Monday, March 29, 2010

Prayer Is An Egg - Rumi

Hello Poets,
It's spring, the spade stands ready, the seeds are waiting.
Rumi warns of the danger of delay and denial.

Prayer Is An Egg

On Resurrection Day God will say, “What did you do with
the strength and energy

your food gave you on earth? How did you use your eyes?
What did you make with

your five senses while they were dimming and playing out?
I gave you hands and feet

as tools for preparing the ground for planting. Did you,
in the health I gave,

do the plowing?” You will not be able to stand when you
hear those questions. You

will bend double, and finally acknowledge the glory. God
will say, “Lift

your head and answer the questions.” Your head will rise
a little, then slump

again. “Look at me! Tell what you’ve done.” You try,
but you fall back flat

as a snake. “I want every detail. Say!” Eventually you
will be able to get to

a sitting position. “Be plain and clear. I have given you
such gifts. What did

you do with them?” You turn to the right looking to the
prophets for help, as

though to say, I am stuck in the mud of my life. Help me
out of this! They

will answer, those kings, “The time for helping is past.
The plow stands there in

the field. You should have used it.” Then you turn to
the left, where your family

is, and they will say, “Don’t look at us? This conversation
is between you and your

creator.” Then you pray the prayer that is the essence
of every ritual: God,

I have no hope. I am torn to shreds. You are my first and
last and only refuge.

Don’t do daily prayers like a bird pecking, moving its head
up and down. Prayer is an egg.

Hatch out the total helplessness inside.

by Rumi, from The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, 2001

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shakespeare's Fifteenth Sonnet

Hello Poets,
Shakespeare's Fifteenth Sonnet was tacked to the wall where master gardener Alan Chadwick died 30 years ago, amid spring bouquets at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in California.
Alan's spade and digging fork were placed on either side of the doorway.
(From Gardening at the Dragon's Gate, Wendy Johnson's superb garden guide and memoir.)
-      -       -

Sonnet 15

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check’d even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
   And all in war with Time for love of you,
   As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

by William Shakespeare
from The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, 1936