life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life

Archive for the category “America”

take a breath

In these times when anger

 Is turned into anxiety

 And someone has stolen

 The horizons and mountains,
Our small emperors on parade

 Never expect our indifference

 To disturb their nakedness. 
They keep their heads down

 And their eyes gleam with reflection

 From aluminum economic ground,
The media wraps everything 

 In a cellophane of sound,

 And the ghost surface of the virtual

 Overlays the breathing earth. 
The industry of distraction

 Makes us forget

 That we live in a universe. 
We have become converts

 To the religion of stress

 And its deity of progress;
That we may have courage

 To turn aside from it all

 And come to kneel down before the poor,

 To discover what we must do,

 How to turn anxiety

 Back into anger,

 How to find our way home. 


John O’Donohue 
‘For Citizenship’ from BENEDICTUS


Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.         – Jean-Paul Sartre

photo sources at

Happy 4th 

I’m reading a book on hope

which sounds like I’ve taken up tatting

old fashioned and harmless
hope is unpopular

even Buddhists diss it telling us to live

in one awful moment at a time

and these days almost everyone wants to be a Buddhist
hope is hard to grasp when your imagination’s

grown fat on darkness

like the thick underside of a mushroom
tragedy is grand scale

predictably beautiful in its way

hope is hokey

imperfect full of stumbling little acts
the way a strand of neighbors standing in the rain

on the shoulder of Highway One American flags

in their hands and homemade signs:

Peace is Patriotic

can make another strand start up

even in the imagination
standing on a curve of the coast highway

where the land seems to fall away

into the open mouth of the ocean

their bodies like flags

waving sloppily

steadfast in the downpour

How to Hope by Katharine Harer – with thanks to Rebecca Solnit for her book, Hope in the Dark


Listen to Los Lobos/Grateful Dead sing This Land is Your Land


But the day is past. The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.

John Adams

July 03, 1776 to Abigail Adams 

read full letter at


give us peace 🇺🇸

 I, may I rest in peace—I, who am still living, say,

May I have peace in the rest of my life.

I want peace right now while I’m still alive.

I don’t want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg

of the golden chair of Paradise, I want a four-legged chair

right here, a plain wooden chair. I want the rest of my peace now.

I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without 

and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always

my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.

Wars with the old weapons—sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,

dull ripping knife, love and hate,

and wars with newfangled weapons—machine gun, missile, 

words, land mines exploding, love and hate,

I don’t want to fulfill my parents’ prophecy that life is war.

I want peace with all my body and all my soul.

Rest me in peace.


I, May I Rest in Peace by Yehuda Amichai

   For all whose lives have been taken by war,

grant your mercy O God.

For soldiers, civilians, those wounded and neglected,

grant your mercy, O God.

For earth despoiled and living beings sacrificed,

grant your mercy, O God.

For our glorification of war and violence

and our willingness to hurt others

to defend ourselves,

grant your mercy, O God.

We give thanks for your beloved 

whom we have sacrificed;

we ask blessing for their loved ones,

confess our need for your grace,

and pray for the redemption of society.

Spirit of compassion and gentleness,

in the name of the One who was sacrificed,

save us by your grace,

and grant us your mercy.



Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

🇺🇸 happy Memorial Day

Listen to Garth sing We Shall Be Free

Quote photo sources found at



I must let go.
For so long I have held to the habit of holding on.
Even my muscles
Are tense; deeply fearful are they
Of relaxing lest they fall away from their place.
I cling clutchingly to my friends
Lest I lose them.
I live under the shadow of being supplanted by another.
I cling to my money, not so much
By a wise economy and a thoughtful spending
But by a sense of possession that makes me depend upon it for strength.
I must let go—
Deep at the core of me
I must have a sense of freedom –
A sure awareness of detachment – of relaxation.
I must let go of everything.
I must let go of pride. But—
What am I saying? Is there not a sense of pride
That supports and sustains all achievement,
Even the essential dignity of my own personality?
It may be that I must let go
My dependence upon triumphing over my fellows, which seems
To give me a sense of security in their midst.
I cringe from my pain; I do not relish
The struggle of life but I do not want to let go
Because the hurt and the tension of contest feed
The springs of my pride. They make me deeply aware.
But I must let go of everything.
I must let go of everything but God.
But God—May it not be
That God is in all the things to which I cling?
That may be the hidden reason for my clinging.
It is all very puzzling indeed. When I say
“I must let go of everything but God”
What is my meaning?
I must relax my hold on everything that dulls my sense of Him,
That comes between me and the inner awareness of His Presence
Pervading my life and glorifying
All the common ways with wonderful wonder.
“Teach me, O God, how to free myself of dearest possessions,
So that in my trust I shall find restored to me
All I need to walk in Thy path and to fulfill Thy will.
Let me know Thee for myself that I may not be satisfied
With aught that is less.”
Source: Deep Is the Hunger
howard thurman



glad you’re home…i’ve missed you, my friend

After one month, 4718 miles, 12 states, 11 beds, and visits with 19 family members, we are home. And what did the bear see on the other side of the mountain?

The world goes on. And on and on. Beyond every road, every ten-lane turnpike and two-strand wagon trail, runs another road. Every place you go, and beyond, there is another place, another town, or space between towns, a teeming metropolis or an isolated farmhouse, and people live there. Or something else lives there. For someone, that is home. From where I live to the desert and the tundra, from mountain top to dark sea bottom, there is life living its life, in all its uncatalogable variety. And there are people being beautiful in a million different ways. And there is God’s grace, in all its even greater variety, doing its thing. Whatever is, is in God. And as I look up into a night sky far from cities where I can actually see the stars, they, too, in their silent, mysterious distances, are still in God.

Whatever your day brings, whatever new or familiar experiences come your way, whether you find yourself in a great throng or all alone (or both), know that the One is with you, that Blessing upholds you, that the Presence includes you. No matter where you are, in space or in mind, you are not far away. You are at home in God. Welcome.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


then sings my soul

1aThere are things that make my soul sing –
Like hay bales in a newly mowed field.
Corn with tassels as far as the eye can see.
Tobacco hanging straight on rods drying high in a barn.
Farms fenced with white wood, their pastures dotted
with cows, horses and John Deer green.
Coming down a hill to see
city skyline soft in rainy mist,
or night-time lights.
Fog draping anything.
Crossing a body of water on a brilliantly engineered bridge.
All make me hold my breath with the sight of so much beauty.
The lines and shades of green from the tree farm pine trees looking like Christmas all year.
Small deli’s with homemade sausage and hand cut meats,
where the owner takes care of getting your order,
then comes out to ring you up.
All of these are miracles of extraordinary proportion.
These have fed my soul today.
So much more in store for me tomorrow.
The lavish gifts life brings are many and varied.
I am blessed to be awed by a few on my way.

AL 6/28/13

to the brave…thank you


the most important freedom

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.    You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
– Jim Morrison

thanks for the brave

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.

                                                                                                                              ~ Thucydides


face the truth

Where the Wild Things Are

Go with him
into the deserted places
where mind won’t survive,

deep in your wilds, exposed,
with the beasts,
feral, shifty, wise

in their wordless ways,
their primal hungers,
their devouring instincts,

disappearing easily
into your canyons and outcroppings.
You don’t vanquish them,

you watch,
and learn to survive among them,
and witness the mystery,

how they lie down beside him.
Even they know
these washes and gulches

are a palm.
In this extremity,
you find your place

among your terrors,
your wastelands,
your angels.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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