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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual poetry’

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

 

For Spiritual Thursday, we are writing about our little words.  Today is dedicated to Justin’s word for 2016, Faith. This winter I’ve had a few physical trials that have been frustrating to say the least, but not life threatening. I know I will heal. Sometimes faith is hard. Sometimes faith forsakes. Faith challenges.

Bayou reflection, January.  by Margaret Simon

Bayou reflection, January.
by Margaret Simon

Only in winter
with a certain slant of light
a forest reflection
mirrors a standing of trees.

My eye draws a straight line
up from earth
down to water, this perfect line
dissolves as the sun rises higher.

Yet, I am still standing.
I plant my feet into the earth,
walk a muddy path
holding bare arms out
to catch the wind.

I want to feel your breath
on my skin, Lord. Know you are
with me in all things.
Take hold of my hand.
Whisper all will be well.
All will be well.

–Margaret Simon

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

 

We cannot  attain the presence of God because we’ re  already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God ‘s love is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another, it means that God is choosing us now and now and now. —Richard Rohr

 

An elderly couple came to the door and handed my father a pamphlet.

“Are you seeking the kingdom?”

My father replies, “You don’t have to seek it.  I know where it is.  Right here. Right now.”

“We are talking about the kingdom of GOD?” pressing the pamphlet forward into his hands.

“Yes, you don’t have to seek the kingdom.  It’s here. You just need to pay attention.”

At those words, the evangelists turned and left.

 

Moments before this visit, Dad was reading W.H. Auden’s poem, For the Time Being. “And because of His visitation, we may no longer desire God as if he were lacking.  Our redemption is no longer a question of pursuit, but of surrender to Him who is always and everywhere present.”

 

What makes the paper whites bloom
on this cold morning? Opening
up like lace droplets
on the dormant garden?

Who tells the white pelicans
to go to convention on the lake?
A gathering of pruning, splashing,
fishing. Awkward grace
in a cloud of white.

A poem will come if you let it.
Sit with His presence for a while.
Moment by moment, we are here
to praise.

–Margaret Gibson Simon

 

Photo by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Photo by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

 

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Freedom

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

peace freedom quote

I attended a poetry workshop in which the leader asked us to write using concrete images about an abstract idea. Ah, sometimes that is quite a challenge. Today, Holly asks us to reflect on Freedom for our Spiritual Thursday posts. Freedom is an abstract term that comes with all kinds of connotations.

What is the image of freedom?
The soaring eagle,
A couple in a convertible with the top down, wind in their hair,
praying hands,
a breaking wave on the shore of the sea,
a child on a swing, leaning back, legs high in the air,
or is freedom more complicated than that?

We look to our flag to symbolize our country’s freedom.
We look to words “All men are created equal.”
We look to God.
But our questions remain unanswered,
hanging there in the air of inequality,
oppression, discontent.
What is freedom, really?
What is the ultimate price?
When will we see the image of true peace?

Freedom is the laughter of a child,
the scent of jasmine on a summer walk,
a hug between friends.
Freedom is elusive and right in the palm of our hands.
We can embrace the word, hold fast to our convictions,
and fly the flag. But until the whole of humanity
lives in peace, freedom will not be free.

photo 2

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Pay attention quote

I came home from school the other day with a story. I was helping with car line duty and enjoying two girls who were last to be picked up. I talked to them about their matching green eyes. I teased them that the sugarcane tractor on the highway was coming to pick them up. Then an old car pulled up and inside was an unkempt woman with a scowl on her face. Could this be the mother of these precious children? Her expression never changed as the girls bounded up to the car and greeted her with a cheerful, “Hi, Momma.”

When I told my husband this story, I said, “I judged her.”

He said, “We judge people. We pay attention. And when you are someone who pays attention, you see lots of ugly in the world. If you are paying attention, you also see lots of beauty. The world is both terrible and beautiful.”

I have a wise husband. His words have stayed with me all week.

As I worked with a student who was having trouble writing, I kept making suggestions. “What about this? What about that?” I told him to come to me with his long, sad face,and I simply said, “Can you tell me the truth about why you are not writing?”

He said, “I don’t want to write what you said.”

In my eagerness to “help,” I had actually stifled him.

“I get it. You want to write about your own ideas. Absolutely, that is what you should do.”

I must pay attention. This is my work. This is my vocation. This is my calling.

When I pay attention, I see
The way the setting sun sends a beam down the bayou.
I see colors in the sky (more than just blue),
A shy boy standing near the wall at recess,
Birds on a wire,
The man with a cane wince in pain,
Green-eyed girls,
A teacher’s tired impatience,
Sunflowers in the sunlight,
A driver’s insulting gesture.
I see the good.
I see the bad.
But I don’t stop
paying attention–
this is my endless and proper work.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Every week Holly invites us to write about our spiritual journey. This week’s theme is Leaving a Legacy. Too much pressure if you think about it, which is exactly what I do after she tweets out the theme. Carol wrote about leaving a digital footprint on Sunday. I told her that I don’t like to think about this because it’s intimidating. What if I’m not “leaving a legacy.” I am very good at assigning guilt to myself. I do much better in this digital platform when I just write what’s on my mind. When I am true to myself, most readers respond in a positive way and with a connection. This is more important to me than leaving a legacy.

Which leads me to playing with the word in a word play poem.

Legacy is a lofty word
leaning on me like
the preacher gripping the pulpit
pointing its accusing finger.

Legacy leaves me looking
too long, hoping to see
what they see, to know the secret
of a life well lived.

With its sharp turned back,
Legacy asks “Why aren’t you scrapbooking?”
Folding pictures into decorative pages,
making memories into 3 by 5 cards.

I’d like my legacy to be a flower
shrouded in beauty with strong scent
pressed between the pages of a favorite book
waiting there for you to find.

–Margaret Simon

Painted in Waterlogue

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Ah, the silence of summer. Days full of nothing. The older I get the more I appreciate silence. Sometimes silence is awkward, so we try to fill it up with sound. We turn on the TV or radio. We make a phone call. In the car, I rarely ride without the radio on. At home, I turn on the TV.

Over and over I am reminded that God comes in silence. When I take the time to turn off the devices and just listen, I hear joy in the songs of the birds. I hear the whisper of wind. I hear the quiet voice of God.

I took a walk to the park and did not take my phone. I walked alone. I was amazed at the noisiness of the birds, especially the mockingbird. I recorded one high in a tree. During the recording you can hear me say good morning to another walker. Listen and count the number of tunes the mockingbird sings.

When you are most at ease with another person, silence isn’t awkward. We stop trying to fill the open void with chatter. Notice this with your closest loved ones. With them, silence is golden. That’s how it is with God. Quiet moments given to prayer and meditation. Don’t chatter. Let your thoughts flit away like a moth. Ride the silent wave to an ultimate closeness with your creator.

Silence is a source of great strength

Silence is a source of great strength

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Image created in Canva.  Photo taken by Maggie Simon in New Orleans.  A sky writer send messages of hope.

Image created in Canva. Photo taken by Maggie Simon in New Orleans. A sky writer send messages of hope.

Perfect is an imperfect word
with its soft purr beginning
to its hard -fect ending.
It crashes down on you
at the worst possible moments
when everything is clear as mud
and life has offered lemons.
Perfection is illusive
as the light shining through
the stained glass window,
pointing the way one minute
and spreading shards of colors the next.
I choose not to follow you, perfection.
I will find a path littered with debris,
broken into pieces by storms and crashing waves.
I will seek grace,
that smooth silky word that whispers softly
and leads me to knowing the one
whose spirit is in us all
seeking only love and to be loved.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

When Holly tweeted out the theme for the week, “Let’s get real, no need to be perfect,” I rolled the word perfect around on my tongue. I didn’t like the taste. On Michelle Hendrick Barnes site, Today’s Little Ditty, she interviewed Nikki Grimes and put out a poetry challenge to write a wordplay poem. Perfect was not one of the words suggested, but I liked the idea of thinking about the word itself. For me, the process led to a deeper realization (which is often the way when writing poetry) that perfection is not what God wants from us. Grace is a gift given by God always, whether or not we are perfect. Grace is never taken away. It is our choice to respond to this gift with our works, our prayers, and our love. Stop seeking perfection. Look instead for the light of grace in your life, and say thanks.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

The theme for today’s Spiritual Thursday round-up is love.  At first I thought, “This is easy.”  However, the more I thought about it, writing about love is hard.  What do I have to say that is new and refreshing or inspiring?  When I have a difficult writing assignment, I often turn to form.  Today I turn to Kwame Alexander and his amazing 2015 Newbery Award book in verse, The Crossover. In The Crossover, the character writes definitions in a particular form.  My blogging friends, Michelle and Holly, each used the form (vocabulary poems) this month.  I haven’t tried it with my students yet, but I usually like to practice before presenting them with an idea.  Here’s my definition of love.

love 

/ləv/

a person or thing that one loves.

as in: the curl of an infant’s
new fingers around your thumb.

as in: looking through the open window
of our arms as we dance
the Lover’s Waltz.

as in: let the soft body
of your heart love
what it loves.*

as in: He gave his only
begotten son so that
you and I have eternal life.

© Bratishka | Dreamstime.com - Baby Hand Photo

© Bratishka | Dreamstime.com – Baby Hand Photo

 

* variation of a line from Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, my all time favorite poem.

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Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5

We pursue joy,
chase her like butterflies
through the fields–
a futile search.
Like the rainbow over the horizon,
Joy recedes
farther and farther
from our grasp.

When we seek felicity for others,
joy slowly tiptoes in.
She comes in with the wind,
hardly noticeable, always there.

–Margaret Simon

Original image by Beth Saxena.  Altered using PicMonkey.

Original image by Beth Saxena. Altered using PicMonkey.

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SOL #26

SOL #26

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me. I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.– ANNE FRANK

Exercise Faith, a poem reflection using words of Anne Frank

A grandiose idea
life after death
your own life continuing on
and on, like the cycle of nature,
seed, seedling, sprout, grow, die, rebirth.

This gift of words
life after death
your own life continuing on
and on, with words on paper
floating in clouds like rain
coming down, going up, coming down again.

Developing my most inner self
reflecting on events, ideas,
life after death
continuing on and on,
like monks in meditation, singing Om
breathing in, breathing out, breath of life.

Expressing all that is me
honors God in me
knowing life after death
continues on and on,
like a rainbow rising over the storm
shining its promise, eternally.

I shake it all off,
dust from the shelves,
throw compost on earth,
spread life after death
on and on, shaking off sorrows,
leaving only good soil, good growth,
good courage…reborn.

–Margaret Simon

bridal lace

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