Welcome to our 6th Poetry Party. These are posted every other Monday. I select an image and suggest a title and invite you to respond with your poems, words, reflections, quotes, song lyrics, etc. Leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the body of the post as they come in along with a link back to your blog if you have one (not required to participate!)
Feel free to post the poem along with my image below on your blog with a link back to this post. Please invite your readers to come join the party too!
I’ve been reflecting a lot on grief and brokenness lately — I think there is something beautiful in our capacity to mourn over loss, to have an instinctual longing for life, to grow from our woundedness. Below is an image I took at Mt Rainier this summer and then altered in Photoshop as an experiment. Feel free to take your poem on the beauty of brokenness in any direction you please. I look forward to your marvelous gifts of words.
Martha Louise Harkness shares this wonderful quote:
The great mystery of God’s love is that we are not asked to live as if we are not hurting, as if we are not broken. In fact, we are invited to recognize our brokenness as a brokenness in which we can come in touch with the unique way that God loves us. The great invitation is to live your brokenness under the blessing. I cannot take people’s brokenness away and people cannot take my brokenness away. But how do you live in your brokenness? Do you live your brokenness under the blessing or under the curse? The great call of Jesus is to put your brokenness under the blessing.
– Henri J.M. Nouwen, Lecture at Scarritt-Bennett Center
From every darkness
a point of light can be seen.
From every shadow
a light is overhead.
From every sorrow
tears wash clean.
From unmarked paths
a new direction is led.
Peace to all those walking the path of grief
-Dawn of WildYarn
Kathy Flugel Stone shares this marvelous poem from David Wagoner in respone to the image of the tree:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
after a long walk
my pockets are full of prayers
worn and broken shells
Will you let me
he asked, like rippled water,
Will you let me
Will you let me
he asked, like a kiss,
Will you let me
I forget in the flames
You’re not a bushfire
but a controlled burn
A bone resetter
-Sue at Discombobula
Waiting Room, after Surgery
The brightness of leaves obscures
the tall, rain-darkened fence
between the hospital and this temporary
refuge for patient’s families.
Beyond the window, a tree surges,
pushed by the wind,
nodding, yes, yes,
backlit leaves glowing.
My notebook records moments
hanging like leaves, suspended
in time, illuminated by blue
ballpoint letters scrawled
while waiting, in fear,
while waiting, with hope.
Message In A Bottle
let me pick
the glass from your eye.
Broken bottles left on the shores
of irises are bound
to cause damage,
to slit delicate skin.
Let me catch
in outstretched nets
of lace-linked fingers
the salty prayers of your sunless depths,
the mournful roar of sea
choking through your lips.
Let me gather
from the aftermath of morning
the sundried paper pleadings
let loose by shattering craigs
and marooned with you, in flesh.
if all the answers of my heart
and the rescues of my love
can come pouring from my face,
why not lift your eyes and swallow?
-Ashley Lyn at Waiting on the Honeybee
“The jewelery box lid is broken.”
“I can fix it,” I told her, years ago.
I can fix it. I just haven’t done so.
The top of the box is a painting
of Boston Common on a snowy day
in another time, people walking
across the park at twilight.
The four pieces that framed it
lie on top of the dresser, waiting
to be remembered into wholeness.
I walk by every morning without
the glue or the intention to fix
what is broken. Now I have gone
so long that broken seems normal.
How did I become accustomed
to a life of unfinished and disrepair?
I can fix it; I just haven’t done so.
-Milton Brasher-Cunningham at Don’t Eat Alone
Pamela McCauley shares this quote from Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits:
…I sat beside her, unable to resist the feeling that we shared something, the two
of us. The wounds and brokenness of life. Crumpled wings. A collision with
something harsh and real. I felt like crying for her. For myself. For every
broken thing in the world.
That moment taught me that while the postures of stillness within the cocoon are
frequently an individual experience, we also need to share out stillness. The bird
taught me anew that we’re all in this together, that we need to sit in one another’s
stillness and take up corporate postures of prayer. How wonderful it is when we can
be honest and free enough to say to one another, “I need you to wait with me,” or
“Would you like me to wait with you?”
I studied the bird, deeply impressed that she seemed to know instinctively that in
stillness is healing. I had been learning that too, learning that stillness can be
the prayer that transforms us. How much more concentrated our stillness becomes,
though, when its shared….
I am the hidden underside of things,
roots stretching twisted into the abyss,
no warm crumbs of soil give me cling.
Chilling wind circles, probing each
bare surface, freezing salt.
Eyes rolling blindly find no light.
This narrow perch of brokenness
binds the touch of my frozen flesh
to ice so cold it is also fire.
-Tess at Anchors and Masts
The Eden Tree
An idyllic day in paradise breaks
when we lose sight of heaven;
it was a simple nibble, not even a bite,
tempting us with our nakedness.
Swift judgment falls upon our heads
as fierce winds sprung from God’s deep lungs,
now strip the Eden tree of leaves
forever – fallen on the ground.
Once lush and heavy with succulent fruit,
the Eden tree stands stark and bare;
a mottled, turbulent sky outlining
these now dark and craggy branches.
We sleep, then dream, then slowly wake,
and rub our weary eyes, and see, despite
the pile of leaves, a ladder to God’s heaven.
Perhaps a chance to love and start anew.
-Rich Murray at Pilgrim Path
On Grief and Growth
Its wizened fingers pointing at the sun,
The tree cries out. It seeks someone to blame,
But, finding none, it bows its head in shame
And grieves for what is lost. And so to run
Its course (or so it seems) why, grief must shun
The swampy depths of truth. Should it then look
For answers that are writ in stone? The book
Of life conceals adroitly what is won
At length, accompanied by pain: grief must
Rip pages out. It is the only way
That roots can grow. The leaves shall turn to dust
Before the dawn and promise of the day.
Then spring abrades, with gentle touch, the scars
That grief endures, and hope brings healing powers.
Looking at darkened boughs against the sky, brings me a lonliness I can hardly bear
a feeling that my heart may stop right there
Only in the Spring, when the leaves return
can I truly recover,reassemble, be a child again
I miss your laugh, your voice, your hands
I miss your lap, your silver hair, your expansive love
You were that tree, hunched, stiff, solitary
Now you are free and I must try and let you go
there is a time
a time to consider
to cry and to rage.
there is a time to
even when you
a time to hope
a time for beauty
to be revealed
in another guise…
-Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Do you see me?
Black char, dry scales,
I am burned and scarred
but peer beneath my wounded skin…
new growth, renewed life
I am growing, healthy, alive
sometimes it destroys,
sometimes it purifies:
the crucible for me,
never the pyre.
Like a phoenix,
I rise from the ashes
of shattered dreams
and unspoken expectations
alive and made new
I am born again.
-Ann Sims at Stories and Faith
counts for little
He sees what is within
and speaks it into being
God created all
God builds true self
-Lorna at See-Through Faith
i reach for the heavens
-Kayce Hughlett at Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy
The winter nakedness of trees
shows off their bones,
pen strokes against a darkening sky,
their blackness backlit by the
lowest cloud to hold a cup of sun.
Old men lie adrift in their beds,
famous battles of World War II
flickering on the screen, a strident voice
encouraging the valiant on—all background
to vacant eyes it once entranced.
Old women loll in chairs by the door.
One cries out, “I don’t live here. Take me home.”
Another smiles, holds out her doll.
One with a canny grin
points to a photo on her dresser.
“I snapped that handsome boy up in a flash,”
then sobs because, “I don’t know where he’s gone!”
“Ten years dead,” her sister says.
Old women want their mamas,
their babies and their men.
Old men long for glory,
their courage, and the power
that made them proud
a long time ago.
The sun descends below the land,
hanging there, a rim of light,
before it’s sucked down by the sky,
a gentle death to day, its colors gone.
-Wren at The Winding Mind
Can I honor this pain?
Can I dare call it sacred,
and believe that You are
right in the midst of it?
Are You inviting me to call it holy
and receive it with compassion?
to know this pain, like all other pain,
is on the cross
because of Your unending love for all?
Does redemption, healing
come by entering the pain
rather than asking
that it be removed from me?
-Cathleen at Back Road Journey
Beauty of brokenness
Every day I see you.
Eight hours every day I work with you.
But do I really?
Look beyond your fractured, bruised limbs,
Look deeper than your damaged gray matter.
To your soul within,
Untouched by trauma.
To see the spark of recognition,
The scowl of determination,
The tears of frustration,
The silent wails of loss and grief,
The internal nod of understanding.
Healing comes slowly,
You will be the same
But forever different.
There is beauty in the faith, courage and determination that arise from you brokeness.
Most of all, I see it in your loved ones that are with you on the journey.
-Elaine Eppler at Edible Balcony Garden
Never say never.
Once I said I’d never climb again.
I said I wouldn’t try to scale
the rough places
of caring and listening
of preaching and teaching
of serving and pouring out.
It hurt too much.
Even though the Call was unmistakeable,
the Pull relentless,
I was afraid. I said NO. It’s been years.
The branches that bore fruit are starting to bear again.
The places that were pruned give new growth.
And here I am…
Back in harness.
Full of challenge.
Full of joy.
I am doing what I was MADE to do.
It’s all God.
This time, though
I climb with focus and intent
I climb with steady progress and thoughtful plans
And that safety harness?
Yes. You bet.
Jesus hasn’t let go of me yet!
-Deb Vaughn at Another Unfinished Symphony
devil winds made wildfires rage
“now it’s time for the recovery,” said the tv voice
is this the promised baptism of fire?
if so, surely we can trust your promise of renewal and resurrection
if so, surely we will trust your promise of life restored!
-Leah at this far by faith
When the trees have lost all color,
their starkness and stillness
My eyes are dulled by
days and days of gray.
No relief for the searching heart.
Then, suddenly, the sky itself blooms
with all the radiance
the earth has lost.
Impossible color upon color,
a purple background
outlining dark silhouettes.
God’s mercy floods the barrenness,
extending hope to every branch
and heart for life renewed.
Once filled with leaves of superficial flair
each branch of my being
so vulnerable and bare
Alone on the top I cling to the ground
not wanting to fall
my roots have been found
The colors they swirl around me
comforting but new
All I needed was to open my eyes to see
So though I look alone and naked fresh from an emotional shower
It is simply that I am
finally in a place of empower.
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts