Bits from John O’Donohue’s Four Elements: Reflections on Nature

From “Breathe as Prayer”

Breathing has its own rhythm. Breath comes in ebb and flow. Through breathing you come into the rhythm with your self.

From “Space as Welcome and Possibility”

The generosity of air allows each object to merge and to be. Air gives space. Without space individuality would be impossible. Form is the secret of individuality. And form is a line cut into space.

~*~

Sometimes we are so used to looking at objects that we hardly ever look at space.

~*~

But in the air there is an unbroken emptiness which extends everywhere and admits any and every shape.

~*~

All our words reach out into the air. It may be the case that all the words that we have ever used are still somehow in the air. Maybe the wind ferries them in different direction and weaves them with words from foreign places and times. Who knows what tapestries of sound the silent air hides. Maybe in years to come they will be able to retrieve these words that we once sent out from us.

From “The Ocean as Immense Divinity”

If rhythm is a form cut into time, then individuality is a form cut into space.

“Sweet Darkness,” David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

~ “Sweet Darkness,” David Whyte, The House of Belonging

On World Poetry Day

He was my first boyfriend. And he loved Walt Whitman. He made PPTs for me with his favorite quotes from Leaves of Grass.

Then came Daniel Ladinsky. And Hafiz. Hafiz and Ladinsky who threw my heart wide, wide open; who showed me that poetry has room for me and mine too.

Why do I love poetry? This:

There are others who welcome the transport poetry provides. They welcome it repeatedly. They desire it so much they start to crave it daily, nightly, nearly abject in their desire, seeking it out the way hungry people seek food. It is spiritual sustenance to them. Bread and wine. A way of transformative thinking. A method of transfiguration. There are those who honor the reality of roots and wings in words, but also want the wings to take root, to grow into the earth, and the roots to take flight, to ascend. They need such Ming and rising, such metaphoric thinking. They are so taken by the ecstatic experience—the overwhelming intensity—of reading poems they have to respond in kind. And these people become poets.

~ Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry

Poetry, more than anything else, is the language of joy for me. It offers solace, reminding me often of what matters to me.

Poetry is this:

Absolutely Clear
Daniel Ladinsky & Hafiz, The Subject Tonight Is Love

Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,
My need of God
Absolutely
Clear.

And also this:

If It Is Not Too Dark
Daniel Ladinsky & Hafiz, I Heard God Laughing

Go for a walk, if it is not too dark.
Get some fresh air, try to smile.
Say something kind
To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens
by.
Always exercise your heart’s knowing.
You might as well attempt something real
Along this path:
Take your spouse or your lover into your arms
The way you did when you first met.
Let tenderness pour from your eyes
The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth.
Play a game with some children.
Extend yourself to a friend.
Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and
plants—
Why not let them get drunk and wild!
Let’s toast
Every rung we’ve climbed on Evolution’s
ladder.
Whisper, “I love you! I love you!”
To the whole mad world.
Let’s stop reading about God—
Jump to your feet, wave your fists,
Threaten and warn the whole Universe
That your heart can no longer live
Without real love!

I hope you encounter a few poems that find a resonance within you and help you start on your own poetic journey!

“The World I Live In,” Mary Oliver

The World I Live In
Felicity, Mary Oliver

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe
in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once
or
twice I have seen. I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your
head will you
ever, possibly, see one.

A Very Whyte Sunday

first spring flowers

This was a week of cakes, walks, settling into myself some more, and some unexpected changes that though bittersweet make me think of how beginnings need endings too.

What To Remember When Waking
David Whyte, The House of Belonging

In that first
hardly noticed
moment
in which you wake,
coming back
to this life
from the other
more secret,
moveable
and frighteningly
honest
world
where everything
began,
there is a small
opening
into the day
which closes
the moment
you begin
your plans.

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
wholeheartedly
will make plans
enough
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

To be human
is to become visible
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember
the other world
in this world
is to live in your
true inheritance.

You are not
a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not
an accident
amidst other accidents
you were invited
from another and greater night
than the one
from which
you have just emerged.

Now, looking through
the slanting light
of the morning
window toward
the mountain
presence
of everything
that can be,
what urgency
calls you to your
one love? What shape
waits in the seed
of you to grow
and spread
its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting
in the fertile sea?
In the trees
beyond the house?
In the life
you can imagine
for yourself?
In the open
and lovely
white pages
on the waiting desk?

~*~

Everything Is Waiting For You
David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You

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 sweeping 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.

~*~

~ Have a good week everyone!

Sunday Poetry

It’s been a strange week reading-wise. I find myself unable to read through a lot of the books that I am in the middle of. Instead, I find myself turning more and more to non-fiction and poetry. Here are some lines that especially spoke to me.

1.
I just discovered Fernando Pessoa (through the marvelous Shawna Lemay of calmthings) but oh, his poetry gives shapes to things inside me.

I have no ambitions and no desires.
To be a poet is not my ambition,
It’s my way of being alone.

~ from The Keeper of Sheep, Fernando Pessoa & Co., translated by Richard Zenith

(only, I would change “alone” to “being on my own”)

2.
sun and stonesYet my sadness is a comfort
For it is natural and right
And is what should fill the soul
Whenever it thinks it exists
And doesn’t notice the hands picking flowers.

~ from The Keeper of Sheep, Fernando Pessoa & Co., translated by Richard Zenith

3.
Do Not Make Wrong What You Do
© Juhi @ Nooks & Crannies

Do Not Make Wrong What You Do
Let Yourself Off the Hook
I shall begin
by leaving this poem
dangling
and
unfinished

~ juhi @ nooks and crannies

A Sunday Medley

. . . of words running through my body on this brilliantly beautiful Sunday.

1.
Heartache is very fertile ground for song-making but so is happiness, so is absolute bliss.
~K.D. Lang

2.
You Reading This, Be Ready
by William Stafford from The Way It Is

leavesStarting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life—

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

3.
Happiness hums
Contentment murmurs
All is well.

~ Juhi @Nooks & Crannies

“Daily” by Naomi Shihab Nye

These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips

These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares

These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl

This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out

This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky

This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it

The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world

“What Can I Say” – Mary Oliver

What can I say that I have not said before?
So I’ll say it again.
The leaf has a song in it.
Stone is the face of patience.
Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
and you are somewhere in it
and it will never end until all ends.

Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.
The song you heard singing in the leaf when you
were a child
is singing still.
I am of years lived, so far, seventy-four,
and the leaf is singing still.

~ “What Can I Say” from Swan by Mary Oliver ~


I love this bit:

“Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.

To quote Miss Oliver both the spiritual and the life of this world need our attention; “if you skimp on one or the other, you’re not getting the whole show. You have to be in the world to understand what the spiritual is about, and you have to be spiritual in order to truly be able to accept what the world is about.”

I have to take the time out so that I can be the person I want to be.