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Invitation to Poetry: The Center and the Edges

Welcome to the Abbey’s Poetry Party #57!

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), Facebook, or Twitter, and encourage others to come join the party! (permission is granted to reprint the image if a link is provided back to this post)

I have recently discovered a stash of copies of my first book on lectio divina (published by Paulist Press, written with Sister Lucy) and so I will be sending out free signed copies to the first 25 people to share their poems (will be mailed out the week of May 7th).  When you submit your poem, please also email me directly with your mailing address (I’ll send confirmation I received it, but I won’t be chasing down folks for their addesses).  This is my way of saying thank you for participating in the Abbey community.


This photo is of one of the doors to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  I love this found mandala, because for me, I could see the clear boundary of the center where the knocker for the door was and where you request entry to the inner sanctum, and then the extension outward from there of the design which had a reaching quality to me and sense of how our service to others extends out into the world.  We are called to dance on life’s edges, stretching the boundaries and horizon.  I felt the beautiful tension between the center and the edges and how we are called to both – each one nourishes the other.

I invite you to ponder this image and see what it evokes in your heart.  Let that be a starting point for your poem writing.  Then scroll down to the comments section and share it here with our Abbey community.

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54 Responses

  1. The Center

    darkened by time
    and neglect
    the edges are
    murky, dingy,

    the center where
    many hands have
    touched, wiped,
    polished with each
    entry into the


    the margins long
    for a loving touch
    a beautiful caress
    being seen as the
    filigree that
    swoops and swirls
    reaching for
    the center
    always held
    back by the
    of the door of


    you are seen.

    wind whistles
    through the keyhole
    calling the center
    to reach outward
    gathering the
    beloved in her
    arms and opening

    Not to enter.

    To exit.

  2. So often I’ve come to the door seeking sanctuary,
    a place to shut out the silence
    of pain;
    and to forget
    the utter loneliness
    Of being human
    and other.

    “Knock and it shall be opened.”

    But the door is locked
    By some unseen part of my past —
    Unmet needs
    Hurts unhealed
    Unloved lesions left by
    Hearts unfeeling.

    Does it really matter?
    The door remains shut
    Dark, cold,
    And silent.
    Outside, unimpeded,
    The rain berates my shivering skin.

    If only another would raise
    The unyielding iron
    And gain access;
    Or shout for the inside to open up.
    I’ve screamed until my lungs bled
    And the chords shattered on shards
    Of despair.

    But only my pain thunders
    back to me
    As tears streak the windows.

  3. In praise of Mistress Bradstreet
    who danced on the world’s periphery,
    crossing the ocean in 1630.
    She bore and reared eight children
    on the margins of New England.
    Anne live a cutting edge life:
    faithful Puritan
    prudent if silent-for-a-time poet.
    History records her knocking on, knocking down, opening doors.

    There is nothing left to fear.

  4. Coraggio!

    Lion hearted
    On your
    Up against
    You rise
    You fall
    Holy, holy

    Dear One,
    My Love!
    All is
    All is
    All is
    Holy, holy holy-

  5. The lion in the center
    (is it Aslan?)
    holds the ring.
    Do you push,
    or pull
    or just hold on…
    as the door opens
    to greater mystery?

  6. O Pilot of my Passions,
    steer me on a steady course.
    Draw me through the inner deeps
    to the core where you dwell.

  7. Pingback: The Iron Door |
  8. Iron Lion

    from a door into Notre Dame Cathedral

    Nothing between my teeth for centuries
    but this iron ring, the invitation
    I don’t speak, but offer.
    All you need
    do is lift
    and drop it.
    All you need
    is a prayer
    between your teeth
    and feet
    to enter.