Helping people and organizations discern and live out their call
“ A poem can’t free us from the struggle for existence, but it can uncover desires and appetites buried under the accumulating emergencies of our lives, the fabricated wants and needs we have urged on us, and accepted as our own.”
Poetry is an intimate conversation with the wonders of the world, a pilgrim path to a place where we are able to combine our fear, our fierceness, and our faith to make a life we can call our own no matter the difficulties that seem to surround us. “
Poetry is our beginning to open a place for the arts in discernment. "Third things " as they are sometimes referred to, can be a wonderful way of opening new windows into our thoughts and bridges to a different way of encountering and responding to the world.
“You call my name
long after it has been forgotten
by all who say they love me.
You touch me
at the core of my being
while others have left
believing there is nothing there.
You breathe love
into the vessel of my heart
and fill it with warmth and tenderness
even as others take from me
You hold me in a sacred space,
honoring me for who I am,
while others honor me for who they
want me to be.
You call my name,
and I am moved to fears
because I too had forgotten.”
—Daniel Hong-Soo Kim
The Way It Is
There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
Ich bin nur einer deiner Ganzgeringen
No one lives his life
Disguised since childhood,
from voices and fears and little pleasures
we come of age as masks.
Our true face never speaks.
Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.
Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.
- Rainer Marie Rilke
Und doch, obwohl ein jeder von sich strebt
And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:
All life is being lived.
Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?
Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal each other?
Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?
Is it the animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?
Who lives it then? God are you the one
who is living life?
- Rainer Marie Rilke
“Your task….to build a better world’
god said, I answered, “How…?”
This world is such a large vast place,
So complicated now.
And I so small and useless am,
There’s nothing I can do.
But God in all His wisdom said,
Just build a better you!”
– Dorothy R. Jones
“Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here,
No two trees are the same to the Raven.
No two branches are the same to the Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.”
- Native American Elder translated by David Wagoner
“Was irren meine Hande in den Pinseln?
Why am I reaching again for the brushes?
When I paint your portrait, God,
But I can choose to feel you.
At my senses' horizon
you appear hesitantly,
like scattered islands.
Yet standing here, peering out,
I'm all the time seen by you.
The choruses of angels use up all of heaven.
There's no more room for you
in all that glory. You're living
in your very last house.
All creation holds its breath, listening within me,
because, to hear you, I keep silent.”
– Rainer Marie Rilke
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore¬
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over¬
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
- Langston Hughes
Prospective Immigrants, please note:
Either you will go through this door
or you will not go through.
If you go through,
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.
Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.
If you do not go through,
it is possible to live worthily,
to maintain your attitudes,
to hold your position,
to die bravely.
But much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost, who knows?
The door itself makes no promises
it is only a door.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Mary Oliver
I have brought back a good message from the land of 102º:
I had seriously doubted it before;
but the bedposts spoke of it with utmost confidence,
the threads in my blanket took it for granted,
the tree outside the window dismissed all complaints,
and I have not slept so justly for years.
It is hard, now, to convey
how emblematically appearances sat
upon the membranes of my consciousness;
but it is a truth long known,
that some secrets are hidden from health
- John Updike
The Slow Work- of God
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made
by passing through some stages of instability-
And that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually –
let them grow
Let them shape themselves,
without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today
What time (that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Some mornings birth clear focus
Words flow, thoughts coalesce, ideas burst forth
Not so with others
Today there is no point around which such assemble
No path shouts, “follow me”
No space beckons to explore
This morning is unformed and desires to remain so.
Ideas, feelings, passions cannot come out to play.
“Not yet” are words I resist
Mornings are too special
Energy and initiative abound
The promise of blossoms excites and delights
Productivity even waves its hand from behind the crowd.
Then Ah ha!, A light,
Energy and resistance encounter one another.
Some mornings are not meant to be measured;
They simply are.
Trees stand silent against the morning gray sky,
Cold fluffy wrens dance soundless across the firewood stack,
Locust branches lie broken and lifeless amidst leaves months fallen,
Noticed questions vanish where they first appeared,
Presence – Gone.
Dawn’s newness alights with opportunity,
Not to fill but to empty,
To touch absence and embrace otherness
Too soon the day’s beckoning will grow louder and I will respond,
But this morning I will leave no word tracks.
Today I will start from space that has resisted shape;
That chose to remain unformed,
At least until this simple poem sought voice and began to shout
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
From a timbered Choir
"What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from . . . .
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
-T.S. Eliot – excerpt from Little Gidding:
When the song of
The angels is stilled
When the star
In the sky is gone
When the kings and
Princes are home
When the shepherds
Are back with their flocks
The work of
To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To rebuild the nations
To bring peace
To make music in the heart
- Howard Thurman
This poem finds its way
as life does,
searching for the soil
cracks in which
against all odds.
Life makes its way
petals bending with
the dew drops,
and then falling
upon the ground.
The sudden turn of
word never expected
when the pen began,
the sudden sunlight of
a smile or rain upon
the earth long after
seeds have fallen
pointlessly, all open
up new worlds
of stirring life,
of tendrils seeking
places to take hold
nothing would grow.
- Judy Brown
“Don’t establish the
the squares, triangles
life into them, trimming
off left over edges
- American poet A. R. Ammons