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Invitation to Poetry: Always We Begin Again

Welcome to our 37th Poetry Party!

I select an image and suggest a theme/title and invite you to respond with your poems or other reflections. Add them in the comments section and a link to your blog (if you have one).  Make sure to check the comments for new poems added and I encourage you to leave encouraging comments for each other either here or at the poet’s own blog. (I was using Mister Linky before but it started slowing down the loading of my pages drastically, so please leave your poems and links in the comments).

Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog if you have one and encourage others to come join the party! (permission is granted to reprint the image if a link is provided back to this post)

On Friday, July 3rd, I will draw a name at random from those who participate and send the winner a signed copy of my newest zine: Sacred Poetry: An Invitation to Write (which will ship out by Monday, July 6th and you can pre-order for your own copy for the discounted price of $12.50)!


Theme: Always We Begin Again

I spent this past weekend with my Oblate community at St. Placid Priory.  It was our annual retreat and this year I helped Sister Lucy facilitate on the theme of “Always we begin again” which is a line from the Rule of St. Benedict.  One of the vows in Benedictine life is conversion which is essentially a commitment to ongoing transformation and recoginizing that we never fully arrive at the destination, we are always on a journey.

I took this photo while up on the Canadian coast last week.  At low tide one day I wandered the beach gathering stones and creating cairns, carefully balancing one stone upon another.  It became a meditation on my life.  For me Benedictine practice is at heart about living my life in a renewing balance between solitude and community, between silence and conversation, between work and prayer, between all the elements of my life that demand attention and energy.  I have returned from this retreat renewed in energy, focus, and commitment to my Benedictine practices.  I am ready to begin again.

We are half way through the year, so I invite you to take this opportunity to pause and reflect where you are being called to begin again.  Write a poem about your longing for balance or the places where you seek renewal.


© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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26 Responses

  1. Lucy – that is from TS Elliott’s Four Quartets. I have been meaning to reread it again for some weeks, thank you for providing the spur to do so :)

    My contribution:

    Always I Begin Again

    I lay down after I fell
    amongst the rocks. But always
    I begin again, scanning skies from
    where I bade me look, into the deep well.
    In I fell.

    Had dragged myself round
    amongst the Gedarene tombs.
    There she was, she’d tried wrapping
    herself in cheap veils made from
    Beijing smog.

    I enfold the mad Gedarene’s hand.
    While we’re gone may He make her
    a dress and make us a cairn,
    a mark to note the summit of the
    beautiful mountain.

  2. on the shore

    on the shore
    between land and water
    your body
    an inert slab of flesh
    struck down by the past year’s griefs
    tongue hanging out
    heart hanging, clawed out

    not even the wild dogs
    bother to sniff this log

    but gently, inevitably
    the soft hands of tiny waves
    caress and soothe

    Open your eyes
    you are in a watercolor of sea and sky

    feel the warm rocks
    the wisdom-teachers

    struggle to your knees
    push in your aching heart
    take up your driftwood staff

    walk your pilgrimage

  3. Here is a haiku for this week’s Poetry Party. I love the whimsy and wisdom of this cairn! Thank you for these in your self, Christine!

    Mere pile of stones
    Lifted up from big to small
    Pyramid of need.

    by Martha Louise Harkness

  4. Beginner’s mind
    is nothing more than
    waking each moment
    as if asleep
    stretching and yawning and
    doing the Downward Dog
    in the sunlight.

    Only then to crawl back into
    our cozy bed again and
    sleep, perchance to dream
    of waking and doing a full Sun Salute.

  5. so often in
    I have craved a
    that each

    all my
    when my
    are thwarted,
    or must
    when firm
    give way


    you call

    help me

  6. “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time. ” t.s. elliot (found at “inspired”)

    always we begin again! xoxoxo :-)

  7. Some quick responses dear poet friends, as I am in the midst of a pile of work! :-)

    kigen, thank you — I love the image of ablutions!

    Carolyn, I love the invocation of your poem, a transformation of vision being called upon.

    Deb, such a wonderful image of being guided toward something beyond our own great imagining.

    Terri, you take us on both a minute and infinite journey with your words. “the ground of all being” – I can smell the sacred earthiness.

    Tom, you are able to traverse a long distance in a short space. I love that last line.

    Cindy, thanks for the quote — very true!

    Shelley, such honest words! I love the image of “Wild Christ.”

    shraddha, thank you for your offering, so appropriate to just marvel at what one can do.

    Jan, lovely words, I especially love those last two ascendant lines.

    Laure, what an incredible journey you offer here, full of grief and hope.

    Grady, I love the narrative of your poem and the questions you pose about the nature of the stones.

  8. Before the Harvest Comes

    For each time of growth –
    each renewal of life in me,
    new rows are furrowed:
    preparing for the coming seed
    that they might grow well.

    Hard stone is surfaced –
    brought up from below the rich soil:
    its harshness hinders –
    stunts – the new life sending out roots,
    wilting tender growth.

    Twelve stones are arranged –
    stacked together in firm order:
    pillar of hard stone.
    Are the stones a mountain altar
    a death to falsehood?

    Twelve stones are arranged –
    stacked together in firm order:
    pillar of hard stone.
    Are the stones submerged memorial
    of river crossing?

    Both are renewed living.
    Both give life to my planted seeds.
    Removed obstacles,
    or sown seeds in new-turned earth –
    end result is life!

  9. A haibun

    In early spring we put up two bird houses in the willing bark of some ponderosa pines. And having asked God to bring eager newlywed bluebirds to one or both, we placed our hearts by the window and waited. When the electric-blue wing of the Mountain man came, our breath caught. When his swelling bride ferried mouthfuls of our mulch into one of the waiting vacancies, our chests gave way to a slight heave of sighing. Mama laid four eggs. All but one baby died. Its downy-feathered frame davening most evenings now inside the temple of branches closest to the suet. Bluebirds don’t mourn their children’s death as far as we can tell. They leave the grieving over what is lost to people like us. Within a week the couple abandoned their first home, to lay their hopes in the second. Our breath caught. Our chests gave way to sighing.

    again and again the well
    always filling
    always full.