I wrote this poem as part of a Sabbath activity at the retreat I mentioned in One’s Story and Companions. When I attend a retreat, I enter into a covenant with myself to slow down, talk less, and listen more deeply. In most retreats, that is the norm. We choose to set time aside purposefully and share with purpose in small groups, listening and being present for each other, reflecting in time set aside for solitude, and finding our way back to the circle of kindred spirits. In these ways, it is unlike other conferences, workshops, and training filled with busyness. I focus on opening up space where I experience being vulnerable, in solidarity with others, reflecting, and as I find myself coming home.
The poem began to emerge as I meditated in the morning in the main hall. As I sat, I became fully aware of sounds coming to me from outside as the voice of nature spoke. The reflective moment brought back a memory of the sudden and tragic passing of a young woman the year before. I met her briefly several years before.
Shunryū Suzuki and Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about how each person we greet on life’s journey leaves an imprint on us. We only need to stand or sit quietly and listen and like a wind and gentle rain voices are heard again and again in the silence of that moment.
Sitting inside the drum;
Singing a reverent song,
Tapping, oh-so gently–
Occasional Increased tempo
Adding rhythm in a fresh moment.
Shaking tree limbs and leafs–
Sighing gusts of wind;
Breaking free from reverie,
Dreaming, exploring, imploring
Walking, remembering, enjoying–
Carrying bits of each other.
Yet, in solitude
I took this picture in Waterton Lake National Park several years ago. Memories act like water on rock. They live an imprint, carving out a place in our lives.