Poetry used in our classes and retreats.


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  • 25 Oct 2016 5:11 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Danna Faulds - Being Present

    Breathe, relax and feel;

     take time to slow down

     the pace of life. Watch the

     rise and fall of moods, the

     birth and death of dreams.

     Feelings and sensation seem

     so real, yet they shift like

     changing clouds, and flow

     with the high tide out to sea

     again. Allow it all to be, no

    need to grasp or push away.

     Present with each moment,

     the whole of you, body, mind

     and soul, opens to receive.

    Mary Oliver - Mindful

    Every day

         I see or I hear

              something

                   that more or less

    kills me

         with delight,

              that leaves me 

                   like a needle

     

    in the haystack 

         of light.

              it is what I was born for -

                    to look,tolisten,

     

    to lose myself

         inside this soft world

              to instruct myself

                   over and over

     

    in joy,

         and acclamation.

              Nor am I talking

                   about the exceptional.

    the fearful, the dreadful, 

         the very extravagant

                   but of the ordinary.

                        the common, the very drab,

    the daily presentations. 

         Oh, good scholar.

              l say to myself,

                   how can you help

    but grow wise

         with such teachings

              as these—-

                        the untrimmable light

    of the world

         the ocean’s shine,

                   the prayers that are made 

                   out of grass? 

    Greg Kimura - Too Many Problems

    The dilemma, my love, is

    your life is constructed of all these

    magnificent problems,

    and were you to fix them all 

    there'd be nothing left of you,

    save a naked beautiful soul

    weeping to God and to love

    which is what we all are in the end.

    Instead of fixing all

    those problems

    perhaps it would be easier

    to let them go and just start

    weeping for joy.

    John O'Donohue - Beannacht (Blessing)

    On the day when
    the weight deadens
    on your shoulders
    and you stumble,
    may the clay dance
    to balance you.
    And when your eyes
    freeze behind
    the grey window
    and the ghost of loss
    gets in to you,
    may a flock of colours,
    indigo, red, green,
    and azure blue
    come to awaken in you
    a meadow of delight.

    When the canvas frays
    in the currach of thought
    and a stain of ocean
    blackens beneath you,
    may there come across the waters
    a path of yellow moonlight
    to bring you safely home.

    May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
    may the clarity of light be yours
    may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
    may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
    And so may a slow
    wind work these words
    of love around you,
    an invisible cloak
    to mind your life.

    Albert Einstein - On Compassion

    “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

    Kabir - Inside Your Body There Are Flowers

    Don’t go outside your house to see flowers.

    My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.

    Inside your body there are flowers.

    One flower has a thousand petals.

    That will do for a place to sit.

    Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty

    inside the body and out of it,

    before gardens and after gardens.

    Holly Hughes - Mind Wanting More

    Only a beige slat of sun

    above the horizon, like a shade pulled

    not quite down.  Otherwise,

    clouds.  Sea rippled here and

    there.  Birds reluctant to fly.

    The mind wants a shaft of sun to

    stir the grey porridge of clouds,

    an osprey to stitch sea to sky

    with its barred wings, some dramatic

    music: a symphony, perhaps

    a Chinese gong.

     

    But the mind always

    wants more than it has --

    one more bright day of sun,

    one more clear night in bed

    with the moon; one more hour

    to get the words right; one

    more chance for the heart in hiding

    to emerge from its thicket

    in dried grasses -- as if this quiet day

    with its tentative light weren't enough,

    as if joy weren't strewn all around.

     Rosemerry Trommer - One Morning

     One morning

     we will wake up

     and forget to build

    that wall we’ve been building,

     

     the one between us

    the one we’ve been building

     for years, perhaps

     out of some sense

     of right and boundary,

     perhaps out of habit.

     

     One morning

     we will wake up

     and let our empty hands

     hang empty at our sides.

     

     Perhaps they will rise,

     as empty things

     sometimes do

     when blown

     by the wind.

     

     Perhaps they simply

    will not remember

     how to grasp, how to rage.

     

     We will wake up

     that morning

     and we will have

     misplaced all our theories

    about why and how

     and who did what

     to whom, we will have mislaid

     all our timelines

     of when and plans of what

    and we will not scramble

    to write the plans and theories anew.

     

     On that morning,

    not much else

     will have changed.

     

    Whatever is blooming

    will still be in bloom.

     

     Whatever is wilting

     will wilt. There will be fields

    to plow and trains

     to load and children

     to feed and work to do.

     

     And in every moment,

     in every action, we will

     feel the urge to say thank you,

     we will follow the urge to bow.

     

    Mary Oliver - When Death Comes

    When death comes

    like the hungry bear in autumn,

    when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

    to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

    when death comes

    like the measle-pox;

    when death comes

    like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

    I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

    what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

    And therefore I look upon everything

    as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

    and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

    and I consider eternity as another possibility,

    and I think of each life as a flower, as common

    as a field daisy, and as singular,

    and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

    tending, as all music does, toward silence,

    and each body a lion of courage, and something

    precious to the earth.

    When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

    I was a bride married to amazement.

    I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

    When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

    if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

    I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

    or full of argument.

    I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

    Naomi Shihab Nye - Shoulders

    A man crosses the street in rain,
    stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
    because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

    No car must splash him.
    No car drive too near to his shadow.

    This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
    but he’s not marked.
    Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
    HANDLE WITH CARE.

    His ear fills up with breathing.
    He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
    deep inside him.

    We’re not going to be able
    to live in this world
    if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
    with one another.

    The road will only be wide.
    The rain will never stop falling.

    Rainier Maria Rilke - Be Patient

    Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

    Wu Men - Best Season of Your Life

    Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,

    a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.

    If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,

    this is the best season of your life.

    Safire Rose - She Let Go

    She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

    She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

    She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

    She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

    She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

    No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

    There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

    In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

  • 24 Nov 2014 11:37 AM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    [A "gatha" (gah-tah) is a short verse used in meditation or as a reminder for informal practice. This one offered during the Fall 2014 WPHP retreat day]

    (inhaling) Calming body and mind

    (exhaling) Smiling with Joy

    (inhaling) Living in the present moment

    (exhaling) Knowing it's the only moment

  • 24 Nov 2014 11:35 AM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    [read during the Fall 2014 WPHP class retreat day]

    There are two kinds of intelligence:  

    One acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts

    from books  and from what the teacher says, 

    collecting information from the traditional sciences 

    as well as from the new sciences. 

    With such intelligence you rise in the world.

    You get ranked ahead or behind others

    in regard to your competence in retaining

    information. You stroll with this intelligence

    in and out of fields of knowledge, 

    getting always more marks on your preserving tablets.

    There is another kind of tablet, one

    already completed and preserved inside you.

    A spring overflowing its springbox. 

    A freshness in the center of the chest. 

    This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,

    and it doesn’t move from outside to inside 

    through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

    This second knowing is a fountainhead 

    from within you, moving out


    The Essesential Rumi, Translation by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, Harper, San Francisco, 1995.



  • 04 Nov 2014 3:35 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    [read in the Winter 2014 MBSR class in Bellingham] 

    Do not try to save

    the whole world

    or do anything grandiose.

    Instead, create

    a clearing

    in the dense forest

    of your life

    and wait there

    patiently,

    until the song

    that is your life

    falls into your own cupped hands

    and you recognize and greet it.

    Only then will you know

    how to give yourself

    to this world

    so worth of rescue.



  • 04 Nov 2014 3:33 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    [read in the Winter 2014 MBSR class in Bellingham] 

    I go among the 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 costernations,
    I hear my song at last,
    and I sing it. As we sing,
    The day turns, the trees move.

    -untitled poem from 1992 (?) section of collection Sabbath Poems.
    Berry has a Sunday practice of writing a poem for the Sabbath, mostly written out of doors. 


  • 04 Nov 2014 3:31 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    [read in the Winter 2014 MBSR class in Bellingham] 

    Try to love everything that gets in your way:

    the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps

    murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane

    while you execute thirty-six furious laps,

    one for every item on your to-do list.

    The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water

    like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,

    whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.

    Teachers all.  Learn to be small

    and swim through obstacles like a minnow

    without grudges or memory.  Dart

    toward your goal, sperm to egg.  Thinking Obstacle

    is another obstacle.  Try to love the teenage girl

    idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:

    Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,

    in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.

    Be glad she’ll have that to look at all her life,

    and keep going, keep going.  Swim by an uncle

    in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew

    how to hold his breath underwater,

    even though kids aren’t allowed at this hour.  Someday,

    years from now, this boy

    who is kicking and flailing in the exact place

    you want to touch and turn

    will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat

    raising his champagne glass in a toast

    when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.

    He'll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,

    but he'll come up like a cork,

    alive.  So your moment

    of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,

    because if something is in your way it is

    going your way, the way

    of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.


  • 04 Nov 2014 3:29 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    [read in the Winter 2014 MBSR class in Bellingham]

    I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers 

    flow in the right direction, will the earth turn 

    as it was taught, and if not how shally 

    I correct it? 

     

    Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, 

    can I do better? 

     

    Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows 

    can do it and I am, well, 

    hopeless. 

     

    Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it, 

    am I going to get rheumatism, 

    lockjaw, dementia? 

     

    Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. 

    And gave it up. And took my old body 

    and went out into the morning, 

    and sang.


  • 20 Jul 2014 11:17 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Mary Oliver - When Death Comes

    When death comes
    like the hungry bear in autumn,
    when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
    to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

    when death comes
    like the measle-pox;
    when death comes
    like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

    I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
    what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

    And therefore I look upon everything
    as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
    and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
    and I consider eternity as another possibility,
    and I think of each life as a flower, as common
    as a field daisy, and as singular,
    and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
    tending, as all music does, toward silence,
    and each body a lion of courage, and something
    precious to the earth.

    When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
    I was a bride married to amazement.
    I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
    When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
    if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

    I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
    or full of argument.

    I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

  • 20 Jul 2014 11:17 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)


    Leonard Cohen - Ring The Bells

    Ring the bells that can still ring.

    Forget your perfect offering.

    There is a crack in everything.

    That’s how the light gets in.

  • 20 Jul 2014 11:16 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    John O'Donohue - For a New Beginning

    In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

    Where your thoughts never think to wander,

    This beginning has been quietly forming,

    Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

     

    For a long time it has watched your desire,

    Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

    Noticing how you willed yourself on,

    Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

     

    It watched you play with the seduction of safety

    And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

    Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

    Wondered would you always live like this.

     

    Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

    And out you stepped onto new ground,

    Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

    A path of plenitude opening before you.

     

    Though your destination is not yet clear

    You can trust the promise of this opening;

    Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

    That is at one with your life's desire.

     

    Awaken your spirit to adventure;

    Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

    Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

    For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

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