Tag Archives: Poems

a picture and a poem for the day…

One of the islands off of Venice, Italy

“Self Portrait”

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

—David Whyte

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The World To Which You Belong

In my last entry about Sue Monk Kidd, she quoted a few lines from the following poem. Yes, it’s another piece that talks about your calling, but it’s one that I really love and wanted to share.

“Sweet Darkness”

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing,
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and
the sweet confinement of your
aloneness to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

 

David Whyte from “The House of Belonging”

 

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Love Will Decide Everything

The following poem is one that a Mrs. Nancy Bates shared with my class our sophomore year of high school. She gave it to us on a bookmark and it has been with me ever since. It sat on my desk all throughout college and it sits on my dresser now at home, so that I get to glance at it every day. For me, it speaks to the importance of love. And to the importance of really, truly, deeply caring about something. Anything. Whether it be people, the things we’re passionate about, our life’s calling, our spirituality… I just think it’s kind of beautiful.

nothing is more practical

than finding God,

that is,

than falling in love

in a quite absolute,

final way.

 

what you are in love with,

what seizes your imagination,

will affect everything.

 

it will decide what will get

you out of bed in the morning,

what you will do with your

evenings,

how you will spend your

weekends,

what you read,

who you know,

what breaks your heart,

what amazes you with joy

and gratitude.

 

fall in love,

stay in love,

and it will decide

everything.

 

 

-Pedro Arrupe

 



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One Wild and Precious Life

It was never my intention to have this blog be about poetry. In fact, I never would have said that I’m a great lover of poems, but for some reason, they seem to be popping up everywhere lately. I’ve already had two entries that include them and I’ve found a couple others lying around my room that I’ve been dying to share, but I wanted to mix things up a bit. However, I did say this was supposed to be an outlet for all things that inspire me and I was going to try and not give it too much structure (which as most of you who know me well know, is quite difficult for me). So right now I’d have to say that poetry is what has been encouraging me, and I’m just going to go with it.

My mind and energy is currently so focused on finding a job (a grown-up one, with a salary), but then there’s also this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I need to remember to keep searching for my “calling.” I would definitely say it’s the major theme of this stage in my life, so most of the poems that I’m relating to are the ones that talk about finding that one thing that you love. That one thing you feel like you need to do. That you take pleasure in. That you crave. That brings you joy. There are so many people that have put this into words better than I can, so I am apologizing now for the bombarding of poetry that is to come in the following posts, but hopefully one of them will mean something special to you, like they have for me.

One of my favorite English teachers in high school, Mrs. Kathy Gibbons, introduced me to the poet Mary Oliver. I recently came upon this interview she gave to Maria Shriver:

http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Maria-Shriver-Interviews-Poet-Mary-Oliver

There are so many things she says throughout their discussion that I completely relate to, but these are some that stood out to me:

MARIA: How do you know when something is a calling?

MARY: When you can’t help but go there. We all have a hungry heart, and one of the things we hunger for is happiness.  So as much as I possibly could, I stayed where I was happy.

MARIA: You were talking earlier about how you felt happy writing about being in nature, so you moved toward happiness.

MARY: I don’t usually mess around with what makes me unhappy when I’m writing. I want to write poems that will comfort, maybe amuse, enliven other people. I don’t mean that the world is all great and wonderful. But I’m careful to—I try to keep the emphasis on the good and the hopeful.

MARIA: One line of yours I often quote is, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” What do you think you have done with your one wild and precious life?

MARY: What I have done is learn to love and learn to be loved. That didn’t come easy. And I learned to consider my life an amazing gift. Those are the things.

The line that Maria Shriver quoted above is one of my all time favorites. It comes from “The Summer Day” by Oliver. My senior year of high school, Mrs. Gibbons had our class write a paper about this quote. I still have it and sometimes I’ll go back and read it. It’s amazing how much life can change in just six short years, but most of the things that I said I wanted then, I still do now. The heart and core of who I am and want I want is probably never going to change much. And so far, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done with this one wild and precious life. I hope that at 75, if someone asks me this question, I will still feel the same way and have a great story to share with them.

As far as what’s to come? As far as what my plans are? I’m not exactly sure, but I think that’s okay. I think it makes this kind of exciting and unpredictable. It’s important to always keep this question in mind though. To remind yourself that this IS a wild journey that we’re on and that this life IS so precious. We get one shot. One chance to experience all this life has to offer. To find what we’re good at. To love. To be loved. To learn. To be challenged. To give of ourselves and hopefully, leave a little mark on this world. Talk about pressure! 🙂

Maria Shriver is quoted as saying, “Poetry can startle you, awaken you, make you fall in love, take your breath away. When those words sink in, you’ll never look at your life or your journey the same way again.” When you put it that way, maybe I am a great lover of poems. Or maybe I’m just a great lover of the written word. Maybe that’s why I’m loving blogging. Essentially, it’s just a journal that I get to share. And maybe that’s why journaling was never enough. Maybe writing, in one form or another is my calling. I guess we’ll see…

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Mama G

One of the things I’ve learned, that I can’t stress enough, is the importance of a good role model. Someone who absolutely inspires you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a mentor (that’s something else entirely, which I’m sure I’ll get to in another entry), just someone you find admirable and kind of special. Someone who makes you want to be better and who makes you look at the world a little differently.

It just so happens that many of my role models have been my teachers. Obviously, this is no coincidence. The influence that teachers have on their students is really a remarkable thing and not something to be taken lightly.

One of my professors at Loyola was a woman named Eve Geroulis. She is probably, to this day, the coolest person I have ever met in my life. I’m prone to girl crushes, so I fully admit to having a huge girl crush on her. She was brilliant. Eve was this fiery little Greek woman who smoked like a chimney, cursed like a sailor and told us we could call her “Mama G.” I had her for International Marketing and Internet Marketing, which were both extremely interesting classes and two of my favorites throughout college. I was in awe of how smart she was. She was one of the first professors I had that really made me think. She motivated and challenged me every class I had her. Time seemed to fly by during every lecture. I knew, even then, that it really was an honor to be sitting in her classroom.

I think one of the many reasons I admired her so much was because she seemed to have it all, and to balance it all so well. She was the mother of four children, still happily married to someone she clearly loved and respected and she was hugely successful. She was a clinical professor at a university, had started up an internet company, had done exceptionally well in her past marketing jobs, was always traveling to the greatest places all over the world and overall, just seemed to enjoy her life. She was the perfect combination of strong and tender. Like I said, she was and is the coolest. Come to think of it, maybe I actually do know what I want to be when I grown up – I want to be Eve Geroulis.

At the end of my last semester of college, on the last day in Eve’s class, she stood at the door and hugged every single student that left her room. And that same day, we all received an email from her that said the following:

I leave you with my most beloved poem…a hymn to what awaits you all. Stay curious, happy and keep fighting the good fight.

My very best. Eve.
___________________
Ithaka
by C.P, Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

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How To Make A Beautiful Life

My friend, Emily, shared this poem with me this morning and it was too good not to pass along.

How To Make A Beautiful Life
Reflections for a daughter on her birthday

Love yourself.
MAKE PEACE with who you are
and where you are
at this moment in time.

Listen to your heart.
If you can’t hear what it’s saying
in this noisy world,
MAKE TIME for yourself.
Enjoy your own company.
Let your mind wander among the stars.

Try.
Take chances.
MAKE MISTAKES.
Life can be messy
and confusing at times,
but it’s also full of surprises.
The next rock in your path
might be a stepping-stone.

Be happy.
When you don’t have what you want,
want what you have.
MAKE DO.
That’s a well-kept secret of contentment.

There aren’t any shortcuts to tomorrow.
You have to MAKE YOUR OWN WAY.
To know where you’re going
is only part of it.

You need to know where you’ve been too.
And if you ever get lost, don’t worry.
The people who love you will find you.
Count on it.

Life isn’t days and years.
It’s what you do with time
and with all the goodness and grace
that’s inside you.

MAKE A BEAUTIFUL LIFE….
The kind you deserve.

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