“By the Front Door” by W. S. Merwin
It’s not that God loves broken people more than those who imagine themselves to be whole – it’s simply that they KNOW they are loved. They dare to believe it…and through such trust, a new wholeness emerges from yesterday’s broken pieces.
– Sheila Walsh
God Loves Broken People
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!
*Dietrich Bonhöffer, a young theologian of great promise, was martyred by the Nazis for his participation in a plot against the life of Adolf Hitler.
You may say, “I feel your pain,” but you cannot.
You can only know your own, and imagine another’s.
But God knows your sufferings, for God is in you.
You may feel that your cries go unheard into the darkness,
but God hears, allows your cries into her heart of hearts.
They echo in the mind of God day and night.
And God goes about God’s passionate work: to deliver,
to set us free from oppression, from fear, from death,
from all that holds back our love from its freedom.
No matter your struggles, your gifts, your hopes,
there is this great energy of deliverance
moving in this world, already at work to set you free,
you and all who hope, who suffer, who are oppressed,
who long for freedom, for peace,
for the arms of the One who Hears.
And you, what burning bush have you seen?
What work are you doing, what energy are you following?
How have you taken up your cross and followed
the One who knows our pain,
the one who hears,
the One who delivers?
Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, “That’ s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”
“Take Love for Granted” by Jack Ridl
Sleep hangs in soft evening light
in the corners of the room –
like an old pair of favorite pants,
a few worn-thru patches of natural ventilation.
Soft, favorite, go-to pants.
Saved these days
for time off,
Those ones always ready to take you anywhere in comfort,
on a day where you are
not trying to impress anybody –
just need to be the real you.
Stripped of pretense.
A day where dreams can change your living,
and love songs can overflow inside
from start to finish.
You eat dinner with friends.
Hoping this day of summer
will linger long
like honey on your fingers
after the toast is gone.
Sweet and sticky,
clinging to everything.
for the tongues finding.
The day drops it’s load
and lets go.
Relaxing into nothingness,
eyes begin to shift,
the space between worlds.
Beauty fills the air,
waiting for me.
In the quiet of the night,
I lie alone,
I am loved.
Aware, as I float away,
just how magical
a moment can be.
All poems are not equal.
Just like grades of meat
and paper towels,
there are poems that are tough to read
and poems that melt into your mouth and soul.
There are poems that are flavored to perfection
and poems which have no salt.
There are poems that mop up the spills
and poems that are flimsy and fall apart when you try to use them.
There are poems that move and feel good in your hands,
and poems that make your skin crawl when you read them.
No, all poems are not created equal.
At times I wonder,
why I love this tricky word game,
called poetry, at all.
like this fair morning,
exactly why, I have fallen
THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;–
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy
Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel–I feel it all.
Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:–
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
–But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother’s mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years’ Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,
With light upon him from his father’s eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learned art;
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his “humorous stage”
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul’s immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,–
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o’er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest–
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:–
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
the sky is varying shades
of pale baby blue.
the water is like a silver mirror,
the same rocks that glittered
like a million diamonds,
are silent today.
big dependable rocks,
ready for Monday work week.
still the same.
just in a different mood.
today the brilliant emerald moss
on those huge rocks,
in the metallic mercury,
glow against the silver.
I think of Ireland.
my heart yearns to visit
the Emerald Isle
on the other side of this pond.
life is different there,
yet the same.
I watch as the oyster boat trolls.
a heron waits,
until just the right moment –
then takes off,
flying so close to the water.
on and on
until I lose him in the horizon.
I feel him.
I am waiting for my moment.
resting for the next phase of flight.
and in the fullness of time,
at just the right moment,
I will take a breath and
staying close to the water,
my source of life,
as the epic journey home
My heart knows one thing for sure –
my love story has
a very happy ending
what dawns upon you
that hadn’t before,
pilgrimage toward this moment,
first step at the Red Sea,
so much left behind,
and what abides,
and what is not yet,
what you have and
what will be provided,
its keeping yet to come,
new, and yet from of old
led into the room
already set for you,
without your being able to know
what blessing is in store,
how you are needed here,
what grace is about to unfold.
First day of school.
Let there be light.
All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and last time I looked, no ridge.
I could drive over to Quail Falls
and spend the day there playing bridge,
but the lack of a falls and the absence of quail
would only remind me of Pheasant Ridge.
I know a widow at Fox Run
and another with a condo at Smokey Ledge.
One of them smokes, and neither can run,
so I’ll stick to the pledge I made to Midge.
Who frightened the fox and bulldozed the ledge?
I ask in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge.
The Golden Years
by Billy Collins
Congratulations on your newest beginning. I will scatter walnuts under your bushes for you to discover regularly. Perhaps Sarah Margaret could do the vista?
I love you my lovely friend
I lost my shadow to find myself
I lost my house to find my home
I lost my money to find my value
I lost my motherhood to find my children
I lost my belongings to find my treasure
I lost my song to find my words
I lost my words to find my silence
I lost my illusions to find my voice
I lost my ego to find my truth
I lost my knowing to understand
I lost my anger to find my peace
I lost all my people to find my friends
I lost my insecurity to find my joy
I lost my surety to find my mystery
I lost my perfect to find my human
I lost my dogma to find my divine
I lost my seeing to find my sight
I lost my pride to find my beauty
I lost my fear to find my faith
I lost my religion to find my love
I lost the world to find eternity
I lost my failure to find my victory
I lost my light to find my dark
I lost my dark to find my fire
I lost my will to find my life
I lost my life to be reborn
Sometimes you have to lose everything you think is most important,
to find what really is.
we free fall into love
from the edges of a heartbeat
only if we are willing to let go
and fly into far flung galaxies
love creates explorers
grace births daredevils
danger for love’s sake becomes us
makes us beautiful,
willing to fall off the solid
into the unknown
trusting that what we need at this very moment
is being born in the breath we share
our tears becoming elegant harmonies
in the music being written
which never ends
and is always being reborn
the higher and freer it falls
Love is stubbornly praying for your ‘enemies’ till you see ‘enemies’ are illusions & God makes everyone grace in your life: a friend.
Maybe the world and every thing we see, maybe none of it is only black and white —
but more beautifully complicated, diverse shades of a transforming grace.
– Ann Voskamp