Just before daybreak
blue jays light the morning song:
I am here, alive.
I wrote this haiku two days ago, and had planned to post it this morning, but I had no photo to include. First things first, I wanted to water my flowers this morning, before the heat. As I dragged the hose across the lawn, what should be directly in my path but a blue jay feather.
A find like this was automatically for me three things: a sign (all is well, because that’s what feathers mean for me), a reminder (don’t forget to post that blue jay haiku), and a gift (here’s the photo you were looking for).
Haiku are fun to write. If you’ve never had a teacher tell you the formula, it’s 3 lines with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Writing a haiku is like buying a pair of shoes: beauty, comfort, and fit!
Prayer Before Dawn at Easter
May the light of Easter
come to the dark woods
where I now wait
in this arena of brightening birdsong,
and rise in me in a new way
that I may bring the brilliance
hope, renewal, promise,
eradication of brokenness—
to a beautiful fruition
in my next thought.
For One Who Is Unable to Leave the House
When the world has folded in
and left you stranded in your own home,
may you remember that you are not alone.
While you are not living as freely as you once did,
may you remember that you are held
in the earnest circles of prayer,
by someone who may not know you,
and yet loves you, dear Child of God.
May you be free of the harsh filter
that would narrow your vision into pain and criticism
so that you see in your past a trail of fruit and wonder,
God’s goodness as it has unfolded throughout your life.
Even now, as you live with loss, may the angels
soften your sitting, your resting, your dreaming
and open for you the flowers of beautiful thought,
reminding you that you have gifts yet to give—
kindness, love, and the enduring leaning toward God.
This poem is dedicated to those whom I know and love who are no longer able to leave their house freely and are living within the space of their home. It’s also my prayer for everyone I don’t know who suffers the loneliness and isolation of having an illness or injury that keeps them from participating in the life they once had. May you be blessed.
Mother and Child Photo by Cheryl Racanelli. San Alfonso Retreat House.
Be a Serenity Star: Sleep Well
Sweet Serenity Star,
Sleep well. Imagine
a single Energy Angel
of infinite sparkling
all night, infusing
you, your every
cell and space,
of healing light.
This is your new
All is well.
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
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,
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.
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
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.
St. Lucy’s Church, Newark, NJ
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.
59 Prayers is available for purchase on Amazon.
Let Time Be Shy
Do not chase time,
driving too fast
to the next of too many
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
Time will lie down and stretch out before you
on the sun-ripening earth,
a sentient deer
with nowhere more important
Young Lights, shot
like stars from the firm earth,
your departure blackens
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,
as you gather at the edge
of Love’s shore,
For the seventeen young lights killed in the Parkland, Florida massacre, February 14, 2018.