“This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.”
— from LEAP by Terry Tempest Williams
With Leap, Terry Tempest Williams, award-winning author of Refuge, offers a sustained meditation on passion, faith, and creativity-based upon her transcendental encounter with Hieronymus Bosch’s medieval masterpiece The Garden of Delights. Williams examines this vibrant landscape with unprecedented acuity, recognizing parallels between the artist’s prophetic vision and her own personal experiences as a Mormon and a naturalist. Searing in its spiritual, intellectual, and emotional courage, Williams’s divine journey enables her to realize the full extent of her faith and through her exquisite imagination opens our eyes to the splendor of the world. READ an excerpt: http://knopfdoubleday.com/book/191447/leap/
Empty of words
Empty of color
Empty of strength
Empty of grief
Empty of empathy
Empty of ability
Empty of thoughts even
I’ve been here many times
I understand it better now
I will allow
I will rest
rest from thought
rest from guilt
rest from wanting
rest from expecting
rest from having to
rest from desire
I rest in my truth
rest in faith
rest in trust
rest in love
rest in what I believe
rest in what I have experienced
I will just be
stay here now
in wordless prayer –
Allowing the emptiness to be
Today I am empty
and it is
well with my soul.
Writing about empty mind is not easy.
When I have got it, there are no words.
When the words come, it goes away.
Sitting in anger and fear,
Mind is full of the past and future.
Images of catastrophes big and small
Jostle for a seat at the brain.
Resentment, incredulity and disappointment
Slide their way into heart spaces
Pushing out loving-kindness.
Equanimity lies in pieces.
Some of us scrape up that slimy
Emotional stuff and put it in jars
To carry along with us,
And then we complain that
Our load is too heavy.
We need to put down that
Lumpy sack of ooze
And take a breath.
The sage said,
“I pack no provisions for my long journey—
Entering emptiness under the midnight moon.”
He did not pack his ego,
Or his remembrance of self.
He carried no big plans
Or regrets of the past.
Like a wise fool he may have
Even forgotten to leave.
While he sits still in darkness,
The moon travels the sky.
Empty Mind by Tom Barrett
I have a small vial of clay
that used to hold my father’s ashes.
They’re on a hillside in Montana now;
the vial is clean and empty,
ready for me.
I should keep it in my pocket,
hold it deep in the folds of my coat,
until I am folded into my little vial of clay.
It asks me, what is the difference
between you and clay?
The answer is water.
That, and love.
The little vial of clay says daily:
drink water while you can,
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in this circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.
You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.
A Community of the Spirit by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. – Chesterton
In the pantry the dear dense cheeses, Cheddars and harsh
Lancashires; Gorgonzola with its magnanimous manner;
the clipped speech of Roquefort; and a head of Stilton
that speaks in a sensuous riddling tongue like Druids.
O cheeses of gravity, cheeses of wistfulness, cheeses
that weep continually because they know they will die.
O cheeses of victory, cheeses wise in defeat, cheeses
fat as a cushion, lolling in bed until noon.
Liederkranz ebullient, jumping like a small dog, noisy;
Pont l’Évêque intellectual, and quite well informed; Emmentaler
decent and loyal, a little deaf in the right ear;
and Brie the revealing experience, instantaneous and profound.
O cheeses that dance in the moonlight, cheeses
that mingle with sausages, cheeses of Stonehenge.
O cheeses that are shy, that linger in the doorway,
eyes looking down, cheeses spectacular as fireworks.
Reblochon openly sexual; Caerphilly like pine trees, small
at the timberline; Port du Salut in love;
Caprice des Dieux eloquent, tactful, like a thousand-year-old hostess;
and Dolcelatte, always generous to a fault.
O village of cheeses, I make you this poem of cheeses,
O family of cheeses, living together in pantries,
O cheeses that keep to your own nature, like a lucky couple,
this solitude, this energy, these bodies slowly dying.
O Cheese by Donald Hall
why is it so hard to see you get in that line?
the one where you wait to fly away…
my heart is so full of you.
I’m so very grateful for you,
for these days,
full and joyful.
Over way too fast.
There’s so much more to do,
ready for more,
standing so tall
with your quick smile,
and quick frown.
I think about you little,
eating cheese off your bed –
you were always a wild animal,
always manufacturing a tail from some found source.
You were always so much more than that –
you were always art,
always real life,
always finding God in the clouds,
always quick to find the silly,
my beautiful son.
I laugh through my tears
at the sheer gift of you.
I love you pure,
to the deepest depths of myself.
I can’t possibly comprehend it,
but I know, somehow,
God loves you even more than I do.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Fly free, be well, live full, and come back soon –
my only prayers
When the news came in over the phone
that you did not have cancer, as they first thought.
I was in the kitchen trying to follow a recipe,
glancing from cookbook to stove,
shifting my glasses from my nose to my forehead and back,
a recipe, as it turned out, for ratatouille,
a complicated vegetable dish
which you or any other dog would turn up your nose at.
If you had been here, I imagine
you would have been curled up by the door
sleeping with your head resting on your tail.
And after I learned that you were not sick,
everything took on a different look
and appeared to be better than it usually is.
For example (and that’s the first and last time
I will ever use those words in a poem),
I decided I should grate some cheese,
not even knowing if it was right for ratatouille,
and the sight of the cheese grater
with its red handle lying in the drawer
with all the other utensils made me marvel
at how this thing was so perfectly able and ready
to grate cheese just as you with your long smile
and your brown and white coat
are perfectly designed to be the dog you perfectly are.
Good News by Billy Collins
photo sources found at http://www.pinterest.com
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
/ Elie Wiesel
drizzled with truffle oil,
sprinkled with sea salt…
who can stop,
once you’ve tasted heaven?
Why have we been taught to protect our hearts?
to live without passion?
told that our sensitivity is a weakness,
not a gift?
We settle for what we consider control,
which is a sham,
an illusion of the most fragile,
We shut down,
avoid the messy feelings,
shields holding our hearts at bay,
afraid of breaking,
in desperation, keeping grief out of our business,
allowing life, and love, to go limp and cold,
lying in the oily, paper-lined, basket,
no one wants to eat this.
What will it take to taste ourselves again?
to reach for another emotion,
and then another,
unable to resist,
as we do for another hot, crunchy, delicious french fry?
Only when we allow all of our emotions,
the full spectrum of our living,
pain and sorrow,
love and joy,
all felt passionately
within our living moments,
our numbered days,
can we become our true selves,
will we allow our highest and best to be revealed?
Only then, can we even begin to step into our lives,
our true hearts,
the love, which we truly deserve,
Once we have have been stripped of our need for perfection,
once we get a taste of this,
we can’t stop reaching,
exploring the shadows,
and the light,
eating the good fruit of the ground,
opening further and further
to the mystery dug in this ground.
Only then can we begin to open into our own unique and precious gifts
Only then,are we finally ready to begin authentically sharing ourselves,
and our gifts,
let us never forget to make our days count and be aware that how we live, and what we leave behind us, matters.