The Dance of Anger


Red star, bright star;
So very near—so very far away.

What life awaits you on the morrow?
          What color are your dreams?

Can you see me now—a reflection

          in your glow?
               a spark amidst your flame?
My light is pale, your urgency brilliant!
     Don't let me lose control,
For my blood is your life.
Within me lies your creation, your destruction.

               What color are your dreams,

Red star, bright star?

—Paul Causey


In all the 25 years I’ve known Drew, he still surprises me sometimes. When he was instructing me to do writing exercises about my dad, he noted how long he thought I been angry.

I’m not sure that I felt anger as much as confusion, fear, and ultimately frustration. I remember when I saw my first therapist during college—an intern I didn’t have to pay—I remember telling him that I couldn’t remember ever feeling angry, really, truly angry.

I never let myself. It wasn’t “productive.”

Years later, when I saw another therapist, she tried to make me feel okay being angry; she encouraged me to feel the feelings.

I’ve learned that no one can give you permission for that; it has to rise up within you.

It was years even after that that I started to feel angry. My anger is so tinged with sadness—for myself and for the unformed role models who couldn’t take care of themselves, much less me.

And when it came down to it, when my father was dying last year, any anger I had was replaced by intense compassion.

Seeing another human suffering, mentally and physically, as he was erased any inkling of being angry. It was not the time to yell, point fingers, make him understand all the things he did and didn’t do, not the place for scorekeeping or retribution.

My job in those last hours we spent together was simply to be present. There was no room for anger. There was no space for anger. There was no time for anger.

I was overcome with sadness for his state. The frustration with which he grunted and recoiled from the too-salty puréed food and the lack of cooperation from his hands in spooning it were palpable. Unable to endure more, I excused myself from the table. I walked purposefully down the hallways, around three corners to a pair of chairs set in a nook. I watched myself as I had since entering this building, purportedly to help my aunt with my dad’s paperwork.

I’d immediately dashed beyond the door to my father’s room to the common area where Bryan and I organized his paperwork and I covertly read the will I’d been written out of. Then I knew that any interaction that we’d have was pure; it wasn’t because I’d get anything out of it or owe him anything.

I pushed myself to walk by his room again, and I caught a glimpse of white: white hair, pale skin, white blanket, white sheets, beige hospital bed.

The tension in my body was great, but the fear was subsiding. I was in control. I could leave at any moment, whenever it became too much. The parts of myself pushing and gauging my tolerance were keeping me safe.

I told my aunt that I thought I could walk in, could see him, could maybe have a conversation. My uncle announced us when we came in.

Over the hours we spent in the ensuing days, we were physically closer than I could ever remember.

I sat at the foot of his bed. He’d lost so much weight that he didn’t fill it. We didn’t talk a lot. I showed him a video of our dog. He liked the idea that we had a dog. I told him a little about my job. But we didn’t talk about anything important, anything that mattered.

That’s for the best.

My anger is mine to deal with just as the sadness that his anger dissolved into was his.

As I approached the pair of chairs in the hallway, I released the tears that had been building for so long: for myself as a child, for the father I had, and for the one that I didn’t.



The Dance of Anger

A dance is a poem in space
Instead of words—bodies
Instead of rhyme—gesture
Instead of meter—flow

When many bodies join
The Dance of Anger
Their movements become
A "movement"
A movement that can
Bless or curse the world.

Bodies Gestures Flow
To call upon The Lord of the Dance
Or to spin mindlessly out of control

The Dance of Anger
Narration with bodies
Tells a story
Too powerful for words.
A vessel for the Spirit
Creation or chaos?

—Janelle Curlin-Taylor


The Danger of Anger

The dance of anger is
awesome to behold.
If you ask the dancers,
"What are you seeking?"
They will reply, "Justice", but justice
has two faces:
restoration or retribution.
Which you choose leads
to what leads,
you or the anger.

Choose one and you lead,
anger provides the energy.
Lead well and you can
transform an injury
into a partnership,
a force for peace.

Choose the other and anger drives
you deeper where there was already
pain. The Chinese say,
"Before you embark
on a journey of revenge,
dig two graves."

Choose well.

—Jeff Taylor

Sensitivity to Words

One of the major symptoms of the general crisis existent in our world today is our lack of sensitivity to words. We use words as tools. We forget that words are a repository of the spirit. The tragedy of our times is that the vessels of the spirit are broken. We cannot approach the spirit unless we repair the vessels. Reverence for words - an awareness of the wonder of words, of the mystery of words - is an essential prerequisite for prayer. By the word of God the world was created.

—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


In a class on Buddhism, one of the teachers was a Jōdo Shinshū pastor. He explained that when teaching the children the First Noble Truth, they expressed it as "Life is a bumpy road." Several years later I read that the literal translation of the Pali word dukkha, usually translated as suffering or dissatisfaction is "bad hole," referring to a poorly made cart wheel. What a fascinating metaphor.

Compassion is Latin for "to suffer with," or as Bill Clinton said it, “I feel your pain.”

Coleman Barks, in a recorded reading of his translations of Rumi, told about an English teacher who, on the first day of class, jumped up on his desk and said, "Young men, I love words." I also love words, sometimes for their roots or
original meaning, or sometimes just for their sounds. The German word for auto exhaust tailpipe is auspuff.

In English, a windfall is a tree blown over by the wind, bringing the fruit (and wood) within easy reach. The Japanese equivalent is a duck that walks in the door, a meal that does not have to be hunted down. A great windfall is a duck that walks in the door with a green onion over its shoulder. The most popular way in Japan to cook duck is with green onions.

Spirit in Greek and Hebrew is the same word as breath or wind, and it's feminine. In English, the feminine has been lost from the Divinity.

In India, the Bodhisattva of Compassion is male. In China, it was initially male but soon an existing Chinese female deity (Kwan Yin) was co-opted. Is this a transgendered deity?

Rumi says God's first language is silence; all else is poor translation.

Zen claims to be a teaching beyond scripture and words and has the largest body of written works of any religion.

Words are wonderful, powerful, and at the same time, limited. They must be respected for all three.

—Jeff Taylor


Sounds of Trees

Can you tell
the species from
the sighs of
the pines, the
rustle of hardwoods?

Does it matter to anyone,
except a botanist,
an academic, the arrogant

The poet struggles
to find the words
for what
is wordless.

—Jeff Taylor


Reverberate the
Non-Judgement with
Compassion is
Equity exhuberantly expressed.
Responding to the
Divine with devotion
Simply & sanely


In The Beginning

In the beginning was the Word
and I am told the Word was
God/is God.
How is this verifiable? I can observe
that I recover from wounds inflicted
by sticks and stones.
But words can be used to pierce
my very soul, can lead me to the
loss of meaning. And, well there
you are, plowshares bent into
swords, crushing my vessel asunder.

Viktor Frankl wrote words, "Man's
Search for Meaning,"I can use to
guide my return.
To the root of Word which is Love,
As it was in the beginning and
It always will be....
Once the carnage is ended, and
I caringly lift away weighted thoughts
of hate, cease it in all its forms within
myself. My recovery, rediscovery
of the Word may be the revival of a
Loving World without End. Amen.

—Martha Ward

How Does Life Live?

by Kelly O’Brien (For full experience:

How does life live?
Can girls be robots?
Why is fire called fire?
What is winter?
Why do we have to sleep?
How many dogs are in this world?
Where do ants come from?
Why are some things special?
Why do (don’t?) worms have faces?
Why is (the) sun in my eyes?
Why does everybody not like pink, just black?
What do princesses do?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Do girls have vaginas?
Why do boys cut their hair?
How do you make water?
Why do you like beautiful things so much?
Why do you pick flowers, and then they die?
Are you old, Mom?
Why are the leaves falling down?
Will I have another birthday?
Why doesn’t everybody know me?
What are you talking about?
What’s a conversation?
Why do people laugh at me?
Why is she mean?
Why are you on your phone?!
What happens when I don’t like you, Mom?
What is mean and nice?
What is kind?
Do you love me?
Why are kids small?
Where did you find me when I was a baby?
Why does the heart beat?
Why do my feet sparkle?
What’s bacteria? Does it hurt you?
How does food turn into poo?
How do you be a mermaid, Mom?
Why can’t we see angels?
Can you turn me into a fairy?
Do blue butterflies…eat parts of the sky?
Do worms cry?
Do bugs die?
Why do the birds fly away?
Why are we humans?
Why do we eat animals?
Why do trees just stand there?
Why is it night time when trees when people are awake?
Why does the earth move?
What is atmosphere?
Do (did) God make the ocean?
Where does the sun go?
Why is the world so messy?
Why do we all have cars?
What is a molecule?
What does extinct mean?
What is power?
What is history?
Why are we gonna die?
How do people get killed?
What is fragile?
When did the world even start?
Mom, why are we starting again?
What is history?
How does life live?


PARTS of the SKY

Do Blue Butterflies eat parts of the sky?
One of many endless questions from a young 
Child, seeing the butterflies patterned

Blue on blue.

For me the question conjures up Escher,

The artist/printmaker.
As a child, he was curious how a shape 
is both a space and a whole, each fitting 
within the other. 

Escher repeated a single shape
without overlapping creating
a tessellated puzzle.

Like the Child’s view,

His puzzle defined an endless horizon 

of blue butterflies eating parts of the sky.

What is Fragile?

A breath in, a pause, breath out, pause.
Like a sonata of sensemaking of the
Surrounding small moments, each,
Last for an eternity.

Promises pushing against
one another, like seedhead.
Which will be the first to fall to the earth, slip into a
small crevice, there die a seed, birth a flower,
A flower with its seedhead, pushing against
One another. Which will be the first to fall
to the earth?

—Martha Koock Ward



What is the secret river?
Do rocks direct us?
Is there ever a stopping?
Do we all travel?
If I follow, is there a place I am going?
The last way, steps lost into canyon, can it be found?
When the mist swirls on the side of the cliff, is that it?
Is there any way to go on?

Sarah Webb


What is kind? What is fragile?

Kind, separate from nice, recognizes our common fragility.

Kind wraps us in a soft understanding, a willingness to listen.

A desire to quiet our own minds to hear what's on someone else's

A sharing of a load, a burden, time

A slowing down until you can feel what it's like to be that other person

Heart beating, breath breathing

What it's like to be yourself




I can't figure out why it has taken me 70 years to figure out how insufficient our answers and explanations really are. Kids ask why and they are curious. And then they go to school and are given answers. I read the other day that the only facts are in our minds. But they don't tell us that in school, did they? We are fed answers sufficient to quell our curiosity.

An exception to this was when I had a color theory class where the teacher wouldn't tell us stuff. He'd grunt or shrug his shoulders when we'd ask him a question. He’d ask us to look harder and to find out on our own. He opened us up to the exploration of color, reminding me what Matisse once said, “I’ve spent all my life playing with color.”

What is a kid asking for when they ask why? Do they want to know the answer, or are they just saying, “Look at this…isn’t it awesome?”?

There a joke in my family that I ask a lot of questions, and worse, I expect answers. And not grey answers like my color theory teacher would say or not say, but black and white answers. When my aunt Reggie was a beginning psychotherapist, she'd give me answers…just the kind I thought I wanted. So when I’d ask something of my sister, a psychoanalyst, she would always answer, “Ask Reggie.” Unfortunately, when Reggie became old and wise, her answers became less binary and much more confusing…and rich.

So what should we do with kids questions? What can we do to encourage their curiosity even more?

William Blake wrote "never seek to tell thy love... Love that never told can be. For the gentle wind does move. Silently Invisibly" That seems about another form of answers. Think of when someone asked you if you love them. Isn't it always when the relationship is dissolving? So they need to clarify. They need to make an experience into a fact. And from there it goes downhill. Silently. Invisibly.

My grandson asked me the other day, holding up a piece of parsley at his school’s Seder lunch, “Who made this?” Unfortunately, I gave him an answer. I could kick myself. There are so many questions I could have asked him, like who does he think made it, or why was he asking the question, or what else in the world is he curious about who made it, or how might he find out who made it. I was not curious about his curiosity and for that I failed him. Maybe next time I can do better.

Kim Mosley