Memorial Day

Here we are
Standing at our monuments.
The old sit, bemedaled, in their uniforms,
Listening as the bugle sounds forth
Its haunting solemnity. Strange, how
Fallen comrades often change war’s justification.
The first one dying sets the tone,
Defending holy freedom can become,
In the mind of a soldier, simply revenge.
It gets mean. Tombstones line the hillsides.
In the end our “sacred idols” prevail.

Each personal horror
Dies as each man dies,
Until so few living are left
Even to march in the parade paying homage
To their particular war. Finally, there are
Only children pondering over history books.
Yawning and thinking of recess.

Prophets cry out in the streets,
“War is not the answer.
The way to peace is peace itself.”
A person could get kicked out into the alleyway
For saying that soldiers die in vain.
It is a cruel thing to utter.
If it is the truth, a bitter pill indeed.

There must be some glory in the struggle
to the death. We keep returning to it.
Even as the survivors come back broken
And crazy with pain. Not knowing
What to do with it, all we end up with
Are tears and more wounded sons and daughters.
“When will we ever learn,” the poets sing.

The sun shines down on us all on these days in May.
The lilacs bloom, the apple trees are in blossom.
We the living keep vigil, honor the dead,
Stand ready to do it all over again.
It’s what we know.

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I am a pilgrim
Walking by the light of the moon
In and out of shadows
Having to peer into the darkness,
To see at all.

Beckoned, I am
Urged to keep on the journey
To Press on
Knowing only dimly
And not to depend on better words.

My beating heart is a lantern,
Sure and faithful hope,
Nothing more.
Therein is the union
which claims me
An infinite horizon
Of dawning light
A smile of sunrise and cool morning

Even as it illuminates
Another day of shouting and swords
Which thrive in the afternoon glare
The heat of certitude
The holding of ground
The standing there,
The giving up of walking,
The desiring only to sleep
in the night.

Posted in Contemplation, Contemplative journey, Contemporary Issues, Mysticism, Natural World, Nature, Poetry, Spirituality, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Baby and the Bathwater

Children cry
Hoping to be made ready,
Washed, groomed. For some
It’s an inside job
Away from the cold and huddled masses.

Lifted from the basin,
They are dried, robed
Placed in the center of the table
So as never to fall:
The keepers,
Those born to win.

Away the soiled water runs,
Down the drain, carrying the rest
To fates out of sight, out of mind.

And how easy it becomes
For those given to run,
To forget those with little
chance even to walk.

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The Gaze

“You come here not to gaze at God, but to let God gaze at you”

You are always being gazed at.
Not watched,
Just smiled upon.
It’s what every heart needs.

Even the mountains gaze on you
as you pass.
This whole beautiful earth is
your mother holding you, so present,
Gazing on you.

No, you are not the center of the universe,
But the ages and their stars
Brought you forth
and still wink at you. And the sun
Shines on you just the same.

If you are failing, perhaps
You don’t know how to see
How you are truly seen.
Worthiness is all so freely given.
Don’t let it be the gift that sits on the shelf
Waiting to be opened, while
Nothing springs to mind
to be grateful for.

If you are starving in the midst of
all this simple plenty,
Remember how you are
Being gazed upon
With so much love.

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The Wisdom Way of Knowing

“Teach me, teach me,” the young one cried.
“I want to know all about God.”

“Young one,” the wise one said,
“If it suits you, find your way
to the classroom door.
Learn a trade. Search for a job that has meaning.
Earn some money, buy a house.
Choose a mate, Raise a family.
Cherish your children.

As for knowing God,
For now,
Find the mirror wherein
you see the Face gazing on you with love.
Look into it every morning.
As you work, remember the Face.
As you love, become the Face to the one you love.
To everyone you meet, be that mirror in which
Others looking see themselves as good.

It is right and just for you now
to live in your mind,
To gain mastery, to feel pride
in accomplishment.

There will, I assure you, come a time
when after all you have ever done
is to sit around a campfire,
and you believe that you know
all there is to know about fire,
Your restless mind will fail you and
Your heart will begin to burn.

Until that time,
Let the Face in the mirror be your rock.
Have faith in its truth.

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A Clear and Constant Mirror: a Meditation

The face in the mirror can be for us a “constituting center.”
The face in the mirror gazes out at us: gives us to ourselves; gives us our identity
as beloved sons and daughters.
The face we see in the mirror is not our own face, and yet it becomes our own face.
As we are given to ourselves, our face becomes comely.
The face in the mirror is an active face: forgiving, refraining from judgment.
By smiling on us, the mirror conveys our goodness to ourselves.
In having an accepting countenance, it conveys acceptance.
In its gaze of love, we know we are loved.

We all need such a mirror. We all need to be given ourselves in the gaze of another.
Once the “constituting center” is true, it points us to the answers to life’s deepest questions.

  • Who am I? Whose am I?
  • What is the meaning of my life, any life?
  • A constituting center opens up to us the purpose of existence.

All that is charitable, joyful, peaceful patient, kind, good, gracious, outgoing, inclusive, nonviolent, long-suffering begins and ends with this constituting center.

A true mirror dispels illusions: without such a mirror we search everywhere for an identity. We seek our identity in power, possessions, and prestige.

We are mirrors to each other, for better or worse.

  • We can mirror the Ultimate constituting center. (It is given to us to be the
    gaze of Love to each other.) This is what loving parents do to
    their children; and loving spouses convey to each other, or friends. Even
    creation can mirror to us our beloved state.
  • False mirrors are everywhere. They can be deceiving. They can mirror to us a distorted image of our own humanity which, if we know no other gaze, we end up believing. Many people have only false mirrors in which to gaze. Eventually, they look into any mirror and expect to see a disapproving face, a judgmental face, a face that looks at them with disdain, that hates them. And they are filled with shame.

How sad that the true mirror has been reduced to a worthiness game.
How tragic that so often the gaze of our parents, our teachers, our classmates, our pastors, mirror only this. They too are victims. They too do not yet know who they are.
And there is the consuming gaze of a toxic god, really an idol. (Let jungle vines encircle this stone idol and topple it from its throne.)

Once we are grounded in our true identity, we have a sure rock on which to stand, a firm foundation that cannot be shaken by any of life’s storms. Without this firm foundation we can easily be pulled in many directions, and we are.

If we are to be transformed we need to find the true mirror, the persistent healing gaze, the gaze of love, a gaze that gives us back to ourselves, restores our humanity, restores our true identity. 

The gaze from the true mirror conveys to us

  • That there is nothing to earn. Our belovedness is a given.
  • That worthiness is a mantel placed on us from the very beginning, before we were conceived in our mother’s womb.
  • How we are made for love, and are loved without condition.


Find the true mirror and we find ourselves. It is the pearl of great price; the treasure hidden in the field. It is Holy Wisdom. Lady Sofia, Highest Consciousness, Enlightenment.

 Not to find it, is the greatest tragedy.
But even then
I believe,
the Gaze of Love, the Gaze of our Source, never ends.

Ultimately, this is where we will all find our true name. It is a clear and constant mirror that will never be broken.

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Passing Moments

Sometimes life hands us to ourselves
on a silver platter.
At those times, I am filled
with an abiding sweetness,
call it fleeting joy.

Like on those summer mornings
When the world stands in bold relief,
after the birds wake up
And the sun is rising over the mountains
Gold flecking the trees, casting long shadows.

You might see me dancing in the kitchen,
To Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith
(Yes, it can be done), or
Crosby, Stills & Nash, Vivaldi.

It doesn’t last, but it’s nice.

Our big-little lives
are passing so swiftly
There will never be enough time
For all the infinite longings.
To complete the bucket list.

What we hold is
always a mixed bag:
Toys we cling to,
And so much still to let go of;
Hearts full of love and hate.
We know they will break.
They must break. Open. Spill.

How blessed to be alive,
To catch glimpses
of the glory here, even in the suffering.
We stand in such terrible beauty.
What else can tear us apart,
Touch our soul, bring tears to our eyes,
Give us to ourselves,
Even if for a passing moment.


Please check out my new book. Just click on the cover picture.

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