplative, quieter approach to life. A good place for poetry.
Now that all thoughts have subsided
off I go, deep into the woods,
and pick me
a handful of shepherd’s purse.
Just like the stream
meandering through mossy crevices
I, too, hushed
become utterly clear.
An Encounter and a Decision
In April, as we were driving through our neighborhood deep in conversation about the idea of a move, a huge eagle swooped down from around the corner and flew right at our car. As it passed above our car, with its bright white head and immense wingspan, we could clearly see that it held prey, what looked like a fish from the nearby lake, in its talons.
(Not our eagle, but it looked similar. Image: Jongsun Lee, Unsplash)
Encountering that eagle at that exact moment headed straight for us felt like a divine blessing, an affirmation.
When the universe speaks, we find it’s best to listen. We set aside our hesitations and agreed to move.
Just a few days later, we found a home to rent in Eugene that we loved. We committed to move at the beginning of August.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
~ John O’Donohue
Poetry Chaikhana Community Support
When we first started making plans for this move, my wife and I thought we could do it quickly and cheaply, the way we did in our 20s. It turns out that moving when you are over 50 is not the same experience as when you’re young! Who knew I had accumulated so many poetry books over the past couple of decades? Even selling and donating larger things, like furniture, there is a lot to move. We are struggling to find the funds to cover all of the expenses.
It felt like it was time to once again reach out to you, the Poetry Chaikhana community.
I was surprised to realize that it has been more than five years since I last sent out a direct appeal for donations.
My strong hope is that this move will usher in a new flowering of the Poetry Chaikhana. I would love to have community support and encouragement through this move as I begin to explore new poetic avenues in a new community.
Our Goal: Let’s raise $5,000 to help with the move.
That may sound like a big number, but with a community of several thousand people across the globe, I think we can raise that sum together.
Your donation will help in several important ways:
- Logistically, it will help us cover necessary expenses, like a moving truck, gas (which, as you all know, has become expensive) and lodging during the move.
- For the Poetry Chaikhana, it will help with a smooth transition, minimizing the amount of extra work I have to commit to my day job to cover expenses, allowing more time for poetry. This will lay the groundwork for establishing the Poetry Chaikhana in our new community and begin to imagine new projects, both local and global.
- On a personal level, you will be helping us return home to our roots.
If you have thought about making a donation to the Poetry Chaikhana in the past, if you have been touched by a poem or commentary featured in one of the Poetry Chaikhana emails, if you would like to keep the poem emails coming regularly… now is an especially helpful time to make a donation.
Ways you can help:
– Make a secure online donation in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button on the Poetry Chaikhana website at https://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/donate/
– Send a check or money order in US funds, addressed to:
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
(This address will obviously be changing soon, but all mail will be forwarded once the new PO box is set up.)
I am also grateful for your help through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, financial and energetic, is sincerely appreciated.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
(Bike path along the Willamette River, Eugene, Oregon. Image: Don Hankins, Flickr)
Poetry and Personal Transformation
We forget how fundamental poetry is, not only to culture, but to consciousness. Poetry is meditation in the form of words. I posted this on the Poetry Chaikhana website years ago, and it’s just as true today:
“Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind. The simple act of reading poetry alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath. Poetry induces trance. Its words are chant. Its rhythms are drumbeats. Its images become the icons of the inner eye. Poetry is more than a description of the sacred experience; it carries the experience itself.”
The Politics of Poetry
In addition to the spiritual importance of this sacred poetry, there is also a cultural, even a political motivation behind the Poetry Chaikhana. Here’s how I described it in a interview a few years ago:
“Sacred poetry has the unique benefit of being a deeply personal expression of spiritual truth while, at the same time, being largely free from dogma. In the United States, for example, there is an increasing prejudice and fear about the Muslim world. But who can read Jelaluddin Rumi without immediately recognizing the deep truth that Islam can express? The same is true for a non-Hindu reading Lal Ded or a non-Christian reading St. John of the Cross. Sacred poetry is the natural goodwill ambassador for the world’s religions. Poetry can reach across cultural divides, soften prejudices, and shed light on misunderstandings. I hope the Poetry Chaikhana can help to facilitate that process.”
Sacred poetry is transformative on both a personal and a global level.
The Poetry Chaikhana has become a community that reaches across the globe. We have visitors from every continent and more than 220 countries and territories!
The Poetry Chaikhana is an important resource for people all over the world seeking to more deeply understand their own wisdom traditions as well as the spirituality of other cultures in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Thank you for being such a supportive and inspiring community all of these years! I mean that genuinely. I have always felt that we form an extended family for each other. This community has helped me though challenges and changes and shared in my joys. I hope you feel that too. Sending love and poetic nectar from my tea house to yours!