Archive for the Mark’s weekly reflections Category

The Waiting Room

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published.

One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged.

The following piece is an excerpt from the book.

 

The truth of things waits out of view ready to surprise us when we least expect it. I learned the truth of this while out in the marsh one day at twilight.

Lost Speech

The more that falls away,

the more knit I am to things

before they speak; drawn into

the waters of silence. When I

listen carefully, I am drawn be-

low the words of those speaking,

into the current using them, as the

wind uses a reed to get animals to

stop chewing and widen their

eyes. I once followed sunset

into a purple marsh and

stepping on a fallen log,

the tangled brush tugged

the trees to sway. Hundreds

of cranes lifted and I was un-

done. I am now devoted to

the lost step that brings

us into the open.

A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a time when nature surprised you.

– See more at: https://threeintentions.com/blog/#sthash.YWSwtrLh.dpuf

 
THE WAITING ROOM

The eyes of animals in paintings surround us. Their stare makes me confess that in the beginning, I believed I saw something no one else had seen, and that feeling of being another Adam fueled my days and sense of worth. Like most, I ingrew my own version of things: lamenting my lack of brotherhood while secretly exalting that I alone could see.

In truth, I was starting to shed all this stuff, but it took getting cancer to shake me of my need to feel special. And sitting here in a waiting room at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in a ship-wrecked part of New York, staring straight into this old Hispanic woman’s eyes, she into mine—I accept that we all seek the same peace of wonder, all wince from the same weight of knowing, though we each speak in a different voice.

Suddenly, but cumulatively, like the crest of a long building wave, I know that each being as it’s born, inconceivable as it seems, is another Adam or Eve, each of us unique and common. Now I understand. It is not my separateness that makes me unique, but the depth of my first-hand experience. Clearly, as I look around, the most essential things I sense and feel, we all feel. I meet you there. I believe this acceptance is helping me stay alive.

This burdened majestic Hispanic grandmother fighting her tumor looks at me across the waiting room without a word on this sweltering day, the way an old Egyptian slave at one oar must have looked at his younger counterpart three oars down: no pretense, no manners, no needed phrases, but simply with a tired soul that will not look away which says: though this body is chained, these eyes are your eyes and they are forever free.


A Question to Walk With: Journal about a time when the difficulties of life brought you instantly close to a stranger.

Moonglow

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published.

One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged.

The following piece is an excerpt from the book.

 

Moonglow

The moon on the frozen elm

was a lick of eternity that said, You

will go soon enough. Linger with

me. And so I did. I stood there

till the cold crept into my boots

and the moon spilled up my face.

The thin blue shadows on the

snow were so bright it seemed

a day had stayed on to tame the

darkness from getting darker.

Then a sacred space opened

that I can’t quite explain.

 

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, tell the story of a time when life made you stop and linger. Once you stopped, what did life have to say to you?

Still

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published.

One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged.

The following piece is an excerpt from the book.

STILL

After so much pain,
I still want to be here,
the way a minnow tossed
in a puddle wakes and
flips itself silly.

Somehow we go on,
loss after loss, like seeds
drowning in their possibility
under all that snow.

From a distance, stars
are pins of light pushing
back the dark.

But inside, each
is a world of light.

And the Spirit we carry—
that carries us—flares like a
star, everywhere we go, push-
ing back the pain and loss.

Still, a star can’t be seen
without its covering of night,
nor a soul without its
human skin.

I don’t know why.

It has nothing to do with
optimism and pessimism
or with triumph and defeat.

More, the irrepressible reach
of a beam of light entering the
darkest place it can find, because
that is how it fulfills itself.

How we take turns, as the star
and the dark place, how we
complete each other.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a time when light has filled you against your will.

Willfulness

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.

 

Willfulness

(for Nur)

 

To inhale

enough of the world

when you’re told

you have cancer

so the dark fruit

never seems larger

than your orbit.

 

To do what you

have never done

to stay in the

current of life.

 

To fly 1000 miles

to meet someone

you dreamt

might help.

 

To pray in tongues

you’ve dismissed.

 

To think in ways

others distrust.

 

To use money

like a shovel

to dig

for time.

 

To cross

the grasslands

between us with

a tongue like

a machete

cleanly

sweeping

a path.

 

To weep

when the pain

won’t stop.

 

To breathe slowly

when the weeping

won’t stop.

 

To insist

that friends

don’t pamper you

or look at you

as sentenced

or contagious.

 

To slap the thought

from their eyes

with your heart.

 

To climb the days

like mountains

for moments

like summits

 

where the light

spreads your face

and the constant

wind makes you forget

the pains in

getting there.

 

To stand as tall

as the weight

you are bearing

will allow.

 

To rely

on your spirit

which waits within

like a thoroughbred

for the heel

of your will

in its ribs.

 

To feel

the vastness

of night

and know

you still

have love

to fill it.

 

To accept

you can snuff

in a gust, but

to stay devoted

to the art

of flicker.

 

 

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, describe someone you know who is both gentle and strong.

The Slow Arm of All That Matters

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.

 

The Slow Art of All That Matters

I have fallen through and worked into

a deeper way—one step at a time, one pain

at a time, one grief at a time, one amends at

a time—until the long, slow arm of all that matters

has bowed my estimation of heaven. Now, like a

heron waiting for the waters to clear, I look for

heaven on earth and wait for the turbulence to

settle. And I confess, for all the ways we stir things

up, I can see that though we can stop, life never

stops: the lonely bird crashes into the window

just as the sun disperses my favorite doubt, a

sudden wind closes your willing heart as the

moment of truth passes between us, and the

damn phone rings as my father is dying. All

these intrusions, majestically unfair, and not

of our timing. So we spin and drop and catch

and land. And sometimes, we fall onto these

little islands of stillness, like now, from which

we are renewed by our kinship with all and that

irrepressible feeling resurrects our want to be here,

to push off again into the untamable stream.

 

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, discuss what it means to you that life is “majestically unfair.”

Upon Seeking Tu Fu as a Guide

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.

 

Upon Seeking Tu Fu as a Guide

And so I asked him, how is it God is everywhere and nowhere? He circled me like a self I couldn’t reach, “Because humans refuse to live their lives.” I was confused. He continued, “You hover rather than enter.” I was still confused. He spoke in my ear, “God is only visible within your moment entered like a burning lake.” I grew frightened. He laughed, “Even now, you peer at me as if what you see and hear are not a part of you.” I grew angry. He ignored me, “You peer at the edge of your life, so frantic to know, so unwilling to believe.” Indeed, I was frantic. He was in my face, “And now that you have cancer, you ask to be spared.” I grew depressed. He took my shoulders, “For God’s sake! Enter your own life! Enter!”

 

A Question to Walk With: What is keeping your from entering your own life?

Things Carried Through the Fire

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

We have a sacred history with those we remain bonded to. We know what each scar and crease in their life means.

 

Things Carried Through the Fire

My grandfather’s Talmud.

Your picture of Uncle Billy.

The innocence of our dog.

The things I never show the

world. The things I never show

myself. The things we believe in.

The dream I no longer need.

The uncertainty at the center

of all my plans. The small flame

that keeps changing names. Now

the days burn like bones, slowly

and all at once. And what we

thought would last burns like

wax. Under it, everything.

 

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, talk about one thing dear to you that you’ve carried through the fire of life.

Nothing Else to Say

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

Even on good days, there’s always a sliver of resistance burrowed in the bottom of our character, just to keep us humble.

 

NOTHING ELSE TO SAY
An orchard in May
thousands of blossoms
hiding the fruit and
after a long day
the sun intensifies
flushing out the one
crow hiding like the
one dark thing we
won’t let go of.

A Question to Walk With: Journal about a resistance you carry in the bottom of your character and how it serves you or hurts you.

Lost Speech

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

The truth of things waits out of view ready to surprise us when we least expect it. I learned the truth of this while out in the marsh one day at twilight.

 

Lost Speech

The more that falls away,

the more knit I am to things

before they speak; drawn into

the waters of silence. When I

listen carefully, I am drawn be-

low the words of those speaking,

into the current using them, as the

wind uses a reed to get animals to

stop chewing and widen their

eyes. I once followed sunset

into a purple marsh and

stepping on a fallen log,

the tangled brush tugged

the trees to sway. Hundreds

of cranes lifted and I was un-

done. I am now devoted to

the lost step that brings

us into the open.

 

 

A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a time when nature surprised you.

 

 

Inside Out

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.

Everything in nature is bruised and worn. This is how each tree and hill gets its beauty. We are no different.

 

Inside Out

I was taken aback, when

joining a fitness club, at

the history of my body: a

rib removed, torn ligaments

in an ankle, torn muscle in a

knee, torn meniscus in the

other, arthritic thumbs, a

skull bone worn thin

by a tumor.

 

At first, I felt battered,

but smiled to realize that

I stand like a small cliff

worn full of holes in which

stray birds nest and I wake

with the dreams they have

while resting in me.

 

Each question carried

for a lifetime opens

like a hole worn in stone

through which the wind

finally sings.

 

 

A Question to Walk With: Begin to describe the history of your own body and how life has shaped you.