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Category Archives: Poetry

Gnarly

Gnarly.

When I was still teaching, students would throw around their favourite slang, usually in proper ways. Gnarly was a favourite word of one of the young men I taught for five years.

A young woman used beast. The first time I heard her say that I was unsure what she meant, but it described her play as the Michael Jordan of her basketball league.

Mike photographed a tree and entitled the post Gnarly. It is cool which is what the young man meant when he used gnarly. It is cool there is wisdom in that tree as it does its work. It is also cool to find wisdom in the everyday world of words.

Old Habits

Old Habits.

The picture at Kenne’s post drew me in with questions about old habits. What are the person’s old habits? Is he someone’s old habit?

We wear habits in a way. There is a corporal nature to them including ways we conduct ourselves, think about ourselves and the world. This corporeal nature, habitus, is connected to the word habitat. We inhabit habits and they inhabit us.

When we look in the mirror and see ourselves, perhaps we see the habits in a taken-for-granted way. They just are part of us. Or, do we have someone who is our mirror? Someone who helps us see who we are in clearer way with their honesty and candor?

In Buddhism, others can serve as mirrors. Sometimes, it is in their silence we find ourselves become clearer. Certainly, there is still a graininess to the image and a smokey filter but mirrors help dissipate the graininess and smokiness. The external ordering becomes a patient, compassionate internal ordering.

Frog

Frog.

Basho‘s haiku were gentle and had spaces in them to find silence.

Silence is broken by the sounds of the world and then silence returns. The silence speaks to us when we listen with care and sensitivity. It is in the silence that the noise makes sense. It speaks to us in its echos and traces.

Silence asks us for attention, our presence and mindfulness.

Kiss the Earth

Kiss the Earth.

I will let you read the lovely poem by Thich Nhat Hanh which is at the link.

When we step gently, it is like kissing the earth with our feet and thanking it for supporting it.

When we live in each moment in peace, the peace radiates out from us.

When we touch each other with kindness, the world is a better space.

Behind the Thunder

Mark Nepo is well-known for spiritual prose, but he writes very good poetry.

In this wonderful poem, he reminds me I am looking in the wrong place for the teacher. The teaching is in what is in the environment at a given time and in a given context. Am I willing and able to open up to what is taught? Do I sit in silence and listen to the world as it speaks in me?

I must not be swept away by the environment and my emotions. When I am mindful and present, I am aware of both gifts and dangers. I watch for what is behind the thunder internally and externally.

I keep looking for one more teacher,
only to find that fish learn from water
and birds learn from sky.

If you want to learn about the sea,
it helps to be at sea.
If you want to learn about compassion,
it helps to be in love.
If you want to learn about healing,
it helps to know of suffering.

The strong live in the storm
without worshiping the storm.

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.

The link is to a short poem written by Lao Tzu. The world is a complex place, but nature operates in simple ways. Because of this, the phenomena we experience and how we experience their essence is not easily revealed.

Being mindful requires patience. It takes time to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is there and it speaks to us when we stop and listen with our heart. When we are patient, we can show our gratitude for those things that slip by unnoticed in life’s busyness.

Being patient, begins with showing compassion for ourselves. Without this compassion, we can hardly expect to care for the world, sentient and non-sentient, we continuously encounter. Being patient and compassionate, allows us to be grateful for what we experience, our living.

Think of Others

Mahmoud Darwish wrote this poem in a way that stands out for me. He bracketed every second line as a gentle reminder to remember those who have less than us.

Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at different times, but part of the celebrating is thinking about the good fortune we have and how others may be missing what we call good fortune.

Perhaps, the measure is not material. Perhaps, the measure is in those people and things that are immeasurable.

As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon’s food).
As you wage your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you express yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: If only I were a candle in the dark).

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