Merry Christmas!

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A friend posted this, and I thought I’d pass it on. 


A PRAYER TO THE GOD WHO FELL FROM HEAVEN
~ By John Shea

If you had stayed
tightfisted in the sky
and watched us thrash
with all the patience of a pipe smoker,
I would pray like a golden bullet
aimed at your heart.
But the story says you cried
and so heavy was the tear
you fell with it to earth
where like a baritone in a bar
it is never time to go home.
So you move among us
twisting every straight line into Picasso,
stealing kisses from pinched lips,
holding our hand in the dark.
So now when I pray
I sit and turn my mind like a television knob
till you are there with your large, open hands
spreading my life before me
like a Sunday tablecloth
and pulling up a chair for yourself
for by now
the secret is out.
You are home.

Do Not Be Ashamed- Wendell Berry

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You will be walking some nightin the comfortable dark of your yardand suddenly a great light will shineround about you, and behind youwill be a wall you never saw before.It will be clear to you suddenlythat you were about to escape,and that you are guilty: you misreadthe complex instructions, you are nota member, you lost your cardor never had one. And you will knowthat they have been there all along,their eyes on your letters and books,their hands in your pockets,their ears wired to your bed.Though you have done nothing shameful,they will want you to be ashamed.They will want you to kneel and weepand say you should have been like them.And once you say you are ashamed,reading the page they hold out to you,then such light as you have madein your history will leave you.They will no longer need to pursue you.You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.They will not forgive you.There is no power against them.It is only candor that is aloof from them,only an inward clarity, unashamed,that they cannot reach. Be ready.When their light has picked you outand their questions are asked, say to them:"I am not ashamed." A sure horizonwill come around you. The heron will beginhis evening flight from the hilltop.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

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Happy Mother’s Day to anyone who is a mother, or just has a mother. (I’m only in the latter club) Here’s a poem by Billy Collins, my favorite poet. He’s funny, poignant, and the ultimate go-to guy whenever I meet someone who claims they don’t like/”can’t get” poetry. (which I think is like complaining you can’t see through a stained-glass window)

The Lanyard – Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
What I think I love most about this poem is that the same sentiment can be transcribed to the relationship between God and humanity, or at least God and me. Perhaps grade school arts & crafts are to a mother’s love as our church is to God’s love. Adequate? Heavens, no. Delightful nonetheless? Absolutely.

This Mothers’ Day, I will take my mom and myself out to get pedicures and will promise to go a whole weekend without making fake vomit noises whenever my mom brings up Grey’s Anatomy. Adequate? No. Delightful nonetheless? I can only hope. 

Summer 1986

I highly encourage you to invest in a book or two of Billy Collins’ poems: 

Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected PoemsThe Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems

Poetry Corner

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Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

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 the 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.