life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life

Archive for the category “Purpose”

awareness is the key to change 

I tell my father about the way 

I collect small things

in the sacs of my heart—

thick juniper berries

apple cores that retain their shape

and the click of shells

that sound like an oven baking.

He presses the mole on my shoulder

that matches his shoulder,

proof that I was not found

at the bottom of the sea.

I also got his feet, far from

Cinderella’s dainty glass slippers

and fingers, too wide for most

Cracker Jack wedding rings.

I read how some mammals never

forget their young—

their speckled spots, odd goat

cries, or birthmarks on curved ivory tusks. 

There must be some

thread of magic there

cooling honey to stone—where

like recognizes like or how

a rib seeks its twin.


A Taste of Blue by Cynthia Manick

Our survival adaptations are so tough, but our wounds are so delicate. To heal, we have to lift the armor carefully- it saved our lives, after all. It’s like moving your best friend off to the side of the path. You don’t trample on her, you don’t hit her with a sledgehammer. You honor her presence like a warm blanket that has kept you safe and sound during wintry times. And then, when the moment is right, you get inside and stitch your wounds with the thread of love, slowly and surely, not rushing to completion, nurturing as you weave, tender and true. The healing process has a heart of its own, moving at its own delicate pace. We are such wondrous weavers…


 – Jeff Brown

is to stand

at the center

of circle 

after growing circle

and reach

in the mind

for a far circumference

that holds as focus

an interior so far in

so concentrated

with origin

we find ourselves

by looking out

at what looks back,

the lighted edge 

of rock and sky,

the sweet

unmoving darkness

over the horizon 

that makes

a perfect 

beckoning symmetry

to the night

beneath our feet,

the underground

where light cannot live

but whose darkness

makes a ground 

on which to stand.
The central 

ancestral story

of those who

lived here

looking out

at the same horizon

and the same 



who saw a world

that witnessed them

at a privileged 


their lives caught

like ours

in the glance

of what lies beyond


for a fleeting



From Pilgrim: Poems by David Whyte

Refuse to fall down

If you cannot refuse to fall down,

refuse to stay down.

If you cannot refuse to stay down,

lift your heart toward heaven,

and like a hungry beggar, 

ask that it be filled. 

You may be pushed down.

You may be kept from rising.

But no one can keep you from lifting your heart

toward heaven

only you.

It is in the middle of misery

that so much becomes clear.

The one who says nothing good

came of this, 

is not yet listening.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

   – Mahatma Gandhi

I’m not here to live up to your expectations and you’re not here to live up to mine. 

    – Bruce Lee

we have a very low view of what it means to be human – Wm Paul Young

The Humanity of The Shack.

the space between breaths

All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you.

    – Octavia E. Butler

fierce surrender
relentlessly engaged
In a loud and howling world, it’s in the silence of a broken heart that the chambers of you can hear the sound of God speaking. It’s in the emptiness that happens in the wake of a broken heart, that God fills you with Himself.
Soundlessly, relentlessly praying through your spaces of brokenness makes the heart bigger, until you hold the gift of God alone.
I memorize the white of the moon. Freeze frame the Farmer grinning in the white light of it there on the tractor seat, the peak of his feed cap pulled low over his face. We get to inhale. We get to live every day like it might be our last —- because one of these days, we’re guaranteed to be right.
We get to surrender to the glory, to the weight of it coming through the thinning sky, and there’s nothing in this world that’s normal — there’s only growing blind to the glory. There’s only growing blind to the injustice, to the blood on our own hands, to the love we could make, to the One who says, “Holy Father, keep them in Your name…. —- that they may be one, even as we are one” (John ‪17:11‬) to the truth that we all belong to one another. It’s the cynics who wear armour to shield the heart from all this beauty that wounds.
You are perishable here.

Taste the moments accordingly.
Taste the space between every breath like it is bread, the space between the stars where you and he are just for now, the space between you and faces you love and being here no more, the spaces between the pain, between you and streets of grief, between you and injustice and war and mothers cradling their babies in fear, and learn to love before it’s too late. I need to etch that into me.
You are perishable here, Taste the moments accordingly —

You get to decide whether you are going to taste it, all of it and know that God is good and enjoy Him and make your life about others tasting His goodness too.
You get to decide whether you’re going to spend your one life trying to make an impression and look good —  or make a difference and do good.
You don’t get long here before you get to be a memory — so make your life about getting thirsty people glasses of water.


    – Ann Voskamp


Isaiah 6
There were banks of candles flickering in the distance and clouds of incense thickening the air with holiness and stinging his eyes, and high above him, as if it had always been there but was only now seen for what it was (like a face in the leaves of a tree or a bear among the stars), there was the Mystery Itself, whose gown was the incense and the candles a dusting of gold at the hem. There were winged creatures shouting back and forth the way excited children shout to each other when dusk calls them home, and the whole vast, reeking place started to shake beneath his feet like a wagon going over cobbles, and he cried out, “O God, I am done for! I am foul of mouth and the member of a foul-mouthed race. With my own two eyes I have seen him. I’m a goner and sunk.” Then one of the winged things touched his mouth with fire and said, “There, it will be all right now,” and the Mystery Itself said, “Who will it be?” and with charred lips he said, “Me,” and Mystery said “Go.”
Mystery said, “Go give the deaf hell till you’re blue in the face and go show the blind heaven till you drop in your tracks, because they’d sooner eat ground glass than swallow the bitter pill that puts roses in the cheeks and a gleam in the eye. Go do it.”

Isaiah said, “Do it till when?”

Mystery said, “Till hell freezes over.”

Mystery said, “Do it till the cows come home.”

And that is what a prophet does for a living and, starting from the year that King Uzziah died, when he saw and heard all these things, Isaiah went and did it.


~ Frederick Buechner originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

What is your unrelenting passion?

My Beloved said, “My name is not complete without yours.”

And I thought, How could a human’s worth ever be such?

And God knowing all of our thoughts, and all our thoughts are just innocent steps on the path, then addressed my heart.

God revealed a sublime truth to the world when He sang

“I am made whole by your life. Each soul, each soul completes Me.”
– Hafiz

bits and pieces 

I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.     – Iyanla Vanzant

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.


The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

there are people and places

which live inside me

I feel them 

as I spin the kaleidoscope wheel

they come into focus





each hold exquisite love

each hold delicately intense, brutal, suffering 

each hold ruthless trust,

radical hope,

extreme faith,

continual healing. 

each person,

each place a threshold 

of practical practice,

of growth and becoming,

of wrestling with letting go,

of spiritual teaching towards love,

of defending my tenderness,

of stepping into ‘I am’,

of allowing myself,

of removing the toxic tarter buildup of my own soul,

of seeing glimpses of the unlimited, ever-unfolding mystery. 

I’m so grateful for these people,

these places,

the ones I carry,


and those still before me,

as yet, unseen. 



Just past dawn, the sun stands

with its heavy red head

in a black stanchion of trees,

waiting for someone to come

with his bucket

for the foamy white light,

and then a long day in the pasture.

I too spend my days grazing,

feasting on every green moment

till darkness calls,

and with the others

I walk away into the night,

swinging the little tin bell

of my name. 


Birthday Poem by Ted Kooser

threads that won’t break 

On Dec 3, 2014 (2 year anniversary of my living death in the dark night of the soul, I got a post titled Love never Dies from Jen Lemen at Hopeful World

Here’s a taste of what it said:
I am struck also as I write to you from this wintery desk, that building our capacity for stillness helps so much when the wild comes to our restless souls. Without that practice of being quiet, it’s easy to be scared when our wild, instinctual thoughts pop up. It’s easy to think that they are bad somehow or in need of corralling. But the practice of quiet and stillness helps us recognize our instinctual knowing for what it is: a call to our most true nature. A call to a kind of expression that is more vibrant, more textured, more passionate, more alive–even if it’s a little bit messy. Even if it kicks up a little bit of shame that we are this human, this raw.
So I invite you today to sit with me for three magic minutes. I’ll be right here with you, my own mind a rollercoaster of crazy, of frantic, of nonsensical worrisome things. I’ll sit with you and notice everything in my own soul, while you notice everything in yours and together we will begin to knit together an understanding of what’s underneath that noise: a gorgeous, exquisite tapestry of human longing designed to carry us to an awake magnificent place.
Will you join me?

Setting the timer now.

Let me know how it is on the other side.
With so much love,

It’s now 3.5 years later and Jen Lemen is still bringing all that, and more to me, to you, to the shaky, hoping world, to the edges of eternity…love never dies. 
Today, in this crazy, brutal brutal place, where we ask…
how can these two people be our Presidential choices?
how can people keep killing other people?
how can I deal with the grief and the fear of this? 
how can I help?
what is the solution? 
what is my part? 
Jen Lemen is doing her part. She’s offering Soul Snacks –
Amazing gifts to all of of struggling, hungry, hurting, angry, frustrated pilgrims and poets. 
Right now she has open enrollment and I have just this…
Don’t wait!
Gobble this up, savor it a bite at a time, eat them from start to finish, or nibble from the middle to each edge of crust. Savory, delectable soul-spices involving all your most subtle senses.


Keep wrestling, burn, scream, let go, melt, let your heart keep breaking for the sake of your heart, keep saying the names of your people, fiercely defend your tenderness, think, grieve, repair, renew, continue to do what’s in your heart to do…each thread matters…each color makes the world more beautiful…
in the end, only love is eternal, only love remains…



We are God’s thread

weaving through the tapestry,

the masterpiece is slowly 


Potential for beauty, we can’t know,



          revealing glory 

so bright 

it makes the sun squint 

and reach for sunglasses.  

Brilliance so far beyond ourselves

we go shining into the gray

as we open to the new jewels appearing,

sparkling in the moonlight. 

As we step into the needle’s eye 

the angels catch their breath,

cheering our blazing garments,

dazzled by the vision

God is revealing through the creation. 

As we surrender to the greatest mystery,

the beauty we inhabit 

becomes us,

walking in humble clay

eyes out shining the stars 

set in the heavens. 

Until we totally disappear and all that’s left

is holiness 

so pure 

all we can do 


bow in wonder 

at ourselves

and give thanks 

as the silk thread 

becomes liquid gold and silver

pure and simple


as we realize our place in the whole. 

We are the temple of our creator. 

The home of God. 



As deftly and finally as one pulls out a thread

someone is weaving them, gracefully tying them,

minute and irreversible.
In the towering sky, even under the fortress, 

root tendrils muscle in and bind ligaments

through an abyss we had been told was absolute.
No enormity of terror

can keep up  

with the steady, unseen healing. 
Before the assault, the horrible wound, 

gaping and exposed,

the stitching has already begun.
Even as we sigh in our own world,

moving on, separate,

we are being sewn in. 
In the earthquake, the collapsing mountains,

not a bit of rubble falls

on the path from the temple.
If you could hold your immortal soul

in your hands, you would hardly recognize it

from one moment to the next.
Your grave is already empty. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

photo sources found at

how far will you go?      

Better to live your life open rather than exist on borrowed time, waiting for the great unmasking.

      – Kate Jacobs

love is the flame
all people yearn for the flame

some people never discover there actually is a flame

some people ignore the flame

some people avoid the flame 

some people examine the flame

some people research the flame

some people control the flame

some people fear the flame

some people are fooled by fake flame

some people admire the flame

some people use the flame

some people walk on the flame

some people dance with the flame

some people dance in the flame

some people become the flame

some people are consumed by the flame
your choice…

how will you burn?



Those who are drawn to the root of love are mystics. Mystics are not satisfied with the surface patterns of love, with the emotional tangles and insecurities of human loving. They seek a purer wine, a more potent passion. They need the essence of love, its divine substance.

         ~ Irina Tweedie

On the day I died

water ran through pipes,

footsteps identified people in the house and

the dogs nails clicked quickly on the wood floors above my head,

insisting it was time to go out for relief. 

I still needed coffee,

light with cream,

2 sugars. 

The sun was bright 

and I remember the sky was that deep blue,

romantically named, azurite. 

There was cockscomb, 

half alive in pots near the wooden footbridge I walked over. 

I used to love them when I was alive. 

I touched their red, velvety, blooms seeking to feel something. 

I mistook fluttering angel wings for birds,

battles fought,

 just beyond where I lay

on the words of Wendell Berry –

the only thread

keeping me tethered to this world. 

I sat on benches beside ghosts 

of those who had gone before me. 

I could still only feel them beside me,

I was in the world between worlds. 

There was darkness, a fire swamp, screaming, clashes of swords, 

I could not save myself. 

God was everywhere. 

I found myself in a boat,

where I stayed for 2 years, until, 

in recent weeks,

the call came to step out,

to start walking on water. 

Late in the day, 

I stood in the bathroom, 

accepting the most insulting job offer I have ever received,  

then sat on a stool,

 trying to act as if I was alive,

pretending to look for puzzle pieces,

slightly aware of the colors and shapes,

singing echoes of songs I used to love,

with my beautiful Robin,

who seemed very much alive. 



In Memoriam of my death, consumed by the flame, 

December 3, 2012 – 

may I be remembered as 

Daniel J O’Connell having the:

Spirit of a warrior

Soul of a poet

Irradiat your mind with the light from within, allow your existence to move along within the unbroken continuity of nature. The ideal of authenticity lies deep in the heart of one’s union to the world not the possession of it. The grandeur of unity holds a definitive place in the infinite. When you calibrate your spirit with that of the world you are left open to respond to your life harmoniously with the universe. Unmask your illusions from those artificial ideas you have build your lives upon with walls and boundaries solidifying your thoughts about a tragic disassociation to nature. It’s up to you to be open now or wait for the great unmasking…the choice is yours but unmasking now allows you to reconcile your existence while you still have the chance to live it.

    – Lissette T. Hesmadt

We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.  1 John ‪4:16‬

No matter the results and outcomes,
     the thousand possibilities,

          you are here now. 
Why even try to trace

     what the beggar will do with your money?

          Let your giving be the whole horizon.
Be lovingly present

     and wars and stars and grief and cats alike

          will be unable to trouble you.
At the center of the world and in each breath

     this is the holy temple, the birthing moment:

          giving and receiving love. That is all. 
This is the sacred point,

     the love in you 

          meeting the love in the world.
However broken or weary you are,

     bring yourself here, in love, 


Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

photo sources at

page turner   

A hill or edge or precipice,

horizon out and mystery

above, beneath, within.
Departure, limen: driveway,

pier, or gate, or aisle,

a road; and a goodbye.
A parting; sorrow, mostly

masked, and wonder.

Fear of what is next.
Riven wide enough for light,

made empty space enough 

for pouring in of this:
a breathing— listen— low,

a hope, a vision, passion, 

story told and still unfolding,
woven in your bones and 

pouring through your veins,

and every other soul.
In all those faces, rapt

or gaping, still unknowing,

God has set a flame
not yet but soon to burst,

to shine, to speak. That’s why

Christ came, and came again: 
to breathe it back into us. All

the love of God is there, now,

in your hands, your wanting hands.
The space awaits. The silence 

breathes. The road an arm, a hand.



Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

Strange to realize 

on our very worst day of life

someone else is having their very best. 

Every death 

is countered with birth. 

Every grieving tear 

with belly laughter.

On the night we see the stars fall

the sun is rising on the other side of the world. 

The human spirit cannot be conquered

we rise again with each fall,

else we do not rise at all,

and come to the end,

which is another new beginning. 

Tides come in

as tides go out. 

With every broken heart

there is an answering new moment of love. 

For every first kiss 

a final slamming of the door – 

figuratively or literally. 

For every threshold we cross

we must cross again in a new moment. 

We each have moments of glory 

moments of defeat. 

Worry is the paper tiger 

which strips our moments of joy. 

Illusions of control hide behind our eyes

always revealed to be a waste of our precious resources. 

There is a time for every season. 

In all we are to bring the sacrifice of praise. 

It is the amazing hat-trick to the healing of our wounds 

that in every single circumstance 

we stand in the truth of that moment

and we give thanks,

or curse the darkness. 

Our choices lead us ever onward

toward the life

we will leave behind,

life happens while we make plans,

all we have slips daily through our hands. 

What will we do with your extraordinary, astonishing gift?



photo sources found at

your poetry is just ‘eh’

I googled it

what was the history?

the meaning?

my ability to write,

along with me,

had just been put into this container – a paper bag

that I couldn’t write my way out of???

It felt like a throw down challenge.

how difficult is this challenge?

and, by golly,

how did I get into the this giant paper bag?

armed only with pen,

quite obviously

a silly decision.

Why didn’t I think to bring scissors?



If I had chocolate

I wouldn’t really mind being in this paper bag

I should have seen this coming

been prepared…

just in case I can’t figure out

how to write myself out.

Of course,

I didn’t really intend to get stuck here

in a paper bag –

it just somehow happened.

I got caught in a cross-fire

of two people

with razor-sharp writing skills.

(are they better than mine –

or do we all just have our own voice?


maybe I’ll just stay in this bag

and take a nap.

it’s pretty comfy here.

Oh nice, I have an orange in my pocket.

I can write myself out later

I’ve never found myself in a paper bag before –

think I’ll just enjoy the novelty of the adventure

before I go home for dinner.



doxology and dreams in the dark   


 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. 
– Job 30:26 

Smack dab in the middle of the fight 

While I waited for right 

my day turned to night 
I thought I was fine 

the good I would find 

then early one morning I found I was blind
I lay on the ground 

this dark hell I found 

fluttering wings the only sound 
I drank this dark brew 

no way out but through 

this darkness just grew and grew
Overtaking me, Helpless I turned 

My hope was all burned 

I could not choose what I thought I had earned 
I lay in Your hand 

in Your arc I did land 

trusting the truth I had already found 
Watching life pass 

going ever so fast 

oh how long will this dark, dark night last? 
In spite of the fear 

I am still here 

I give thanks even through tears 
I trust in Your plan 

My life is just sand

I am a follower and not a just fan
and if I should die 

The truth does not lie 

The sun will still be here when I say goodbye

I trust in the way

I open and say

Come open the door today
So light come and hold me 

Love come, grow boldly 

Till every bush, and bud, flames holy 





do or do not….there is no try    – Yoda  


 I want to be the song, a poem

I don’t want to play the record

Perch behind the lens

Hold the pen.

I want to be the song

Live the photo

Experience the novel.

Enough interpreting my existence.

Enough searching for the symbol, the reflection, the meaning.

I am resonant, alive, pulsing


Treble and bass.

Light and shadows.

Beginnings and endings.

All of it.

I want to be the song.

Beating, polyrhythmic, harmonious.

The lyrics my prayers.

I want to live the photo.

Still, present, vibrant.

The image my essence.

I want to experience the novel.

Aching, poignant, truth.

The plot my story.

I want to be alive.

Color, beauty, heart-break.

Engaged, awake, heart-felt.

In awe.



Spread the Love

Eloiza Jorge


click on the photo below to go to Eloiza’s blog Deepening Wisdom


 There comes a time when nothing is meaningful except surrendering to Love. Do It!

  – Rumi

 Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. 

To feel abandoned is to deny 

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, 

even you, at times, have felt the grand array; 

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding 

out your solo voice. You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom. 

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. 

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease  

into the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds 

and creatures of the world are unutterably 

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

Everything is Waiting for You


 Excuse me while I kiss the sky. 
Pardon me while I hug the moon. 

Forgive me while I dance with the ocean. 

Give me a minute while I laugh with the stars. 

Hold your horses while I sing to the angels. 

Patience, my old friend, while I make love to the world. 

Get some rest while I fly the skies with the eagles. 

Count some sheep while I paint a masterpiece with Mother Nature. 


Come lay down beside me and hold me. 

caress my skin with lovers hands. 

whisper secrets my soul longs to hear. 

sing to me softly. 

kiss me like the butterflies. 

while I love you forever 

and ever,

we fall asleep together 

every night,

and I wake to see the face I love every morning. 

Sweet dreams, my love. 

good night. 




photos found at 

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