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October 13, 2017

But if you bury your sadness under your skin instead of letting it out, what else can it do but grow in your veins, to your heart?

— Nikita Gill

October 6, 2017

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I, 59

September 29, 2017

An Irish Funeral Prayer

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together
is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that
we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because
I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting,
when we meet again.

– Derived from a sermon written by Henry Scott Holland and delivered in St. Paul’s (London) on 15 May 1910, at which time the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster.

September 22, 2017

The light of life is a finite flame.
Like the Shabbat candles,
life is kindled, it burns, it glows,
it is radiant with warmth and beauty.
But soon it fades, its substance is consumed,
and it is no more.

In light we see;
in light we are seen.
The flames dance and our lives are full.
But as night follows day,
the candle of our life burns down and gutters.
There is an end to the flames.
We see no more
and are no more seen,
yet we do not despair,
for we are more than a memory
slowly fading into the darkness.
With our lives we give life.
Something of us can never die:
we move in the eternal cycle
of darkness and death,
of light and life.

– from the Jewish Reform book of prayer

September 15, 2017

It is a fearful thing to love
what death can touch.

A fearful thing to love,
hope, dream: to be –
to be, and oh! to lose.

A thing for fools this, and
a holy thing,
a holy thing to love.

For
your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings a painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death has touched.

– from the Jewish Reform book of prayer

September 8, 2017

Adrift

Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

– Mark Nepo

September 1, 2017

I still feel winded.
I’ve just learned
to breathe despite it.
I am starting to think
this is the brilliance
of human nature.
To find new ways
to breathe
when the old ways
are taken from us.
To live in spite
of the wounds.

– s.c lourie

August 25, 2017

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.  I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.  And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.  For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

– Wendell Berry

August 18, 2017

I don’t need to do it alone anymore.   Together we are capable and strong.

I pin my hopes to quiet process and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.

– Rufus Jones

August 11, 2017

Widening Circles

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

–  Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 2
translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

August 4, 2017

Gaia 

Walk outside
open your eyes
leave yourself behind
and take in what your mother is giving you freely –

have a look at that flower
notice the symmetry of it all
a perfect mandala
a reflection of your mother’s divine nature and love for u
notice the bee that lands gently upon the flower
collecting pollen in it’s saddlebags on it’s furry black legs|
as it flits in natures dance from flower to flower
collecting gathering being a part of the cycle of life –

this is an amazing planet
full of beauty
overflowing with love
our home
mine
and
yours.

–  © Cherilyn Fry 2008

July 28, 2017

Circle of Life

When I follow the circle with my eyes
When I trace it gently with my skin
When I caress it with my kiss
When I colour it or create from within
A mandala landscape of life begins
If I delve miles deep to my finer mind
Flashbacks or glimpses from another life
Feelings, connections – bonds entwined
Between one to another over borrowed time
Pages of chapters – chapters of books
Books from volumes – volumes from life
I would read every page in search of you
To explain the soulful happiness I feel with you
We have met before – through another door
This happiness within can only soar
To achieve more than I ever thought
A connection – this bond, will transcend
Long after the moment when this life ends
A given – I know we will meet again
A new journey – a new life begins
Possible through the circle of life
Infinity with Happiness – How sublime

–  © Shaz Cheesman 2013

July 21, 2017

Star Flower

In the twilight of suspended star thunder
where the waking jungle and broken Temple of tradition meet one another
she moves with a panthera prana, pranayama of precise paradise, air of spaceless pleasure,

A lavender Tigress of effortless enlightenment
seeking sensations on the edge of eternity’s cremation,
on her fingertips questions and answers dance to mudras of nimble demolition
as the triumph of truth blazes on the tip of her tongue’s flavored amusement,
genetics of ginger helix she licks and sticks to the flesh of nude nirvana
limber in the moment of typeless titillation,
becoming an animal of fearless asana,
a creature of chaos prowling along the heartbeat of karma,

Brahma made her beauty from the diamonds of a billion deceased roses,
the ascetics recognize her as a child of Kali, gorgeous and gruesome in vendetta,
for the Brahmins she is a Mother of immeasurable mystery, a kiss on the eye of history,
worshipers whisper the wealth of her shameless and shapeless clarity, as charity of Parvati,

Heirlooms of sun blood and moon love decorate the tender truth of her body,
a garden of webbing galaxies, catching the notions of novas her mandala,
rain romantic in flying fall, plucking the Ganges sitar her mantra,
the movement of melange madness through perfect passion her sutra,
poetry naked on the nerves of nascent love need is her tantra,
chakras uniting to recreate the uncreated color of consciousness, crown her aura,
as the lotus of love blooms blue, she dances on the fragrance of freedom

–  Justin Bordner

July 14, 2017

I Am In Need Of Music

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

–  Elizabeth Bishop

July 7, 2017

After the Funeral

When you told me you needed a drink-drink
and not just a drink like a drink of water,
I steered you by the elbow into a corner bar,
which turned out to be a real bar-bar,
dim and nearly empty with little tables in the back
where we drank and agreed that the funeral
was a real funeral-funeral complete with a Mass,
incense, and tons of eulogies.
You know, I always considered Tom a real
friend-friend, you said, lifting your drink-drink
to your lips, and I agreed that Tom
was much more than just an ordinary friend.
We also concurred that Angela’s black dress
was elegant but not like elegant-elegant,
just elegant enough. And a few hours later
when the bartender brought yet another round
of whiskeys to our table in the corner
we recognized by his apron and his mighty girth
that he was more than just a bartender.
A true bartender-bartender was what he was
we decided, with a respectful clink-clink
of our drink-drinks, amber in a chink of afternoon light.

–  Billy Collins
(To watch Mr. Collins recite this poem on Prairie Home Companion, click here.)

June 30, 2017

In Summer Time

When summer time has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow’rs aflush,—then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and pathways part,—
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,—
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night—
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite—
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds’ song and the water’s drone,
The humming bee’s low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
‘Tis wealth enough of joy for me

In summer time to simply be.

–  Paul Laurence Dunbar

June 23, 2017

When Someone Deeply Listens To You

When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you’ve had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.

When someone deeply listens to you
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind’s eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!

When someone deeply listens to you
your barefeet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.

–  John Fox

June 16, 2017

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,

the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.

–  David Whyte

June 9, 2017

Sometimes

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest,

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories,

who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,

you come to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

–  David Whyte

June 2, 2017

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

–  From John O’Donahue’s ‘For the Traveler’

May 26, 2017

The House of Belonging

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
day
like any other.

But
the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
and
I thought

it must have been the quiet
candlelight
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And
I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the gray day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,

this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

–  David Whyte

May 19, 2017

I Happened to be Standing

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

–  Mary Oliver

May 12, 2017

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations —
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

–  Mary Oliver

May 5, 2017

Never To Be Mine

Not with my arms but with a heart
that blesses your reveries, may peace reside
within your chest… is it possible to love you
less? Perhaps allow the sun to brush your hair
in the luminescence of dawn?
Even autumn envies you as white light
moves with your scent and possesses
your laughter never to be mine again in times
of harvest or falling rain…
and from stars above, may your eyes
remember our blades of grass
while I half-close the damp field of memorials
creaking on the burial of a resting place
that finds me kneeling, wailing, asking how time
can drown our adventures much too soon…

as I stumble upon this cruel, bruised night.

– Nette Onclaud, 2014

April 28, 2017

Meditation on Compassion

I do not have to look very far to seeing suffering in this world.
I know that pity is not the same as compassion.
Compassion calls me to respond, to offer words, gestures, gifts.
Compassion demands something from my love, from concern.
I cannot ignore what I know.
I can only respond as best I can.
I am not perfect.
I am not a Buddha or a Christ
Yet, I can respond.
I can offer something
I can share something
I can express something that reveals a compassionate concern.
I know that my gestures for others is as nothing
Compared to the suffering in the world.
Yet, I act anyway,
Never expecting anything in return
Knowing that it is a small token
But these gestures of love
Regularly expressed reveal my humanity
Take the power out of selfishness
In addition, show that we are all connected
All in this web of life together.

– Anonymous

April 21, 2017

My Eyes So Soft

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,

My need of God
Absolutely
Clear.

Hafez

April 14, 2017

To live in this world
you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver, from “In Blackwater Woods”

April 7, 2017

Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain.
It is a sorting process.
One by one you let go of things that are gone
and you mourn for them.
One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of
who you are and build again.

Rachel Naomi Remen

March 31, 2017

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

– Mary Oliver
(With thanks to an anonymous submitter.)

March 24, 2017

The Window

Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.

– Rumi

March 17, 2017

Did I love him enough, and did he love me enough? Was our love worth the sorrow that follows attachment no matter how or when the story ends? The clear answers override all my other questions. Our love was enough. Worth every tear.

– Elaine Mansfield, “Grief is a sacred journey”

March 10, 2017

The Guest

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be cleaning you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Rumi

March 3, 2017

Lost

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.

– David Wagoner from Collected Poems, 1956 – 1976

February 24, 2017

Hold On . . .

Hold on to what is good, even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life, even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand, even if I’ve gone away from you

– Pueblo Indian Prayer

February 17, 2017

Grief Is Like A River

My grief is like a river –
I have to let it flow,
But I myself determine
Just where the banks will go.
Some days the current takes me
In waves of guilt and pain
But there are always quiet pools
Where I can rest again.
I crash on rocks of anger –
My faith seems faint indeed,
But there are other swimmers
Who know that what I need
Are loving hands to hold me
When the waters are too swift,
And someone kind to listen
When I just seem to drift.
Grief’s river is a process
Of relinquishing the past,
By swimming in Hope’s channels
I’ll reach the shore at last.

– Cynthia G. Kelley

If you have a favored reflection that you’d like us to feature here, please forward it to us.  Thanks!