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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

On Prayer

Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.
—Rabindranath Tagore

If I pray, which I seldom do,
but if I do, let me not pray
to be sheltered from dangers,
nor let me pray to be fearless
when facing them. Fear is part
of this human bouquet, as fragrant
a bloom as gratitude.
And it seldom seems to work,
anyway, this premeditation of prayer.
Prayers seem to rise on their own,
like smoke from a volcano no longer latent or
like steam from a cup of mango Ceylon.
But if I might suggest to myself a prayer,
let it be this, though I do not know
who I say it to: Thy will be done.

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Again Again

Your prayer should be, “Break the legs of what I want to happen. Humiliate my desire. Eat me like candy.
It’s spring and finally I have no will.”
— Mathnawi, III (4391 – 4472), “Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion,” by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

I was supposed to pray
for broken legs. Instead,
I prayed for a train to take
me anywhere but here.
Years went by. The train
never came. Rabbit brush
and salt brush pushed up between the rails.
So I thought perhaps I should
pray instead for a horse, but remembered
soon after that I am afraid of horses
and don’t really know how to ride.
So I prayed for car and felt
pretty clever that I remembered
to pray that it come with a full tank of gas.
But the only road out of here
is so muddy, so slippery, so steep,
so riddled with rocks
that any car would soon be stuck.
So I started to pray for strong, strong
legs to carry my weight and take me
far. And I began to walk and grew stronger,
and walked and felt fulfilled, and
the more I thought I was finally in control,
the less I thought I needed to pray. But nowhere
I went was a place that I wanted
to stay. I ran faster and faster
from here to here, out of breath
and dizzy from searching, feet blistered,
body weary, I found a new prayer:
Break the legs of what I want to happen.
Humiliate my desire. You know how it is.
I was still. And it worked for a while—
the sweet release of failure. And then, in the quiet
spring of surrender, the sound came
far off but clear, the whistle of the train
just coming through a tunnel
on its way to somewhere.

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Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
—The Wizard of Oz

Give me a heart that breaks,
a heart that longs to open
wider and wider, always revealing

more space. Give me hands
that long to serve. Make them strong
enough to build what must be built.

Make them fall in love with letting go.
Make them unable to hurt. Give me a mind
that leans toward generosity. A tongue

that speaks in only we. Feet that run
toward those in need. Eyes
that see beneath the masks. Ears

that hear the silence
that is the staff for every sound. A nose
that follows the fragrance of truth.

Blood the same red as everyone else’s.
And give me a heart that breaks again
and again, the way ocean waves

break, unpredictable, an endless
breaking, an endless release,
in which nothing is ever really lost.

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Amen

Today God is perhaps like a rash
that terribly blooms
on your leg. Red blisters
on a raised red patch.
For nearly two weeks,
it is all you can think about.
What to eat for dinner and
it itches. The children need
milk and it itches. The sky!
it’s so pink at dawn and
it itches. It is your best friend’s
birthday and it itches. Israel
conducts an airstrike into Syria
and it itches. This is how
I have wanted God to show up—
hand in hand with everything.
I have wanted to not forget,
to not be distracted by the events
of the world, to find God
in the every fold of the day.
God in the tea cup. God in
the stop sign. God in the empty
dish. God in the brush.
This is not what I had in mind,
this pain, this incessant urge
to shred my own skin, to scratch
what cannot be touched.
But it’s working. All eclipsed.
God in everything.
In the incessant tug of it,
the red, deep pain of it,
the calling to bow to it
now and now and now.

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Three Beginnings

just like heaven
–Katie Melua

she said, girl you ain’t
got a prayer, and I thought that’s
a fine place to start

*

odd, all this snow
around, six below, and here
we are blossoming

*

in the bowl, reflection
of sky—kneeling
I drink it

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losing all my leaves
I did not yet know I would
lose my roots too

*

chipped, this cup,
the wine in it
tastes no worse

*

chanting to the sky
long after the prayer ends
these hands still raised

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Let the beauty we love be what we do.
—Rumi

Sometimes after blanching
the skin peels right off the peach.

It takes only a few minutes
for the naked fruit to glisten,

produce its own coat of sheen.
Slippery and lovely,

if you’ve ever held one,
they wear the same fire

as their skin. Some years,
there are no peaches. Frost

in the buds or the blossoms.
The orchard is a sad place, then.

But this peach, this Rosa,
lustrous and falling out of its skin,

was lucky as I am lucky tonight
to be alive, lucky to be turning the peach

in my hands, slicing into its flesh,
cleaving the halves from the dark red pit

with all the beauty I can muster.

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How’s the dissolution going? –Joi Sharp

Flatten me.
Shuck me.
Dissolve
and melt me.
Disperse me
in the air.

Scatter me.
Shatter me.
Fling and
unmatter me.
Shred, slough,
shear, split, tear.

Loose me.
Reduce me.
Erase and
untether the
small self
who compares.

Help me
abandon
any hope
I’ll ever
arrive
somewhere.

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