Thanksgiving Tonglen

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Thanksgiving Tonglen

Tonglen is a Buddhist practice of transforming suffering. I like to think of it as a prayer that’s synchronized with breath. For example, on the in breath, I call into my heart someone else’s suffering, and allow my own light to transform it. On the out breath, I breathe out a blessing for that person. I stay with my breath in this way, blessing one situation over and over, or moving through a litany of circumstances.

Thanksgiving Tonglen

I breathe in, I breathe out.
For this I am grateful.

I breathe in the uncertainty and anguish
of those who are entwined with illness.
I breathe out comfort and healing.

I breathe in the agony
of those who have lost loved ones to violence.
I breathe out love.

I breathe in the aftermath of natural disaster,
the unclean water, the lack I am entirely unaware of.
I breathe out strength and restoration.

I breathe in the violation of sacred gathering,
the reverberating loss of trust.
I breathe out courage.

I breathe in the echoes of silenced humiliation.
I breathe out compassion and forgiveness.

I breathe in the alienation and intolerance
of those misled into acts of violence.
I breathe out healing and connection.

I breathe in the hopelessness
created by messages from ignorant leaders.
I breathe out hope for change.

I breathe in misunderstanding,
between friends, between strangers, between countries.
I breathe out harmony.

For every suffering I am unaware of,
for every person in need of prayer,
I breathe in, I breathe out.

And when my heart can process no more,
I call on the ever-present angels
to absorb what I witness,
to transform every shade of pain,
and to send through me a blessing outward
into the world.

I breathe in, I breathe out.
For this I am grateful.
 

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the dream breaks down

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the dream breaks down

in this interminable uncertainty
comes the melting of belief and structure
so little remains to hold on to
I have often said and secretly feared
the prayer of letting go, of shedding
it is sometimes impossible to discern
the useless or even broken
the shapes form like pillows around my head
I am too sleepy to think
that even one of them
is unnecessary, or even harmful
it all feels so soft

and then I remember the feather I found today
a slip of white among the green blades
perhaps to remind me that I am sheltered
by a wreath of angels
or maybe that I would be fine
if I were to throw away
the whole downy collection under my head
I would be fine
after the long night
of tossing in discomfort

because in that night a light
will cross the waters of anxiety
to wherever I am in my mind,
such as now, on a rock beside a midnight lake
beside a shadowed mountain
that is kissing the orange moon
nothing with me, no pen
and at this age my brain
can no longer make copies of itself
if I were to write a poem in the air
it would surely be lost

and that is what the feather meant:
write poems without pillows
or pens, under the arc of the moon,
sheltered always, whether your brain
remembers or not

 

 

Happy Easter, and a sign

 

Easter Sprig

After taking some photos of a spring tree in bloom this Easter morning, I came inside and discovered this amazing water ring on my counter–the exact shape of the iconic symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Sacred Heart Water Ring

How could I not believe that this was a sign?

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Wishing you signs and blessings and miracles, and a Happy Easter to those to whom this is a holy day. Love to all of you.

an angel and a dog: an interim blessing

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I’ve been in a creative cocoon, a lot going on inside, but not much to see from the outside. While hoping for a poem to emerge, I got this spontaneous sketch instead. It came from nowhere, like a blessing, and it made me smile.  I started with an arc which became the angel’s face, and I finished with a dog. It’s a simple drawing, but I hope you like it. And maybe you’ll be inspired to set your own pen down on a piece of spare paper and without thought or plan, follow the ink until the lines create a message and blessing just for yourself.

For a New Way of Being

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For a New Way of Being

On this day, the people will begin
to remember their humanity.
They will search for the Self
that matters, a Self unconcerned
with accumulation
of anything that does not
raise the spirit,
a Self that reflects a wisdom
not available
in the media or marketplace.

Look into their faces
and pray for their remembering
and their healing.
Then find a new place
where your own remembering
can unfold,
because that is who you were really
dreaming and praying for.
There is no other
to hate or heal.

Love yourself
for wanting to change, wanting
to help, wanting to hope,
for believing in harmony
and kindness.

Watch courage spring up
like wildflowers
along the better road.
Gather what you need,
and bring to the dark edges
of charred thought
the wild, rippling color of change.

 

Need a friend?

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To Offer Friendship

Today I will be a friend.
I will reach out to one person
and invite them into my heart.
I will open the gate and let them
enter as they wish, at their own pace,
or even not at all, if that’s their choice.
I will offer love and the space
of stillness and curiosity.
I will bless their life with secret words.
If they harm me or never come back,
I will still have been a friend
and I will be ready for my next chance
to offer belonging.

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Monday Morning Mary: Amplify Your Light

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Amplify Your Light

Amplify your light
for those who fear
incoming persecution

Amplify your love
for those whose hate
seems vindicated

Amplify your vision
for harmonious change
and acceptance

Amplify your role
as a peace speaker
and deep listener

Amplify your presence
so that those who need you
can find you

You are the agent
of the future you seek.
Your time is now,

Amplify.
 

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Election Day Prayer: God, Bless America

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Dear God,
Wake in every citizen today the unquenchable desire to vote.
Keep every voter safe and free from obstruction or intimidation.
Illuminate our vision that we may see beyond our small thoughts.
Place in our hearts the integrity of non-harming word and deed.

Protect our country from acts of hatred.
Unite us as our new leader emerges.
Unite us in an expansive vision of what could be,
that we may move forward with integrity, compassion, and grace.
Unite us in our patriotism.

God, bless America.

For My Sister

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For My Sister

This is your portrait at age 42:
sitting on your favorite beach
watching the summer ocean curl in,
your hair clipped away
from your bare face,
a few wild strands in the salt breeze,
your luminous smile.
You make the kind of before-picture
where anyone would think, she’s already
beautiful.
This is you, by nature,
serene, an artist in wonder,
you, before you leave
what you came here
to remember.

 

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The photographs in this post were taken last week by my sister, Christine. I had written this poem a bit ago (and never told her), but was searching for a beautiful image to go with it. How serendipitous and ironic that the gorgeous shots I imagined should come from her! When she showed me her photos, I asked her if I could use a few for my next post, but I didn’t tell her about the poem. Surprise, dear sister! And thank you for beautifying my day.

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