Poems that have blessed me...

Three other essential poems for me as I reflect on my 30 years of ordained ministry.  The first is by Kabir - 13th century Muslim orphan whose Arabic name means "the Great" as in the 37th name for Allah in the Quran - and goes like this in a Robert Bly translation:

Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think... and think... while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time before death.

If you don't break your ropes while you're alive
do you think
ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten -
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the City of
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life you
   will have the face of satisfied desire.

Kabir says this:  When the Guest is being searched for, it is
   the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the
Look at me and you will see a slave of that intensity.

That resonates well with my sense of Christ's reminder that the Kingdom is both within and among us - and very, very near.  The second is boldly incarnational, "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop."  Strains of John 1 and Leonard Cohen's, "Anthem," waft through my soul as I enter the crazy one's wisdom.

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

'A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.'

And then there is the tender mercy of Mary Oliver's take on "Hallelujah."  More and more I find I am spending time in the wake of her presence.

Everyone should be born into this world happy
   and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Hallelujah, anyways I'm not where I started!

And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes
   almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
      and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you too decided that probably nothing important
   is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years?

Hallelujah, I'm sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.

There you go... these feel right to me... especially mixed with pictures from Winton and Michal's farm house.  Onward to the party.


Di said…
You didn't say who the second poem, "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop," is by--it's W. B. Yeats, for those of you (like me) who were wondering...
RJ said…
Ooops one of the downsides of being me...
Black Pete said…
"You are worth more broken." --Stephanie Kallos, from the novel "Broken for You."

From a broken friend.

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