Our Beautiful Souls


IMG_3123When something shocking happens in life our world shrinks down.  Everything we know somehow narrows, magnifying the thing in the center that is our pain, our sorrow, our grief, our fear, our shame.  Suddenly we do not see, cannot see, anything outside of what we feel.  We begin a sort of sleep walk.  Moving around, going about the necessities of life, unaware of anything outside of our immediate place in time.  We see ourselves putting on shoes, getting something to eat, talking to friends, paying our bills.  Yet, we are disconnected from all of it.  Suddenly apart from the world, in a cocoon of emotion we can’t even begin to know how to escape.  Everything feels like a dream, as if there is a veil between us and the rest of the world.

Slowly though, the world returns to us.  We start to wake up.  We notice the rain, or a bird, we are aware of the smile of a friend.  We begin to find interest in things we’d forgotten we used to love, and still do.  We look up, and out.  We feel the warmth of the sun and feel the rhythm of the world.  We learn that life moves on, moves forward, one small moment at a time.  Until, finally, we are mostly ourselves again.  A piece of us utterly changed by our experience, but still, ourselves.

The whole of this experience, though usually terribly painful, is beautiful.  The feeling of it, the pulling away, the return, all bring a deeper meaning to our lives.  It can, if we let it, help us to find a peace and a grace we didn’t know before.  It can help us to see more deeply into things.

Life is a gift.  Our friends and family are gifts.  We are lucky, even with the pain and sorrow that inevitably come.  After all, pain and sorrow only come because we were brave enough and our souls beautiful enough to love someone or something.

“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings



“I used to think I was the strangest person…”

IMG_0018“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

“One day you finally knew…”

Evening stroll

Evening stroll

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
— Mary Oliver

“I appeal from your customs.”

“I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I must be myself. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me IMG_5094and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and if we follow the truth it will bring us out safe at last.—But so may you give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me and do the same thing.
The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a rejection of all standard, and mere antinomianism; and the bold sensualist will use the name of philosophy to gild his crimes. But the law of consciousness abides.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance and Other Essays

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste…”

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
― Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

“I sit here…. “

20140303-173148.jpg“I sit here
drunk now.
I am
a series of
small victories
and large defeats
and I am as
as any other
I have gotten
from there to
without committing murder
or being
having ended up in the

as I drink alone
again tonight
my soul despite all the past
thanks all the gods
who were not
for me
― Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last

“This poem is very long…”

“This poem is very long
So long, in fact, that your attention span
May be stretched to its very limits
But that’s okay
It’s what’s so special about poetry
See, poetry takes time
We live in a time
Call it our culture or society
It doesn’t matter to me cause neither one rhymes
A time where most people don’t want to listen
Our throats wait like matchsticks waiting to catch fire
Waiting until we can speak
No patience to listen

But this poem is long
It’s so long, in fact, that during the time of this poem
You could’ve done any number of other wonderful things
You could’ve called your father
Call your father
You could be writing a postcard right now
Write a postcard
When was the last time you wrote a postcard?
You could be outside
You’re probably not too far away from a sunrise or a sunset
Watch the sun rise
Maybe you could’ve written your own poem
A better poem
You could have played a tune or sung a song
You could have met your neighbor
And memorized their name
Memorize the name of your neighbor
You could’ve drawn a picture
(Or, at least, colored one in)

Harris Beach

Harris Beach

You could’ve started a book
Or finished a prayer
You could’ve talked to God
When was the last time you prayed?
Really prayed?

This is a long poem
So long, in fact, that you’ve already spent a minute with it
When was the last time you hugged a friend for a minute?
Or told them that you love them?
Tell your friends you love them

…no, I mean it, tell them

Say, I love you

Say, you make life worth living
Because that, is what friends do
Of all of the wonderful things that you could’ve done
During this very, very long poem
You could have connected
Maybe you are connecting
Maybe we’re connecting
See, I believe that the only things that really matter
In the grand scheme of life are God and people
And if people are made in the image of God
Then when you spend your time with people
It’s never wasted
And in this very long poem
I’m trying to let a poem do what a poem does:
Make things simpler
We don’t need poems to make things more complicated
We have each other for that
We need poems to remind ourselves of the things that really matter
To take time
A long time
To be alive for the sake of someone else for a single moment
Or for many moments

Cause we need each other

To hold the hands of a broken person
All you have to do is meet a person
Shake their hand
Look in their eyes

They are you

We are all broken together
But these shattered pieces of our existence don’t have to be a mess
We just have to care enough to hold our tongues sometimes
To sit and listen to a very long poem
A story of a life
The joy of a friend and the grief of friend
To hold and be held
And be quiet

So, pray
Write a postcard
Call your parents and forgive them and then thank them
Turn off the TV
Create art as best as you can
Share as much as possible, especially money
Tell someone about a very long poem you once heard
And how afterward it brought you to them”
― Colleen HooverThis Girl