Category Archives: poems.prayers

Refuse to Look Lightly Upon the World

Refuse to look lightly upon the world. Bear the weight of each day, every moment, every word and every action, like it is your last and final undoing. Let this burden weigh you down, push you under, slow your feet to a crawl. Some days you will feel as though you are sinking in quicksand slowly creeping its way up to your chin, heavy on the chest, only a matter of time when breath escapes you. Other days, running in water or wading through snow will feel only slightly more difficult. And some some days, you’ll crawl, climb, maybe even dance with a burden light and malleable. Bear it, none the less, and do not forget that you are not alone.

Refuse to look lightly on the world. Do not underestimate the impact you have on your place, your land, your people. Every greeting, every smile, every tear, every sigh, every goodbye. Each has the power to change the present moment and the shaping of things to come. Maybe even the past. You are your ancestor’s ancestor. They dreamed of you when they measured their own impact on what may come. They lived with you in mind. Who will you be an ancestor to? What kind of person will you be as you anticipate those who will awake one morning and wonder if you considered them while you were alive? Measure the impact of your life, knowing that there are those who have done the same before you and those who will come after you. By all means, you are not alone.

Refuse to look lightly on the world. Do look after yourself. Rest, rock out, sing on your commute, party even. Allow your mind, your heart, your body some space sometimes. Even often, if that is what you need. To live and feel and engage deeply requires great escape as well. But always know you must come back because there are those waiting for you wondering when you will show up again. Maybe your children, your spouse, your animal companions. Maybe even the birds wait for water and seed. Do not leave your life unattended. You will have help.

Refuse to look lightly on the world. Recognize the insignificance of your tiny little body in the grand scheme of things. The earth does not need you to continue to turn. Maybe even the earth might do better without your consumption, your use, and your living on the take. Life goes on and will continue to go on long after you breathe your last. So what will you do while you are here? And what will you do after you die? Will you steal the gift of your body from the earth that has sustained you all this time? It doesn’t have to be this way. Live as though you are not alone.

Refuse to look lightly on the world. Pay attention. Technology is not the answer and it will not save you. Most assuredly not your children, your grandchildren, and those who come after you.  Love, life, and gratitude are what matter in your days. You are not alone and you never have been. Your very breath has always been a gift to you, given by trees you have not cut down, grass you have not mowed over, algae you have not scorched with your chemicals. Your body is entirely gifted to you by the food you eat and the water you drink, whether it came to you in a box from a factory or from the work of your own hands. Do well with what you have been given. Treat things kindly and speak praise into the world, from the sun rising to the waves crashing to the soil you walk on to the wind whispering. Your voice and your words may not be with you forever and they have the power that is uniquely yours as a human being to make things real and to set things in motion. Refuse to look lightly on the world because in no way does the world look lightly on you.

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Climbing Mountains

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I’m a lot calmer now. There are so many times I wish I could be more in control of my environment. If I could only keep the dog from eating Brendan’s spaghetti that I feel so good about making for him (it even had meat in it…). If I could only stop my two year old son from screaming and crying for no apparent reason… something that doesn’t involve going back outside and jumping in puddles or spilling water everywhere as he helps with the dishes. If I could only just cure my wife’s baby nausea and have enough food in the house to match her voracious appetite. If only it would stop raining on my clean laundry that is “drying” on the line.

It is such a ride to watch my emotions happen, mainly anger and resentment… not necessarily a fun ride, that’s for sure. As a 9 on the Enneagram, that anger is always hanging out close by, ready to explode. Now that the dog was yelled at and banished to the back yard, Brendan is talking to himself in bed happily, my tea is drank, the dishes are done, and some semblance of calm rests on the house, the heat can die down under the water kettle that is my anger.

That’s so what it is, too… a kettle. I start rumbling and building up pressure as the heat turns up, and then its only a matter of time before I am boiling and whistling away. God forbid that this doesn’t last too long, or it is misery for myself and any around me. It happens so often on these restless days when all I feel like I’m doing is waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for a friend to call, waiting to start working again, waiting for Brendan to take a nap, waiting for Kat’s nausea to end. Ugh, get me out of here.

Yesterday, my stir-craziness was at its maximum level so I did the only thing a sane person would do… climb a mountain. I picked the closest one. Tumalo Mountain and gave myself all of two hours to go up and back down. Of course it was raining and so windy my fingers kept going numb. I had my bag of raisins to eat (as my stomach only contained what was left of the half peanut butter sandwhich I had for lunch) which I had to keep alternating hands while I shoved the other in my pocket. It was cold, and my 9 kept telling me I didn’t have to go all the way to the top. Well, I did anyway. 90 minutes to go up… and I was supposed to be home in a half hour.

So I ran back down. 30 minutes. I think my knees, hamstrings, and most other muscles in my legs were about to give out as I hit the trailhead. I am feeling it today, but it feels good. So while all I want to do is check out from all the waiting, anger, and stress, I suppose mountain climbing works too.

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;

to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
– Dawna Markova

Gerard Manley Hopkins – As kingfishers catch fire

I had to post this… it’s the original reference to what I mentioned in my last post.

And the parallels are so wonderfully significant!

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As king fishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Holy Ones Take Flight

A poem from 2007:

Birds afloat in air’s current,
sacred breath? No, not breath of God,
it seems, but God
the air enveloping the whole
globe of being.
It’s we who breathe, in, out, in, the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled – but only the saints
take flight. We cower
in cliff-crevice or edge out gingerly
on branches close to the nest. The wind
marks the passage of holy ones riding
that ocean of air. Slowly their wake
reaches us, rocks us.
But storm or still,
numb or poised in attention,
we inhale, exhale, inhale,
encompassed, encompassed.

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Where am I safe?

Whew… found this from 2008. How poignant in our election time, once again. A little angsty, so not quite where i am now, but a voice from the past (or from us all?) that deserves to be heard…

Longing, looking for that safe place
That Space where I don’t have to hide,
Where I can face Others
with honesty and presence

Real

Growing up… starting on this journey
Hoping to find it in the family
Inherent in the blood that runs between us
The first confusing messages

Doing the best we could…
But wounds and patterns of thinking run deep

I look to those of like mind
Ones who are supposed to be following Jesus…
or so they say. Safe? Real?
Aware of the pain that I so often Feel?

Thanks for the guilt and the easy answers
The judgment and the stones

Times I’ve been tempted to find it in the government
Those talking heads on the tube
Telling me everything is going to be better
That they can keep me safe within these walls.

The enemy is out there somewhere
As long as we have freedom… there is nothing to fear

If anything, my own home should be a refuge
From what’s happening out there.
Hole up, hide, duck back, close the shades.
They can’t get me here…

But I forget about myself.
Alone, I have to face myself… often far from safe.
Questions doubt fear uncertainty guilt unknown confusion
Get away…

To where?

And God, aren’t you supposed to be safe
Predictable and easy to please?
Aren’t good things supposed to come to those who wait?
Or to those who love you?

Apparently, you are not safe all the time either…

What now, then? Where is the safety? Why so elusive?