Category Archives: Poems

Excerpt from “The Book of Monastic Life”

Why am I reaching again for brushes?
When I paint your portrait, God,
nothing happens.

But I can choose to feel you.

At my senses’ horizon
you appear hesitantly,
like scattered islands.

Yet standing here, peering out,
I’m all the time seen by you.

The choruses of angels use up all of heaven.
There’s no more room for you
in all that glory. You’re living
in your very last house.

All creation holds its breath, listening within me,
because, to hear you, I keep silent.

–From “The Book of Monastic Life”, by Rainer Maria Rilke.


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Lenten Reflection – Day 21

A poem for reflection…

Are you saved?

All this talk of saving souls,
Souls weren’t meant to save,
Like Sunday clothes that
give out at the seams.

They’re made for wear;
they come with a lifetime guarantee.
Don’t save our soul.
Pour it out like rain
on cracked, parched earth.

Give your soul away,
or pass it like a candle flame.
Sing it out,
or laugh it up the wind.

Souls were meant for hearing
breaking hearts, for puzzling dreams,
remembering August flowers,
forgetting hurts.

These folk who talk of saving souls!
They have the look of bullies
who blow out candles before you
sing happy birthday,
and want the world to be in alphabetical order.

I will spend my soul,
Playing it out like sticky string
Into the world…
So I can catch every last thing I touch.

Next time someone asks, “Is your soul saved?”
Say, “No, it’s spent, spent, spent!”

–Linder Unders

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The Journey of the Magi

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

–By T.S. Eliot

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On the twelfth day of Christmas…

The Twelve Lights of Christmas

Light the first light of Christmas for thankfulness and prayer…
And everything you see and hear and feel and do.
Light the second light of Christmas for happiness and joy…
And be cheerful with everyday and everyone around.
Light the third light of Christmas for colors and music…
Gifts in people, gifts for people, gifts everywhere from God.
Light the fourth light of Christmas for thoughtfulness and love…
And be gentle and kind to all God’s people and animals.
Light the fifth light of Christmas for mercy…
So we can be forgiving and forgiving like our God.
Light the sixth light of Christmas for all miracles…
Like babies and Jesus and things
That happen like magic, but they’re not.
Light the seventh light of Christmas for understanding…
So we can have peace inside ourselves and all around the world.
Light the eighth light of Christmas for our Earth…
It’s the only planet where humans can survive.
Light the ninth light of Christmas for Heaven and Angels…
We can keep them all around us, everywhere, with goodness.
Light the tenth light of Christmas for life…
No matter how short or long it is,
It’s a wonderful blessing from God.
Light the eleventh light of Christmas for spirit…
The strongest part of us that rises out of death forever.
Light the twelfth light of Christmas for Heartsongs…
The glow inside of us that keeps the light of Christmas bright.
And when our hearts glow with the Lights of Christmas,
We will remember spirit and life and Heaven and Angels,
And Earth and understanding and miracles and mercy,
And thoughtfulness and love and colors and music,
And happiness and joy and thankfulness and prayer…
And become better people throughout the whole, entire year.

–Written by Mattie Stepanek, December 10, 1996. From the book Reflections of a Peacemaker, edited by Jennifer Smith Stepanek.

by Heidi Malott

by Heidi Malott

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On the eleventh day of Christmas…

January’s Song

There is a rumor on the streets
that Christmas is over.
Lights and ornaments are packed away,
trees dragged to the curb,
people back to business as usual.
We’re no longer in the party mood;
the humbugging is back in vogue.

This is January….
How can Christmas be over?!
The Child is just newborn,
the song of Peace and Goodwill
still rings in our ears.
The shepherds and sages still kneel
to this One who is born to us….
just born to us!

How can Christmas be over??
The story of the gospel is just beginning.
Who saw the Star
now live in its Light.
We who saw and heard
now believe.

Christmas is not over.
We’re just beginning
to follow this One
who calls us now to
Live in the Light of Love.
Christmas is not over.
It’s just beginning
and this is January’s song!!!

January’s Song by Ann Weems, from the book From Advent’s Alleluia to Easter’s Morning Light

by Heidi Malott

by Heidi Malott

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On the ninth day of Christmas…

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
     To find the lost,
     To heal the broken,
     To feed the hungry,
     To release the prisoner,
     To rebuild the nations,
     To bring peace among all,
     To make music in the heart.

–Howard Thurman

by Heidi Malott

by Heidi Malott

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On the eighth day of Christmas…

Our lives are filled with countless moments
Filling our lives like fine wine poured out in sacrifice
Surrounding our bodies like a warm blanket around a newborn baby.

They are like gifts, given to us from eternity
Loaned to us for a short while
Only meaningful when taken for a ride.

Fleeting they may be, and limited for a time we cannot know,
We engage each moment, in hope, that the next will come,
Expecting that future moments will give us more opportunities, more time.

Cherish each moment
Like a gift
Like a trip
From which you will soon return.

Be thankful for each moment
Experienced in awe and gratitude
Shared with love
And enjoyed with companions.

For it is not our choosing
When that one moment will be our last
So, make haste to love, and be swift to live
Seek the One who gives you each moment, in this life and the next.

Moments by Michael Seewer

by Heidi Malott

by Heidi Malott

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