Be a Serenity Star: An Intention for the Christmas Season

 

Be a Serenity Star: An Intention for the Christmas Season

This year, I’m trying something new.
I’m creating a practice:
Be a Serenity Star.

Right about now
I usually start “Christmas Thinking,”
that endless rumination
on the infinite ways
to do or not do
the things I believe
are required for a
(Perfect) Christmas.

Despite my efforts every year
to manage Christmas Thinking,
I deplete myself.
I lose sleep. At both ends of the night.

But this year instead,
when I find myself
getting caught up in what
doesn’t really matter,
I’m choosing to
find a Serenity Star,
which is:

1. a soft illumination
in the sky or field or mind
that guides me back
to the Present Moment.

2. someone with an inner light
that illuminates a kinder way
and welcomes me back
to my true self.

This is a practice.
Something to return to
a thousand times a day
if need be.

Find a Serenity Star.
Follow a Serenity Star.
Be a Serenity Star.

 

Peace,

Cheryl

 

Awesome star photo by NASA on Unsplash

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Prayer for Those in Darkness

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Prayer for Those in Darkness or Despair

O Beautiful Mother upon a Cloud
with your mantle of sky,
adorned with pearls of light,

Lift me from despair and darkness
into the brilliance of your gaze.
Keep me lifted
in mind, body, and spirit,
supported by angels
guided by stars,
that I may move fully
into your presence
and receive the gifts I need.

With deepest devotion,
I thank you for every
miracle granted.

**********************

Recently I visited the historic Saint Lucy’s Church in Newark, New Jersey. Built in 1925 by Italian immigrants, the church has all the beauty and splendor of a cathedral. Marble columns, murals painted by Gonippo Raggi, statues of all sizes and types, and marvelous stained glass windows that tell the stories of faith, sorrow, and triumph.

I was particularly taken with two very different statues of Our Lady of the Cloud. One statue rendered Mary in a beautiful sparkling mantle. The other was surrounded by lights. Although I’d never heard of this name for the Blessed Mother, I felt called to pray to this beautiful woman of light and hope. After a quick search, I learned that Our Lady of the Cloud refers to the appearance of the Blessed Mother to a small village in Ecuador in 1696. She appeared on a cloud in the sky above the village.

I also found a standard Catholic prayer to Our Lady of the Cloud, but it didn’t fit. I tried for a week or two to write something broad and beautiful, devotional and deep. In the end, I went off the track and wrote something spontaneous, simple and real.

Although the prayer is written in first person, when I say this prayer, I’m also praying for all persons in despair or darkness.

Any time I’m feeling overwhelmed, even by ordinary circumstances, this prayer is a reminder for me to look up, be held, and say thank you.

Wishing you beauty and bounty this Thanksgiving.

With love,
Cheryl

 

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St. Lucy’s Church, Newark, NJ

 

Finding Words: A Writing Workshop

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I’m so excited to be offering another poetry writing workshop at Yoga Synthesis yoga studio! The next sessions are Wednesday, November 7 from 1-3 PM and Friday, November 9 from 7-9 PM.

Register now, and save $5, or pay $30 at the door.

Discover how a simple practice of writing free-form poetry can transform and deepen your relationship with yourself and your world. Each of us has been given the gift of creativity, with infinite possibilities for expression. Read more…

Play with words, dream with words, heal with words. Come and find your words.

Yours in love in healing,

Cheryl

 

My Poetry Book Is Now Available!

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I’m so happy I can share my work with you in a new way! My book of poetry, 59 Prayers, is now available in print. 59 Prayers is a collection of poems that blossomed from the union of my writing life and my spiritual life. It’s not a book of religion or sanctioned prayer, but an exploration of love, doubt, suffering, and joy.

As some of you may know, I’ve been on a long healing journey. During that time, when so much stillness and solitude were required, poetry became a lifeline. The writing process enabled me to transform negative energy and amplify positive energy. I chose to examine ordinary events through the slow lens of poetry. I created poems that made me feel better. And I have always hoped that the poems would make you feel better, too.

59 Prayers includes some poems that have appeared on this blog as well as other poems I’ve written from the same sea of experience. Some of the poems in 59 Prayers come from a place of struggle or questioning, others from a sense of communion or divine presence. Some of the poems offer blessing for special occasions or life events, such as marriage or interviewing for a job. Others seek to find meaning and beauty in an imperfect world. It’s my hope that you will find the book to be an experience of blessing and healing.

Thank you for following my blog and supporting my work. The world needs more love, and this is one way I’ve chosen to contribute.

Blessings,

Cheryl

 

59 Prayers is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Let Time Be Shy

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Let Time Be Shy

Do not chase time,
driving too fast
to the next of too many
destinations

Unload your calendar
from your right shoulder
Sip coffee on your patio
in the cool morning hour

Let time come out
like a fawn from the whispering greens
Do not reach or try to squeeze it
into your travel mug

No, keep your coffee
in a porcelain cup
Ask nothing
See everything

Time will lie down and stretch out before you
on the sun-ripening earth,
a sentient deer
with nowhere more important
to be.

 

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Seventeen Lights: For Parkland, Florida

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Seventeen Lights

Young Lights, shot
like stars from the firm earth,
your departure blackens
the continent.

Young Lights, who
will wear your sneakers?
who could possibly invoke
your exact brand of joy?
Young Lights, who
is beside you now?
who is beside those bending
into the blank space of loss?

Young Lights, constellate
now in the brain
of any leader too feeble
to calculate the true equations
of guns and minds and money.

Young Lights, baptize
with fire the heart of any leader
who responds to massacre
with thin sympathy
and changes nothing.

Young Lights, remember us,
forgive us,
illuminate us
as you gather at the edge
of Love’s shore,
welcomed.

For the seventeen young lights killed in the Parkland, Florida massacre, February 14, 2018.

 

 

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.