Category Archives: Poetry

I’m not complaining: Rudy Francisco

I have a bit of a headache this morning—a rare event for me. But I’m not complaining.

My house is overdue for a good scrub, and I really don’t like cleaning. But I’m not complaining.

Yesterday I had to pick my son up early from his school alpine ski team practice. The timing of the pick-up put us in rush-hour traffic. We snailed from one end of the city of Ottawa to the other at the paint-drying-watching speed of 20 kilometers per hour. But I’m not complaining.

Rudy Francisco set me straight. His poetry slam performance gives all of us first-world, privileged, spoiled folks a timely tongue lashing. I won’t complain because my inconveniences are not even tragedies. I don’t even need the tip of my tongue to accommodate them.

He fired me up for my day. I hope he does the same for you. Few, if any, of us will crumble at the corner of tragedy and silence today.


A good time of year to dance: Hafiz

At this time of year, many people for many different reasons contemplate God or the God-ness in our world. These two poems by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Masterreminded my that, more than anything, for whatever reason, this time of year is good for dancing. And better dancing than fussing about details or interpretations.

The God Who Only Knows Four Words



Has known God.

Not the God of names,

Not the God of don’ts,

Not the God who ever does

Anything weird,

But the God who only knows four words

And keeps repeating them, saying:

“Come dance with Me.”




What Should We Do About That Moon?

A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.

That night one hundred beetles and all their cousins

And did some serious binge drinking.

They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.

Then the “night candle” rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument,
Said to his friend—for no apparent

“What should we do about that moon?”

Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music

Tackling such profoundly useless


Arlene, dancing like nobody is watching.

Arlene, dancing.

The sacrament of waiting: . . .

winter-waitingThe sun shines in my window this morning in a February kind of way.  Winter wanes.

I celebrate the sacrament of waiting for a new kind of spring beauty.

As our calendars turn from January to February, I share with you this beautiful poem by Macrina Wiederkehr. Macrina is a Benedictine sister, author, and lover of the spiritual who blogs at Under the Sycamore Tree. Her poem celebrates the sacrament of letting go as a natural part of life. When we’re stripped down, vulnerable, and “wearing the colors of emptiness” we live the sacrament of waiting, ready for a new, surprising kind of beauty.

The Sacrament of Letting Go

© Macrina Wiederkehr

she celebrated the sacrament of letting go.
First she surrendered her green,
then the orange, yellow, and red.
finally she let go of her own brown.
Shedding her last leaf
she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
Leaning against the winter sky,
she began her vigil of trust.

Shedding her last leaf,
she watched it journey to the ground.
She stood in silence
wearing the colors of emptiness,
her branches wondering,
How do you give shade with so much gone?

And then,
the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and the sunset watched with tenderness.
Clothing her with silhouettes
that kept her hope alive.

They helped her to understand that
her vulnerability,
her dependence and need,
her emptiness, her readiness to receive,
were giving her a new kind of Beauty.
Every morning and every evening they stood in silence,
and celebrated together
the sacrament of waiting.

© Macrina Wiederkehr

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!

Some wisdom at the new year from the Elder Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation


We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Magical Hour.

There are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!

ottawa-riverThere is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in CELEBRATION!

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

The Elder Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation

Delicious autumn

maple-leaf“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
—George Eliot

In my experience, people fit into two categories: those who love September with its cooler autumn temperatures, and those who arrive at this change of season against their will, bucking and straining against the winter ahead. Earlier this month, Derek Abma bemoaned the arrival of September in an Ottawa Citizen op-ed piece: “Wake me up when September ends.”  My goodness, he needed a “good cheer” injection.

I fall into the first category. September is my favourite month of the year. I get more things done in September, October and November than I do the rest of the year combined. I feel a surge of energy. I tackle new projects, and I look at the old ones with renewed interest. I feel like I can do anything.

I marvel at Ottawa friends who thrive in the high heat and humidity of our summer. I wonder how they function on those drippy sweat days of sauna summer. That kind of weather saps every scintilla of motivation and spark of interest from my being. I sloth the summer away.

And then September rolls around. Kapow! Energies renewed.

When I saw the George Eliot quote on the weekend, I knew that Eliot and I would be autumn soul mates—our souls wedded with those of all others who savour delicious autumn.


If you don’t agree with me, read Derek Abma’s piece. He’s probably your soul mate:

Breaking trail, or following in footsteps

snowy-parkThis morning I had to mail a letter. The shortest way to the mailbox (usually) is a quick jaunt across the park behind our house. However, it is January in Ottawa, Canada, and we’ve had a snowy year. The short way at this time of year is the hard way.

But, we had above zero temperatures this week, so I thought maybe the snow might have melted to passable depth. I ventured out into the whiteness. You know what? We’ve had a snowy year. Even with our recent meltdown, the snow lay deep. I worked up a sweat and burned a few calories breaking trail through it.

After posting the letter, I took the sidewalk around to the road beside the park. That’s when I spotted the trail my son broke through the snow as a shortcut home from school. I followed in his footsteps. Much easier.

It reminded me of a movie we watched over the holidays: Made in Dagenham. The movie dramatized the 1968 strike at a Ford plant in Dagenham, England where women went on strike to fight for equal pay. The idea of equal pay for women upset the economic order of the time, and businesses resisted. The strike created hardship for the women, the men who worked at the plant, and the community, but the women didn’t give up. They worked up a sweat, burned a few calories and broke trail through to the Equal Pay Act of 1970.

When I started work at my first job in 1985, I received the same pay as the men working in my male-dominated field. By then it was accepted practice. At the time it never occurred to me that it ever could have been another way. By then, we all took it for granted. Because women before us had broken trail, the rest of us followed easily in their footsteps.

(Now, we still have some distance to go. Salaries for female-dominated occupations still trail behind those of male-dominated occupations. Child-care workers, in particular, are grossly undervalued and underpaid for performing one of the most vital roles in our society.)

I chose the challenging route to the mailbox this morning. I second-guessed my decision several times in the middle of the field. Should I turn back? Give up? But I kept going. Soon the goal was closer than my starting point, so I kept trudging.

And so it is when we break trail. We begin with a goal in mind, one that we know will be a challenge to achieve. As we take each difficult step, we wonder, “Should I turn back? Should I just give up?” But we keep trudging, and soon the goal becomes closer than the starting point.

And the next trip is always much easier.