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

 

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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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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

 

 

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.

Mary and Jesus in Ocean Grove - 2

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.
 

autumn-mary

 

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.

Monday Morning Mary: Remain in Love

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In These Times

You have turned to me
in disbelief, shaken
as the earth cracks
like bone
under the plan and force
of stricken minds.

How, you ask,
can this continue to happen?
How, you wonder,
can your tiny prayer matter?

I tell you now
that it does.
That all the tiny prayers
of the world
add up
like the grains of sand
that line the oceans.

Imagine yourself
on the shore of Holy Presence.
Release the answers
you have disguised as prayer.
Receive the messages of love
that arrive on soft waves.

Do not neglect such imagining.
It is prayer.

Walk now, back into your
day which is no longer ordinary,
and be a sanctuary.
Serve love.
Welcome love.
Remain in love.

 

Mary and Jesus in Ocean Grove

Photos taken by my sister, Christine. If you zoom in on the first one, you can see rain streaming like tears down Mother Mary’s face.

Prayer for Getting in the Clear

Golgotha by ALFRED HRDLICKA

A Prayer for Getting in the Clear

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
burnt up.

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.

Golgotha -2  by ALFRED HRDLICKA
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.

Monday Morning Mary: I Cannot Believe in That God Any More

Beach blanket 2009

I Cannot Believe in That God Any More

that giant man with a biblical beard
looming in the sky
unhappy with my mistakes
sending me bad stuff.

The God I love
is a beach blanket
wild with orange and hot pink patterns
sheer enough for light and air
to drift through,
the kind of blanket
that catches in the sunny beach breeze,
flapping and bubbling,
the blanket I can’t wait to
smooth across the hot sand
and plunk my goofy bones down on
so that I can partake in the full menu
of blissful beach therapies:
sand, salt air, surf, sun, sleep.

On ordinary days, like today,
when God is not a beach blanket,
she picks up her knitting
and settles down next to me on the couch
so I can take a nap without worrying.
As I lose myself in the reverie
of the God/beach-blanket metaphor
and all its possibilities,
she loops her long hair behind her ear,
leans over, all pleased and all,
and kisses my forehead,
right on the third eye.
 

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