Our March circle convened both in person and virtually around the theme of "Entering the Stillness." We began with two inspirational poems that speak in different ways to the experience of stillness. Of stopping, listening, looking and appreciating all that is around us and within us. Of losing and finding ourselves.
They are very much "coming of age" pieces. "Lost" by David Wagoner, reflects how a Native American Elder might answer a young person who asks, What should I do if I get lost in the forest? "Love After Love" by Derek Wolcott, speaks to the experience of finding oneself. We read both from a wonderful book by David Whyte, The Heart Aroused.
With gratitude to Nancy Burgas, Marge Dukes, Janet Maulbeck and Susan Maitner for participating in the March circle and sharing their creations on the theme – some are included here and some are still in process.
We hope you enjoy all that is here and look forward to gathering again on April 18th (hopefully without the snow that visited us the night before our March circle!) Our theme is still emerging. Suggestions welcome!
Lost by David Wagoner
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Love After Love by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Swamp Again by Margaret A. Dukes
I wanted to write so meaningfully
But here I am: blank mind
words lost in some swamp
of my own making.
But aren’t swamps productive places
Mulch, dark leaves disintegrating
with snakes crawling
in and out of water
turtles out to warm in the sun?
There: the geese sitting on her eggs
In the weedy patch
near the boardwalk.
There: the bird blind
where I took the great picture
of the red tailed hawk
its talons clinging
to the wooden fence.
The oft walked path
finding meaning where I may.
I’ll return again
Stillness Is Not Invisibility by Lorri Lizza
Stillness is not invisibility
It is easy to confuse the two
When I was young I would sometimes feel invisible
Sitting not at the conference table
Lined with men in suits and ties
Later to be replaced by open-collared shirts
But against the wall with the other invisible ones
We too wore suits and thought we knew where safety lay:
Speak when spoken to
Wait to be released
I have come to learn that self-selected invisibility
Is a choice with many tentacles
An atrophy of the heart
It is not stillness.
Stillness is strength
Its light leaves no one behind
Stillness is busy
In the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies
Pouring fresh cold milk
Pulling me beyond the falsely safe
Calling me in from the games I love to play
Encouraging me to take my seat at the table
And be nourished.
STILLNESS by Susan Abbott Maitner
White cat pillowed
On red paisley
After a night of mousing
Her only motion
FIRST DAY OF SPRING by Susan Abbott Maitner
After the ice storm
After waking early
And checking road conditions
And wondering what I’ll be missing
And who I might be letting down
I pull up the quilt
Driving as an option
Stillness shyly signals my arrival
REALIZATION by Susan Abbott Maitner
I would rather stay still
Than going to the mall
I would rather keep still
Than gathering possessions
Joy is now found
In lightening up
The letting go
Entering the Stillness ~ Nourishing Your Soul by Nancy Burgas
For two years on the first Saturday of every month I chaired a council in a congregation. The council was tasked with organizing and managing the programs for the whole congregation of over 300 members. I was unsure how to lead the two-hour meeting because the eight members wanted to spend the time talking about what they were doing, which was fine except that we had problems to solve, an annual report to write, a monthly description of each group’s purpose and function to publish, budget needs to determine and a need to recruit more members to various groups.
I realized I needed inspiration. So several days before thinking through each meeting I would move outside with notebook in hand and sit in a warm, sunny, still spot. I especially liked one near a fountain where the sound of the water was soothing.
I would sit quietly, close my eyes and just be. After several minutes of stillness I would put out the question, “What about the next meeting?” Sometimes slowly, other times quickly, an idea or theme would present itself.
Spring, new green shoots emerging, the color yellow, rebirth, renewal, the gurgle of the water flowing — how can we flow more smoothly? How can we imitate the life-sustaining nourishment water provides? How can we renew ourselves and look to the future as we welcome a new warming season?
As I felt nourished by the stillness of nature, it occurred to me to start each meeting with a centering exercise, breathing deeply, setting a quiet time to relax from the busyness of getting to a nine o’clock meeting on a Saturday morning. Our check-in questions became specifically gentle: What is the nicest thing that happened to you in the past few days? How do you choose to nourish your spirit after a hectic day? Can you tell us about a particularly gentle friend you have and how it makes you feel being around her or him?
I found that before every major meeting it was helpful for me to be still, to nourish my soul first, to center myself and then to invite in some quiet energy that I might carry into the meeting room.