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Invitation to Poetry: Going Home

Welcome to the Abbey’s 53rd Poetry Party!

I select an image and suggest a theme/title and invite you to respond with your own poem.  Scroll down and add it in the comments section below. 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 Sunday, September 25th, I will draw a name at random from the participants and the winner will receive a free registration spot in my upcoming online retreat Honoring Saints & Ancestors: Peering through the Veil (October 30-November 19, 2011).

I adore the season of autumn with the crisp air, the days growing shorter, and the brilliance of the world around me as nature prepares for the sleep of winter.  This year I am pondering the image of home in her many facets: the Pacific Northwest salmon who right now make the arduous swim up river to return to their birthplace and lay the eggs of the new generation (and losing their lives in the process), the birds who will soon begin their journeys south in the great mystery of migration, in the releasing of ruby and tangerine leaves from branches and drifting downward back to the earth, source of life and home, and in the memory of my mother who took the great journey Home many years ago during this season.

Our photo prompt for this week is from my time on Lake Michigan last week.  Something about the vastness of her waters against the evening sky evokes this sense of the primordial source for me and where we all return.  My teaching partner, Betsey, calls her “Mother Lake.”

What does the metaphor of “going home” evoke for you?  What are the longings that autumn stirs in your heart?  I invite you to write a poem about your own process of going home.

*Registration* for two upcoming online retreats is now open: Honoring Saints & Ancestors: Peering through the Veil (October 30-November 19, 2011) and Advent 2011–Birthing the Holy: Becoming a Monk in the World (November 27-December 24, 2011).

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55 Responses

  1. silver is my home
    and silver the tears
    from cloud queens
    above silver sand beaches
    embracing seas
    of silver liquid
    caressing my skin
    shimmering silver
    the salmon scales
    glimpsed in deep waters
    fires of silver driftwood
    night comes down
    silver moonpath

  2. Yep, I realize the party’s over, but hey, it’s Autumn, and there’s always one last leaf to fall. So, here goes:

    Beside a Northwoods Lake

    One Common Loon sings an uncommon melody
    regarding loneliness and love.
    In the distance comes her lover’s reply;
    eventually, the two meet, again, before light rises from the east.

    Fog awakens upon the lake,
    rising up like morning spirits in the still-dark dawn.
    Drifting vapor enshrouding the sunrise,
    ingesting morning’s luminescence
    like some mimicking chameleon of light.

    Only now,
    in this crisp new day,
    is the fullest certainty of Autumn made manifest.
    Arboreal gowns,
    once young, verdant and fresh,
    are now wise with gold and crimson hues.

    Once-soft leaves now rattle in the wind;
    a harmonious shoreline accompaniment
    joining songs of water-birds across the lake.

    Carpets of forest perennials are being tucked-in
    beneath cast-off cloaks of Maple, Birch, and Oak.

    The forest is beginning to revel in the glory of its own nakedness,
    only tentative in this autumnal time,
    but eventually to dance fully and unabashed
    amidst winter’s broad exposure.

    This is a liminal moment;
    a threshold between what was,
    and is yet to be.

    Melancholy emerges in these days of human-living,
    just as naturally as morning fog
    upon a lake too-warm for the surrounding air.

    It is time to settle-in to our unsettled lives.

    Accept change like tamaracks consent to the seasonal loss of their needles.

    Let our own turning move us to Truth more-lasting than fair-weather.

    Let Autumn be our guide.
    Let Autumn prepare us for any darkness ahead.
    Let Autumn teach us it is okay to let go.

  3. The Word Was Made Flesh and Dwelt Among Us

    Verbum caro factum est
    et habitavit in nobis
    Sisters chant sunset vespers
    lyrical hum of a harmless hive
    too intent on honey and purpose
    to notice the sweetness in the hammock nearby
    Ave Maria

    Remember, the first time?
    Your name
    in a cave
    announcing your place
    OVER and Over and over and over and over
    until you said it again, again, again
    or no longer longer
    to hear
    retire to single cells
    and whisper lists of synonyms
    for a jump rope rhyme
    for breezes
    through white cotton curtains
    for the silver ring of dinner dishes

    Church bells
    and swallows
    This is the coming home time of day

  4. I am
    the one who tumbles
    backwards and forwards
    inwards and outwards
    searching always

    If I open up enough
    perhaps I will stumble
    into something greater
    a space
    that will bring me back
    to complete

    I am are ever expanding
    shooting out towards
    the great space that surrounds us
    and slowly, slowly
    coming back to all that I have known

    The light plays
    on the ground
    and I replay in my head
    all the autumn days
    I have spent


    poetry is the mist, draped softly on the Tables

    poetry is the water, dancing in Glen Hinnisdal, and the laughter of the children in remembered swimming there

    poetry is the arc of the bridge and the knowledge of returning

    poetry is the echoed words of Sorley, crashing on the black sand shore

    poetry is the hard dark rock of the Cuillin, the sharp serrated edge of her skyline

    poetry is the invocation of the bog myrtle, crushed against your finger tips

    poetry is bog cotton, laughing in the breeze

    poetry is the wind on the moorland, the kiss of spirit freedom

    poetry is the light, glinting on the water as the road turns down to Gesto and a thousand silent worships and a thousand tears of home

    poetry is the island, lost in mist, and illumined with the perfect clarity of a winter sunshine day

    poetry is truth

    poetry is mystery

    poetry is love and impossible gratitude

    poetry is the island,

    and I am forever returning.

  6. Going Home

    Going home
    is going to the place
    where welcome waits for you
    with constant longing,
    a place at the table,
    sweet sheets made ready,
    eyes watching,
    arms aching
    for you at the door.

    Going home
    is the journey to the place
    where you fall with relief
    into safe halls,
    dropping cares like luggage,
    falling towards familiar faces,
    masks dropping,
    breath stilling,
    eyes filling
    to be known once more.

    Going home
    is the return to the place
    of a hearth for the heart,
    balm for the body,
    salve for the soul;
    ever warming,
    always attending,
    ever the open door.