Saturday, April 16, 2022

this rain

Some Sunday afternoon, it may be,
you are sitting under your porch roof,
looking down through the trees
to the river, watching the rain.  The circles
made by the raindrops' striking
expand, intersect, dissolve,

and suddenly (for you are getting on
now, and much of your life is memory)
the hands of the dead, who have been here
with you, rest upon you tenderly
as the rain rests shining
upon the leaves.  And you think then

(for thought will come) of the strangeness
of the thought of Heaven, for now
you have imagined yourself there,
remembering with longing this
happiness, this rain.  Sometimes here
we are there, and there is no death.

Wendell Berry
Photo: Peter Bowers

Tuesday, April 5, 2022


is a meeting place, of deep intentionality and of self
forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in
communion with what formerly seemed outside, but
is now neither, but become a living frontier, a voice
speaking between us and the world: dance, laughter,
affection, skin touching skin, singing in the car, music
in the kitchen, the quiet irreplaceable and companionable
presence of a daughter: the sheer intoxicating 
beauty of the world inhabited as an edge between
what we previously thought was us and what we
thought was other than us. 

Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement
as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace
arrived out of nowhere; joy is a measure of our
relationship to death and our living with death, joy is the 
act of giving ourselves away before we need to or are
asked to, joy is practiced generosity. If joy is a deep
form of love, it is also the raw engagement with the
passing seasonality of existence, the fleeting presence
of those we love understood as gift, going in and out
of our lives, faces, voices, memory, aromas of the first
spring day or a wood fire in winter, the last breath
of a dying parent as they create a rare, raw, beautiful
frontier between loving presence and a new and 
blossoming absence.

To feel a full and untrammeled joy is to have become
fully generous; to allow ourselves to be joyful is to
have walked through the doorway of fear, the dropping
away of the anxious worried self felt like a 
thankful death itself, a disappearance, a giving away,
overheard in the laughter of friendship, the vulnerability
of happiness felt suddenly as a strength, a solace
and a source, the claiming of our place in the living 
conversation, the sheer privilege of being in the
presence of a mountain, a sky or a well-loved familiar
face - I was here and you were here and together we
made a world.

David Whyte
Photo: Peter Bowers

don't hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that's often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

Mary Oliver
Photo: Peter Bowers

Sunday, April 3, 2022

mysteries, yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

what we need is here

Geese appear high over us, 
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

Wendell Berry
Selected Poems of Wendell Berry 
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Thursday, December 30, 2021


'you can stop worrying now'

In advanced age, my health worsening, 
I woke up in the middle of the night,
and experienced a feeling of happiness
so intense and perfect that in all my life
I had only felt its premonition.
And there was no reason for it
It didn't obliterate consciousness;
the past which I carried was there,
together with my grief.
And it was suddenly included,
was a necessary part of the whole.
As if a voice were repeating:
"You  can stop worrying now;
everything happened just as it had to.
You did what was assigned to you,
and you are not required anymore
to think of what happened long ago."
The peace I felt was a closing of accounts
and was connected with the thought of death.
The happiness on this side was
like an announcement of the other side.
I realized that this was an undeserved gift
and I could not grasp by what grace
it was bestowed on me.

Czeslaw Milosz
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, December 24, 2021

lute music

The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents—
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once—

Here at the year’s end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts—
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

Kenneth Rexroth
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, December 13, 2021

priceless gifts

An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

I heard 
in my heartbeat
the birth of time
and each instant of life
one after the other 
came rushing in
like priceless gifts.

Anna Swir (Swirszczynska)
Talking to My Body
Translation: Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, November 22, 2021


Sunset On The Last Day Of Hunting Season

What deer still remain are far back in the woods by now.
They count their losses.  The others count
their trophies.  The score is even.
It's always a tie in the duality game.

Small Ponds 

Small ponds freeze first,
in the beginning, with just a film
at sunrise you wouldn't even
notice and then a crust
that lasts till noon.  Now half-sunk slush
doesn't melt and the conspiracy of molecules
spreads to lakes.  In the stillness
of a single night, when one breath
of wind might make the difference
between water and ice, solid reaches in and in
and grasps the last ripple for its own.

Vision Statement

Imagine swans
                       with black wingtip
           soaring in wedges,
wheeling on a sullen sky –

Imagine these snow geese
                       in late November
           scouting out a plausible lake
just before freeze-up –

Imagine we, too,
                       are that beautiful,
           streaming transparence,
aloft and countless,

heading home.

Joan Ruvinsky
Photos:  Peter Bowers

Joan Ruvinsky and Peter Bowers

her many faces
and none at all


Sunday, November 14, 2021

revelation must be terrible

Revelation must be
  terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.

Imagine that moment,
  staring at the still waters,
with only the brief tremor

of your body to say
  you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.

Being far from home is hard, but you know,
  at least we are all exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world

you are on your own for
  the first time.  No one is
even interested in saving you now

and the world steps in
  to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment,

as if it believed you could join
  its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.

As if you were meant to be exactly 
  where you are, as if, 
like the dark branch of a desert river

you could flow on without a speck
  of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.

As if your place in the world mattered
  and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of

its own bitter and beautiful cry
  without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.

Knowing it takes only
  that first, terrible 
word to make the circle complete,

revelation must be terrible
  knowing you can
never hide your voice again.

David Whyte
River Flow: New and Selected Poems
Photo: Peter Bowers

Thursday, October 7, 2021

to bow


To which direction shall we bow,
to what sacred space, shrine or God,
if not to the bowing itself?

Pir Elias Amidon
Free Medicine
Photo:  Peter Bowers

learning from trees

If we could,
like the trees,
practice dying,
do it every year
just as something we do—
like going on vacation
or celebrating birthdays,
it would become
as easy a part of us
as our hair or clothing.

Someone would show us how
to lie down and fade away
as if in deepest meditation,
and we would learn
about the fine dark emptiness,
both knowing it and not knowing it,
and coming back would be irrelevant.

Whatever it is the trees know
when they stand undone,
surprisingly intricate,
we need to know also
so we can allow
that last thing
to happen to us
as if it were only
any ordinary thing,


Grace Butcher
Photo:  Peter Bowers