When I am quiet
as frogs
who stop croaking
when we trespass
their sacred marsh,

when I am quiet
as a child
who is sad
in every cell,

when I am quiet
as the moment
carried Mom away,

I become the Here of my life,
time just another thought.

Questions for Contemplation

What is your relationship to Quiet? What place does Quiet have in your life? What is the connection for you between Presence, the Here of your life, and Quiet?

How do you relate to the phrase “time just another thought.”?

The Way of Pain

Today the Sacred
is taking the shape of pain.
My body, a fist,
as if the tightness,
the ‘No,’
will command it away.

No. The ‘No’ intensifies everything,
tears with claws
that dig in.

“I don’t want this.
I can make it go away.
I can’t make it go away.
What if it doesn’t?
I hate this.
What if it gets worse?
What if something more serious is going on?”

Catastrophic thoughts
and the big ‘No’
stacked like heavy books
in my head – spinning.

I was whimpering,
now moaning.

Pause.      Oh.

I remember.
I forgot the wisdom curriculum –
pain      illness      aging
stretch us to our limits
and –
how they
teach surrender
reveal portals into
the dark
the quiet
the slow
awaken us to what life here, simply, is
teach that suffering arises
when we resist
what is natural, inevitable, true.

Brings me to my knees
and I remember
the Infinite
the Unchanging
the Divine.

In this moment, I’m ok.
Breath sinks from chest to belly.
The body, with its limits and losses,
it’s life and destiny,
is alright now, as is.
Crying, moaning, being afraid
is alright, too
and –
I will rest easier
when I remember that
Love and the Infinite
are also here,
always Here.

Questions for Contemplation

Has illness or physical pain been a part of your life? How have you been impacted emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually? What challenges have you encountered?

In addition to the difficulties, what have you learned about yourself and about life? Has the experience changed you in any meaningful ways? Would you consider pain to be a teacher in your life?

Can We Be Love?

In these troubled times
are we closer to the roots
as we witness a shattering of the old,
as vaults of dark secrets
are being cracked open?

Are we, at times, relieved
that scabs are being
ripped off,
that wounds and injustices
can be seen
and breathe now?

Is our buried grief
being unearthed?
Do we feel the unspoken laments
of our ancestors
as we let in the heartbreak
of our abandoned sisters and brothers
who’ve been cast out for millennia?

Is the inhumanity
firing us up
to love more?

Can we show our tails?
Growl. Howl. Roar.
Let our hearts bleed openly?
Come out of hiding?
Get real?

What about Mother Earth?
Can we see our greed and selfishness
with raw eyes?
See what we have stolen,
what we have destroyed?
Cry for Her?
Help Her?

Are we able
to see our Oneness
and commit to foster healing?
Can we be Love?

Are we inspired
to gather in the streets,
at altars,
in temples,
at the sea,
to become humble
before the Divine?
Serve our sorrowing world?

Questions for Contemplation

What are your considerations and feelings about the times we are living in? How do you think about the challenges facing our planet and so many communities, groups and individuals?

Are there particular stanzas in this poem that speak to you?

If you would like to explore the heart of these concerns for yourself, contemplation and/or free writing can be helpful practices. Reflect on what is being evoked in you with regard to a particular concern or numerous matters. If you are drawn to doing so, you can also explore ways that you might help to foster healing in our world.

Safe Invitation

Sit at her feet
silent   still.
Be a safe invitation.
Open receive her open
so she can soften,
then whisper kindness
to her edges.
Watch with the eyes of your Soul.
She may find her story,
ask you to understand
and guide her
to a welcoming nest
for her pain,
to a welcoming nest
where she can heal.

Questions for Contemplation

There is an invitation in this poem to open to resistance when you experience it. When we open to obstacles rather than ‘resist’ them there is an opportunity to see deeper into them and discover what might be underlying the difficult state. Obstacles can be messengers from the psyche pointing us to something that may need our attention.

Sentence completion is a simple writing exercise to explore resistance, or blocks and stuckness of any kind.

Complete the sentences, taking 5 minutes for each one. Relax, let go and keep your hand moving without thinking about the responses as you write. Here are some examples, but you can create your own.

1. The feelings (or issues) behind my resistance to working on the project are __________________

2. When I ask my resistance what it wants to convey to me, it says __________________

3. What I can do to work with what is beneath the resistance is __________________

How We Are Helped

I cut out tiny shapes
from Japanese papers:
glue them
in harmonious relationships
to the paper
to each other
to my eyes, hand and heart.

I draw anything and everything:
small, detailed
in pen and ink,
then brighten them
with color.

A memory.
Young me
quiet in my room
cutting out paper clothes
for paper dolls,
stringing together tiny glass beads,
painting miniature ceramic pieces:
Feeling safe,
with glimmers of joy.

Being found me,
gave me ways
to stay steady,
find home
in this uncertain world
and helped me
trust beauty
as a compass.

Questions for Contemplation

When you were young and had some time to yourself, what did you enjoy doing that was fulfilling and helped you connect to yourself? Do you still engage in any of those activities? If not, what do you currently do that settles and fulfills you?

What meaning and place does beauty hold in your daily life? If you wish to include more beauty, what might that look like? How does beauty affect you?

Angel of Sadness

She extends her hand.
Stone, I am.

Sadness says,
“You will fall.
I will be with you.
You will break.
I will take the pieces
and turn them into gold.
You will wail an ocean.
I will teach you to swim.
You won’t know who you are.
I will walk beside you
as you shed the skins
you never were.”

Questions for Contemplation

In the first stanza of this poem there is resistance to connecting to sadness. What is your relationship to sadness? How do you typically respond when you begin to feel sad about anything, eg., a loss, a difficult conversation, a friend’s hardship, a family struggle, the challenges of these times?

Relax, close your eyes and imagine that you are in a conversation with sadness, represented by a symbol such as a broken heart or dark cloud. Ask what it wants to say to you about a situation in your life that is evoking sadness. You can also engage further with the symbol and ask any other questions that are meaningful to you.

Tell the Stories

Take dictation
from the flat stones
in the river bed.
They speak secrets.

Attend a gathering of trees.
Watch them in communion
with the wind.

Fall into
Earth’s belly.
Hear her cries.

Find the children
who brought pieces
of heaven with them.
Ask them what life looks like.

Make your way through the dark nooks
of the city.

Touch hearts
with our forgotten sisters and brothers.
Invite them to speak their raw pain.

Converse with
the underworld
the Infinite.

Sink into long, quiet times.
Turn towards the fissures and stars
in your heart.
Study your heart
from the inside.

Now tell the stories.

Questions for Contemplation

Is there any phrase or stanza that stands out for you to explore further? Choose one and reflect on it for a while. What is evoked in you?

Do you feel drawn to be in conversation with ‘illness, healing, birth, death, the underworld or the Infinite?’ You can personalize any of these, e.g. your father’s illness, your healing from an injury. Using your healing as an example – find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes and relax more and more deeply with each outgoing breath. Then let an image appear that represents your healing, such as a star or flowering plant. Imagine a conversation between you and the image as if you’re in dialogue with a trusted friend. You are speaking and listening to each other, and either of you might have questions you’d like to ask. Another option other than this self-guided imagery is to write down the conversation.

What do you find when you ‘turn towards the fissures and stars in your heart?’ Either reflect on what you discover or free write what comes to you.

You are Broken and You Are Whole

This morning,
you are shining blonde hair,
full belly laughing,
a field of glow.

My heart falls into place.
I remember you
clutching your belly
on the cold tile floor
in the Boston hotel,
silent screams.
You needed me
to stay back.
I have never felt so helpless.

Disease is a cauldron,
boils us to the core,
strips layers of seeming safety.
Disease keeps us in not knowing,
stretches us beyond
where we think we can go.
Forges us in its heat.

You tend to this wisely
in your quiet ways.
Grace is known to you.
Pain and fire,
the teachers that
turn you towards
the Sacred.

I do not know
all the ways of your mind
or see all the times
you fall to your knees.
Yet it is clear today
by your restful smile
that you are watering
holy seeds
and sit,
In the hands of the Universe.

Questions for Contemplation

Has illness impacted you or someone close to you?

What are the ways that this experience has challenged or stretched you?

If your experience with illness has been transformative, what are some of the meaningful ways that this has changed you? For example, are there qualities, such as patience, courage, trust or compassion that have opened in you?

Has this illness been a ‘teacher’ for you? What have you learned about yourself and life?

Tears and Wings

The illness
that found us

a heart
punctured by betrayal

cold mother arms

the burial

the child –

the friend –

the fire
that took our past.

We were
in the dark

with our beloveds

in the underworld.

The shadows,
shaped us,
sculpted a new form
from the descent
the other places
the Sacred lives.

We are

We have
with dark Angels.

We have
learned the songs
of each loss.

Our Light
still glowing
in the ashes.

that will not be extinguished.
Wings sprouting.

rising now,
ready to fly
into the tired arms
reaching for help
in their dark night
in our tear-drenched world.

Questions for Contemplation

This poem can be an invitation to reflect on loss in your life. Is there a loss that comes to mind that you would like to contemplate? When it feels like the right time, find a comfortable place for this deep consideration.

In addition to reflecting on the grief and pain that likely ensued, and may still be present, here are some additional questions to ask yourself when you are ready:

How did you grow and change as a result of this loss?

What have you learned about yourself? Others?

How did this ‘shadow descent’ shape you?

What gifts have you unearthed that you can use to help others?


If, when you encounter
a space
between your projects,
between your problems,
a gap
in the conversation,
a wholebeing quiet at 3 am
in the silent house

do not run
be not afraid
release before and what’s to come
avoid naming.

The you
in the deep
who knows…
peers into the possible.
A juncture.

The portal
is here,
will reveal itself
again and again,
like this,
in the most ordinary of times.

Be the awestruck child
when just rain is a miracle.
Be taken.

Questions for Contemplation

When there are breaks in the day, it’s not uncommon, especially in this culture, to fill the gaps with more activities rather than enter those portals of possibility. Is this a tendency of yours? If so, would you like to experiment with opening into those pauses from time to time? Would you like to explore ‘the you in the deep?’ ‘Peer into the possible?’ How would it be for you to make time in your day for the unknown?