When you dwell in the dark quadrant of despair
and the book of your life
has become some jumbled hieroglyphics
on a gray, windowless wall,
I stand for you.
I stand on the Green Lawn of a Better Day.
Barefoot, in tadasana, I stand for you
like a mountain, grounded deeply in the earth
and I breathe into my core your garbled chapter.
A violent wind
circles my head like a black wreath.
I remember my own tempest,
how unsure I was of my ability to endure,
how lost I was when my map of Right and Fair
I stand for you at the Crossroads of Change,
my feet firm, the howling wind of shared pain
crossing my head in every direction.
My hands lock over my heart.
Inside a prayer grows wings
and takes flight,
hooks the maelstrom by the tail and trails away
until you and I are both once again
in the clear.
Both photos: GOLGATHA, 1963 by ALFRED HRDLICKA
Installed at Storm King Arts Center, New York
As I wandered the Storm King grounds, I was drawn to this somewhat remote figure in the woods. It had a presence that I couldn’t name. I didn’t identify the title or artist until after I’d left the park. Golgotha was the site of the crucifixion of Jesus. As I studied the photos I’d taken, layers of meaning revealed themselves slowly in my mind. The splash of sunlight at the heart of this figure solidifies my sense of belonging in front of that sculpture at that exact moment.
We are so wise
when it comes to others.
We can see clearly
exactly what it is they
should do to fix their problems.
We may even give “advice,”
and when these others
do not follow our or any other advice,
and their lives worsen
we suffer extra
from our own anger
What if we could see our advice
as false wisdom,
and instead of judgment,
Compassion for those who don’t do
what they should
to help themselves.
This would also mean
holding up a mirror
to see our own veering
from wise fixes
and healthy practices,
and saying, Life isn’t easy.
You’re doing just fine.
I wrote this for someone special who wanted me to share it with you.
Prayer for a Loved One in the Hospital
May your pain dissolve like salt in the ocean
May your breath be soft as a summer breeze
May your heart be a rose, gentle and steady
May all imbalance come to rest as a lake on a quiet morning
May every question spiral outward like a moon shell
toward the answer
May Compassion attend you
May Kindness enter you with every touch
May Wisdom shine upon you,
enfold you, reassure you that you are safe,
In like a lion, out like a lamb. March unfolds with great contradiction, an erratic, alternating flow of whipping winds and warming sun that eventually yields to the surprising gentleness of spring. March offers us a model for gradually letting go of what is harsh inside us and yielding to a self-embrace of gentleness.
In March, I will tell myself: Be gentle, now. When I make a mistake, or have a bad day, I will say: Be gentle, now. When I am unkind, or forget my divine heart, I will say: Be gentle, now. When I stare at the rain, or sit on a warm, sunny stone, I will say: Be gentle now. No matter what, and whenever I can, I will say: Be gentle, now, dear one. You are loved.