Tag Archives: Poetry

Join HOA’s 7-Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 1

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 1

Member-JournalingAs I have been diving into the preparation for the next session of Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30-Day Online Writing Program, I felt called to share an introduction of writing to heal here on The Heart of Awakening Blog.  Writing has been a part of my personal healing journey since I was a teenager.  If I didn’t have the sacred space of my journal, what seemed at times to be my only true friend, I am not sure that I would have survived some of the life challenges I faced.

I’ve continued to write in the form of journaling, poetry, personal essay, and articles related to holistic healing and spirituality.  Some of my writing is more public but it is a practice that continues to be at the heart of my own healing journey. And, it is one I love to share with others in a variety of ways as a tool for transformation and healing.  I invite to join us here on The Heart of Awakening Blog for 7-Days of Writing To Heal.  Each day, I’ll be sharing some thoughts, reflections and a writing prompt or two for you to explore.  You may wish to go day by day or just come back to them whenever you feel drawn to.  It’s your journey!

We live in exciting times when science can help us to understand tools which have been long practiced. Recent scientific evidence has discovered that the act of writing actually accesses your left brain, which is the analytical and rational part.  When you begin writing, your left brain becomes more strongly engaged which then frees your right brain to create, intuit and feel more deeply.  So, in a sense, writing takes you out of your head and into your heart; that’s a big theme here on HOA! This shift allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. And is one reason why writing can be such a powerful tool for healing!

Writing and journaling can help you to:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings.
  • Know yourself better.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Be healthier.
  • Solve problems more effectively.
  • Resolve disagreements with others
  • Practice good self-care
  • Access your creativity
  • Release and Express Held Memories & Emotions
  • Set Intentions

You may be saying to yourself, “But, I’m not a writer, so how can writing or journaling work for me?”  There are many ways to explore journaling and many types of practices.  Writing offers an opportunity to explore who you are, what are your likes and dislikes, and your strengths and weaknesses.  It is a vehicle to find your voice and explore ways you can flow more easily with life.

Over the next 7 days, I’ll be sharing a variety of ways you can begin to use writing and journaling as a tool for healing.  Feel free to share in the comments your thoughts, feelings and reflections as well any other ways you might work with writing as a tool for healing.  I have chosen a theme for these 7 days that has been coming up strongly in my own personal work as well as my work with clients most recently – Cultivating Self-Compassion! Sometimes it may feel like we’ve done so much of that work and then suddenly it’s clear there is more to do. There are always deeper layers to explore!  As we discuss during annual May Is For Metta practice, it is in cultivating self-compassion that we create a foundation for offering it to others and the world.  And, so we our journey begins…


 

Day 1

You might like to take some time today to decide where you will write both physically in terms of your location, e.g. your desk, out on the deck, on a cozy chair in your living room, etc. And, also, in terms of your writing space such as in a notebook, journal or on your computer.  You may just like to play around with a few options during these 7 days to see what feels best for you.  Also, do you want to write first thing in the morning, before bedtime at night or at another point in the day.  I encourage you to be open, creative and explore.  

Each day I will be sharing a few prompts for you to use to spur your exploration in writing to heal.  This will include a variety of types of prompts so you can continue to create your own writing to heal process going forward.  Our theme for this week is on Cultivating Self-Compassion.  Here are some prompts to explore today…

Quotes ~ If you’ve followed HOA for any bit of time, you know that I absolutely love quotes! They inspire me in so many ways but I have found them to be particularly helpful when I want to begin writing on a certain theme or just need a thought to get my words flowing.  I have shared two quotes and prompts below on our theme of Cultivating Self-Compassion.  Feel free to use the prompts or just write stream of consciousness on what arises as you consider the quotes…

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Gautama Buddha

When you read the Buddha’s words, what thoughts and feelings arise?  Do you feel you are deserving of your own love and compassion?  What have you been taught about loving yourself?  Are there any negative messages you have received about cultivating self-compassion like it’s selfish or wrong?  Are you willing to begin to cultivate self-compassion in a bigger way? If not, what’s stopping you?

“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chodron

Make a list of all the parts of yourself that you are aware of need more self-compassion. Perhaps there are some wounded parts, your inner children or maybe some parts you just don’t like to see.  Begin to write stream of consciousness or create a list of any parts of yourself that you think might need a big dose of love and compassion.  Be willing to list any feelings, patterns and beliefs that you might like to keep hidden, even from yourself.  This is a way to bring light to the shadow parts of ourselves.  Be gently and loving with yourself as you explore…

Feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments below.

See you tomorrow!

Love & light,

Beth Shekinah

Help Me To Empower Women In Addiction Recovery Through Writing & Creativity

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For the past 9 months, I have been working on a pilot project that brings writing, journaling and creativity to women who are in long-term residential addictions treatment.  This project grew out of my work with two non-profits that I volunteer with – Heal My Voice and Chrysalis House.  This program developed organically when I shared some magazines with the Chrysalis House that had an article I had written on 7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Yourself, based on a post from this blog.  It also featured an article about Heal My Voice founder Andrea Hylen.  One of the clients at Chrysalis House was so interested in the Heal My Voice program that she reached out to Andrea and this led to us offering a 3-hour writing and creativity workshop at Chrysalis House.

Little did we know at the time that this one event would open the door to a whole new Heal My Voice program.  The mission of Heal My Voice is as follows:

Heal My Voice empowers and supports women and girls globally to heal, reclaim their voice and step into greater leadership in their lives and in the world.

I have participated in several Heal My Voice writing programs and over the last year joined as a facilitator and board member as well.  After our initial workshop, there was such an amazing response from the clients at Chrysalis House, that we were asked to come back on a regular basis.  This has led to me leading a weekly writing circle in addition to a 3-hour monthly creativity workshop, which is supported by other local Heal My Voice authors.  Adapting the original Heal My Voice program model to a residential treatment program has been an expansive experience.  During this time, I have been working closely with Heal My Voice Founder Andrea Hylen.  What has emerged is the foundation for a program model that can brought to other addictions treatment programs and recovery centers around the country.

I have truly been awed by the words that have emerged from the women of Chrysalis House.  Journaling was something that was always recommended but without facilitation the staff found it wasn’t really happening.  By creating a space for writing and creativity, and offering tools and techniques to support self-expression, journaling has become an important part of the each women’s journey in recovery.  This is something that is initiated in the treatment process but offers a powerful tool to support ongoing healing and recovery.

Here are some of the words from one of the women in the program:

My Own Prison

I’ve built my own prison inside of me,
It doesn’t consist of a warden or a key.
The walls are layered with bricks of emotions,
The bars are made of rage,
You couldn’t imagine the hell and commotion.

First a foundation built from addiction,
Then the floors are laid of abuse and confliction.
Every brick in the wall has it’s own tale;
I was warned to change but to no avail.

So I ask myself now,
“Was it all worth all this pain?”
The deteriorating life I tried so hard to sustain.
The very reality of being confined;
Holds no comparison to the shackles on my mind.

I know my day will come when I’ll be released,
But the question still lies, “will I really be free”?
Not free from confinement but free from the chains,
That are linked from my heart to my mind that remains.

The power of these words speak to the impact of this project and how writing can be a vehicle for freedom through self-expression.  At this point, we are ready to take this project to the next level by developing a program workbook and trainer manual so the project can be brought to other women and even men in recovery from addictions.  To grow this program, Heal My Voice is currently running an Indiegogo campaign.  We are in the final few days of this campaign.

I am making a special request to those who follow The Heart Of Awakening Blog to help me and Heal My Voice grow our vision.  Ways you can help:

  • Make a donation to the campaign (there are perks including the Inspired Voices Book which features my story, “Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman” and more…)
  • Share this post or a link to the campaign with your friends and family (Have you or someone you know been impacted by addiction? – this is a great way to support people in recovery) ~  Heal My Voice Indiegogo Campaign
  • Share about the campaign on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.  You can even join our Countdown event on Facebook and share that.  FB Event.

Here is a link to the campaign to learn more about the project or make a donation:

Heal My Voice Indiegogo Campaign

 

Thank you so much for your support in whatever way you feel to participate.  I am grateful for the community that participates here on The Heart Of Awakening.

Love & light,

Beth

P.S. May Is For Metta 2014 is coming soon to a cushion near you! Learn more…

 

Poem Of The Week: Be Still By Beth Terrence

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Be Still

By Beth Terrence

Be still as a tree
 whose leaves rustle in the breeze
 standing firm in the ground
 reaching to heaven above
 rooted in both worlds
 connected
 strong 
 unshakable

 

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Beth Terrence is a Shaman, Holistic Health & Wellness Expert, Speaker and Writer.  Writing and reading poetry is a practice that feeds her soul.

She writes regularly on this blog, The Heart Of Awakening: Searching For A New Paradigm, which offers online transformational and holistic resources, including a “Poem Of The Week” Post.   Her story, “Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman”, is part of the collaborative Heal My Voice book, Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women.  The poem, Be Still, is published in the Spiritual Writers Network Anthology, Reflections Of The Soul.  Both are available on Amazon.

Currently, Beth is developing and facilitating a pilot program with Heal My Voice and Chrysalis House, a long-term residential addictions treatment program for women and their children in Maryland.  The intention of this program is to support women in healing and recovery through writing and sharing their stories in weekly writing circles and monthly creativity workshops.  

Learn more about Beth at www.bethterrence.com.

Poem Of The Week: Everything Is Waiting For You By David Whyte

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A Path Awaits

It’s been awhile since I have posted a Poem Of The Week.  Time seems to have slipped away between the end of last year and the beginning of the new, but here we are!  It feels like a perfect time to share this poem by one of my favorite poets, David Whyte.

You may wonder why I share poetry on The Heart Of Awakening Blog.  I have found that both reading and writing poetry is a great way to connect with the energy of spirit and to find inspiration for creativity and for life itself.  My hope is to share poems that will light you up and invite you to explore yourself and the world more deeply.  Enjoy!

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

  — David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

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Inspired Voices Book Cover

Read Beth’s story, Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman, in Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women available on Amazon.com.

Reflections Of The Soul Cover

Also, read Beth’s poem, Be Still, in Reflections Of The Soul, A Spiritual Writers Anthology also available on Amazon.com.

Top 13 Posts Of 2013 On The Heart Of Awakening Blog

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It’s hard to believe that it’s not even been 2 years since I started The Heart Of Awakening Blog.  It’s been a joy to journey and explore with folks from all over the world who are interested in transformation and healing.  This year, I have found much more of a community forming here on HOA and I have some new ideas to expand that in 2014.

I have so much gratitude for all of you who have been a part of HOA this year.   The mission of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to support:

Living from the Heart

Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose

Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being

Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things

Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

As we are moving toward to close of the year, I just thought to share the top 13 posts from 2013.  This year marked the third annual May Is For Metta virtual sangha (2 years on HOA) and I plan to continue this in 2014.  I’ve also added some new features this year including the Bach Flower Of The Month post and a Poem Of The Week.  As you can probably tell by now, I live on spirit time and so my week’s and months may vary! but I hope you have enjoyed these additions.  My intention is to share resources, tools and inspiration to support The Heart Of Awakening mission.

Also, if you have any personal favorite posts or topics that you’d like to see more of, please stop by and drop a note in the comments so I can know.  I have some special events planned for 2014 including teleseminars, group discussions and more.  If you’d like to stay up to date,  you might like to sign up for my Discover The Healer Within E-News where I share information on Upcoming Events, Transformational Tips, Integrative Transformational Healing Programs, Holistic Resources and more.  Sign Up Now!

The Heart Of Awakening is an online resource for transformation and healing written by Beth Terrence.  Beth offers Integrative Transformational Healing Programs For Individuals, Groups & Organizations in the MD/DC area and virtually.  To learn more, visit www.bethterrence.com.

Poem Of The Week: On Giving By Khalil Gibran (From The Prophet)

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In the spirit of this month’s theme of Gratitude, I felt to bring in this section from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, On Giving.  It so speaks to the true spirit of giving and receiving.  There is a beautiful synergy that arises as we open and allow our hearts to guide us on this beautiful journey of life, to give as we feel called to and also to receive with openness and grace.  I love how it acknowledges the many ways we give and asks that we “give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors”.   I hope you enjoy the poem and take some time to reflect on the deeper meaning of giving and receiving as we move into the holiday season.

“On Giving” By Khalil Gibran (From The Prophet)

Then said a rich man, “Speak to us of Giving.”
And he answered:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life – while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers – and you are all receivers – assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.

Happy Thanksgiving And Poems Of The Week, Too!

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As the holiday season begins, it is such a wonderful time of year to focus on gratitude and begin to count all of the blessings in our lives.   Everyday is a good day to practice “Thanksgiving”, so wherever you are in the world, may you have a joyful day sharing with family and friends and celebrating the beauty of life.  I especially want to express my gratitude to all who share the journey with me here and participate in The Heart Of Awakening Community.

I shared some poems as part of a holiday message I sent out today and felt to share those poems here, too.  It’s been a few weeks without a “Poem Of The Week” post so this should catch us up a bit.   If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a great lover of poetry and quotes.  I tend to bring quotes and poetry into many of my experiences.  Whether gathering with friends and family, leading a group or just looking for ideas for my writing or my life, I find the words of others to open a gateway to inspiration and exploration.

Here are a few poems which speak to the spirit of Thanksgiving for you to explore!

Love & light,

Beth

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Charles Reznikoff’s short poem, “Te Deum”, takes its name from an early Christian hymn of praise:

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

 The Thanksgivings” is a poem translated by Harriet Maxwell Converse in 1908 from a traditional Iroquois song:

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him. 
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth. 
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on. 
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands. 
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth. 
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all. 
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter. 
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth. 
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good. 
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines. 
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees. 
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars. 
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests. 
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o. 
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion. 
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith. 
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

And, finally, “Rumi’s Poem Of Thanksgiving”:

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;
the bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.
Abundance alone brings heedlessness, thanksgiving gives
birth to alertness.

The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,
and you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.
Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,
and you will be freed from hunger and begging.

Poem Of The Week: Halloween Night By Beth Terrence

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Happy Halloween

Halloween Night

by Beth Terrence

 

Winds blow wildly on this fall night

Leaves glisten in supernatural light

Spirits soar and witches fly

In the eerie Halloween night sky

 

Darkness foretells autumn’s end

Inviting its chilly winter friend

Ancient stones call it New Year’s Day

From times of living a pagan’s way

 

Fairies and goblins fill the air

Frightening children with a scare

The dead come home to see their kin

Sit by the fire and warm their skin

 

We mask ourselves in costumes all night

To hide our souls and dwell in the light

Bonfires glow and show us the key

Divining our fortune and destiny

 

Trick or treat

Candies and sweets

Jack-o-lantern blues

We parade and dance and party until

The saints come marching through

Poem Of The Week: Ode To The West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Ever since I wrote my last post, Autumn Tips For Happy & Healthy Living, which included a quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley, this fascinating poet has been on my mind.  His words in “Ode To The West Wind” speak so beautifully to the energy of the season, the journey of life and our connection to nature and spirit.  It was interesting to learn that his writings and actions provided a strong influence on Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and the principles of non-violence.  He also was a proponent of vegetarianism as well as social justice for the lower classes.  He saw the need to fight for the rights of all living creatures that he saw being treated unjustly.

I hope you enjoy the poem.  Feel free to share you thoughts, feelings and reflections.  Happy Autumn!

Ode to the West Wind

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I.
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

II.
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion,
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aery surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh, hear!

 III.
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh, hear!

 IV.
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
And then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne’er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

V.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Poem Of The Week: Standing Tall By Jamie McKenzie

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I felt strongly to share something by or about Martin Luther King, Jr. today in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington For Jobs & Freedom and his famous, “I have a Dream” speech.  I came across a poem this morning and am thankful to have connected with the author,  Jamie McKenzie, who has so graciously allowed me to share it here.  Jamie is a poet and director of From Now On, an educational technology journal that supports engaged learning and literacy.

Here are a few words from Jamie about the poem:

“Of all the many poems I have written, Standing Tall has been read by the most people, as many groups have asked to share it with their members on MLK Day. This gives me great satisfaction, knowing I could help celebrate his contribution to racial and social justice.  Back in 1983 when I wrote this poem I was Assistant Superintendent in Princeton,
NJ, and many states were just starting to celebrate his birthday. I wrote this for the children in Princeton and it was published in the local newspaper.  Dr. King was a great hero for me, growing up and being a young man in the sixties. I remember the horror I felt when he was killed. I can think of no other American who has done more to advance the cause of justice.  When you look back at the terrible system he helped to end, the use of dogs, guns and fire hoses to keep segregation alive, his contribution to American life is just huge.”

Standing Tall

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some kings rule their kingdoms sitting down
Surrounded by luxury, soft cushions and fans
But this King stood strong
stood proud
stood tall

When the driver told Rosa
“Move to the back of the bus!”
When the waiter told students
“We don’t serve your kind!”
When the Mayor told voters
“Your vote don’t count!”
And when the sheriff told marchers
“Get off our streets!”
using fire hoses, police dogs and cattle prods
to move them along
This King stood strong
stood proud
stood tall
Speaking of peace
of love
and children
hand in hand
free at last
free at last

When some yelled for violence
For angry revenge
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
He stood his ground
Preaching peace

And when some spit out hate
He stood there smiling
Spreading love
Until it rolled like the sea across the land
Sweeping away Jim Crow
Breaking down the walls
Ringing the bell
Joyfully
For Freedom

Until
Standing on the mountain top
They shot him
Coldly
Hoping to see him fall
Hoping to put him away
To bring him low

But this King
even in death
even today
stands strong
stands proud
stands tall
And we remember

© Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved.

So wherever we may be today, let’s take some time to honor and remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and the legacy he has left us that inspires us toward freedom, peace and goodwill for all beings.

To read more of Jamie McKenzie’s poetry, visit http://fno.org/poetry/index.html.

Poem Of The Week: Sunflowers By Vince Coates

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Original Artwork by Vince Coates

Original Artwork by Vince Coates

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are not just the flowers that
grow so tall and turn so vibrantly yellow 
each Summer.

This is what many think.

Yes, this is what they see.

I see these also, just now I also
see them in a different way..

As I grow , I see special
people in my life also as Sunflowers.

My Special Sunflower People.

The people who radiate smiles, that
radiate warmth and affection in all
weather, all times of the year and even
at night when even the real Sun is sleeping.

My special sunflower friends and loved
ones, so bright so cheerful no matter
what colors they are wearing. Some
just don’t want to be accused of wearing 
the same color each day.

I still let them know, to me, they are my
favorite, most beautiful sunflowers and then 
their most vibrant yellow color appears again and 
they stand so tall in the Sun and also back in my life 
again.

Long ago, Van Gogh, painted , “Sunflowers”.

Today, it is me, thinking of what these beautiful
flowers and lovely people mean to me.

Sunflowers

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I am excited to be sharing this poem by my friend, artist and writer Vince Coates.  Vince lives in Frederick, MD.  He is what I would call a prolific artist and an all around inspiring being.  I always find insight and inspiration from experiencing his paintings, sculptures and poetry.  He was kind enough to tag me as a “Sunflower” on Facebook when he shared this poem and I love how it speaks to the beauty of relationship and how much sunshine they bring to our lives.  Also, I am just a huge fan of sunflowers themselves and of course, Van Gogh, so this poem spoke to me on many levels.  I hope you enjoy it, too.  You can learn more about Vince and see a gallery of his artwork by visiting his website, www.vincecoates.com.

Poem Of The Week: Some Days By Beth Terrence

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Salmon

I was feeling to include some original poems in the Poem Of The Week post and had one in mind for this week but as I sat down, I saw Lessons From Salmon in the Top Posts.  It is consistently one of the most visited posts on The Heart Of  Awakening Blog and it features a poem I wrote many years ago that was the inspiration for the post.  Here’s the poem:

Some days
I flow with the river
Surging
Like a rainbow trout
Others days I thrash and flail
Like a salmon
Desperately trying to get back upstream
Not even knowing what I struggle for

I learned a lot about life and struggle since I wrote that poem close to 20 years ago.  You can read more about those explorations as well as some of the messages Salmon can bring as an Animal Totem in Lessons From Salmon: A New View On Struggle.  There is also a followup poem I wrote at the end of that post.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections and any insights on struggle you may wish to share.  Have a beautiful day.

 

Poem Of The Week: The Journey By Mary Oliver

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Poetry has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I wrote short poems and that evolved as I grew into a teen and adult. I always loved to read poetry, too. Some of my favorite poets include Wordsworth, Dickinson, Cummings, Naruda, Rumi, Stafford and the list goes on and on. That is part of the inspiration for sharing a poem each week.

As a writer, I find reading poetry to be such a powerful inspiration. And, as a seeker and healer, I find the words expressed in poetry often open a doorway to deeper feelings and insights that may be difficult to access on our own. “The Journey” by Mary Oliver is one of my all time favorite poems and one I tend to bring into many of my classes and workshops as it really speaks so beautifully of the journey of life, of stepping out of old paradigms and of moving more fully onto the path of authenticity and self-empowerment. I hope you’ll take some time to explore it in the moment or as a prompt for writing and for life over the coming week.

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

ForestLight

One day you finally knew


what you had to do, and began,


though the voices around you


kept shouting 
their bad advice–


though the whole house
 began to tremble


and you felt the old tug
 at your ankles.


“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.


But you didn’t stop.


You knew what you had to do,


though the wind pried
 with its stiff fingers 
at the very foundations,


though their melancholy
 was terrible.


It was already late
 enough,

and a wild night,


and the road full of fallen
 branches and stones.


But little by little,
 as you left their voices behind,


the stars began to burn
 through the sheets of clouds,


and there was a new voice


which you slowly
 recognized as your own,


that kept you company
 as you strode deeper and deeper
 into the world,


determined to do
 the only thing you could do–


determined to save
 the only life you could save.

Poem Of The Week: The Guest House by Rumi

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Dervish

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. 

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

Poem Of The Week: A Ritual To Read To Each Other By William Stafford

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The Way of Council

It’s only Day 4 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge and although my list of ideas is growing, I am finding the writing is slow going.  One of the things I have wanted to do is share more poetry as regular part of the Heart Of Awakening Blog.  So here goes with the first official Poem Of The Week Post.  I can’t guarantee how things will unfold but look forward to seeing weekly poetry posts and if you have suggestions or favorites please feel free to share your comments.

Today is our Independence Day here in the U.S. and there is a lot of focus on Interdependence as well.  There are many benefits that we experience here in America.  I know as a woman I have had many opportunities and privileges that I may not have now, had I grown up in another country.  For that I am grateful.  And, there are certainly many areas for growth and change as well.  As we are existing in a more global system, it feels so important to focus on connection today and how we relate with one another in our own countries and in the world.

So, the poem that I felt called to share is one of my absolute favorite poems.   It speaks of the need to be open, honest and authentic as we relate with each other.  It is called, “A Ritual To Read To Each Other” by William Stafford.

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

by William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.