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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. Thank you for the invitation Christine. My contribution is on macro photography, which is how I find my centre (thanks for helping to show me how). It’s in pantoum form, and thank you for showing me that also!


    Things are happening at the level of the tiny.
    Through all grief, through the deluge of tears,
    Gasping in wonder, laughing in astonishment, crying with delight,
    The world reveals itself with beauty at its centre.

    Through all grief, through the deluge of tears,
    The wings of the butterfly are folded, still, in perfect poise.
    The world reveals itself with beauty at its centre.
    There is nothing beyond this: this act of worship, this act of communion.

    The wings of the butterfly are folded, still, in perfect poise.
    Gasping in wonder, laughing in astonishment, crying with delight,
    There is nothing beyond this: this act of worship, this act of communion.
    Things are happening at the level of the tiny.

    1. Joanna, “Tiny Centre” enthralls me with awe! Today I’m drawn to “Things are happening . . . and The world reveals itself with beauty at its centre”.

    2. Love this structure Joanna, the lines form a kind of Celtic knot as they find their way from beginning to end – intriguing

    3. Hi Joanna – so nice to encounter you here. I too am very fond of macro photography and pantoums. This is a wonderful poem – I am rather partial to butterflies also – and you have done something very powerful with all three!

  2. Courage

    confronts me,
    causes me
    to act
    great gravity.

    calls me
    my cocoon;
    catches me
    by surprise,
    “Throw caution to the wind!
    Come! Now!”

  3. It feels massive to me,
    this door,____ containing
    such mystery toward
    its opening.

    Tension pulls at the
    center, begging to
    be swung open,
    to its fullest capacity.

    Encountering risk,
    as I embrace
    change in perspective,
    openness feels overwhellming.

    Remaining closed I can feel
    secure, breath normal,
    experiencing the

    The grand closed door,
    represents challenging
    possibilities, to open_____
    risk, to hold closed_____

    1. could sense your energy and enthusiasm as i read your response to the image
      there is a desire expressed in your writing
      to be open yet secure
      the tension is Real
      go IN and see

      come back and let us know what U find!

    2. I resonated with your words about risk and security. It does feel massive at times and filled with tension. Thanks for sharing your experience.


    The lion roars
    Beyond this door pantheons of power
    deep rivers swirl, curl
    cut and cast aside

    Cauldrons of courage poured through Joseph
    Fire hoisted Moses up the mountain
    and fed his feast for forty days
    Might propelled young David’s pebble
    Breath of Jonah’s whale

    Power, white power
    It waits to pour into new vessels
    Only, if only
    I put fingers to the ring – and pull.

  5. must we all be wild?
    can i not just rest at the center,
    deep in the heart of my Love?

    and yet my Love cries, “awake!
    listen! can you not hear
    the song of My heart breaking?”

    wild with His love, my heart
    races to life’s very fringes —
    searching desperately for Wounds.

    i cannot hide from them.
    my heart too must break.
    i too must die the holy death.

    to rest in His heart is to die —
    a wild, fierce death of surrender,
    dying and dying until nothing remains

    but Him.

  6. Following the edge
    On a journey
    Beyond the wall
    A new destination.

    Seeking change
    Experiencing newness
    Following the edge
    To a new destination.

  7. A garden calls, “Come in!”
    Come to sun warmed earth,
    Solace for a cold soul.
    Hope shines here.

  8. Grief wounded souls turn away
    From sunsets unbearable blaze
    Toward luminescent indigo;
    Where holy dissonance punctuates sorrow
    And starlight intensity resonates alleluia.

    1. Nan, I experience sacred unfathomable Love when reading your poem aloud. thank you.