Tag Archives: praying

Pray

She wept the river that runs to the sea
to bring the fishermen home, says one.

And when, says another, the sun would not rise,
it was she who swallowed the night.

Yes, yes, says a third, the world had grown wicked
and no wind was strong enough to break it.
With one exhale, she cleansed the town,
so the bread of the poor could leaven.

They nod as one, We’ve heard this too,
surely it must be true!

What would we do without her?

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. This poem grew out of a discarded portion of a draft for It’s theirs, after all, and paid for. In re-reading that early version, I realized it could stand on its own. I hope you like it…

Thank you for reading Pray. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at the Musée de la Mer on the Île Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of the Lérins Islands, just off the coast from Cannes, France. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Poetry

The gardener’s heart

Roses are willful, cantankerous things
with sharp tongues, no patience
and—I assure you—far too much
an opinion of themselves.
They are recalcitrant, mean-spirited,
hold a grudge for eternity
and require constant attention—
which they do their best to ignore.

Bloody roses!

You could take them all, except
(and that’s the issue, that ‘except’)
there are times in the evening
when tamed, shaped, pruned and tied,
they, in their silent serenade to the setting sun
waft onto the night the heavy musk of their ardor
to beg the solace of a shameless, sweet slumber.
And that is when I close my eyes, surrender to the night
and pray that at the end, I too am a rose.

I am not a gardener by drive or inspiration, I am too lazy for that. But I married one and out of love for her I do my best to hold up at least some part of the gardening burden. Because as reluctant as I am to work in them during the day, I equally adore their beauty in the evening. I do a lot of thinking in gardens…

Thank you for reading The gardener’s heart. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

5 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Every truth

How much movement is there
in the stillness of a heron?
How much movement in the water below?
Heron and fish—stillness and movement,
how these lovers lead the other
in their perfect little dance
of need and surrender.

Listen, this is true:
I have sat praying,
knowing that anything I desired
could be mine,
if only I would deign not to wish it;
every truth is a paradox,
but no truth is a lie.

I drive an hour each day to and from work, with much of the journey being through rural Connecticut. There is one small lake that I pass that, for an entire season, an egret was using for its nesting and feeding. Every day I would look to catch a glimpse of it fishing and often reflected on its sense of patience and purpose. And while that scene and my meditations are the obvious source for the first part of the poem, the source for the second part is more difficult to explain.

Prayer is transformative, a creative act by and for the person saying the prayer. It is not that it is wrong to say a prayer asking for a specific outcome; it is wrong to say a prayer that is contingent on a specific outcome. God tests mankind, not the other way around. The more of the sense of control over our lives that we give up, the more we are actually in control of what matters in our lives.

And while that is a paradox, it is, I think, no lie.

Thank you so much for reading Every truth. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

8 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Long ago

I learned about praying
that Fast day at the Hazíratu’l-Quds
when a young Persian fellow BOOMED OUT
(scaring me, frankly)
a beautiful, long chant in a sweet melodious voice
full of heart and longing and humility.
It was, he said later,
a prayer that he had memorized as a child
extolling administrative centers
and he had waited all his life
to be in One to finally say it.

Every prayer since then,
every one—
heartfelt, tired, distracted, strained,
remembered, read or forgot;
offering, begging, failing, hoping,
hurried, kissed, forgiven or not;
healthy, sick, family, friend,
steadfast (but usually not);
happy, serene, content, forlorn,
begging, crying, dying—
I’m there, at that table,
waiting for that boom again.

This incident took place in March, 1982 at the Headquarters of the administrative order of the Bahá’í  Faith in Canada.

When I say that that young man’s voice boomed out, scaring me, believe me, I’m not joking. But bigger than this surprise was the beauty of his chant. Persian or Arabic chanting done from the heart and done well by someone who has a beautiful voice and has been trained for it, is one of life’s great pleasures.

Two points: a “Hazíratu’l-Quds” (hoz-er-attal-couds) is the designation given to a building that acts as a center of Bahá’í administration. Also, the Bahá’í Fast is a 19 day period which occurs between the dates of March 2nd and March 21st, ending on the spring equinox; during this period adults are expected to abstain from eating and drinking from sunup ’til sundown.

Thank you for reading Long ago. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012  by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

Comments Off on Long ago

Filed under Poetry