Prayer for Getting in the Clear


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:
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.

Our Lady Star of the Sea - 3

Monday Morning Mary: 1 Week Later

We Are Love

1 Week Later

The shock waves
have not ceased to pulse
outward from the terminal
through Brussels
across every body
of water
and every body
that reels
on this rocky planet

we are love
those who buffet the waves
with whispered prayers
from our faraway posts,
linking, locking,
writing a reply
immutable as the stars
and growing longer
with each new signature:
we are love, we say,
we are love, we pray,
We Are Love.


Our Lady of Lourdes

Monday Morning Mary: Heart Surgery

stars 2

Heart Surgery

When she whispered
I am speaking through your heart
I knew she meant not to me.
She who is larger than the stars
gave promise to shrink into my heart,
become a mystery to solve a mystery.

Comes the day, I pray hello
as I open the door to my heart
and fall asleep.
The doctor enters with his lovely light
looking for places that need more light.
She who relaxes with the angels welcomes him,
answers his questions
until my heart is lit and love
radiates cleanly in every direction.

I awaken to a heart in me
that is neither muscle nor drum,
but glowing space, a vessel
of soft light to guide my way,
a mystery to solve a mystery.



Mother Mary with the morning sun above and a small green orb of light below, a blessing.

Monday Morning Mary: Blessing for the Thing You Must Do Alone

hope rock

Blessing for the Thing You Must Do Alone

When you must cross a threshold that frightens you
to enter a territory you would much prefer to avoid,
may you tether to your wrist
a flock of helium balloons.
As you go where you must,
they will babble overhead
on their long threads,
following you so eagerly,
as if they were new thoughts—
ones of hope, creativity, courage
and love—
waiting, just waiting
for you to think them.

Who can maintain gravity
while holding the potential
to defy it?

Go, then, trailing the colors
of illumination, armed
with new thoughts
to lift you.

Mother Mary with Child

Monday Morning Mary: Mercy

Mary 2 - Mariandale


Mercy comes to me as a blanket
the color of pearls
and ferns
with enough stretch
to cover the awkward angles of
misguided thought

delivered with uncanny timing
not mine
by four angels
who let the blanket
drift down like snow
upon my naked head

their opal wings
say something
I can almost hear

under this mercy
which I do not deserve,
because that is the point
of mercy,
I wonder, what have I learned,
and how am I to share
the pearls


Mary - Mariandale

Sunset on the Hudson River.




Photos in this post were taken on the grounds of Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center, New York.

Monday Morning Mary: When You Need a Reason


brook 8

When You Need a Reason

It’s easy to say
things happen for a reason
when the thing that is happening
is merely inconvenient
or is not happening directly to you.

Be careful when you offer the words
things happen for a reason
as wisdom or consolation to another human being.
Better to utter the words silently as a prayer
of surrender and acceptance.

Things may happen for a reason
but not necessarily
for one that is palatable
or even discernible.

Things happen as a river happens:
each bead of water following another,
collectively carrying
all that needs to be carried
to sea.


The pictures in this post were taken this morning in my neighborhood.

glen 3

We had a blizzard in NJ two days ago, leaving close to two feet of snow in my area, more in other places. With the sun shining full this morning, I couldn’t resist visiting these two brooks. I was enchanted by the snow-covered boulders…

glen 1

and the sound of water flowing over the stones.

glen 2

I almost missed the animal tracks near the water’s edge.

brook 1


brook 6

Spotted this drift along the brook, and it seemed so friendly, nature’s own snowfellow.

brook 3

Nothing more magical than the sun sparkling on the frozen brook. 

brook 9

Sending some of those sparkles along to you.


Mother Mary in snow



Blessing for Lilliana

baby closeup

Blessing for Lilliana on Her Baptism

May you be blessed on this day
with a key to your inner sanctuary,
that place inside you where God always is.

May you come to know prayer
in its full voice:
as a way of living, a way of serving,
a way of being still.

May this rosary invite you to remember
this day when all those who love you
gathered to celebrate your coming
into this world to bless each of their lives
in a unique way.

May this rosary remind you of all the blessings
those people are wishing you today,
the blessings of a life filled with color and beauty,
wonder, compassion, strength, gentleness,
well-being, and courage.

May your light shine, dear Lilliana,
outward from your heart
in every direction.

Mary Garden

Monday Morning Mary: While You Were Praying for Signs

Deer in Valley - One


While You Are Praying for Signs

While you are praying for signs
a handful of deer rest
in the woods
just beside you

While you face east
with the morning sun glinting through
the singing trees in a blessing onto your face
the deer face east, too

While you are silent in devotion
the deer you don’t even know are there
are silent, too

Only when you are done
standing before the Holy Mother
filling your spirit for the day
only then as you take your first step
back into your day
do you see

two deer resting peacefully
in the little valley beside you

and between you and the deer
is your dog
also quiet on the autumn earth

here you all are
in a rare harmony

you struggle in your flawed capacity
to take in
the fullness
of what
you know must be
a gift

it is not the hidden deer
which you now discover to be five
or the silence of your dog in their presence
but the calm energy
that flows freely
like script
among all of you,
evenly creatures
an answer


Deer in Valley - Four

After this lovely experience with these deer this morning, I tiptoed inside to get my camera, and was able to capture the shots you see in this post.

I think the shot above has four of the deer.

Deer facing away

I never knew deer had “eyes” at the back of their head.

Deer three

Someone new arrives.

Deer - Two

May you find the signs you need today.




Monday Morning Mary: When a Legend Dies

Legend Scott Dinsmore, with bread and inspiration

Legend Scott Dinsmore, with bread and inspiration

When a Legend Dies

You want to tell everyone who didn’t know him.

No, wait, to be honest,
first you dissolve into tears.
You read the online post over and over
because maybe you have misread something.
You have been following his rising star
and you cannot believe it is not him writing this time
but someone who loved him
telling you he died in an accident
on a mountain in Africa
with his wife
at age 33.

You cannot believe.

You wait for him to post another video.

Meantime, you go back and reread your favorite
articles on his website, and you hear his voice, the charm
and you cry again

because he was so young
because he was making the world better
because he made you better

without ever knowing.

You wonder how you can feel a passing so sharply
for someone you only wish you could have met

He did work that mattered
and he wrote in clear steps
how you could, too,
how you could do work that matters
how you could Live Your Legend.

You cannot stop thinking how you loved
his raw language
his unabashed idealism
his unrelenting message of possibility
his unbridled love of life.

You want to tell everyone who didn’t know him.

You want to tell everyone who didn’t know him
because somehow now you are his voice.

In memory of Scott Dinsmore, of

Some of Scott’s Great Work:

Blessings of peace to all who knew Scott, one way or another. And special blessings of courage, comfort, and love to his wife and family.

Only By the Grace