Category Archives: Poetry

Quotes Worth Repeating: “The Light Is Everything”

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“The light is everything” is the last line of “The Ponds” by Mary Oliver, who is one of my favorite poets of all time. a1ed9b133e3f0d78cc15fecea3bd8b36 In “The Ponds” Oliver encourages herself and us to look past the imperfections of life and focus on the beauty that exists. Here is the whole poem:

The Ponds by Mary Oliver

Every year the lilies are so perfect I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding the black, mid-summer ponds. Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming among the pads and the grasses can reach out their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that rife and wild. But what in this world is perfect?

I bend closer and see how this one is clearly lopsided— and that one wears an orange blight— and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away— and that one is a slumped purse full of its own unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled— to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery. I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing— that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.

Mary Oliver

New Life, Empowerment and Dropping Keys

This post if part of the March synchroblog. This month’s synchroblog theme is New Life. I’m late to the party – the March synchroblog actually happened last Wednesday but my youngest son was home from college during his spring break and I was busy enjoying my time with him.

 

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Dropping Keys by Hafiz

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

 

My one word theme for 2014 is “empowerment” and the idea isn’t primarily about my own empowerment but the idea of helping to empower others. It’s so easy to spend our energy keeping others small and caged so we can feel more comfortable; but I believe cages stifle creativity and ingenuity and end up robbing our world of ideas and innovations that need to be born in order for us to continue to progress and move forward. So, I’m trying to focus on being the sage who is dropping keys for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners locked up in cages rather than the small woman who is building those cages.

I see dropping keys as helping others consider possibilities that may have previously seemed out of reach, by connecting people to others and to resources that might be helpful, by taking the time to build up others who are life-givers, by spreading stories that seem to be changing the world into a better place, by encouraging those who still have work to do but might be tired or afraid or discouraged, by being willing to share my own “know how” about anything I do well with anyone who wants or needs it.

My hope is that by dropping keys someone will experience new life and in turn become a life-giver.

The inspiration came from the beautiful poem “Dropping Keys” written by Hafiz, a poet from the 14th century along with this thought from Chris Guillebeau:

“Think about the times when someone has really helped you think or live differently. It was like they placed a key on the ground in front of you; you picked it up and unlocked a cage. You had to open the cage yourself, of course, but it was a lot easier with a key.”

What keys do you hold that could set someone free and give them new life?

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I hope you will check out the other posts about New Life:

Michael Donahoe – New Life
K.W. Leslie – Sin Kills; God Brings New Life
Carol Kuniholm – New Life. Mystery Fruit.
Jeremy Myers – I Get Depressed On Facebook
Glenn Hager – A Personal Resurrection Story
Loveday Anyim – Spring Forth – Ideas That Speak New Life
Loveday Anyim – Inspired By Spring To Create A New Life
Sarah Quezada – Post Winter Delight
Edwin Aldrich – Finding New Life In Our New Home
Doreen A. Mannion – Each Day A New Decision: Choose Life
kathy escobar – new life through nonviolent communication
Anita Coleman New Life, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Eternal Living
Sonja Andrews Persephone
Mallory Pickering New Life Masterpiece Theater Style
Liz Dyer New Life, Empowerment and Dropping Keys

Quotes Worth Repeating: Rave On!

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I absolutely love the poet Mary Oliver.  The quote “And I say to my heart: Rave On” is the final line of her poem “A Pretty Song” in which she is talking about the great love she has for someone she has lost to death.  The line is like a “cheer for love”, an admonishment to love well, to love extravagantly, to love radically, to love without restraint … because that is the way love should act and live and be…otherwise it may not pass muster as love.  And we need to be cheered and encouraged because it takes guts and courage and gumption to let our hearts rave on with love….but I think it is worth it and so do many others and so we do…we love with abandon, we leap off the edge, we take a risk, we fall and tumble, we say to our hearts: rave on!

P.S. Here is the complete poem “A Pretty Song” by Mary Oliver

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.

Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
This isn’t a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.

Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
that hold you in the center of my world.

And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song,
And I say to my heart: rave on.

Pray For Peace by Ellen Bass

There is nothing I like much more than finding a really good poem.  It doesn’t happen that often.  Here’s a really good poem by Ellen Bass.

Pray for Peace  by Ellen Bass
Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

What’s Your Relationship Status With Jesus and Religion?

First let me say that I thought some people were too harsh in their criticism of Jeff Bethke’s viral video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”.  At the same time, I don’t have a problem with people stating and discussing what they don’t like or disagree with in the video/poem. (I think artists should expect the public to analyze and critique their work)

To be honest I didn’t like the video from the beginning.  In fact, the first time I saw it I only watched for about a minute before I shut it down.  My first impression was that it had been done before and better (I still think that to be the case although I can’t point to an example) but as more and more people began to criticize it I listened to it again (all the way through this time) and realized that I also had a problem with some of the theological statements Bethke was making.  My biggest complaint was that he was promoting the penal substitution atonement theory.  I believe that theory to be wrong and very damaging.  However, that doesn’t mean that I want to spend a lot of time or energy dumping on Bethke – that would be a waste of time and not something that would line up with my idea of what it means to be a Christ follower. But, I am interested in some of the conversations that are coming out of this. For instance this post, Jesus and Religion’s Relationship Status: It’s Complicated, from my friend Michael William Morrell has some excellent “stuff” for us to ponder and discuss. What about you? What’s your relationship status with Jesus and religion?

Poetry I Love

A friend of mine, Adele Sakler, has been writing a lot of poetry and posting it on her blog, Existential Punk, and it has me thinking about some of the poetry I love…so I thought I’d share one of my favorites here.  (Be sure and check out Adele’s poetry too – she has some good stuff. )

Thread by Catherine Lucy Czerkawska

 If I love you

Your life instantly becomes

More fragile than my own,

Your body more frail

Each cough or minor pain

A symptom of some dread

Disease or other.

 

Death is on every road

Or in every other car

Some nights in my skin

Flutters in apprehension

And I am so threatened that

Caring translates itself

Inside my head to

Stone cold anger.

 

Because I am unsufficient

Tormented by the frailty

Of you whom I love.

Selfish I

Find you

Necessary for my own definition

Your life is a single thread

It snaps

I wither.

Year In Review: Because I Knew You

The holidays are over and another year has flown by.  As I look back on 2009 I am reminded of videos, blogs, articles, poems, music, and books that have touched my life – in response I’ve laughed, cried, ranted, been silent, learned, struggled, loved, given, received, hoped, tried, been fearful, inspired, courageous, challenged and changed.

Behind all of the blogs, music, books, poems etc are people, mostly people I don’t know personally, but who, never the less, are having a significant impact on my life. It’s really pretty amazing to think about and I am very grateful for these people.  Like the song “For Good” (from Wicked) says …I’M WHO I AM TODAY BECAUSE I KNEW YOU.  

So, in honor of these people and 2009 let me say some “thank yous” with a few shout outs.  Feel free to share your own 2009 memories and shout outs in the comments.

I thoroughly enjoyed the blog Stuff Christians Like.   The posts make me laugh and teach me lessons about myself and others.  If you aren’t familiar with this blog check out Lady Gaga, Rum and Thinking Your Naked which lists the top posts for 2009.  Thanks Jonathan Acuff – for the laughter AND the lessons!

They were on ABC News, written about in The New York Times and tweeted about by Ashton Kutcher.  If you haven’t heard of them you are missing a real treasure … “they” are the PS22 Chorus, a childrens choir from a Staten Island elementary school … their secret: Gregg Breinberg, their music teacher.  Mr. B (as his students call him) has a heart for helping kids learn to love music.  One of Mr. B’s students said this:  “At first, when I sang, I had no emotion,” she says. “I didn’t move. But Mr. B taught me to sing with feeling. With feeling and heart.”  Watching these kids brings tears of joy to my eyes – for some reason their collective voices and moves to the beat give me hope.  Thanks, Mr. B and PS22 Chorus, for the joy and the hope!  Here’s  just one of the many videos on youtube of the PS22 Chorus:

Adele Sakler (author of the blog Existential Punk and one of the few people in my blogging community that I have met F2F) started Queermergent in Jan 2009 as a safe place for those who identify as LGBTQ to engage in mature discussions regarding the LGBTQ community of faith.  It was through Adele’s acceptance and encouragement that I did my own coming out as an ally of the LGBTQ community by telling my story through a post  that Adele published on her site Queermergent.  Thanks for the encouragement and acceptance, Adele! 

I discovered Spoken Word poetry in 2009.  It inspired me to write my own spoken word poem  (a fun, creative experience) and eventually led to me discovering poet and activist, Andrea Gibson.  She’s a pretty amazing artist.  Be sure and check her stuff out – two of my favorites are Ashes and I Do.  Thanks Andrea, for your brave, inspirational poetry!  You have me thinking about things I never knew.

Synchroblogging (a group of folks blog on one topic on the same day) was still close to my heart in 2009.  There hasn’t been much going on with it in the last part of the year but it still could rise again.  I like it because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and gets me to reading, writing and posting about stuff that I might not think of on my own, like quantum physics.  And I like it because the people who participate are great thinkers who are kind but not wimpy. My synchroblog post, Mary and Martha: A Story About God’s Radical Hospitality, which was associated with International Women’s Day (initiated by uber-blogger Julie Clawson), still gets more traffic than any other post I have written.  And my post for the Bridging The Gap synchroblog  tops the charts on my blog for the most comments and best conversation.  I even received the Bridge Builder Award because of it.  So thanks to all the synchrobloggers out there, you know who you are – I am learning a lot because of you! 

I want to give a shout out to Eugene Cho, author of the blog beauty and depravity.  I love reading his blog because Eugene is so transparent and open.  He is a courageous and compassionate person who is an inspiration to me.  I have to admit that I sometimes feel bad about myself after reading his stuff as he is one of the most altruistic people I have run across…but he is so full of love and grace that I never feel that he is pointing a finger at me.  I really admire his endurance and gumption when it comes to the charity he started, One Day’s Wages, and on top of everything else, he has a great sense of humor.  I don’t know if he and I agree on everything theologically but it really doesn’t matter to me, because I like him as a person!  Thanks Eugene for challenging and inspiring me.  (for more great blogs check out my blogroll)

I love to read books as well as blogs so I can’t reflect on the last year without thinking about the books I read. I usually choose books because of someone’s recommendation or review.  Some great books I read because I heard about them through blogs and social media this year (many were published before 2009 but I read them last year) include Pete Rollins new book, The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales; Samir Selmanovic’s book It’s Really All About God; Don Miller’s book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years; Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell (I even went to the tour); The New Christians: Dispatches From The Emergent Frontier by Tony Jones, The Help (a novel) by Kathryn Stockett; The Twilight Series  by Stephanie Meyer, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and a children’s book by Douglas Wood called The Old Turtle and The Broken Truth (which prompted a post from me).  So…thanks Pete, Samir, Tony, Rob, Don, Kathryn, Stephanie, Khaled and Douglas for making my life richer!

I can’t reflect on 2009 without thinking about Twitter.  I actually joined Twitter in 2007 (I’m so cutting edge:>) but it took a couple of years for enough others to jump on the bandwagon to make it fun and worthwhile.  I’ve met so many amazing people through Twitter and discovered an online community that is fluid, diverse and for the most part, friendly.  It was December of 2009 before I realized just how real this community was.  A fellow twitterer, @Gideony, who was prominent among a particular group of peeps that I follow and interact with, took his own life.  Several hundred of us were shook to the core over the loss of our friend.  As we shared our grief we realized that through our tweets, replies, DMs and retweeting we had begun to know and care about one another.  The virtual had become real for us.  So I say to my fellow twitterers – thanks for the community that you have helped form and for allowing me to be a part of it…and to @Gideony: I miss you and remember you with fondness and love.  (P.S.  I’m on twitter @lizdyer if you want to connect)

Of course I could go on and on but I think that is a good sampling of 2009 so I will stop here and wish you a Happy New Year to you and yours.

May Y☺ū have Peace ♥ ¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Health ♪♫•*¨*•. Wealth .•*¨*• Success ♥¸.•*¨*•♫♪  Love  ♥ ♥ ♥   and  A Happy New Year! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♥