Passenger

A coyote cuts across the foggy highway
a life held inside indecision, a moment's hesitation
could be a violent end of everything all at once

Sulfurous air that once shrouded out the sun
a sudden impact that swallowed the earth
in many decades of dark, lifeless winter

Time has a way of emphasizing
the absurdity of right and wrong when
final outcomes are impossible to predict

Half the suffering I've known has been
an inner upheaval of moral outrage
resistance to the evils of this world

My stormy turmoil subsides if only
I can learn to surrender all judgement
and accept my place as a humble passenger

Who am I to hold dominion over
the way life is supposed to unfold?
I prefer the role of patient witness anyway

To watch with curious eyes and an open heart
ready to embrace all of life with equanimity
a grateful submission to existence beyond understanding

To play my small part with a soft hand
extending a gentle, hopeful intention of pure love
prepared to let go of any and all expectations

Tender feet along the balustrade, balancing
between engagement and surrender
too often falling into indignation and anger

The perpetual repetition of life can be tedious
but it offers endless chances to keep trying
precious lessons linger behind a door that is always open

Every failure is an opportunity to find grace
there is no permanence, perfection, or wasted effort
everything is as it should be, everything is as it should be

The Rain Reminds Me

Waking to the sound of rain
a song of rest outside my window
sanctuary of subdued sunshine
a signal to soften and slow down

Dewey refuge from frantic movement
rejuvenation released from the sky
deflating this bloated baggage of worry
replaced with soothing streams of surrender

Tender tones of grey and blue
wrapping me in sacred stillness
permission to let go and listen
the soft drumbeat of water on leaves

Muffled birdsongs through the mist
relentless ethereal cadence of crickets
full bodied accompaniment to life's chorus
syncopated splashes contributed by clouds

Damp doves drying in tree branches
the whole world holding it's breath
absorbing this gift of liquid life relinquished
awe-inspiring cycle of earth's abundance

Savoring the simple gifts of nature
the last few decades of clean water
overcome with sheer gratitude for
deep exhales punctuated by raindrops

Open Heart, No Fear

Raincloud of relief
the sky opening like my heart
to soak in the cool tranquil, feeling
of overwhelming gratitude

I am exactly where I need to be
I don't need to change my surroundings
to bloom into my highest self
the fertile soil of love surrounds me

Utter bliss, staring out past the rolling fields
and softly drifting cloud formations of home
there is no future to fear, there is only right now
and I am so happy and filled with peace and purpose

Nothing can strip me of this joy
the essence of my soul revealed
no longer burdened by the looming 
pressure to sacrifice what I hold so dear

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you
for this perfect, though impermanent gift
all fear has fled from the recesses of my heart
I've made the right decision

Black Raspberry Rain

The warm, thick water
at the edge of the river
guides me along the 
texture of the rocky shore

the soft rhythm of the waves
against my bare legs and feet
sand sticks to me as I reemerge
through the trees along the road

the humid air clings to my lungs
in an oppressive cloud of heat
storms slowly accumulating
above the distant horizon

ripe black raspberries beckon
from the wild hillside bramble
the heat is dissolved by cool droplets
as I begin to collect my bounty

enjoying my palmful of sweet fruit
letting the rain soak my hair
and paint dewy beads against my skin
the swell of sweet music in my ears

I laugh at the sheer delight of being alive
overcome by gratitude for all my senses
overwhelmed with love for this world
savoring the childlike joy of simplicity

each present moment can be populated
with precious miracles like these
may my mind remain still to witness
my heart always open, ready to receive

True Abundance

Yesterday I felt abundant because I was handed a ball of unexpected money. How blessed I felt by the universe for the arrival of a few marked bills. My heart rejoiced at my well-deserved reward. Then the same day, my refrigerator broke. I saw my small surprise fortune plummet back into the red. $300 is not enough to buy a new fridge. What a cruel joke! What had I done wrong in the time between this radiant morning and this evening so thick with humidity? I felt all the safety and abundance stripped away from me in an instant. I had not even gotten to enjoy it for a full day. I was frantic, frightened, confused.

I called my mother in a hysterical state, as I had done many times in my short life. She was calm and walked me through the options I had. She waited with me as we tried to unplug it and plug it back in. No luck. She advised me to call my grandmother who lives just minutes away and see what I could bring to her house and to try to freeze or forfeit everything else. At first I was inconsolable. I apologized to her for always putting her in the position to fix things for me when I knew she couldn’t truly do anything. I thanked her, told her I loved her, called my grandma, and started my unfortunate late-night work.

As I opened the door to see my grandma’s smiling face, we laughed as I handed her half a watermelon and a huge container of freshly made soup. She made space for me. Both she and my mother made space for my overblown emotion just as they always had. They provided me a safe place to land with level-headedness and love. I gave my grandma a hug and felt better. I stayed and talked for an hour or so before leaving to let her get to bed. I told them both I would let them know how things were in the morning.

I returned home to my lovely house, my darling fur children, and my soft pillow. I read a little bit of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step. I realized that I had been so wrong. The abundance of the morning had not been taken away. It had been redoubled. My true wealth was revealed in the night. Abundance is not a stack of bills given to us by a generous student. Abundance is a broken fridge. Abundance is the outstretched hands of those we love, offering us refuge in hard times. Abundance is family, community, and compassion. It is these things that are my true gift. I am so grateful.

Moving Forward

Stepping back
taking a moment
to savor and celebrate
the seemingly small
but utterly transformative
changes I have made

Silencing the voice
in my head that says
not good enough
long enough to recognize
that at least now
I can hear it

I cannot ask for more
in this very moment
than the subtle awareness
I've taken years to cultivate
the bliss that breaks over me
as I reflect on my progress

The first step has been achieved
I've made the space to witness
chain reactions that were once
overwhelmingly automatic
I watch them with interest
and deep curiosity

I cannot always stop myself
but just to see is a greater gift
than I've ever expected to receive
knowing what I need to do
visualizing the path to peace
is more than I had before

I cannot expect to rush this process
of compassion, patience, and healing
I have a lifetime to play with, ponder,
and polish this gentle, loving practice
as it continues to unravel and reveal
new complexities and insights each day

I am so excited to see where this 
ancient knowledge of spiritual wellness
will lead me as I stumble faithfully
forward into my own mysterious future
my heart overflows with gratitude
for the lessons I have gathered

So thankful for the wisdom passed down
from strangers in foreign lands
and long forgotten times 
for the outstretched hands of spirits
guiding me from beyond the grave
I will not squander their selfless generosity

I will make my ancestors proud
as I continue onward through the unknown
with a recklessly radiant open heart
and the fervent intention to heal
not only myself, but the wounds left open
by those who came before 

Control

I used to feel my peace
plucked away by random passersby
pulled through my fingers
like sand toward the irresistible call
of earth's gravity 

Wind knocked from my lungs
helpless and gasping on the ground
a tender sapling in the torrent of a storm
the vulnerable victim of a violent world
crying out for some control

I'm still learning to accept that
although sudden sparks of suffering
will inevitable steal a moment's joy
I often choose to surrender
much more than a moment

The initial burn cannot be helped
but touching the wound is my choice
I'm the one who must decide to heal
to move on rather than ruminate
to avoid the formation of scars

I hold myself over the flame of injustice
for days, for months, for years
a martyr of my own misunderstanding
holding on to my suffering
like a hot coal

My peace cannot be taken from me
it is a seedling inside my heart
I must choose to turn forever towards the sun
to learn to find it behind overcast skies
constantly clearing away the weeds 

Control isn't something to be captured
or to exert over the rest of the world
a container to hide ourselves away from hurt
control is a slow, subtle cultivation
of comfort inside uncertainty

The Song

My heart sings for small towns
not for the crumbling, faded houses
or the hollow eyes that inhabit them
but for the spaces in between humanity
the thick undergrowth of untouched hillsides
the silence that surrounds you
as you emerge at the street's abrupt end

winding roads turning to dust
as they weave through valleys
and stitch the mountains together
no turns in sight as you faithfully follow
for miles to a singular destination
in the distant country, past oceans
made of tall grasses and grazing cattle

where the open sky is unhindered
by smog and skyscrapers
and you can feel yourself shrinking
beneath the infinity of distant stars
or cradled by the buoyant brushstrokes
of soft clouds in an endless canvas of blue
swallowed up, dissolved, and made whole again all at once

I've always found safety in the subtle symphony
of places far away from people
the silent prayer of bare feet against the warm earth
sunlight filtered through gently rustling leaves
the tender cadence of countless other lives
swelling and saturating every cell of my being
bowing down in reverence to this ancient rhythm

Separation from source
is the truest form of suffering
caged inside the arrogant design of human kind
cut off from the wind and light
set aside to sit in sterile cells
tangled up in selfish isolation
eating ourselves alive

No, I'd rather wade into the cool embrace
the filthy, glistening grandeur of the river
memorize the ever changing melody
of chirping birds and tiny insects
the healing buzz of their constant vibration
lapping at the shores of my truest self
reminding me of my part in the song