Aug 152010

And all of my practices have been replaced by poetry…Rumi

I’ve been posting a lot of poems recently. I love poetry, and reading it is one of my favorite ways to spend time, ever. Also foot rubs from Craig.

I’d like to explain why I post so much poetry here . . . because each time I do I get emails saying: C’mon, G…we need funny. Didn’t you set anything on fire today? What’d Tish do? Got any shirtless pictures of Craig? Let’s have some pan talk!

I know you need funny. But in addition to laughing here, we are also exploring ways to communicate our feelings and ideas non-combatively with other people. We are trying to find common ground. And I think poetry is a good start.

Poetry is one person’s heart to another person’s heart. Sometimes when I’m reading a poem, a moment arrives in which I discover the question that the poet is trying to answer. And my heart leaps a little. And I realize that I also have that question, and have been trying to answer it forever. My answer might be the same or different than the poet’s, but the answer doesn’t matter, really. I’m just so grateful that someone else is asking the same questions. Makes me feel human. Discovering the question behind someone’s poem is like being invited into her most special, private room. It’s an honor.

I don’t write poetry or fiction, but I wish I did. I might start trying, actually. Because they’re the only two forms of writing that don’t feel bossy to me. It’s hard to take offense to a story or a poem. Poets remind us to think and feel without telling us how to think and feel. This is how art differs from say, politics and preaching. Good art doesn’t have an ulterior motive. It just says…In this busy, bossy, distracted, confusing world, I have to keep remembering what it means to be human, to be divine. Will you remember with me? And so people with wildly different ideas and opinions and styles can come together over a good poem, and have a moment together. Because truth is truth. C’mon. We know it. We just like to argue to pass the time.

My favorite thing about poetry is that it reveals both the power and powerlessness of language. The poet uses language to reveal a truth that resonates so deeply in my heart and I’m saying YES, YES, YES, That’s IT. That’s RIGHT. That’s TRUE.

But that’s all I got, usually. I can’t put into words what it is that my heart is celebrating.

I just know that The Truth is in that poem and so all of a sudden I feel known and understood and connected and forgiven. And I also feel like my suspicions have been confirmed . .. that the truth is simple after all!

But I can’t describe with words what it is that the poet and I have shared in that moment, what it is specifically that we both know. What she has revealed and I have seen. There are no words. It’s just this deep, deep knowing. It seems just outside of my peripheral vision. But this inability to grasp it fully is how I know it’s true. Because language has its limits. Words are not God. So it follows that God cannot be reached only through words. We have to use our hearts, too. We can’t really understand the prayer or the poem. We have to feel it. We have to remember that the poet’s words are just the map, not the destination. The poet does not prepare the food. The poet is just the menu writer God uses to present dishes that might taste good, might nourish. The creation of the food and the tasting of it are between God and the reader. And so the poet presents the menu respectfully, then steps away and lets the Two eat together in peace.

There is something about prayers and poems, monks and poets, that is exactly the same. They try to live in a place where truth is found behind (beyond?) words. Their hearts meet beyond the words. They could never describe that place, that place where they meet, their destination. But they know how to get there. And they know the others will be waiting there when they arrive. Because that’s where they have agreed to commune. Just beyond the words they are saying or chanting or reading.

Sound familiar?

It’s like this. Can’t you read this poem and know exactly where the poet stands without explanation or commentary? Don’t you just know? Doesn’t it make you want to smile and nod and wink at somebody, but wouldn’t you have a hard time explaining why? It’s okay, I don’t think we should try to explain. Because then lots of words would become involved and we might hurt each other accidentally. The beauty is that we can just read the poem, and meet behind and beyond the words. And giggle.

Dropping Keys

The small man

Builds cages for everyone



While the sage,

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the




So yes, Monkees. There will be kitchen stories. There will be shirtless pictures of Craig. But there will also be poetry. Always, always poetry.

Love, G

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Aug 132010

For teachers everywhere, especially those who call Annandale Terrace Elementary home. I love you beautiful people. Here’s to another year of world changing, one early morning and late afternoon at a time.

With Love and Admiration,
G and Bubba


Christmas 1997

Dear Glennon,

Last year I shared a number of hopes that I hold for you. Among them were; that you would stay close to your sister, love yourself as much as your friends and family do, and have a life’s work that is about helping others. Events this year suggest that some of my hopes are coming true. As I listen to you talk about and to Mandy, I can hear a warmth and love that was well masked by rivalry in the past. Your love and respect for her is more obvious than ever and your intention to watch over her is evident. You seem much more at ease with yourself. You are less anxious and more confident about relationships at home, at work, and hopefully with your peers. That is a sign of being more centered. Getting there is a life- long process. It seems to me that I was in my mid forties before I became completely aware of who I was. Believe me, that was a relief. It occurred to me about the time I stopped blaming people and circumstances for my problems.

It is good to see you settled on teaching as a career. It is even better to see you excited and enthusiastic about it. It is better yet to see you defend its importance. If you continue your pursuit of this career, and I believe you will, you will find yourself involved in some mind boggling contradictions. People who tell you that the most important person in their lives was a teacher will also ask you why you do it for a living. People who work with no goal in mind but to accumulate money will pity you for wasting your talent in teaching. People who tell you that your efforts are crucial to the future of the country will resent you for making a decent living at it. It is uniquely American to be uncomfortable with teachers. Especially those who teach the very young. Whether because of their subconscious or some other involuntary reaction, all of them will ultimately respect you for what you do. But their reactions can serve to diminish your beliefs and sense of self. So Never, But Never, allow yourself to become defensive about being a teacher. Take’em on whenever and wherever. When you confirm your choice to teach by defending that choice, you are affirming yourself, your dignity, your pride, those you most admire, and even your ancestors. A few days ago I realized that you will be a third generation educator. Your grandmother taught in the 20’s, which means that, should you hang around the classroom for a few years, we will cover a century of influencing the lives of children which will include four generations.

It is a good feeling to know that this Christmas morning finds you with your family, happy with yourself, and growing towards your dreams.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest

Aug 122010

The following events occurred yesterday:

As I was getting out of the shower,Tish burst in the bathroom and stared at me rather critically. I gave her the evil eye.Undeterred, she said the following:

Mommy, what are those dangly things on your belly called again?

I nervously looked down to find out what foreign objects had attached themselves to my person during my shower without my knowledge. I located nothing.

What are you talking about? There’s nothing on my belly.

Eye roll from Tish.Yes there is, moooom. Those dangly things you used to feed Amma with.

I double check.

Wait. Are you talking about my breasts?

OH YEAH. Breaaaasssasts. You got Belly Breasts, Mom.

Go to your room, I said.

It’s two hours later. I have completely forgotten where I put Tish, which is far from my main concern. My main concern is that I also can’t find my book and I’m dying. It was a really, really good book, and it’s been lost for three days now.I finally find it.

In the washing machine.

This is the third book I’ve washed. I washed Barbara Kingsolver’s Bean Trees, (please read) David Sedaris’Me Talk Pretty One Day, (please read) and now I’ve washed Howard Zinn. (Yes, Sister, I know I also washed Bird by Bird but four book washings might suggest that I have some sort of problem, so I thought I’d stick with just the three for this particular post.)

This book washing issue might not be so weird, especially for me, who once had to call the sweet fire department three times in one week to rescue my children from cars into which I’d locked them nice and tight.

Unless, as my now repentant husband pointed out yesterday… it’s just that you hardly ever even wash our clothes…so how does this keep happening?

Go to your room, I said.

I must find a way to start paying attention while doing things. I don’t understand how people do it. I mean all the time? A girl has to pay attention all the time? That’s ridiculous. I think I’d rather just pay for new books.

Love you Monkees. Really, really do. Have a fantasic weekend. Try to pay attention.



P.S. Yes, the book reeks of mildew. It was in there at least three days. I have come to the conclusion that while I may be able to do hard things, I am incapable of doing easy things. Whatevs.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest