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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Monday Morning Mary: January Observation

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January Observation

This year, I do not have to renew
myself or any promises
to hammer away at the faulty
operations inside my bones and brains.

I am free
to drive the January highway
gray and bleak
with not a metaphor in sight
noting simply
that the trees are empty.
 

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Find Water, and You Will Find Freedom

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Find Water, and You Will Find Freedom

Find water, and see beauty.
See beauty, and make art.
Make art, and feel joy.
Feel joy, and find freedom.

 

This poem is simple to read. But, if you choose to wade in, you might discover the poem as a body of water, coming in waves, one line at a time, each line becoming a contemplation or an assignment. Follow one, and see where you end up.

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“The most powerful presence in every poem is what is left out… {A poem} is about creating a sequence of words which work through suggestion and leave space for you to envisage, evoke, or incarnate that which is exactly suggested.” ~~John O’Donohue, From the recorded lecture, “Divine Imagination.”

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Monday Morning Mary: Blessing for a Discard

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I’ve recently gone through a major house move, and now that the essentials have been unpacked, I’m faced with boxes of items that haven’t been looked at or touched for a dozen (or dozens) of years. Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, offered the permission slip I needed to help me let go of many things that no longer brought me joy or had true purpose.

While this book is not a spiritual text, she mentions a practice that I have not seen in any other decluttering/organizing guide: when you decide to discard (or donate) an item, thank it for its service.

Since I love blessings, I latched onto that simple idea, and have been saying many thank-yous and good-byes. I wanted to write a general blessing, but these salt and pepper shakers caught my eye and my heart, and the blessing became specific. Once it was written, I realized the beauty of discarding: nothing, really, is lost.

Dear Little Salt and Pepper Shaker

Thank you for your faithful years
of service on my grandmother’s table
and for wanting to remind me now
of my grandmother and the long train
of holiday tables, fourteen grandchildren
every Easter, every Christmas
eating cappelletti and cannoli
from Union City, where my Italian grandfather
who had died before my birth
once lived.

But I need no reminder.

Better that I free you
from the quiet corner
of my china closet
and send you to a new home
where your hand-painted pink flowers
might brighten someone’s windowsill.

I wish to be lighter now,
to enjoy the pink and white flowers
in the garden of my heart
where my grandmother
flits in and out of sight
like a butterfly
always a delightful and reassuring presence.
~Cheryl

Our Lady of Lourdes at St John Lambertville NJ

Monday Morning Mary: Star of the Sea

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Today’s poem is inspired by my serendipitous visit this weekend to Our Lady Star of the Sea in Manasquan, New Jersey. I love this representation of Mary, with a sailing vessel in her arms, her feet steady on the surface of roiling ocean waves (more pics below).

Prayer for Blessing from Our Lady Star of the Sea

No matter what the ocean brings you this week,
or where it may carry you,
whether you find yourself amid dark waters,
or safely sifting through shells at the shoreline,
may you be blessed.

May you sense the calming presence of Mother Mary
offering you the divine gifts that you need
in every moment.

May her face shine upon your face.
May her heart illuminate your heart.
And may she be for you
a brilliant star
upon a midnight ocean,
offering you beauty and tranquility.

~Cheryl

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More pics from the day…

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Our Lady of the Sea Wildflowers

Our Lady of the Sea Water and Sky

Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother

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Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother

Dear Mother Mary,
I am desperate, and willing
to beg and plead and negotiate
with promises I probably won’t be able to keep.

I would love to write a poem “Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother”
about the miraculous healing-event-extrication.

I guess what I’m saying is, I won’t write it
unless you give me the miracle I’m asking for.

That sounds quite terrible of me, doesn’t it.
Very childish. Well, so be it. I am your child,
and I’m worn out by years of disappointment,
of hope and dashed hope.
I don’t know how many more knockdowns I can take.
Maybe this is the last one.
Or maybe there are hundreds more.

It’s not like I’m living the high life.
Most days, I dwell in the small village
of my home and my imagination
with a small and humble footprint, if any at all.
In setbacks like this one, I feel that footprint
vanishing.

I can see I’m getting nowhere with you.

What’s this? A falling leaf?
You want me to follow this leaf to the ground?
To be surprised when it lands at my very feet?
To make a leaf rubbing with the pencil and paper
I just happen to have?

OK, I’ll make the leaf rubbing.

There. I made it.

Looks like that’s the miracle.

And that this is the poem I wanted to write,
Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother.

Better to write this poem
from a beaten down place
than from one of exhilaration.
Better to write from a place of want
than a place of luxury.
Better to write from despair than glee.

What could be more of a miracle
than to say with surrender and peace
that the Holy Mother sent me a leaf
and it changed my day?

Blessing from the Sun

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Blessing from the Sun

In the morning I open to the sun
my face becomes a gold coin
that absorbs the light
and channels it down to my core
where the boundaries of my heart dissolve
into an orb of transfiguring light

I’m transported to Italy where I’ve never been
to an apartment that would be mine
I open the shutters on the window
which opens the shutters of this orb

my light spills out
my arms float like gossamer fabric
my legs are gilded and statuesque
my organs fuse into one organ
the kind you would find in a basilica
playing Bach while saints sway in the murals

the lyrical flow continues
my light blesses everyone in the street
blesses every fruit tree and flower and stone
until the sun has set and the golden coin is spent

Crossing Threads

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Crossing Threads

If I were wise
I would see that yesterday’s troubles
are vapor.
I survived
even the really bad spell
where I was not certain
my body would last until sunrise.

If I were wise
I would walk out into the sunlight today
not as if I were secured to this life
by a mere spider’s thread
so afraid to test its strength, but
free, just free.

If I were wise
I would sense how
this world and the numinous world
are always weaving through each other,
visible and invisible filaments of energy and love,
how occasionally they tangle
and join briefly in a knot,
how at that knot we come close
so close to crossing,
but then an angel
or an ancestor
yanks us free.

If I were wise
I would see that
my angel yanked me free last night
so I could sit under this tree today,
and think about what she meant when she said,
We will cross that thread
when we come to it.

Prayer for Lying Still

This poem is for a dear friend who is lying still, and is my prayer for anyone in turmoil over unwanted stillness.

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Prayer for Lying Still

If illness calls you to lie still,
may you do so with grace.
If it becomes a permanent requirement
of extended periods of stillness and solitude,
may you accept it with grace.
If your mind in these times
finds no resting place,
know that I have been inside that tornado—
that cyclone in a crypt—
and that I have been there many times,
forced to go there again and again.
So when the cows and eighteen-wheelers fly by,
look for me in the swirling mess,
a mental wayfarer and companion
on this reluctant journey.
Let us lock eyes for an instant,
and when the winds die down,
may we both land with grace.