Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Memories pile on each other
like leaves in autumn,
each one charged with sweetness
or sorrow or worry or bliss.
Soon, the stack is over my head.
I fall in, the way a child might fall
into the pile—letting gravity take me
with no thought of catching myself
from the fall. What surprises is
that even as I am buried in memories,
I am not crushed by their weight.
Even as I roll in all the feelings they bring,
there is a peace that does not leave,
a peace that stays and asks nothing of me.
I once believed I could only know peace
when there was no tumult, no upheaval.
Now, in the wild chaos of it all,
I feel how peace is also here—
a peace so constant that while I tremble,
while I struggle, it breathes me.

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Eternity in an Hour

            with gratefulness to Joi Sharp
Not just to know the self
but to know the nothing
that surrounds it, to feel
how vast that nothing is,
how inside that nothing
is more nothing, and
inside that more nothing
is even more nothing.
To know that. To feel
the self held by infinite
nothing, to feel the nothing
held by the self. How quiet
everything is then. How
easy it is to believe
peace is not only possible,
it is already here. How
beautiful to meet this
truth with another.
Sweet paradox: imbued
with all this lavish nothing,
the moment overspills
with love. It’s everything.
(title from “Auguries of Innocence” by William Blake)

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On election night, Thanos grabs some popcorn.
Adds extra butter. Gets cozy in his sweatpants
and sits on his throne of stone. Feels no urge to snap.
He knows he need not do anything but watch
as humanity destroys itself with righteousness, with blame.
He chuckles as he follows the polls, the news.
How the humans cry. They shout. They attack.
What’s a villain to do but sit back and enjoy?
He sips Jack and Coke, keeps an eye on the cosmos.
If there is a song of peace rising in the hearts of some,
he doesn’t hear it beneath the scowling, the jeers.
But I hear peace swelling as if it is necessary, inevitable.
In fact, I am singing it, the way a star sings
hidden inside an apple. And I am not alone.

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Syntax Lesson

Spring is a verb.
            —Jack Mueller

Ache can verb
and curve can verb
and riot and burn
and break can verb.
We face. We care.
We scheme and swing.
We charm and fool
and do the dream.
We war. We praise.
We gun and raise.
We blur ourselves
into a busy haze.
Even hope can verb.
So does skin. And kiss.
We verbify
delight and wish.
But peace is a noun
that seldom swerves
into the class
of action verbs.
Peace just is—
an unchanging thing
that bids us not
do anything.
But who can resist
the spring?

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It seems too slow,
this moving toward each other,
toward peace.
The heart is eager for union,
longs for grounding between continents,
longs for connection, for wholeness,
instead of all this fracture.
Do the tectonic plates
remember what it was
to be Pangaea? Can the heart
remember a time before
it was defined by rifting
and brokenness?
I have read that the next supercontinent
will form in 200 million years—
that we’re halfway through
the scattered phase.
Oh, we are so scattered.
They say the pace of the plates
is comparable to the speed
at which our fingernails grow.
Oh, so slow, this coming together.
Yet it happens. It happens.
Let the heart know
what the land knows: It happens.

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from our birth … to our death … the wonderment …
             —Dr. Charles Henry Wahtola, Jr., November 19, 2021

And so as the priest leads us
in the litany for the time of death,
and though we are sincere
as we pray, Have mercy on your servant,
we laugh as my father tells Father Keith
the sermon can only be as long
as the pole at the entrance to the building.
We pray, Grant him your peace,
and I weep for the impending loss,
and then we laugh as I tell Dad
for the first time he has a front-row seat
for the service (he strongly
prefers the back row).
And mom delivers an impromptu sermon
and the priest steps back and listens.
And we fondly remember how my childhood priest
would sing the longest rite in the book,
and my brother and I look at each other
and recite in unison, this fragile earth our island home,
and we break into irrational joy.
We pray The Sursum Corda, The Sanctus,
The Lord’s Prayer, my voice
barely a whisper through tears,
then we’re laughing again as we remember
how Dad and my brother would escape
the service as fast as they could to go cast
in the river behind the church, and
there in the hospice room, we keep the feast,
Alleluia, alleluia. And all day long,
though perhaps we speak of football
or grilling or ducks, with every word, every tear,
every laugh, we are saying, Peace be with you.
With every hug, every kiss, every
touch, every breath, we respond,
And also with you.

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Physics of Grief

Before I could feel grief’s full weight,
love came to meet it, and though love did not
take away the grief, not even a picogram,
it dispersed the grief into its smallest bits,
as if to increase the surface area interface
so now every single atom of grief
is surrounded, is cushioned by love.

My friend offers me words in Igbo.
Udo diri, he says. There is peace, somehow.
How, when my bright beamish boy is dead?
Yet here in the unlikely physics of grief,
love holds so tenderly each smallest bit,
and somehow, my boy, can you feel it? peace.

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Make the most of peace.
            —Holiday Mathis, horoscope February 9, 2021

This morning I wake to notice
that nothing hurts. I notice
I am warm beneath the comforter
and the air in the house is cool on my face
and the only sound is a chickadee at dawn
singing its two-note “sweetie” song.

There are mornings I wake already stunned
by the pain of the broken world,
but this morning, I lie for a while
in quiet and savor the thin trace of first light
as it develops grays in the room, savor
the rhythmic rise and fall of my own chest,
savor the feel of my palm on my belly,
welcome its slight weight, its small warmth.

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Some mornings I wake and the peace

that I tried to find yesterday finds me—

arrives in the open palms of the river scent,

in the erratic path of the warbler,

in the low golden angle of sun as it slants

through the gray knuckled branches of cottonwood trees.

Even the broken watering can seems to bring me

news of what’s been here all along—

the peace that holds up the turmoil, the mess.

And the dried grasses in the field

and the tiny new leaves on the currants

gather me into them. They’re like old friends who say,

It’s okay, make all the mistakes you want

around us. Some mornings, through no effort

of our own, we are gathered into the peace

of the patient lichen and the still pond.

It’s the difference between breathing

and being breathed, between asking for grace

and finding that grace has been asking for us.

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I try to see myself

the way I see the trees

far off beyond the field—

something not at all singular

but a tiny part of a whole

that extends beyond sight,

beyond knowing.


It is a long time

before my thoughts

are airy as the silences

between their dark trunks,

quiet as the leaves

that are not yet there.






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