NaPoMo poetry party.18


Bardsey

Malcolm Guite describes himself as “…a poet first of all. That’s a conversation killer. I’m a poet, priest, rock & roller, in any order you like, really. I’m the same person in all three.” In a 2016 interview with Lancia E. Smith, Lancia says of Dr. Guite, “he reminds us again and again with intelligence, beauty and skill that we are not dead yet. It seems with every passing day that we need that reminder the more greatly.” Today is no exception.

I’m just delighted to be spending time with you, Malcolm, albeit long distance as you are currently based in Linton near Cambridge, England. You have brought us a new poem, and a new song that arrived to you just yesterday. Brilliant! Welcome to day 18 of our 30 day poetry party. And to all the good folk that have dropped in to meet you, welcome.

You can connect with Malcolm and learn more about his books and work through his blog and his new youtube channel. His most recent book, After Prayer, is published by Canterbury Press and available here.

Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Malcolm: Yes, the time I don’t spend traveling and attending meetings has become available for the deeper part of my vocation which is to try and serve the muse, to make poems which are as true and as beautiful as I am able to make them. Doing that needs time to read, listen and think, as well as time to write.

Lesley-Anne: Why is art important?

Malcolm: To answer that question, whatever kind of answer I gave, might be to suggest that Art has to be useful, to serve some end other than itself. But human art has no more purpose than God’s art. God did not bring creation into being because he needed it, but because it was a glorious thing and he wanted it to be there – he delighted in it and called it good, good in itself, not good for something else. I feel the same way about art.

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Malcolm: I picked up my guitar and wrote a new song – suddenly, just like that -something I haven’t done for years.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and these new creations.

Blessings and continued health and peace,
Lesley-Anne

The Risen Jesus Greets His Disciples  (John 20:19)

We bolted every door but even so
We couldn’t catch our breath for very fear:
Fear of their knocking at the gate below,
Fear that they’d find and kill us even here.
Though Mary’s tale had quickened all our hearts
Each fleeting hope just deepens your despair:
The panic grips again, the gasping starts,
The drowning, and the coming up for air.

Then suddenly, a different atmosphere,
A clarity of light, a strange release,
And, all unlooked for, Christ himself was there
Love in his eyes and on his lips, our peace.
So now we breathe again, sent forth, forgiven,
To bring this breathless earth a breath of heaven.

My guitar in my hands

When I pick up this old guitar
My mind and soul are free
For every song I ever sang
Will keep me company
My songs can sail me out to sea
Or trek the desert sands
I roam through time and space at will, 
My guitar in my hands

They sent me word three weeks ago
That I should stay at home
To help protect the NHS
I may no longer roam
But that’s all right, this magic box
Lifts me to other lands
And brings me safely home again,
My guitar in my hands

Chorus:
With a guitar in your hands my friends
You’ll never be alone
You can ride the wind with the angel band 
Your can roll with the rolling stones
You can sing your sorrows loud and clear
You can bring your blessings home
Those six strings summon all to hear
So you’ll never be alone

I’’ll be off to West Virginia
Soon as this song takes hold
Where the pickers were as poor as dirt
But all their songs were gold
I’m back there with the Carters now
And all those old time bands
They’ll keep me company tonight
With guitars in their hands

From the days of ancient Greece my friends,
When Homer smote his lyre,
To the studios of Nashville
Where the best are up for hire,
From the pubs and clubs of Dublin
To Scotland’s silver strands
You join a mighty company
With a guitar in your hands

Chorus:
With a guitar in your hands my friends
You’ll never be alone
You can ride the wind with the angel band 
Your can roll with the rolling stones
You can sing your sorrows loud and clear
You can bring your blessings home
Those six strings summon all to hear
So you’ll never be alone

This lockdowns locks give way to me
They open with a pick
Three simple chords can set me free
It’s such an easy trick
So I’ll stay home to save more lives
I’ll meet all their demands
Until we meet again my friends
With guitars in our hands.

 

NaPoMo poetry party.17


Carmen Rempel is here with us today, from Kelowna, British Columbia.

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Hi, Carmen, and welcome to Buddy Breathing.  By the way, I’m enjoying your BLOG But I’m Brave so much. You have a way of tackling tough topics with authenticity and humour. I know you as a compelling public speaker, and I’m delighted to get to know you as a writer.

As you know we’ve been having a daily party for April – National Poetry Month, and I’m hosting a creative a day for a conversation based upon a handful of questions. And then most people share a poem, either one they wrote, or one that wrote them, or one that is meaningful to them. Let’s get started!

Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Carmen: I’ve heard about this “more time” people have been talking about. I’m an adoptive mom of two teenage girls (one with an anxiety disorder and one with an intellectual disability) who are now doing school at home online, while I’m trying to work at home online, so I have less time than ever! I’ve been waking up earlier so that I have a few hours in the morning to read and write before the rest of the house gets up.

Lesley-Anne: What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Carmen: Nothing breathes life into me more than being totally alone in the backcountry. There is a tension of total peace, and constant anxiety as I hike alone with bear spray in hand, hours away from the next human being, with nothing but the Divine Presence and my own thoughts. 

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Carmen: We got a roommate! A friend found herself needing someplace to stay because her roommate was exposed to Covid. We are so grateful to have her staying with us for the next two weeks!

You have a poem with a story for us today, and so I’ll just pass it over to you to introduce us and carry on. Thanks again for dropping by. It makes me long for the days when we will be back sitting across a table sharing a coffee, or a pint, and unpacking something light and frivilous, yeah, right!

Until then, may your words be unleashed and good health be sustained,
Lesley-Anne

When Your Hands Were Little

Background of Poem:

We were going over her old report cards together, snuggled up on the couch, tea waiting to offer comfort sitting wisely beside us. She had never seen them before, and they were from the time well before I knew her, so there was discoveries to be had for both of us. We read about her teacher being proud of her for this and that. I praised her for being called a friendly and helpful kid in kindergarten. I didn’t read that part that said she was well below grade level. I skipped over the extra note written by the teacher asking the parent to make sure she came to school more often because they couldn’t assess her properly because she had missed so much school. I left out the note from the principal asking to meet. Instead I read the bit about how the teacher said she was learning to share well with others. But then she pointed to the box at the top of the page that said “34.5”, and asked what it meant.

Sigh.

“That’s how many absences you had in between March and June in grade 2.” I said.

“Oh.”

There was along pause and I watched the wave of understanding roll over her. Then I watched as the wave of painful memories came next. By the time the third wave, the wave of attached emotions, came crashing in, she shoved the papers aside and laid her head in my lap and began to cry quietly.

I took her hand into mine, and we waited out the waves together.

After a while she started playing with my hand, fiddling with my ring, feeling the sandpaper of my dry skin. She held her hand up, stretched out against mine. “Your hands are so small!” She giggled. Her 12 year old hands match her tall lanky body, and are significantly bigger than mine.

They always have been. In our entire relationship her hands have always been bigger than mine.

I brought my other hand up, capturing her one hand between two of mine, and said “They may be small, but they are capable of taking care of you.”

Her smile turned sad. “I know.” she said.

As an adoptive mom of an older kid I have this guilt companion with me all the time. I’m her mom. Its my job to care for and protect my kid. And she had been going through hell without me. I know its irrational, I know its misplaced, but in my heart I carry a deep regret that I didn’t get to her sooner. This feeling is what inspired the following poem. There is probably some therapist somewhere who would love to name this feeling I experience, but I haven’t met them yet. So this is what I have instead.

If you want to take a peek into the deepest parts of my heart; here you go.

Please handle with care.

When your hands were little

I'm sorry I wasn't there 

I'm sorry that you were alone 

I'm sorry I couldn't be there when your hands were little.

Littler than mine.

I'm sorry I didn't know you then.

I'm sorry that you were scared

I'm sorry I couldn't hold you when your hands were little

Littler than mine.

I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you

I'm sorry that you were hurt

I'm sorry I couldn't soothe you when your hands were little

Littler than mine

I'm sorry I wasn't there to feed you

I'm sorry that you were hungry

I'm sorry I couldn't pack your lunch when your hands were little

Littler than mine

I'm sorry that I missed so much

I'm sorry that you had a whole life before me

I'm sorry I couldn't get to you sooner, while your hands were still little

Littler than mine.



NaPoMo poetry party.16


MermaidPinkHair

Hillary Ross’s energetic and enthusiastic spirit spills over into her creation of music, visual art, songwriting and poetry. Hillary splits her time between Kelowna, British Columbia and Redding, California, where she studies at the Bethel School of Ministry. Like many musicians during the time of COVID, Hillary is finding ways to share her music virtually.

One of your favourite quotes is this;

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” – Miss Rumphius

Let me just say you are doing this, Hillary! Last week I tuned in to a Facebook live concert you held with a friend and it was light-hearted, fantastical, and fun. You have a boundless number of ways of bringing beauty to the world, and I appreciate that about you.

Lesley-Anne: What is this quieter version of life teaching you, if in fact, it is quieter?

Hillary: The word that is ruminating over my spirit these days is selah; to pause and reflect. These days the minutes pass by like molasses and I am forced to either avoid my once unconscious mind or courageously unearth things I might have unintentionally hidden in my heart. This catharsis of tenderly and gracefully exploring places in my life where I have previously pushed pain aside has given me the courage to finally face grief, disappointment, expectations of where I believe I should be in life, deferred hope and unfulfilled promises. Giving myself permission to explore this sadness head on has brought an incredible joy and even though the pain has gone deeper, this gives joy the opportunity to do so as well.

This time is a gift in the midst of uncertainty and agony occurring in our world right now. In the slowing down, my roots have been firmly established, knit together and I have a greater appreciation for my own creativity than ever before and this immense equanimity of peace in my mind found when I yield and surrender control to God. When we surrender control our energy makes its way to the heart and we feel love more. Experiencing more love releases higher levels of oxytocin which suppresses the survival centres in the brain. It’s literally that 18 inch journey, you know that book we did that study on? I want to stay in this space and live from this overflow. Oxytocin signals nitric oxide which signals chemicals which cause our hearts to be filled with energy. We feel wholehearted and have more to give to each other.

Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Hillary: I am spending my time on taking naps and re-establishing my own natural circadian rhythm. Devotionals, morning journaling, yoga, long walks in fresh air, bike rides and writing more poetry as well. I am calling my Grandmother more and being more intentional with family and friends.

I have put on a mermaid themed quarantine concert with my friend and this week I am actually hosting a #StayHomeTour with a few friends from the west coast, follow my band @syrenandthewaves to catch the performances!

I recently released a new single which you can hear on Spotify and I have also organized, cleaned out everything and my next goal is to re-edit my book, Poems By A Mermaid. It is complete but I’ve been putting off publishing it as there’s a few simple spelling mistakes that are pretty hilarious and embarrassing. In one of the poems the line is supposed to read “Roots grow down deep” yet it says “Toots grow down deep.” How’s that for imagery?

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Hillary: Lately I am focusing on being a Christian Hedonist. What is that you might ask? Well I don’t believe in hedonism for selfish reasons but as for things of the Kingdom, I’m exploring how I can fully and wholeheartedly enjoy, lavish, linger, dwell and seek out beauty in every area of life. Polishing up my rose coloured glasses and saying yes to courage and my own dreams.

I am in a dance class and even though our class has moved onto a cyber platform we’re still able to connect, express and dance together. The activity we did today was to dance for April, May and June of 2020. When I danced for April I felt very strong and an anticipation for May. May is my birthday so each year I feel a similarity in that this year will be the greatest one yet! I danced powerfully and noticed that my body was wanting to move in ways I don’t normally move and this brought a greater level of confidence and freedom to myself. I gave myself permission to take up more space and expand my territory in the room. When I danced for June it felt like I was dancing with fulfilled promises over my life and a new perspective as I ended the dance in a headstand. Paradigms being turned upside down.

Here is one of Hillary’s favourite poems & a tiny piece of her art that goes along with it from her book Poems By a Mermaid. You can find and follow all of Hillary’s social media links at www.syrenandthewaves.onuniverse.com.

Hillary it’s been great to host you today, and I hope everyone who joined us enjoyed meeting you.

Peace, and good health to you all,
Lesley-Anne

Reach into my chest,
take what’s left.
Tend to this garden
with your elaborate hand.
I’m going to be more than okay is what they say.

Today,
Breathing deeper,
slower,
than ever before.
Laying here in your arms
of trustworthiness.
Blanket me all day in your presence.
open my minds eye to your constant love. 
Wash me in grace
Remove this brokenness.
I want to skip this process and
freely run from mountaintop to mountain top 
but I’m down in the valley
with a guitar for a gun,

streams in the wasteland,
singing you songs.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 2.33.49 PM

NaPoMo poetry party.15


I have been speaking poems through people since they first woke. Now, in stillness, I celebrate that they are learning, once again, to hear. Here is a message I sent to a friend, who some call Harold Rhenisch. He heard it last fall, but didn’t understand that it was never a poem and always a prophecy. Now he does. We’re getting there! Here’s a photo from Big Bar Lake. As I hope you can see, we’re both there, and now so are you.

down

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?

This quiet is a coming home. I can breathe.

2. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of more time, what are you spending it on?

I am giving my human friends gardens and poems. The rest is up to them.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Nothing surprises me. Instead, there are moments of sadness and delight. I sent a kingbird to Harold’s garden. And he noticed. Beautiful!


www.haroldrhenisch.com
www.okanaganokanogan.com
www.earthwords.net
www.afarminiceland.com

The Messengers



Another lake heaves itself 
up on top of its flat

and flies off towards the clouds
that are billowing 

from the cities to the south.
No one has yet given a word 

for the holes that have appeared 
of late on the plateau,

but considering that the men of the North
have only asked the frost lines 

that the sun etches in the nearly 
dumb wind crests of the snow,

the thin ones that know only a few 
crumbling sounds as words, 

there’s no firm ground for either 
revelations or philosophy. 

No matter. The true philosophers 
are locked inside classrooms to the south, 

struggling to invent birdsong 
out of a dry cracker, a few buttery tones

and mouth harps. So far, 
they have plumbed only

the cough and the hammer.
Here, we have only the broad-winged 

cranes to teach us,  
who fly high above, shining in the sun,

who would never betray 
the emptiness and fullness 

they have scoured
from earth’s night.

They should be lauded as philosophers, too,
but the machines, the darklings 

with the bright eyes of noon eddies,
have received them grinning from their dunes,

so they fly on in long skeins
to the cold North,

following their broad-muscled lakes 
and calling for all of us below to follow

them beyond the edge of the torn 
cloth of the world.


NaPoMo poetry party.14


IMG_20191123_103732

Margaret Macpherson lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Right now she is off-grid, seeking the solitude of the lovely little cabin you see in this photograph. That sounds pretty appealing to me, Margaret.

I’m borrowing your words here, Margaret, when you say you are a writer, teacher and mentor who believes in freedom, self expression, justice and the uncanny ability of the human spirit to connect intimately with others. You love people and words and positive energy and your work speaks of your deep connection to humanity. You’re a Northern lass, a second generation feminist with three kids, a husband and a cat.

We met at Banff Centre, a decade ago, and thanks be to social media, we’ve stayed connected. Our recent lunch at U. of A. was a blast, so many things in common to chat about.

Let’s jump right in with three questions, Margaret, as they are windows into the richness of your life;

1. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Margaret: As a writer and, more recently painter, I have always sought creative pursuits but in these strange times I feel a new urgency to create. Not all that I do is for beauty and comfort, either. Sometimes I believe images and text should probe us to reflect, to consider new perspectives or even new questions. Art can, and sometimes should, make us uncomfortable.

I do feel like we have more time, and that’s curious because I’ve always been an artist and a gig worker but now, in the season of COVID 19, the quality of time is different. It’s blurred and amorphous. People are loosing track of days. It’s marvelous in a bizarre way because what is time if not a construct imposed upon us?

I don’t mind this world order falling away; I think it was broken and unsustainable. My hope is that we can learn from this crisis — death is always with us, we can’t love things, giving and receiving are both important in healthy relationships. I want the world to collectively re-imagine and implement a new order that upholds different values and principals. I know if sounds lofty and it’s not that I don’t succumb to Doritos and Netflix from time to time, but I am changed by this reflective period and, oddly, I feel hopeful.

2. What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Margaret: I think my spiritual life and my intuitive life have been deeply important to my being. I’m a survivor of sexual assault, an outspoken second wave feminist, and someone who gets energy from others, a typical extrovert. This isolation would ruin me if it weren’t for the artistic practices I’ve established and the rich communion I have with my creative self, the Creator within. I always have to acknowledge ego, all the time, however because when it gets in the way, you’re hooped. There is no flow between yourself and the richly mesmerizing spirit world.

I’m experimenting with an expressive visual arts activity involving three principals – deep meditations, trusting the process of the medium (in my case watercolours), and gifting the result. I focus on a particular person or situation and then paint and see what occurs. It’s remarkably revealing at times, but I have to remind myself to acknowledge and let go of ego – I’ve named the practice Non-prophet, just to remind myself how easily ego creeps in.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Margaret: As I write this, our black cat is sitting on the back porch in the mid afternoon sunshine. Watching her ears twitch, I realize how attuned she is to the coming of spring. My own longing for a deeper connection to the Earth surprises me. It might be time to head out to our cabin in the bush. There is no running water there, no electricity, no neighbours, no cell service, just a riverbank and the quietude of a world awakening. I need to feel the spring stirring, the way my cat does.

Margaret Macpherson has two published novels, Released (Signature Editions, 2007) and Body Trade (Signature Editions, 2012), a collection of short stories, Perilous Departures and four non fiction books. Her stories and essay have been anthologized and her poetry scattered to the winds. Margaret’s website is woefully out of date but if you want to get in touch visit her HERE.

Thank you for visiting with me today, and for our connection over the years. I appreciate your infectious optimism, and welcoming spirit.

Be blessed,
Lesley-Anne

And a poem…

Now, Breathe



Now, there is no more busy
Now, we have time
Now, distraction is foreign
and flights of fantasy are the only 
aircraft we can board.

Now, walking outside is our consolation
and brave sun, in our solitude, a new companion.
Now, the stars are less distant, 
and those we love even closer.

Now, we can’t gather
can’t hobnob, can’t see or be seen.
Now, we are quiet
focused, still.

Let’s breathe.
Breathe while the earth is healing
Breathe while the fields ripen
Breathe while the lungs of our longing
thicken and fill.

Time is on our side, at last.
It is all we have left.
Breathe in the ecstasy
of this world

waiting. 

Margaret Macpherson 
03/18/20 

Cover photo by Joel Clements Photography.

NaPoMo poetry party.13


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Rawle James is a mentor, a builder of creative community, and a tireless advocate for social justice. Rawle’s creative vision ten years ago birthed the Inspired Word Cafe, a hip gathering place where many emerging poets in Kelowna have shared their work for the first time in front of a live audience. Rawle led the IWC for the first seven out of ten seasons. Now he focuses his energies on personal coaching, facilitating and public speaking.

You have been an encouragement and creative friend to me over the years, Rawle. Though we don’t seen one another often, I am grateful to keep in touch via social media. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to Buddy Breathing today.

We’ve been asking each one of our guests questions that focus more on how you are rather than what you do, though that’s also important. I find the current situation in the world is cutting through position and power to a deeper place. I wonder what thoughts are prompted for you by these three questions?

1). What is this quieter version of life teaching you?

Rawle: To me, it is reinforcing how much we need each other to live and that we are truly one race. This virus sees our humanity for it matters not your ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious beliefs. The virus simple looks for a host. Are we will to truly see our humanity. To see the human that we are all. We all walk the same earth. We all breathe the same air. We all drink the same water. We all come from woman. And death will visit us all.

2). We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of time, what are you spending it on?

Rawle: Self reflection. I’m looking within to reflect on my beliefs and values and if there are still true for me. This is an opportunity that exist for us all.

3). What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Rawle: On my walk today, I encountered a couple of women who talked about how much they miss touch. As one who loves to embrace others with a hug, I concur with their observation.

Please visit Rawle’s website to learn more about him and his services. His new book can also be ordered there.

Thank you so much for joining in our conversation today Rawle, and for sharing your poetry with us. May you continue to impact lives for good.

Blessings and peace,
Lesley-Anne

…

it’s complete in its emptiness
cocooned in a state of dubious certainty
birth from the same waters of life
that housed me in my mother’s womb

before any I’s are dotted or any T’s are crossed
it is a disassembled inspiration of chaos
floating the cosmos lustfully flirting with the idea of romance
for the spoken word is naked

it awaits capture
to expose and pollinate a creative urge
a download into a suspended moment of arousal
it lays in state to be free verse into a sonnet of images
that coaxes the wild torrent of the dark’s light

it’s not embedded to a rhythm, riff or melody
it’s not nestled on or on top of beats
rapped with meaning
it can paint pictures that evoke memories of days gone by
it can stir feelings of childhood nostalgia
or cowering for safety under the covers from Dracula’s bite

it seduces the imagination in playful celebration of pen and paper
it can question you to ponder the poets meaning asking, what the fuck?
or what colour is the sky in their world?
it can move you to snap fingers in approval or with gratitude
for saying thank you for capturing my feelings
thank you for saying what I could not speak

it’s truth is a naked moment of existence
that oddly resembles my perception of truth
its power can spark revolutions or issue a call to action
to pick up the pen or welded the sword
it is an invitation to know thy self
to explore the evolution of the mind that can uplift our human spirit
it is the unspoken of what we fear
spotlighting the inner story
It is open for interpretation by the listener

It come for you like a train at the station
be there or you’ll miss it
but fear not for it will be capture
for that’s its power
it is between you, the poet and the words
Listen! Listen!
Can you hear it?
Can you feel it?
It sees you!

Blessings and peace,

Lesley-Anne

NaPoMo poetry party.12


new shot for sept 2019

Welcome, Karen Connelly, to our virtual gathering. How I wish we were sitting on a couch, legs pulled up, hands wrapped around a cup of tea, but this will have to do. We’ll begin by focusing on how you are keeping in these strange, life altering days, and then move to a poem you’ve selected to share today with us. I know you read this poem on Instagram recently, so I invite folk to head over there after our time together here.

It has been a week or so since I’ve listened to one of your midnight readings on Instagram. It became a way into deeper breaths, resting in the soothing sound of your voice, and readying myself for sleep. I am so grateful to you for those late evening posts.

Here are the three questions we have been cycling back to each day, and your generous answers;

1. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Karen: Hello Lesley Anne,

Because I’m a writer and therapist and work primarily from my home office, I haven’t changed my schedule all that much, except for a daily walk with my teenage son, which is a wonderful gift. Usually he doesn’t want to be seen with me in public, but now that his parents are his only companions, we’re all spending more time together. This has been an unexpected blessing for all of us. Though I also yell at him more—usually from the kitchen to the second floor– because of the Nefarious Screen Factor. We’re all spending even more time than usual in front of our screens.

But that also has brought a surprisingly positive benefit. I practice a neural-somatic trauma therapy called OEI, Observed Experiential Integration, and it’s been challenging and exciting to figure out how to work with clients on screen instead of in person. I have a couple of older and differently abled clients, for whom this change has been extremely helpful. They don’t have to leave their homes in these times of social distancing, and I’ve learned that doing this special body-based work is possible at a distance. So that’s really thrilling—it’s always exciting to learn something new, or to be challenged and realize you can figure out a solution. In fact, for a couple of these clients, working online is much easier. If someone has more ease in the experience of the therapeutic hour, the work tends to be more effective.

2. What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Karen: I’ve always been a spiritual person with spiritual habits and practices—I’ve been a meditator and student of yoga for decades– but that part of my character has become more defining and more definitive since I underwent an extraordinary crisis a few years ago. I’d let myself slide into that handy category of ‘emergency meditator’—I’d do the work when I really needed to, but I had a lot of secret resistance to the idea of goodness and service.

Cue the major crisis! I was crushed, so my resistances were also crushed. It was excellent. And terrifying. Heartbreaking. It was like Rilke’s poem: you must change your life. There was no more dabbling. I became a trauma therapist (an area in which I’d also meandered and read for years and years). During my training, the spirituality work became very focused and disciplined; I began studying Buddhist and Vedic texts again– really studying them–and meditating, praying and doing yoga every day. So. That is what gives me joy and vitality.

And trees. Walking around. The sky. This world and its creatures. The human voice.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Karen: A breakthrough that a client had. Completely out of left field; something we hadn’t really talked about before. The realization brought her great relief. More than relief: a feeling of resolution and profound grace. I can’t say more than that about her work but I can talk about my own sense of breakthrough, witnessing that, hearing the lightness in her voice, seeing it in her body. Working with people who are wrestling with PTSD seems, on the surface, to be so depressing. I think this is why I resisted deeper healing myself and resisted becoming a therapist for so long (though I was doing ‘mental health first aid’ for years, mostly with friends and students).

But today I glimpsed in my client’s moment of resolution my own emergence from crisis some years ago. People who’ve experienced severe abuse as children sometimes discover an unexpected freedom when they realize that the worst is truly over. The worst is over because we’ll never be children again, and (usually with good therapy) the trapped feelings that characterize PTSD begin to loosen and resolve. The resiliency, the ability to survive, indeed, the ability to thrive and find goodness in this world: human beings are absolutely extraordinary. There are many qualities about us as a species that are pretty deplorable, but when people heal, when they go down into those depths and emerge, their transformations are always surprising. We’re witnessing a lot of that goodness circulating right now, in this time of global crisis. I love that. I love us!

Karen is a literary writer, editor, teacher, and trauma-informed therapist. You can read more about Karen’s work and sign up for her Courage Room blog and newsletter at www.karenconnelly.ca.

Blessings and gratitude to you for spending time here today, Karen,
Lesley-Anne

Sonnet II/29


From Sonnets for Orpheus, by Rainier Maria Rilke, 
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy in 2003, 
during the early months of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

 
Quiet friend who has come so far,

Feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

And you the bell. As you ring,

 

What batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself into wine.

 

In this uncontainable night,

Be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

The meaning discovered there.

 

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

Say to the silent earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.

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Photo: Lesley-Anne Evans

Today is Easter Sunday. Whatever your Easter tradition or practice, whether you have one or not, I celebrate your presence. Having thoroughly enjoyed our time together over the past 10 days, and looking forward to more this month, here I am, hosting myself.

Easter Sunday is a day in the Christian tradition we’d be gathering together all over the world. We’d be turning to one another and saying: He is Risen; He is Risen Indeed! Those words are a proclamation for followers of Christ; those who trust in God’s mystery and love; those who celebrate the compelling audacity of Easter’s message; those who hold holy questions and doubts and wonderings; me.

I have been wandering on the road between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And I arrive back here: with my lack of knowledge and understanding, and with my inconsistency of practice and ofttimes questionable motivation, still I am the BELOVED of GOD. The Easter story is perhaps so mythic and audacious because of its offer of unconditional and divine LOVE.

With a gift like this, then why does Easter feel less like a celebration this year? Why have I struggled so much with what I will say today on this blog post? Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, borrows the words of her dear friend Rachael Held Evans, when she describes similar unsettled feelings this Easter. Sarah shares her Easter Sunday Field Notes deeply grounded in her life of faith, and then she says this:

On the days when I believe this…

It’s the oddest and yet the most honest thing for her to say in my opinion, this way of believing one day, and not the next. What else do I have but the truth of my own experience? And this is how my faith looks; one day transformed by love; one day tempered by the worry of personal circumstances and a great blanket of fear and weariness brought on by COVID; one day I believe; the next I wonder if any of it is true.

In her Easter message, Sarah goes on to say:
“God [is] with those still mourning, with the scared, with the sick, with the angry, with those who hold the great and terrible knowledge of the Presence of Love in our thin and weary places. On the days when I believe this, it’s enough. On the days when I don’t, it’s still enough. Christ is Risen.”

He is Risen Indeed.

Sigh…

And now, in responding as each poetry party guest has done so generously, here are my answers to our daily questions:

1. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Lesley-Anne: Being a writer and already working from home, my life hasn’t changed much on the surface. I have a daily routine and creative practice that I’m continuing to keep while I stay in place. Adjusting to having my husband working at home, and hearing his business calls in what would have otherwise been a silent space, has been interesting.

I find time has expanded, and sometimes days feel endless. I am taking on small projects to try to focus on good things outside myself. Like this poetry party, for instance. It is a way to reach out to others and right size (for a little while) my worry. I’m may join the mask making efforts as well, or something else. But I still wake at night, anxious about my kids, about our world. There is always tension.

2. What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Lesley-Anne: Curiosity, along with the desire to look and see has always taken me to beautiful places, and can be a challenge to me. I wonder things and pursue answers, but often there are none. If my curiosity takes me too deep, it can be difficult to bear. But if I approach the world with lighter curiosity as an observer and then celebrate what I see, then I am easily overcome by the beauty of the natural world, the little everyday miracles all around me, and I find myself taking photos of it, writing about it, and going deeper with it in a way that is not too heavy or difficult. I find creation and creativity are mysterious connections to Creator.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Lesley-Anne: I was shocked to discover that a Northern Flicker has been trying to create a nesting cavity in my Bothy’s exterior wall. Now we will try to find a way to live in harmony, possibly by building a nesting box for him, or for owls.

My blog you already know about, and if you’d like to learn more about my creative life, projects, writing, please drop by my website here.

The poem I’m sharing today is a work in progress. Thank you for spending your time here with me today.

Blessings and peace,
Lesley-Anne

It is a Song With and Without Words


It’s robin red breast who gives word 
to backyard junkos, who calls 
a five minute warning. 
And as the swans v-wing I know 
for sure, light 
stretching elastic to meet early risers, 
leaves winter to a little death. 

I breathe, restless for essence of rain 
and reclamation, earthworm soundings 
in soil depths. The glory, 
glory hymns of songbirds, glory 
in the fullness of Fibonacci curve 
of lambs wombed and waiting, 
subtle fissures in fragile shells, 
green’s insistent pierce 
through monochromatic grey. 

Revival days, when tulips prove 
their faithful hearts, and bridal-wreath 
believers raise their arms wide 
and white in praise. And the wood 
blooming the colour of Amen.

-Lesley-Anne Evans

 

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2E53BA59-0182-4DD9-8466-982D028349A0

Norman Bradley Millross
7 February, 1964 – 23 August, 2020
RIP Norm, my dear friend. My heart aches knowing you are gone from us. Until we meet again.

Norm Millross is a creative spirit who finds truth and healing through visual art, guitar, songwriting, poetry, and his faith. His resilience is contagious. For several years Norm and I met at Metro Community for our weekly poetry circle, where he wowed me with his prolific writing. Norm’s poem I Can is installed as one of two bright blue panels in the courtyard of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission where it lifts spirits and speaks of a power to overcome. I’m so thrilled to have Norm here, and for him to share a new poem with us.

Norm, we’ve been asking everyone a series of 3 questions, focusing on current circumstances and how we are coping in them. Here is what you said in response:

1. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Norm: No, not really. Time is already very precious to me as I’ve experienced serious cardiac events.

2. What is the core factor that brings vitality and life to you?

Norm: It is hope; hope in humanity.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Norm: Not much, I was stuck in my room. But I am starting to get a lot of music theory back, after struggling post concussions. It’s starting to make sense again, which is really good.

On this Good Friday, when we would have traditionally gathered together to celebrate one of the foundational elements of our shared faith, I find it appropriate that you and I are here in spirit, Norm, and your poem is about believing in miracles.

Peace and continued good health, my friend,
Lesley-Anne

I Believe in Miracles

I believe in love
I believe in fantasy
I believe in what was
I believe in the reckoning
I believe I am me
I believe there is power
I believe I am free
I believe there is good
I believe there is bad
I believe in the question
I believe I’m not mad
I believe I am real
I believe there is pain
I believe there is freedom
I believe I am sane
I believe love can happen
I believe it is real
I believe love is magic
I believe love can heal.

Norm Millross, 2020 ©

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P1000524
Barbara Colebrook Peace
joins us from Victoria, Vancouver Island, where she lives with her husband, Terry Peace.

Good morning, Barbara. It’s lovely to connect with you again, albeit virtually. The last and only time we met you sat beside me in a beautiful seaside church, St. George the Martyr, in Cadboro Bay. We were attending a Poetry as Prayer workshop led by Richard Osler, who was our guest poet here just the other day. It was such a joy to meet you then, knowing you through your beautiful poetry collection Duet for Wings and Earth. And here we are again!

We’ve been focusing on three questions as we visit together each day, and so I’m going to ask you the same ones with gratitude for your responses;

1.What is this quieter version of life teaching you?

Barbara: I’ve been blessed to live a quiet life for some years; what’s different now is the quietness of the world. I am so moved by humanity’s expressions of love and caring for one another. It’s not that I didn’t know it before, but now I see the breadth and depth and length and height of that love in action.

2. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of more time, what are you spending it on?

Barbara: Because I was already blessed in being retired and having time for what I choose to do, this event hasn’t given me a sense of “more” time. I think I spend about the same amount of time in connecting with others as I did in the past, but in different ways. For example, our church community has a “church without walls” operating through our website where one can join in with morning prayer and compline (and our priest reads a different poem each morning as part of the prayer service. ) Also, our choir director has done an amazing job of helping us to sing together across physical distance.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Barbara: I’m writing this in early morning. I like to begin the day by going to the window and looking out across the water towards the mountains. Some days they appear and some days not. Today, as always, I am amazed by their loveliness.

Barbara is the author of two poetry books, Kyrie (Sono Nis, 2001) and Duet
for Wings and Earth (Sono Nis, 2008), which won an award from The Word Guild. She is also the co-editor of P.K. Page: Essays on Her Works (Guenica, 2001.) She has read her poetry on CBC, taken part in various literary festivals and concerts, and contributed poems and review essays to a number of Canadian journals and anthologies.

Please visit Barbara’s website for more information about her and her work.

The poem you are about to share is from your collection Duet for Wings and Earth. I find it to be a powerful reminder of ultimate love, a love that transcends our humanity in every way. Thank you for walking us into the Easter Weekend with your words.

Blessings and continued good health,
Lesley-Anne

Song of God: For Judas not yet born

to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal,
until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak,
when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed
and the stars of the Navigator’s Line go out one by one.
		---JOB 38:14,15 (New English Bible)


Judas, sprawled on the grass, the sun in your eyes as you look up 
and laugh, plucking a stalk and whistling between your green-stained
thumbs, saying This is better than Jerusalem.
Judas, child of lostness, how could I bear it
if you were not born? 
Your features known to me in every detail.
How could I not bring you to birth, when even now
clouds passing over the earth part to reveal
your face in shadow between fire and starlight; even now the daystar
   awaits my signal
to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal,

and the angels, who have thousands of different words for light,
have arranged the light around you.
In our little camp on the mountain slope,
Peter and James and John are still asleep;
only you and I stay awake to see the dawn,
our clothes smelling of lentil stew and woodsmoke.
We have stayed up talking, you and I, all night.
Now we wait for the woods and valleys to slowly emerge,
and the long mountain ridges unfold in their beauty, one by one
   picking up the sun’s spark,
until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak,

the earth in this moment unique; only you and I share.
We are not ready to come down from the mountain.
The wind is passing over the house where you will be born.
If you are not born I could not bear it.
Before we go down from the mountain, we tell each other
what we dreamed:
you dreamed your mother dying
and you tell me your greatest fear,
being left alone at the time of death, no sound of human voice, only
   the wind,
when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed.

It is Sabbath, and the morning of your birth. Shalom, Judas, 
peace be with you;
the earth rising on the first morning of the earth,
fragile blue jewel, my beloved Judas.
Peter and James and John are still asleep.
It is time to come down from the mountain.
Will you remember this, will it be enough to keep you from
despair, when you greet me with a kiss as the men come
bearing torches, 
		     and the last word I speak to you on earth is
   Shalom-----
and the stars of the Navigator’s line go out one by one?


Barbara Colebrook Peace