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Posts Tagged ‘poetry by Ingrid Goff-Maidoff’
When Joy returns from a long journey,
she is carrying a basket of wildflowers;
bread; grape jelly; a book of poems.
“I go sometimes,” she says,
“when I feel we have stopped conversing-
when your love and appreciation wane
and I become another forgotten thing.
I go and I have a good wander.
And then I come back.
You know I always will -
when you light the porch lantern;
offer a quiet prayer;
when you enter your own heart again
and find the field where I go for dancing.”
This morning I put the kettle on to boil and then headed out to the asparagus patch to harvest some of its skyward reaching shoots. Jonah and I have been spending a lot of time digging in the dirt this spring. He’s been teaching sustainability. I call it “restoring Eden.”
In the garden, much like everywhere, we don’t know what we are doing. We refer to books for advice and promptly forget their guidance. Standing amid the fertile weeds, we must forgive in advance our failings. It feels like the only way to proceed is to call this not toil but surrender; not labor but opportunity. Anything is possible here. Surely something will grow.
On my way to the asparagus, I pop a single red strawberry into my mouth. I used to save these sweet offerings for the children, feeling double delight in their pleasure. Now that they are grown, I’m learning, once again, how to please myself. I’m surprised that this is a work in unraveling and not simply second nature.
The strawberries are ripening one a day so far, each a sacramental offering to hold on the tongue in communion. Yes, if we relied on this crop we would starve. And yes, if we weren’t thankful for every humble thing, we would also starve.
What do I know of joy ~
except it is a word that I have savored?
A word so much like God,
full of promise and tender relating.
What do I know of Joy,
except it is a gift that I have opened
to find the forgiveness, wonder and welcome
that breathe life into my life?
Next week I will speak to a class on the presence and practice of joy. Today I feel I can’t do this. I have so little to say. For the Greeks, the word Joy is Char, from the word Charis, which means grace. What do I know, then, of grace, except the lovely way it slips in and holds us when we rest in our own unknowing. So I might say,
Give up wisdom.
Give up thinking that
you should always know
what to do; what to say;
what is skillful
or even best.
until you can enjoy
your own curious and frail
Feel how freeing
this actually is.
Sure, celebrate your triumphs,
but also, see if you can love
the tender place of unknowing.
Accept how vulnerable you are-
how possible it is
to be wrong, confused,
imperfect and adored.
Why do I love, as much as anything, a bowl of apples, a wooden spoon?
The weather was so generously beautiful here last Sunday that I had a little walk along the Vineyard Haven Harbor before watching Bella’s soccer game. This boat reminded me of my poem, ONE THOUSAND EVENINGS MORE- a poem that hopes to remind us to savor the preciousness of life. The better half of me writes these poems…the other half forgets… and then feels grateful when remembering comes.
One Thousand Evenings More
What if we had
one thousand evenings more
to step into
like a small boat
waiting at the dock,
or a blank page
and the most exquisite pen in hand
to write the sun dipping hot flames
into the western sea,
the moon and stars rising,
and not have such words sound empty
like the straws on the broom as it sweeps
those last remnants of life
from the room we’ll leave behind?
And what if we had
one thousand evenings more
to walk in the woods,
to share a glass of wine,
to ask our friends
from where their happiness comes…
…to reinvent ourselves as lovers,
forgetting all we’ve learned,
even all that we’ve forgotten?
from the book, What Holds Us, New and Selected Poems
I have been loosening some of my “shoulds” lately… that I should be more, do more or have more before I be permitted to breathe deeply of the fresh air, or put my face in the sun, or feel joy tingling in my veins. I hope that you have been too! This world is too beautiful for us to be distracted with the unnecessary, the unkind, the unloving, ungenerous or unimaginative.
Thank you all for your loving comments of late, you have been, to borrow the phrase from another, like “wind beneath my wings.” I feel very nourished, encouraged and healed by your presence in my life. Thank you!
“The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love
and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it,
you will discover that for you the world is transformed.”
Love Your Life
And a voice will come from the stillness
to give these words: Love your life.
You will know from its deep urging
to let go the well-worn list
of all you thought you first needed.
Begin here, freely,
from this muddy place.
It doesn’t matter if you are broken,
Go now, into the day:
the open fields, markets,
the long trail to the sea.
Find all the ways
a lover loves the Beloved:
each hidden bloom, unspoken wound,
vagary of heart.
Become a brave and willing traveler
in a wild, forgotten terrain ~
a world of intimate tender relating,
infinite mystery, un-tethered joy.
Now, moving in this world, you know
that love is the greatest fortune.
Only, you will not amass it:
you are it.
(Often, when I am still enough, I feel words dropped into my being that are messages to ponder. The other day I received the words, “Love your Life,” and felt quite instantly that this didn’t mean I was meant to list with gratitude everything I felt was going rightly for me, or, conversely, to list everything I still felt was necessary before I could love my life, but that I was being asked to love my life as if it were my beloved. I was being urged to love my life as a lover would love- not as an end-point receiver of all good things, but as an intimate partner, a loving participant. I was being asked to approach my life with curiosity, pleasure, appreciation, forgiveness, compassion, playfulness, awe- to love as a lover in the deepest sense of the word. I realize that to receive this guidance is one thing- to live by it is a lifetime of practice, remembrance, forgetting…. remembrance… forgetting…and remembering!)
When my dear friend Jan Lundy asked me for a poem on “Enough” for her Contentment Course, I found several in my collection What Holds Us. This poem speaks to being enough. I hope that as you read it, you feel yourself relax into the acceptance that you are, just as you are, enough. This is what walking does for me: puts me at ease; unravels knotted places; soothes an over-thinking mind; restores a sense of belonging. Perhaps scheduling some time in a beautiful place is a gift you might give yourself today. I hope so!
Hold Me Until I Know You
Your fields stretch out before me.
Wild roses emit their sweetness.
Daisies sway on the hillside.
The world seems friendly, relaxed,
intimate with my secrets,
and accepting of all of me.
The road, lined with ancient walls,
does not ask me
for change or improvements
before setting forth along it.
If this is not a grace, please
hold me until I know you.