When Humans Are Just Too Awful For Words

It is not that I don’t think about evil—
I do.  Often.

It is more that I will not let it have the last word.

Horrible things happen
in every part of this world
every day, and
if I allowed myself to feel all the pain there is
I would be paralyzed
and that would do no one
any good
at all.

So I choose a different way.

I know I cannot solve everything—
save the children from sexual slavery
get clean water to every person
remove all the plastic from the oceans
and somehow get rid of this strutting emperor
who dismisses reports of his nakedness
as fake news
while inciting acts so heinous
that we will be ashamed for generations to come—
and it is not that I do not feel angry.

It is more that
I prefer to think about the way,
every spring, even in dry years,
the bright poppies bloom
on the green hills
under the blue sky,
and the shore birds fly up
in vast murmurations,
flashing first white and then gray
and then silver
in the shafts of sunlight
that pierce the soft spring clouds.

It is more that
I prefer to think about the way
the children are rising up in the streets
to remind their elders of their proper work
which is not to sit and wring our hands
and feel helpless,
but to act
and to create
new ways of doing everything.

Life is more powerful than evil
and we are part of it
and must act on our own behalf.

“No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless,”
said Dorothy Day,
“There is too much work to do.”

Think of how much work it is
and how hard
for a baby bird to hatch from an egg;

Think of how much work it is
and how hard
for a tree to grow through a boulder;

And yet they do it all the time.

If the flowers can bloom
and the children can rise up

If the birds can hatch and then they can fly
and if trees can grow through stone

then, certainly—
certainly!—
we have the strength
to overcome evil.
To outgrow it,
to create something different
and more interesting.

Let us hatch
and let us fly
and let us grow
and let us bloom
and together let us
create something beautiful
and new.

 

 

 

 

Present Moment (After Thich Nhat Hanh)

Spirit of Life,
Great immensity of love
in which we live and move and have our being:

Now is the time of great winds dipping into the trees
and stirring them into life;
of fast-moving clouds and sudden showers
of snow and rain;
of squirrels coming back to the ground.

Now is the early spring.

How we long for flowers and green leaves.
How we long for fragrance and color.
How we long to shed layers of coats and scarves
and feel the warm sun on our skin.
But nothing we can do will hurry the season—
life happens on its own time.

So let us let go of our longing for the future.
Let us come into the present moment.
Let us be aware of our breath.

Breathing in, let us calm our bodies.
Breathing out, let us smile.
Breathing in, we calm our bodies.
Breathing out, we smile.

With awareness of our breath
we awaken to this moment
and the beauty all around us.

Blessed be.

(With thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh.)

Let Us Take It Back

At my house
the wind whispers in the pines
rustles through the oaks and cedars
and sets the chimes gently ringing.

A zebra swallowtail floats over raspberry plants.

A blue and black striped dragonfly
darts above the clover
where a thousand bees hum.

A pale blue damselfly lands
on a bright orange marigold.

A tiny California newt
no bigger than my pinky finger
makes its slow little way
among the stones.

A million insects whiz by
in a million different directions
hummingbirds sip from the feeders
and ravens fly overhead
their wings iridescent in the sun.

Frogs and crickets sing their longing for mates
lizards and squirrels madly chase their own kind
hawks shriek and jays argue;
all is green, green, green
against sky of blue, blue, blue.

Down by the river
the air is full of the fragrance of
California buckeye blossoms
and spice bush flowers
and a billion billion green leaves
each a different shape and size
each a factory, photosynthesizing
each one growing toward the light.

The songs of robins, grosbeaks,
tanagers, and towhees
echo through the trees
over the sound of the river
swollen with snowmelt
roaring down the canyon
and the smaller trickle of the streams
flowing down to the river.

At the sides of the trail
green mosses ferns and grasses
are adorned with wildflowers
of every color:
larkspur and yarrow
paintbrush and monkeyflower
Ithuriel’s spear and blue-eyed grass.

This world is so beautiful
that I almost can’t stand it
but somehow I find I can
and I weep
for those who do not even see it.

I weep for their terrible loss
of which they are not aware
because their hearts are so tiny
or so burned or so poisoned or so closed
and I weep for the power we have given them
to destroy all that is sacred and beautiful.

Beloveds—
let us take it back.
That is all we must do to save this world.
Let us take
our power
back.

A Prayer at Flower Communion

Flower Communion Prayer

Spirit of Life,
you who body forth in a myriad
of small, perfect, and also imperfect ways:
pink and purple and red and white and yellow petals,
pistils and stamens,
the dust of pollen,
fragrance to draw in bees
and the bees who make honey,
the hands of people holding flowers,
the eyes of people seeing flowers,
the hearts of people loving each other:
May we never forget how miraculous all this life is.
May we celebrate it in this moment and always.

Blessed be.