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And all of my practices have been replaced by poetry…Rumi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 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 community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Aug 112010


Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

At the risk of being obvious, I’d like to remind everyone that she is fine. Better than fine…brilliant, divine, crucial to the rest of us. Now, today, just as she is. With all her fear and anger and jealousy and regrets and secrets. With all of those parts.

You don’t have to be good. You don’t need to be better. You just have to accept, each moment again, that you are good enough already. If you wait to start living and loving until you are ready, I’m afraid you’ll die first. It’s a beautiful world, and it wants you to play.

You belong in the world’s family of things. And if you do not show up, no one will take your place. Life is not a game of musical chairs. If you do not sit down with us, your place in our circle will be empty forever. So there is no need to rush, no need to grab, no need to panic, and no need to perform. Your place is yours, not because you are funny, or pretty, or stylish, or good. But because your place was created for you before you were anything at all. In light of this, let us relax, be glad, and calmly and gratefully, take our places.

And let us remind the others in our circle today that we’re happy they took theirs.

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

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