Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Obscure Sense of the Presence of God

Walking down a street, sweeping a floor, washing dishes, hoeing beans, reading a book, taking a stroll in the woods-all can be enriched with contemplation and with the obscure sense of the presence of God.    Thomas Merton. The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation.

I see how the evening sun lights
the high grass, trees shift in the gentle wind
and small brown birds flit between
outdoor tables as young women
reach for coffee cups
drop sweet crumbs to the rough sidewalk,
to the birds.  Intent on home-work,
office-work, they never look up
to see how the sky
deepens to darker hue;
how day will fade soon
and vermilion night set fire
to the seaward hills.

The west wind will finally drive them in,
and the grateful birds will all fly away.

I see how Your love lurks even in the weeds
that grow on the edge of the most
tended garden; hides in the cries of
the grieving mourning dove;
falls like rain in the tender,
moonless night.

(30 July 2013)

Monday, March 21, 2022

Pure Hope

Ukraine mourns its dead, scores of empty strollers were lined up in the cobbled central square of the city of Lviv on Friday to commemorate the children killed in the country since Russia's invasion.
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“We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope. For when our hope is pure, it no longer trusts exclusively in human and visible means, nor rests in any visible ends. “ Thomas Merton

Close the gun’s edge
life is sharply

Clarity is achieved
when you have nothing left
but hope.

That’s when you realize
that your life stands
without any visible
means of

like a high-
wire walker,
you are

That’s why
you have the freedom
to stand between
the red rage

and the children.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Russian Army Gathers at the Ukrainian Border

armies in the night, steel
wheels scrape
the sacred earth.

Gogol once rode here, troika
flying over drifts, wind
blistering his open lips
as laughing he drew in
the Russian cold.

So many dead souls,
to be bought and sold . . .

for Russian tanks.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Suisunes Woman

when waters were clear
and elk foraged, fearless on 
high bluffs, she waited
for her husband

flowing swiftly 
with catch of salmon
he rode the western wind 
as her eyes guided him

while high above 
gathered the feathery 
souls of the old ones,

returned from sea, 
honored guests,
to the evening feast.

The People of the West Wind

Suisunes once lived
beneath the Twin Sisters.

Ascending beyond the vineyards and twisted oaks,
they still drift through morning mist,
and walk the sacred paths
of their fathers.

Guardian oaks still embrace the People.
Meandering branches lean low,
give clambering children
an easy climb
high to where acorns
fall in the western wind
to feed
their hungry

The Suisunes people, called The People of the West Wind, lived for over 10,000 years in the area where I now live... but they nearly died out within a generation of exposure to European missionaries seeking to save their souls. They would have eluded the attention of the Spanish longer had they not given refuge to escaped mission Indians.  In 1810 several dozen of these gentle people committed  suicide rather than submit to the Spanish.
If you listen carefully in the morning breeze you can still hear their laughter.