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Archive for January, 2014

New Poetry for a New Year

In December, I went on a retreat to Spirit Rock Meditation Center. It was the first time in over seven years that I’d been on a residential retreat, and it reminded me that, as wonderful as they are, weekend non-residential retreats are just not the same. It takes a few days for the “sediment” in the mind (as one of the teachers, John Travis, described it) to settle, and for the “water” to become clear enough to see into. The settling process requires stillness and time, and there is simply no way to rush it. I spent the first couple days trying too hard to see through that dirty water, and fretting when I couldn’t, which of course stirred up the sediment even more. On Day 3 I let go, and everything changed. That shift eventually expressed itself in this poem:

All these years
you have been turning over rocks
trying to find something.
Stop.
Call off the search parties.

There is no struggle
in seeing the hawk glide
through the clear air,
in hearing the wild turkeys
strut through the dry leaves.

The round brown hills
are no more true
than the trees clustered on their slopes,
or the paths snaking upward
through the grasses.

Happiness and sadness belong to you
only as much as the wind
belongs to the rustling branches.
But what you are seeking
has been yours all along.

Sit.
Feel the roughness of the rock
beneath your flesh.
Be curious and still.
It will come to you.

Like the deer stepping
from the edge of the forest
into a pool of light.

Like the ocean
introducing itself
to each droplet of water.

by Ellen Carey
December 2013

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