Category Archives: Poetry

The Touchable Ones are the Healed Ones

the-touchable-onesThis post is to highlight the work of Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr, who inspires me so much. His teachings function as a bridge for me between the Christian religion I was raised in and the broader, deeper spirituality I now embrace. His interpretation of Christian scripture moves way beyond what can feel like dogma to the timeless and timely profundity of Jesus’ teachings.  I want to share a blog piece of his with you verbatim, (below), with my brief comments about it.

I had an “aha” moment this morning, during my meditation and journaling time, when this paradox came alive: Surrendering mental control and/or understanding of an outcome (in this case, I was praying for a specific healing), while simultaneously fanning the flames of desire for healing is…vulnerable!

Vulnerability is the buzz word in spiritual circles lately. So much so, that it has already lost some of its vulnerability! And yet, I am experiencing a big dose of its depths as I realize what it means to LET GO. I think I had some hidden belief that letting go of the “how” somehow meant letting go of the wanting, too.

But the wanting without needing to understand the how, is what makes us vulnerable. And in our vulnerability we are touchable! By Grace. By the Miraculous. By God.

Here is Friar Richard’s blog piece. He says it so much better! If you like his work, you can follow him here.

Did you ever imagine that what we call “vulnerability” might just be the key to ongoing growth? In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change, and grow. Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other—because it means others could sometimes actually wound us. Indeed, vulnera comes from the Latin for “to wound.” But only if we take this risk do we also allow the opposite possibility: the other might also gift us, free us, and even love us.

If and when we can live an honestly vulnerable life—the life we see mirrored in a God who is described as three persons perfectly handing themselves over, emptying themselves out, and then fully receiving what has been handed over—there will always be a centrifugal force flowing through, out, and beyond us. Then our spiritual life simply becomes “the imitation of God” (see Ephesians 5:1), as impossible as this sounds to our ordinary ears.

This, then, seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself and to resist all that destroys the Life Flow. Notice that the major metaphors for the Spirit are always dynamic, energetic, and moving: elusive wind, descending dove, falling fire, and flowing water. Spirit-led people never stop growing and changing and recognizing the new moment of opportunity. How strange to think that so much of religion became worship of the status quo and a neurotic fear of failure. It does make sense, though, when we consider that the ego hates and fears change and failure.

What, then, is the path to holiness? It’s the same as the path to wholeness. And we are never “there” yet. We are always just in the river. Don’t try to push the river or make the river happen; it is already happening, and you cannot stop it. All you can do is recognize it, enjoy it, and ever more fully allow it to carry you.

As John O’Donohue put it:

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding. [1]

This is the great surprise, and for some a disappointment: this divine Flow has very little to do with you. The Flow doesn’t have to do with you being perfect, right, belonging to the right group, or even understanding the Flow. Jesus never has any such checklist test before he heals someone. He just says, as it were, “Are you going to ask for or allow yourself to be touched? If so, let’s go!”

The touchable ones are the healed ones; it’s pretty much that simple. There’s no doctrinal or moral test whatsoever. Jesus doesn’t check if the people he heals are Jewish, gay, baptized, or in their first marriage. There’s only the one question, which he asks in various ways:

Do you want to be healed?

If the answer is a vulnerable, trusting one, the Flow always happens, and the person is always healed, usually on several levels. That is the real New Testament message, much more than miraculous medical cures.

Isn’t that great?  Have a blessed day, everyone. <3

The Reverie of Lack

Sorry

I love it when a turn of phrase flips my thinking on its ear. The Reverie of Lack does that for me. It is from Lynne Twist, in her book The Soul of Money. Here is the passage:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is, “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.

We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.”

I am guilty of this and have always been. I could be ashamed of admitting it, but I’ve come to learn that I am far from alone in this mindset,….that indeed we are all being programmed daily to believe in our lack, else what would commerce have to sell us? We NEED the new phone, car, shampoo, teeth whitener, food, drink, drug, diet, lottery ticket, injury attorney…to be happier, to be okay, to be competitive, to be desirable. Our lack is being drilled into us daily, so of course we are in a state of hypnosis or reverie. To the degree that we refuse to admit it and wrestle with it, is the degree to which the reverie has taken hold!

Power of Scarcity

And now, in this nasty political season, and in this righteously-commentative media chapter of our technological evolution, our LACK is all we hear about, not to mention the darkness of TV programming. We like to believe this is being thrust down our throats, but we hold the remotes, people! We watch because it is a match to something deep in our psyches that is starving.

I am something of a one-trick-pony in the topics I write about here, I realize. I write about waking up, and waking up more, and waking up more.  It is hard work and daily practice to wake up to our perceptions, to see the hypnosis into which we keep falling.

Several years ago, I wrote a poem about my own struggle with the hypnotic mindset of lack. Here it is:

THIRSTY IN A WATERFALL

Teeth clenched tight,
armpits leaking resentment,
I slog the dark rapids,
flawless, opiate.

The machinery has invested
all the way up to my throat:
a gas pump, a pipeline,
a shrewd refinery.

Faint in the downpour
I hear jubilance, joy;
the tinkling existence
of an alternate world,

and I finally go rabid,
mad hatter, bell tower,
a writhing wildling,
an implosion of spew.

Surely this must be hell,
the utter dark night,
walking in water
and thirsting to death.

So ultimately, this blog post is about gratitude – the practice of gratitude. We talk about it a lot, of course. We have talked about it so much that, like many profound ideas, it has lost its profundity. We say, “yeah, yeah,” and slough it off. You might be feeling that inwardly right this moment. I can feel it in myself. But what I know from past experience, and what I need to re-engage in a fierce way these days of dark hypnosis, is that gratitude practice is a reverie-buster, a hypnosis awakener. And it must be a practice, something we deliberately do every day, to create new neural pathways, a new way of thinking.

Here’s another passage from The Soul of Money:

“We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.

Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.”

So today, this holiday weekend, I choose again to wake myself up from the dark, apocalyptic marathon. It feels like a crowbar is necessary sometimes to pry the lid off that trance, but we can do this!

I will leave you with this last thought from my friend Mimi Peak, who is a world-class Life Coach of Anthony Robbins’ inner circle. She said to me recently:

“People begin to decline when they no longer have a compelling future.”

I think that is just so profoundly true.  And here’s the thing: a compelling future can not be imagined from the dark reverie of lack.

Much love, everyone. I wish you joy this weekend, and as many moments of gratitude as you can touch.

 

Let My Epitaph Read…

amazement

Ya know, sometimes what I want to share is what SOMEONE ELSE has written! That is the case here. Not only do I want to share Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes,” but I want to share Sue Monk Kidd’s commentary on it, and an Emily Dickinson quote within the commentary! The only thing I personally have to add, and this will make sense at the end, is: “Me, too!”

Here is an excerpt of Mary Oliver’s poem (please read the whole thing sometime):

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;
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.

And here is s Sue Monk Kidd essay from her book Firstlight, reacting to Oliver’s poem:

“Recently on the eve of my birthday a woman said to me with a completely serious face, ‘When I turn fifty, I want to become notorious.’

‘Notorious for what?’ I asked.

This seemed to throw her. ‘Well, I’m not sure,’ she said. “I haven’t gotten that far along with the idea.’

Becoming notorious for the sake of becoming notorious was a peculiar idea to me. Besides that, had she consulted a dictionary for the meaning of notorious? I went home and looked it up. It said, ‘Notorious – widely but infamously known or talked about.’

I couldn’t see the appeal. But after my conversation with the woman, practically against my will, I began to entertain a thought: What would I want to be notorious for at fifty?

I was still secretly working on it when a group of women gathered to help me celebrate my birthday. For our evening’s entertainment I brought out my book of Mary Oliver’s poems and suggested we take turns reading. As bemused glances were exchanged, it occurred to me if I did ever become notorious, it would not be for bacchanalian parties.

I read last, choosing a poem with the cheery title ‘When Death Comes.’ I read along unsuspecting till I got to a line in which Oliver writes about coming to the end and wanting to say that she has spent her life married to amazement.

Suddenly something unexpected happened to me. My throat tightened. My eyes filled. I don’t mean sad tears, but the kind that leak from something brimming.

I looked at the faces around the room. They seemed beautiful and shining to me. I glanced at a common white lily in a vase and honestly, the sight nearly wiped me out. It was that impertinently gorgeous. Out of nowhere, plain and simple objects were rising up to show off their flame. The divine, unnameable spark. I couldn’t think what to name the feeling except amazement at life. It was as if something fell from my eyes and I saw everything just as it is.

One second I was going along in a jaded marriage with life (because let’s face it, the intimacy can fade after a while if you don’t work on the relationship) when it rode in and swept me off my feet. I learned to be in love with life again. And I didn’t even know the romance had slipped.

‘Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it,’ wrote Emily Dickinson. Somehow I’d begun moving through life on automatic pilot, half-seeing, half-here, abducted by the dreaded small stuff. But the evening of my party, I realized all over again: we will have a true and blissful marriage to life only to the extent we are aware.

So. That’s how I resolved the question about what I wished to become notorious for at fifty. Let it be for nothing more than harboring a wild amazement at life. Let it be for choking up at poetry and the sight of human faces. For falling into easy rapture over lilies and all the other run-of-the-mill marvels that make up life. Let me become notorious for going around with my bridal veil tossed back and my mouth saying I do. Renewing my vows with life. Every day. A hundred times a day.”

Me, too, Mary and Sue and Emily!  Me, too! Me, too! Can I get an Amen?

Meditation on My Desk

Angie's Desk 2I have finally gotten my poetry mind cranked up again. It has been asleep for a few months. Here is my first attempt of the new year. Blessings!

MEDITATION ON MY DESK

Water bottle, half full,
sitting warm for a week,
water for profit in industrial plastic.

There’s a micro-angst-gnat in this one impression,
chomping down on my brain,
one of thousands in the dark.

Reading glasses splayed,
bent, scratched, and chewed.
Need new ones, stronger ones, alas. Alas.

My cell phone, all smudged,
its black face beckoning,
“Wake me up, wake me up! Run away, run away!”

Stacks of mail, pulsing tedium,
these time-suckers, tree-robbers,
solicitors, thieves!

Dust on the keyboard, dust on the monitor,
another gnat-chastisement. Wow.
I can nosedive dark!

What a huge lesson, in this simple observing!
I will stop right now.
I’ll aright this ship.

Laura’s peace candle, alight and full of her,
touching my mind with her beautiful face.
Oh, Laura, thank you, for injecting the love!

A gift, a book, this one from Jamie,
another sweet sister
walking me home.

I am so lucky. So very lucky!
Let that be front burner!
Let that eat the gnats!

I smile and bow, a micro-healing,
and the phone lights up,
and off I go.

© Copyright Angela Hite, 2016

That Kiss

Moonlight through windowI go through these phases from time to time, where I feel as though something is pulling at my consciousness, whispering, “The veils are dropping, my dear. Just around this next bend; you are almost there.” Do you? Maybe its just me, but I think not. It’s just hard to put language to, that’s all. And its vulnerable.  And we have a love/hate relationship with vulnerability, even though we are collectively learning to lean in to it more and more…the stirring of the Divine Feminine. Rumi knew this place well. He expressed it so beautifully:

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face into mine.
Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.

The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.

-Rumi

In The Twilight Of An Epoch

Twilight Sky 3

Who knows the future?
Who knows, indeed.
Not even the angels,
we’ve always been told.

But I feel the stab
of our collective grief,
held at bay, held at bay,
swathed in cotton, held at bay,

for goodness’ sake,
for sanity’s sake,
for fear of drowning,
the end of the world.

This grief
of our twilight
is a rising sea.

We bob up for moments,
we students of Love.
But we are students, alas,
still learning to swim.

So Jesus, we call you,
and Buddha, too. And Allah
and Krishna and Tara and Kali,
not to burst through the clouds
to sweep us away,
but into our hearts
to sweep us clean.

Ground us in acceptance,
in full frontal knowing.
Dissolve our timidity into
Love’s massive courage.

Lift us, oh Wise Ones, into
Beings of Light,
our own hedge of protection
round this beautiful planet.

— Angela Hite —

Now.

Quiet MindThis morning, as I sat on my porch, coffee in hand, full of body aches and scattered ponderings, I opened one of my go-to books to settle me into meditation, and this poem was what I landed on:

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.

-David Whyte

I looked out at the mountains and ever-changing sky display. I felt the cool, crisp air on my bare arms and noticed goosebumps arising. I listened to the chatter of songbirds and crows, the cars on the road, the plane overhead. I felt the burn of black coffee and the ungluing of my eyes. For a split second, it all came together, my beautiful, messy life. And I felt David Whyte’s poem down to my toes. I awoke. So really, what else is there to say?

Just this: I wish this for you, too. I send this to you now!

Hello, Darkness

Real BeautyHello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted
In my brain still remains
Within the sound of silence
             – Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence

This song has been in my head for the last couple of days. I read that Paul Simon wrote these opening lines in his bathroom with the lights off. He liked the acoustics the tiled walls created, and he composed in the dark because it helped him to focus, to reach in and call up what was wanting to come out.

This verse feels like a metaphor for the times right now. Both inwardly and outwardly, the dark is presenting itself in strong force, and we are being called to engage with it.

Hello darkness my old friend…

Often we push aside our own darkness by focusing on it in others. Just as often, we sense our shadows but are so terrified of them, that we become obsessively active in the outer world to avoid them. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” But we can’t truly be the light if we remain terrified of the dark.

I’ve come to talk with you again…

Looking inward can bring us to our knees sometimes. The inner world is a dark space that we bring the light of our consciousness to. If we are feeling low in light (the world has a way of making us question just  how bright we are) then the inner terrain can feel dark indeed. But it is in those bleak spaces that our light can awaken.

Celtic priest and poet John O’Donohue says,

“In the neglected crevices and corners of your evaded solitude, you will find the treasure that you have always sought elsewhere.”

We evade that deep solitude (the kind that isn’t just removing ourselves from social interaction for awhile, but turning inward to the profound unknown) out of fear. So it takes great courage to go into the dark, for we don’t want to face what is waiting there. We find in those “crevices and corners” beastly buried fears, shames and wounds. This is hard to look at! But the more we train ourselves to look with light, those creatures morph right before our eyes. Frogs become princes. Demons become angels. And we discover the true treasure down there: our own divinity, our own light, our own beating heart of love.

Here is a poem I wrote several years ago, when the darkness pulled at me so strongly and taught me its beauty.

THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK
…and other such excuses
just won’t cut it today.Jellyfish
Today, there is a window into deeper worlds
cocooned in the fog,
and I don’t want to miss it
quibbling over trivia
or splashing about in shallow waters.
I don’t want to get snagged by duty right now.
 
I want to dive down,
be carried down,
down with the currents
into the black dark grappling
where creatures who’ve learned self-luminescence
will teach me, touch me,
call forth my brilliance.
 
In the dark I can see my light.
I can grow to own it.
I can practice sustaining it,
so that back up top where a different light shines
I can trust it.
I can beam it.
I can see it winking
in every eye.

Copyright © 2011 Angela Hite

Kindness

Grief“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.” – Naomi Shihab Nye

Words can lose their depth sometimes by overuse, or simply by becoming too thrown about, too much a part of our daily lexicon. The word “kindness” can be like that.  But it is such a profound idea that the Dalai Lama uses it as the single word to define (not describe, but define) his religion.  We could spend a lifetime exploring its depths in that context.

I love this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. Notice how vivid the idea of “kindness” becomes in her expression.  It makes me weep!

KINDNESS
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Blessings!

Father’s Day Poem

Daddys HandsMy father died when I was in my 20’s and he in his early 50’s. Way too young! So I have lived without him for a very long time.  He comes to me occasionally in dreams, though, and I am always amazed how full of life he remains there on that alternate plane. Here is a poem I wrote a few years back about a dream encounter that woke me in the middle of the night and made me weep with longing.

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads everywhere.  You are loved.

DADDY’S HANDS

Shooting stars in the night, Daddy’s hands
burst through my dreams,
waking me up, igniting my girlhood.
I can smell his skin, though fresh from the netherworld,
still flesh and full of memory: Pall Malls, perspiration,
Old Spice.
I can conjure his grin and that froggy voice calling me,
“Angeler.”

We used to meet more often. It’s been awhile.
As a rule there’s detachment in his face;
I’ll dream him at the mall, for instance,
in a brand new suit, in a brand new crowd,
everyone shiny, and he’ll pass by without seeing me.
I don’t take it personally. These are the veils,
I guess.
He can cross over;
he just can’t quite reach me.

Tonight, though, his hands make it through,
freckled and rough and smelling like the man I knew.
The nails are buffed (he always tried so hard),
but there’s no mistaking their earthly stuff,
the masculine brand of my own,
piercing the veils, tapping me awake, then
dissolving into stardust.
I sniff my own palms for connection,
place them on my face,

and a canopy of mourning flutters down and around.
Suspended in time,
I float in a gossamer bubble of goodbye,
having outlived him by years now,
forever his little girl.

©2008 Angela Hite. All Rights Reserved.

Self-Kindness

MISTAKESThis is still one my all-time favorite passages:
” I had the same dream each night – that I had a child,
and even in the dream I saw that the child was my life;
and it was an idiot, and I ran away.
Until I thought, if I could kiss it…
perhaps I could rest.
And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible…
but I kissed it.
I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms.” 
–  Arthur Miller, After the Fall