Buttoned Up

“Whoever has no house by now will not build.” – Rilke

so many houses
all buttoned up
late afternoon

kitchen lights on
silence in the barn
each tool hung
on its proper peg

I know these people
I’ve never met
every autumn I long
to be them but

I’ve walked away
from every home
I’ve ever owned
lights off tools forgotten

dark and exposed
winter in the wind


beauty is…


When you love something like reading — or drawing or music or nature — it surrounds you with a sense of connection to something great. If you are lucky enough to know this, then your search for meaning involves whatever that Something is. It’s an alchemical blend of affinity and focus that takes us to a place within that feels as close as we ever get to “home.” It’s like pulling into our own train station after a long trip — joy, relief, a pleasant exhaustion.
If a writer or artist creates from a place of truth and spirit and generosity, then I may be able to enter and ride this person’s train back to my own station. It’s the same with beautiful music and art.
Beauty is meaning.

What saved me was that I found gentle, loyal and hilarious companions, which is at the heart of meaning: maybe we don’t find a lot of answers to life’s tougher questions, but if we find a few true friends, that’s even better. They help you see who you truly are, which is not always the loveliest possible version of yourself, but then comes the greatest miracle of all — they still love you.

– Anne Lamott, from Stitches: a handbook of hope, meaning, and repair

Autumn Day – Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh Lord, it’s time, it’s time. It was a great summer.
Lay your shadow now on the sundials,
and on the open fields let the winds go!

Give the tardy fruits the command to fill;
give them two more Mediterranean days,
drive them on into their greatness, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house by now will not build.
Whoever is alone now, will remain alone,
will wait up, read, write long letters,
and walk along sidewalks under large trees,
not going home, as the leaves fall and blow away.

(translated by Robert Bly)

(Photo: Little Sebago Lake, Maine – December 2016)


Climbing along the River – William Stafford

Willows never forget how it feels
to be young.

Do you remember where you came from?
Gravel remembers.

Even the upper end of the river
believes in the ocean.

Exactly at midnight
yesterday sighs away.

What I believe is,
all animals have one soul.

Over the land they love
they crisscross forever.


Didn’t I say – Rumi

Didn’t I say, “Don’t go there; I am your friend.
In this mirage of existence, I am the fountain of life.”
Even if your anger takes you
a hundred thousand years away,
in the end you will return, for I am your goal.
Didn’t I say, “Don’t be content with earthly forms;
I am the designer of the intimate chamber of your contentment.”
Didn’t I say, “I am the sea, and you are a single fish;
don’t strand yourself on dry land; I am your clear sea.”
Didn’t I say, “Don’t get caught
in the trap like a helpless bird;
I am the power of flight – your feet and your wings.”
Didn’t I say, “They will waylay you and make you cold;
I am the fire and your warm desire.”
Didn’t I say, “They will implant their qualities in you
until you forget that the best qualities are here.”
Didn’t I say, “You do not know from what direction
your affairs are put in order.”
I am the Creator beyond directions.
If light is in your heart, find your way home.
If you are of God, know your Benefactor.

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the light of truth

The light of truth burns without a flicker in the depths of a house that is shaken with storms of passion and of fear. “You will not fear the terror of the night.” And so I go on trying to walk on the waters of the breakdown. Worse than ever before and better than ever before. It is always painful and reassuring when he who I am not is visibly destroyed by the hand of God in order that the simplicity in the depths of me, which is God’s image, may be set free to serve God in peace. Sometimes in the midst of all this I am tremendously happy, and I have never in my life begun to be so grateful for God’s mercy.
– Thomas Merton, Journal entry, October 22, 1952

(photo: Monastery of Christ in The Desert, NM – September 2018)