Ingrid Goff Maidoff - Tending Joy

Celebrating Poetry, Beauty,
& the Sacred Essence of Joy

Archive for the ‘Writing as Sacred Practice’ Category

A Life Cherishing Force

…if you look closely, a red geranium on the windowsill!
This time of year, especially, (cold New England Winter) I love to find hidden treasures of color…little surprises everywhere. ..

Mary Oliver wrote that “Poetry is a life cherishing force.”  I walked with this thought this morning, and thought, cooking is also a life-cherishing force… and gardening… dancing, kissing, nursing a baby, walking around the block, even sweeping the kitchen floor.  It seems to me that all acts of creativity, caring, and celebration are life cherishing forces, when our hearts are aligned with gratefulness, with love….  what is, for you, a life cherishing force? Couldn’t you list at least a dozen that would apply to this moment – to today?

Breathing!
Singing!
Teaching!
Kindness!
Praying…
Eating…

A MEMORIAL POEM

This winter I was asked for something to read at the memorial of a teenage boy who had taken his own life.  I could hardly imagine the agony of his family and friends.  This is the poem that came through for me.  Weeks later, I received a thank you in the mail with a lovely box of tea.  I printed out the last verse of the poem for a sympathy card, and people have responded well.  This has given me confidence to offer it here.  I hope it is healing and helpful for anyone who needs it.

Memorial Poem

This is what grief looks like:
the tide has gone out,
farther than the eye can see,
pulling with it every ship,
the sun, and every single wave;
stealing hopes, plans, agreements,
and a thousand precious things;
leaving a shattered seabed of
lost shells, secret wishes, dying reeds
and impossible questions…

~
And there is the feeling that
life will remain emptied, slack like this,
much longer than we can bear…
How could the ocean return
and moonlight shimmer upon it?
We pray one day to drag our courage
to the ravaged and restless shoreline,
face the horizon, looming,
and find ourselves
opening, reaching,
calling beyond our mourning.
We pray life responds, gently urging,
This one we love has moved on,
yet somehow we are not finished.

~
Love grows the heart. So does sadness.

~
Within each of us, a warm harbor
of memories, visions, sorrows and joys.
Where light breaks on distant waves,
gulls glide above the incoming sea,
and the soul of our loved one is whispering,
Fear not. Carry on. I am with you…
I am grateful. I am loved. And I’m free.

~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff

p.s.  I seem to have to put a ~ in between verses so that the blog doesn’t squish them together…

Reverie & Revelation

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when asked, where do your poems come from…

REVERIE & REVELATION

Every poem arises
from a deep unraveling love
for the un-say-able which is living
which is This.

Words filter in through reverie,
an open-ended waiting,
to wander in suspension
the day’s unbroken trail.

It’s fishing with the angels;
the sift for revelation;
an offering, prayer, or opening;
to step beyond the whirl.

Not idleness but courting;
not silence but deep listening;
both lovemaking and stillness;
to take the Presence in.

Delirium; vision; fancy;
blooming; belonging; trust;
to linger in the twilight;
the willingness not to know.

~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, from the book, What Holds Us

Tell me, friend, where do your poems come from?

beautiful, fresh, magical

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Saraswati, Goddess of poetry, the River of Eloquence, generosity of spirit…roses, honeysuckle, strawberries in a bowl…

A few friends have been gathering with me on Thursday mornings to write; to share reflections on what it feels like to be a channel- to open up for something that wants to come through.

This morning, Kimberly talked about a retreat she recently led- how people came, dropped their bags of daily tasks, and dove gently into the sacred.  She reflected, smiling a big smile- sparks of joy in her eyes, “Everyone has such a beautiful, fresh, magical spirit inside.”

Yes. Indeed. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Invitation:

Who are you when you put down your bag of daily tasks?  Have you felt your own beautiful, fresh, magical spirit lately?

xx

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“real poetry is to live a beautiful life”~ Basho

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I met two beautiful souls at the artisan’s fair this weekend who told me that they would like to write poems but they have no time- they are simply too busy and working too hard.  I confessed to sometimes using this excuse myself.

Here is an invitation:

Basho, the 17th century Japanese poet, said, “Real poetry is to live a beautiful life. To live poetry is better than to write it.”

If we are not writing poems, are we living, at least, a beautiful life?  Or is the mind too occupied with struggle and striving?  What are we struggling and striving toward? Is it a day when we might finally relax, breathe, look around at what is beautiful, and write a few words of gratitude and praise?  Let’s do that now.

In the morning, tell yourself, “I am living a life which is now abundant with moments in which I may relax, breathe, see the beautiful, give thanks and praise- every day.  It is so.  This is my life.”

At first, small moments will reveal themselves – like little flashes of light, or a bird’s song rising suddenly nearby.  Then you will begin to sense that these moments may widen into longer pockets of time.  Eventually there will be days of beauty, gratitude, praise…maybe even a poem or two will come.  Nothing much has changed, except you have tuned your attention.  You are noticing a little more, receiving life into your life.

Joseph Campbell taught, “Eternity is a dimension of the here and now.” You begin to notice that  Eternity has been revealing itself all along.  Now you are remembering that you are in it- breathing it, admiring, enjoying.  Life itself is the poem.

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New magical little book!

I was minding my own business this week when an enchanting little book of soul questions asked to be created.  Oh it’s such a treasure!  I put it in my pocket and carried it out on my walks and had to keep stopping to read it again and again. At 1 1/4 inches by 2, it’s a delight for those of us who know good things come in small packages.  It brims with beautiful questions that lead us back to the soul.

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There are 32 tiny pages, with 40 questions in all.

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These are delightful writing prompts… invitations for inquiry… conversation starters…

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Each page offers a powerful invitation and transmission…

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I’ve sewn the book with gold thread and left a loop so it could be hung as an ornament,
or even worn on a chain as a conversation starting pendant.

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CLICK HERE for the product Page for A Little Book of Soul Questions.

Add to Cart

Praise and Unspoken Gratitudes

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I wish I could bring you with me on walks around the island.  I snap photographs and jot notes in my notebook, receiving words and poems.

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Here is this morning’s poem……..

There are undreamed dreams inside you.
Might you name a few?

There are some hopes that were dashed and are jagged –
could you breathe them into repair?

And what of praise and unspoken gratitudes-
begin to speak them in every moment.

Speak them and feel your life turning
from worry into song.

~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff

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Writing for Spiritual Guidance: on becoming still and small

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(photo by Vineyard Colors)

     I sat down to write a letter the other day, to a friend who is going through a divorce.  I wasn’t sure what I should say, so I sat with my pen above the page for a little while, until I felt the warm stirring of guidance.  “You should write this:” the voice said, and I was led to put down just a few gentle words of wisdom and compassion, love and forgiveness – words that would comfort my friend: words that were not my own.

Yesterday I received an email from this friend thanking me for the letter which she said she had been reading over and over again, until she finally posted it with a magnet on her fridge.  She wrote to me that the words in that letter were more healing to her than she knew how to say.

What I realized as I read her letter is that I can’t begin to take credit for those words of love and healing.  I was only an open vessel through which they could come.  That is how it often is with writing for me- whether I am writing a book like the Honey Sutras, or Befriending the Soul,  a poem, prayer, or a letter.  It’s this realization that I want to share with you today.

There is a voice which speaks to all of us, and sometimes we can hear it.  Some call it “the still, small voice” of the spirit.  But what I’ve found is that the voice itself isn’t actually still, or small- it is a generous, numinous, loving and guiding voice- a voice we hear best when we ourselves become still and small.  It is when I make myself still- quiet, open, inviting and receptive that the voice comes.  It is when I become small, reducing my own sense of knowing, of judgment or righteousness or grandeur that the voice comes.

When we allow ourselves to become still and small, humbling ourselves before the mystery, not knowing what may come yet waiting in friendship, in receptivity, in deep listening- that is when the voice comes.  When we are willing to be an empty vessel, to surrender and be of service- when we offer our pens up as an instrument for divine guidance and healing: that is when the voice comes.