you give of yourself
the universe is grateful
the world sighs and smiles

—Paul Causey


A galaxy coils.
It echoes 
in nautilus, in the spiral of our ear
in the sunflower's seeds curving and crossing.

As above, so below
say the ones before us.
The whirlwind curves round,
and the fern.

And what of longing?
Why does my dog gaze out the window
when I am gone, 
the child lift her arms to be held?
Does the bee long for the flower,
the wave for the shore?

I gaze at the hills
as light falls across them
and slowly fades.
What is this hidden land,
this pattern above us in the night? 

When I stop, when I feel it,
it is sad but also sweet.
It reaches curious--
it wants to kiss and hold,
it flows out, cups my hands tenderly. 

So above, so below.
Does the swirl of stars reach tenderly,
the pear hold out its fruit, tenderly
Who are you?

Rocks burn with this fire, waves rise,
the fox curls round her young,
I quieten, listening,
all of us asking
where are you? what are you?
will you come, will you
come at last?

—Sarah Webb

All the things I cannot know

All the things I will never know, I will never know and in my not knowing, I am comforted and consoled by all the things I have known and can know.  There is no sadness in my not knowing, for there is unbounded joy in that which I am blessed to know.  I cannot expect to be a glorious, blooming flower but I can bloom where I am planted.   I get to be part of this natural world in ways I could not have imagined – living in the mountains, in the desert, by a river, near the woods, on a lake.  Having feasted in all the seasons as well as on the seasons of my life, I am humbled and bowed in gratitude.

Today I saw fresh cow parsley as green as green can be on this first day of December as I walked on the trail.  The cows had been there and left patties of thanks too.  I walk through the trees, watching the leaves fall and accumulate, die and decay and then provide food for new plants and growth next Spring.  The birds are fewer and they will return soon in greater numbers, small and large, colorful and camouflaged.  The vermilion flycatcher stays and flashes his red coat so we recognize him.

As one of the creatures who inhabit this natural world, I sense my place in it, not as a blooming flower in all its glory but rather as a species able to describe where I am, who I am, what my place is and how I am to be in these sacred moments.  Yes, sacred because, like the one who said he sees through a glass dimly and then face to face, I see Creator Spirit where I look and, like Denise Levertov said, being in the orchard, being hungry and tasting the fruit. That is one of a thousand sacred moments that are given to us every day.

When I move from the common and ordinary to the uncommon and extraordinary, that’s a good moment in time and that happens often and comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is a slight shift in perception, sometimes it is a big shift in movement. Some are planned, some are not.  The latter ones I file under surprised by Grace.  

—Gary Gruber

Stop and Go



a constellation of sorrows 
and terrors: 

repellent: a tally 
of ravages unscreamed. 

traces of shame, 
averted from my kind, 
shocking in glimpses:
how? how can this be 
what I have become? 

a text in red and pink 
and brown; a score 
of devil's tones: 
augmented rages;
flatted fists. 

were you to read
this tracery in braille—
eyes closed 
and open heart—
you would come 
to know your soul 
and how 
at last 
to love. 

—Genéve Gil


Snowfall crept in with night
and bathed my waking
in unearthly light,
casting ice into the morning air,
refracting, refracting. 

Trees sugared like 
Viennese crescent cookies,
boughs adorned in elegant 
lace brocade. 

Delicate stars winking
in their constellations 
amid twigs,
naming their place in the
wholeness of being. 

And my heart, alive:
is it not wondrous
to meet death as a miracle? 

—Genéve Gil

JustThis tribute to Martha Koock Ward

On September 29, 2022, this group lost a cherished member. We were some of her precious people, and she touched many of our lives. The poems that follow are our tribute to Martha. 


Rain Crow Haikus


Dreams of Rain by Sarah Webb

Hot days beckon clouds
Wishful wistful billowing
Dreams of cool wet rain

Clouds Waking by Paul Causey

Dry parched earth slumbers
Under heavy sun-drenched dreams
Wait for clouds to wake

—Paul Causey

Dreams of Rain

Rain is Coming by Sarah Webb

In hot, dry summer,
memories of spring,
a cooler time, 
bringing dreams of rain,
droplets wet and cool,
dripping from hair 
washed in an April shower,
droplets heralding the advance 
of warm breezes in summer,
drying wet towels wringing with sweat,
parching lips, cracking earth,
 heat radiates off the horizon,
wavering in the noon day sun, 
cloudless skies, 
harboring memories of spring, 
a cooler time, 
bringing dreams of rain.

—Paul Causey

All that Love…

I never felt unloved by you,
it was there like a shared, sacred
vibration in the air, merged in hugs, 
laughter, shared graces.

It’s the outpouring that has washed me
off my stalwart stance, feeling both
its surge and undertow as I try to 
catch the next wave of change
coming in, and wanting to ride the crest. 

I know I am not in control of this
condition. Instead, I exercise beliefs
not challenged before, to bear witness
to who I truly am, and this condition
is not me. I affirm me and let the 
condition die off, as it will. 

I do crave your riding this wave with
me. My position is different than that
we’ve been conditioned to feel & express
in this world. 

Will you walk with me?

—Martha Koock Ward

At the Kitchen Table…

Eating of the last sweet bite, pushing back from
the kitchen table’s edge and further from temptation, 

a glowing satisfaction emanated from us
and coalesced in a field of endless unknowing 
and nearly silly pleasure at just being in each
others company. 

A pure reckoning of trusting kinship, genuine care and good humor.

It’s never really been tested from my recollection
A reflection of our mother’s love of harmonies, 
father’s pleasing tenor voice and a passel of children.  

We sang together a lot through the ‘40s to the ‘60s 

– thereafter we didn’t

being far flung, we were less in tune.  Even in our dis-
agreements we flounder in laughter and sidebar comments
and distract with other stories.

When my eldest sister died, we wrapped our
sorrow within our hearts. So little spoken of – what would 
we have done differently if we’d known? 

This year we’ve come nearer to pronouncing death’s name,
 once more, but no nearer to wanting to talk about our
own deaths or the death of one that we care about, deeply.  
Now brother has died, unexpectedly, sharing poems up to the last.

May rich and tender conversations make it to our table. 
It is where Life’s terrible victory, living, can be celebrated. 

—Martha Koock Ward

We Got Your Test Results…

“Yes, we got your test results, and it 
appears your abdominal cavity is filled 
with shoreless seeds and stardust”. 

Is this normal, Doc? 
It felt like I’d had a solar-lunar eruption? 

It’s a normal component of an unusual life form.
On rare occasions, we have seen examples,
it is true. That was when we have conducted autopsies 
on aliens, he responded 

Oh aliens!? Well! Well! What are you telling
me, Doc? 

Despite your otherwise  normal, it appears 
somewhere in your maternal lineage, alien 
DNA was dilly-dallying with your maternal co-creator. 

It’s unusual and fortunate that you have 
lived a long-normal-human lifetime. 

Is there there something that can be done? I asked  

My recommendation is to dance nightly by the light of 
the moon. There’s a chance the seeds may take root and
the dust may coalesce into your own rising star. 

—Martha Koock Ward



Tranquility of Tranquility

Meditating on Life

        “It's "just this" he said, "and nothing more." a squirrel on Zen master Fa-ch'an’s roof.

I sit, eyes closed softly,

Mind drifting on a lazy river—

A thought, drifting by,

“Why do my thoughts seem to drift faster than me?”

I let it go, but here comes another one.

This thought is trying to catch up with the first one, complaining about being left dangling, uncompleted—

I tell myself, “Let it go, release it, let it dangle.”

Briefly I open my eyes—"oh no, I let in more thoughts, which one do I tend to first?”

New thought—"I know, I’ll close my eyes and start again. I’ll let them all go back, where?

Somewhere. But why do I want to know where my thoughts go?”
And I answer myself because I knew I would. As a child I would ask my parents questions, as all children do, and when they tired of them, or could not give me a satisfactory answer, they would simply say “because” as if that explained life in a nutshell.

Now that I am older, I’m not necessarily any wiser, but I sit and try to let go of the questions I cannot answer, to let go of my thoughts so I can see with clarity what is and is not. The river is still murky, but the thoughts drift a little slower now and are a little less intrusive. 

When I open my eyes now, and my children ask me why I meditate, I simply say “because.” Then they close their eyes and catch random thoughts of their own drifting on lazy rivers and think their father is only a fish swimming upstream.

Oh, another thought…. were my parents truly wise beyond their years? Were they trying to tell me that “because” is another way of saying “just this, nothing more?” 

—Paul Causey

Affection for the Way

i was not in the fire of the Zendo
but i did see the moonlight
through the roof of my small hut
seeking the way amidst the deep mountain paths
we meet for tea
for that moment
my heart softened
walking far
all the way to the sea
observing the curve of the earth
the vast horizon
that night i slept but
awoke in the darkness hearing
the stars weeping
mourning on the beach
i had become a pile of ash
waiting for the wind 

—Bruce Linton, MFT, Ph.D.


“love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive”                 ee cummings

I misnamed you in my 
misunderstanding of what 
absence and silence meant. 
It is more than words.

I always advanced toward some 
star, in another galaxy, aboard 
a wobbly ship, sails filled with 
the surreal, sailing away from 
your silence.

Now we come together where 
words may not mean much. 
We are held in a body of mystery, 
where what Is is shrouded. 
No way to know what’s 

I find I’m embraced not embarrassed
to feel I am beginning anew ~ 
nothing lost, much to be gained 
under this sky of blue. I’d like you
to embrace it, too. 

—Martha Ward

Just This

Just this moment
Radiant change 
A sigh
I sleep in humid rain 
with petal soft eyes
like a pause
Empty darkness
Suffering and strength
Like up and down
Like heads and tails
Like you and me
Open aware
The silence
Echoes signs of knowing
The universe vast love
What’s there?
Who’s there? 
Name it 
Hold me gently
For just this moment
Then let me go

—Annecy Báez

What is a Mouse Good For?

a little brown mouse 
nibbled on my book cover
in the night
his little teeth marks
and claw scratchings
were distinctive

do we call an exterminator?

what are mice for?
i mean, what do they do in this world?

a small warm animal
covered in fur
a long scaly tail
nobody likes mice…
except other animals 
who eat them
or scientist who
put them to use 
in experiments…
for you know who

i am starting to think more about mice

they are quiet and alert by nature
they are very quick and quiet
they can run and jump
they are often scared

they too are trying to live their lives
find food
feed their families,
protect their children
be warm and safe

i feel less like calling the exterminator now
let’s look on the internet… 

well,  it turns out that this seemingly little useless house invader is
“the most important herbivores in the eco system. In forest, fields, farmlands and backyards, mice sustain predators of all sizes. They link plants and predators in every terrestrial ecosystem.” 


reading further it turns out these little critters are trying to save humanity! 

“ The mouse genome is very similar to our own, making mouse genetic research particularly useful for the study of human diseases. ... Mice are extremely useful for studying complex diseases, such as atherosclerosis and hypertension, as many of the genes responsible for these diseases are shared between mice and humans.” 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and they say, “Friendly and highly intelligent, mice are just as smart as dogs and can even recognize their names and respond when called.”


you who chewed on my copy of “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by 
Shantideva was no other than a Bodhisattva too!

invading my house as a pest
you were a visitor of great consequence
in your simple way, without intention
you are my brother (or sister)
certainly part of my family,
your DNA proves it

I only hope my life may be
as meaningful as yours 
I gassho, 
to the great bodhisattva
little brown mouse 

—Bruce Linton


this morning
a strange leaf
turned out to be 
a small lizard
sunning himself
i wished him a good day
walking on
three stones sat like buddhas
by my Bay
I sat with them
i rested on a bench
two seagulls flew overhead
one landed on the end of my bench
he looked at me with his dark black eye
i looked back
human companionship
may be overrated  

—Bruce Linton

I want to be

I want to be the tremor of petals
when a bee comes to sweep up pollen.

I want to be the pause between phrases
of a mourning song, listening for the
heart to beat, feeling the lung inflate.

I want to be the butter melting across
the corn rows of a summer supper on 
the porch. 

I want to be the hand holding someone’s 
head as it is gently laid to rest on a pillow.

I want to be the utmost leaf on the tallest
tree, behind my house, to catch the sun 
as it sneaks into my yard.

I want to be a baby’s breath as it laughs
at magic no one knows.

And, now I see I can be each of these 
Poetry says so. 

—Martha Ward

Here & Here

Launching into the blackest night 
my body drops away, I take flight
and soar through stories & and tales
of who’s fabrication I cannot tell and
still I soar, then alight at the edge of
my bed just before dawn's light, weighted
with the whole of me, losing hold of
where I’ve been and what I’d seen…

My chair sits midst the lawn, my feet
naked against the silky slips of grass,
toes dozing  letting the earth cradle them, 
and be found to be a part of that sacred ground.
Earth, enter my feet, take away pain 
that keeps me from sleep.

Walking in the middle of the street, 
the day’s heat is held back behind
the bank of pecan & cottonwood trees. 
There is a breeze that kisses my brow, 
brings a hum to my lips, and my eyes 
linger on the long-limbed mimosa 
flowers swaying above the creek.

—Martha Ward


Like scaring up chickens off their roosts,
squawking loudly across the yard, I dusted up
a scene to take me away from my home, 
to wander into experiences of other homes 
and homeless feelings, to learn that I wanted 
back on my home roost.

The ease of being missed and missing wanes
& waxes. Distance increases and the 
need to fill what had always been provided.  
It takes the reins of my days, determines my direction.

I was exposed to caring for children, managing 
animals, caring for an old man infirm by a heart ailment. 
Traveled into histories made before I ever was, and tied up 
from neglect in knots of opportunities taken by others. 

Halls of stained glass rained colors, a pathway for
my steps across the cathedral, tending to preparations 
for the next event, celebration, funeral, arrival of a
dignitary, a queen. 

Skies of another place had me tethered by the heart
and I landed hard on my return, embraced by a known
firmament. The belonging took longer to reemerge, 
prodigal all the same.  

—Martha Ward

Shedding Little Branches


In the Moment


I never wanted a future. 
Never dreamed of bridal gowns or 
Baby cheeks or making 
My place in the world. 
I desperately desired to plant 
Sweet potatoes in Cuba at 21. 
I was bound to swim
With dolphins in the ocean. 
I fell in love with singing 
Brazilian music. I craved
Myriad makings of art. 
I have longed only
For unique immersions
In aliveness. 
I dived deep into each 
invigorating idyll, each
Oubliette of anguish
And despair. 
My life is an archipelago
Of these intense expansions 
And contractions, each 
Isle separate from the rest. 
Pearls on a strand, 
A knot between each one. 

—Geneve Gil

To the One Who Leads the Way

I whisper it now at this table
because I may not remember
after the long confusion 
of the day
of this life full of broken chairs
spilled tea cups
loss and gain jumbled and dripping

I may not remember to say
into my pillow
in the quiet room,
wake me when it's time.

I will not demand
nor pluck you by the arm
but ask you with eyes averted,
if grass has risen on the path
and I cannot find my way—
if I haven't ruined everything—

bring me to the edge
where the waves lap,
this life and the other 
changing one to the other

let the wind of my contradiction die
and the water calm.

I have learned, oh so thoroughly,
that I cannot do this
but if you would, take me by the hand
so it can yet be done.

written to David Whyte "House of Belonging”

—Sarah Webb

Dreaming the Tree

A tree in the air, a tree in the sea:
madrone muscled, lithe in its limbs,
kelp in a forest of reaching and falling.

The sleeper shivers silver:
a school of birds, a flock of fish.
Light sleets orange gold fronds,
leaves bubble in a current of wind.

Below the flow of light,
the drift of beings,
dark slopes down.
Down past tree branch kelp, 
bird flecked fish, 
an entrance to dark
to deep.

—Sarah Webb


When I first saw you,
I thought you were a tree,
growing on a mountain side.

Limbs thinning 
as they stretch to touch the sky.

White petals floating on the wind
from the flowers 
there must have been.

No green leaves.
Just brown-orange trunk,
white petals, 
and thinning limbs
on a mountain side.

When I looked closer,
I realized, you looked like a coral
under the sea.

Bright orange 
against the blue-green of the sea.
Specks of white school fish
as would be petals in the wind.

I looked once again,
trying to understand.
I see you as a mighty tree.
I see you as a tiny coral.

Which are you?
Tell me!
The great tree 
touching the sky?
Or the small coral
under the sea?

Where is the truth 
in your dichotomy.

— S. Swan



—Liz Tucker-Rogers

Face Off

Dropping pretensions is a bit
presumptuous. Prying parts 
that have grown into the matter
with us, gotten under our skin
is beyond the cosmetic surgical
scalpel’s perimeters.

What about that gut feeling which
roils at reminders why so&so made 
a miff in one’s middle organs and along
the long intestinal road – that fortitude
has forgone, forgotten, leaving its host
forlorn, not knowing how to return to 
the lungs for a needed grief session. 

Yet, in that despair is undoubtedly where
with a glimmer of care, awareness can
emerge, the dirge of self & projected 
retributions can flow out and float into 
the cloud of unknowing, dissipated into
no where, the face off. 

—Martha Ward

White Velvet

White velvet petals, modestly 
moist, rest on dark jade leaves 
giving their magnolia fragrance to the 
warm summer morning. 

Browned bodies of jade, servants to earlier
blooms, lie aground in surrender 
& supplication to reigning beauties. 

These seasonless leaves live in anticipation,
await the appearance of the buds they ache to serve,
enhancing the display of each bloom as it swells
to its peak, only to fall at the feet of their successors,
browning among the leaves.

This ritual, redolent, languid yet attentive. 
Faithful love undone limb by limb, 
leaf & bloom. 

—Martha Ward

—Photo by Dennis Fagan

Being Lazy

We could be lazy, throwing to the wind any aspiration or ambition. We could lie on the beach, close our eyes, and listen to the surf. We could smile at the cactus sprouting new growth and a single blossom. We could watch our disabled squirrel land on the ground so awkwardly. We could watch the sun play hide and go seek with the clouds. We could hold our loved ones, steadily, lazily, without moving, where our breathing becomes one with theirs. We could just sit on a cushion like Buddha and do nothing. We could be lazy and who would notice? Others might be so busy that they wouldn't even see one doing nothing-one simply enjoying the fruits of their simple presence on the Earth. 

Q: I wonder if the Buddha would say he was doing nothing when he sat on the cushion. 

A: I think busy and lazy are states of mind. Maybe there is something like “simply present” that would be a middle way. You wouldn't be laid back, but you also wouldn't be up tight. Where are we on that continuum? The cactus exemplifies that, waiting so patiently through winter and bursting forth in the spring when no one is looking.

I’m Home


Like an old friend,
I welcomed myself home today…
as I drove at top speed on the toll road,
with music blasting,
windows down.

out of nowhere,
I heard myself chortle with glee.

I barely recognized the sound.

Too long you’ve been in exile, child.
Too long you’ve been at the mercy
of your bottomless need.
Too long you chased acceptance
  from misers and thieves.

I've stayed in my lane;
Handed over my power;
Sat in rooms behind curtains,
hidden away from their delicate egos,
leaving their entitlement unchallenged.

They said:
Not your place.
Not your time.
Not your people.

They asked me to shut up.
And as usual,
I obliged.
(Accommodation is my middle name, after all.)

So, for a while,
I wandered alone in the wilderness of my frustration.

What can I become
That will make them understand
I am here to be loved?

at 90 miles per hour,
on a hot and sunny Friday afternoon,
I woke from that awful dream.

I checked the review mirror just to make sure.

Later that evening, I showed up at my own doorstep,
with a crooked grin
and a terrible attitude.
“Where ya been?” I asked.
“I’ve been around. Just waiting,” I replied.
“Waiting for what?”

“For you. To love me.”

— Amanda Quraishi

My Shadow Meets Buddha

— Kim Mosley



There is a man

Whose shadow asks a question.

There is a shadow

Whose song is the echo of a bloom.

Water pools in a stone bowl,

Unperturbed, without aspiration.

A black, three-legged palm of white powder

Has a story to tell.

Before it,

Sits a luminous being, his robes

Rivulets of light, flowing

In consoling arcs

Across his form, and

Down, into river,



Singing what is

And will always, never

Be again.

— Geneve Gil



Shadows just impose their view.
They don’t explain themselves.
I am left to figure out who what
where why each crosses my field
of vision.

These transient tracings may be read
literally, often. Object receiving light 
projects shadow. That’s quite straight
forward. But like walking into an ongoing 
conversation, the source and meaning
may appear oblique, when the light
shifts, the shadow must too.

Or it shifts when someone steps into 
the light, and cast a shadow of their
former self, without needing to be seen, 
except for their shape shifting shadow. 

What I know about shadows is there is nothing
there to know. Anyone who is curious can
flip on a light, and out the shadow goes. 
Goes where? It retreats into figures &
fabrics waiting for its next opportunity to 

—Martha Ward


Buddha’s Shrine

I see you sitting there,
peaceful, serene, knowing,
not knowing.
The flowers, symbols of your faith sitting around your feet.
The candle at your side is silent,
it sheds no light, yet it shines
from the memory of you.
It speaks on your behalf
and stands as a beacon for others to see
the path you are no longer able to walk.

There is a presence around you.
A shadow standing over you,
dark and insubstantial,
but not inconsequential.
It too is silent.
I think I prefer the candle
with its potential to shed light
upon the world
than the shadow who stands in darkness,
devoid of its own potential, its own light.
Perhaps when the candle is lit,
it will dispel all doubt
casting the shadow aside to melt away into the lite,
to become the light
as I’m sure it was meant to be.

Perhaps, when the candle is lit
and illuminates the shadow,
I’ll discover that the face in the darkness
was only mine.

— Paul Causey

Next Lifetime

My name!
she pointed proudly 
to the end of the row at the parking lot. 
I blinked.
Yes, that could be an A of sorts,
the lines painted to end the slanted spaces,
an upside down A with five crossbars.
And an A could be Amanda. 

My daughter let go of my hand and knelt
to trace the outline.
I returned her smile.
Your name. How nice to see it here! 

There was always something to see
on the way to her preschool across the campus:
striped shadows from a railing,
a dog that turned to smell us,
a tulip with a golden center.
She pulled me to her favorite every morning,
a bas-relief propped above the Hare Krishna table.
It showed a crawling baby, followed by a little boy,
a youth, a man in his prime, then a haggard elder with a cane,
a small light bulb in each chest.
The light glowed a moment in the baby,
traveled on through each—youth, man, ancient—
to disappear, then reappear in the baby.

So the old man is the baby next? she'd ask,
watching the light progress. 
Yes, I'd say, reincarnation too big a word.
But she understood in her own way.
At the store she touched the dress she wanted,
accepted my no to buying it.
That's all right, she said. 
You can buy it later, the next time 
I'm a little girl and you're my Mommy again.

—Sarah Webb


A calligraphy brush,
Dipped in water,
Travels over stone,
In gestures vanishing—
Into molecules, into air—
Every moment an act 
Of creation and erasure.

Starlings luff and billow 
Across the dusky blue, 
Inking arcs and spirals, 
Swellings and dips,
Every act a moment
Of erasure and creation, 
A choreography of meanings
We may only intuit 
From within. 

—Geneve Gil



—Melanie Alberts

Happiness Needs You

“Happiness doesn’t need you to hold it down. It doesn’t need anything.” Naomi Shabab Nye

But at the days end, 
        when the sun is winding down around the earth
                and the bright reds, yellows, and blues 
                        reach out to touch you, 
        happiness needs you to reach back
                to touch it, 
                        to accept it, 
                to laugh with it in joy.  

Happiness doesn’t need anything, 
        but when the child cries itself into existence, 
                when it receives its first breath 
                        and sees itself in your eyes 
                for the first time, 
        happiness needs you to reach out 
                to touch it, 
                        to accept it, 
                to love it with all your heart.  

Happiness doesn’t need anything, 
        but when the sun is obscured by clouds, 
                when doubt haunts your every thought, 
                        your dreams, 
        happiness needs you to choose, to decide 
                whether happiness is real 
                        or make believe.

Happiness is a choice. Only you can decide.

—Paul Causey


Kim Mosley


Mirrors, in every room, reflect my movements about my home.
Public and private activities noted, one’s fleeting or lingering,

There are blind corners around which I have surprised
a mirror or two. More often I have surprised myself—
alerted to my posture, my attire, a frowning or serious face.

My full gamut of emotions surfaces, unintentionally,
shared in my house of mirrors.
Unlike Walcott’s suggestion to “peel your own image
from the mirror,” I find myself inhabiting this body
costume, with its maintenance requirements.

When something about the lips, the chin, the eyes
combs my attention & appropriately parts it down
through the generations of those who came before me,
I wonder who is showing up through me.

In one mirror or another, perhaps I’ll find that
small space where I am me, a me no one else
can see. 

—Martha Ward

Gathering Pieces…

Hen huddles on her nest, 
egg begins to rock to the 
thumping heart, till beak
pierces a way out, the lights
come on, and scratching out 
a life begins. 

You are a world away, gone
while you had skin in a 
game you would not accept. 
Why would you? It wasn’t you. 
You chose not to be who you were, 
and forfeited the game. 

Nonetheless, the dice rolled forward.
There’s the piece you left on the board.
Lost. Its intelligent capacity for love
lives loose and restless on this field—
a thumping heart, scratching out a life.

—Martha Ward

My Purpose

 This week I had the most authentically spiritual community experience I’ve ever had… and on Zoom no less.

I’m going to try to explain it here, but I feel compelled to mention that words are clumsy, silly things that can’t even begin to express experiences such as these.

— — —

On Wednesday nights I attend a small zen group that rotates through certain themes each week. This week’s them was Gaia meditation — that is, meditation that centers us on the natural world and our place in it.

One of the things that we talk about in zen (and in lots of other traditions) is the ‘interconnectedness of all things’. It’s a truly spiritual concept that requires us to decenter ourselves and our story and see ourselves as we truly are — a small, unique part of the fabric of the ever-expanding universe. In this view of the universe, power is not ‘top down’ and distributed by a version of The Divine that mirrors the ego.

Instead, power doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone. It moves, it flows. If we attempt to hold on to it for too long we either burn up quickly, or worse, become corrupted before we burn up.

And by ‘power’, I mean Love. The animating, universal creative force with no beginning or end.

This is pretty easy to understand on an intellectual level, but the ideal (at least in zen) is to actually experience it.

So on Wednesday night, our teacher asked us to reflect on a couple quotes about our connection to all other things and beings, and then we sat. It was nice. Afterward there was a short discussion and we talked about the importance of remembering our connectedness to the planet and understanding our consumption of goods that deplete our natural resources. A kind and ethical teaching.

Then we sat again in silence, and by this time it was almost 8pm. I was relaxed and comfortable, still and present. I felt safe and secure with the tiny group of people on my screen — we are regulars on Wednesday nights and I’ve grown to look forward to seeing their faces each week, and hearing their reflections.

Zen meditation encourages us to sit in reality, without actively attaching ourselves to thoughts or ideas. It is the simplest thing in the world, and also, the most challenging. I can usually achieve this state for only a couple moments at a time without judging thoughts barging back in.

During this second sitting period, however, I achieved a stillness of mind for several minutes.

And then something amazing happened.

I suddenly understood.

And by this, I don’t mean I thought about it. I just suddenly KNEW it. It wasn’t an idea. It just was true and I recognized it immediately on a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.

— — —

Three weeks ago today I lost my job. My new job. The one I started last June. The one I was deeply in love with.

If you know me with any degree of intimacy you know what this has done to me. You know how long I’ve been searching for an occupation that I could throw my full self into. That I’ve wanted nothing more in the whole world than to find a place that I could belong and build. That the deepest desire of my heart is to MATTER somewhere. To make a contribution. To do something important and useful.

The past few weeks I have been in a state of deep despair that I shall not describe here for fear of alarming the people that love me. But yes. Absolutely devastated.

My desire for belonging is complicated by familial and religious trauma, making it all the more difficult to understand where I fit in the world. I feel like that baby bird in the book “Are You My Mother?” running around the planet looking for “my people”.

But you know how, in those teenage RomComs, at the end when the boy or girl looks at their loyal friend and realizes they were actually the love of their life and it’s a big ‘AH HA!’ moment?

Well. It was kind of like that.

— — —

During the second meditation period on Wednesday night, I had a knowing. I hesitate to use the word ‘vision’ because I’m not trying to be all mystical here — but let’s be honest. This was legitimately a mystical experience.

Spontaneously, and without thinking, I saw billions of tall cone-like pillars topped with round lights covering the globe. And sprinkled throughout were a few extra tall pillars, that were glowing very bright and pulsing — and when they pulsed, everything around them glowed a little brighter.

And I knew I was one of them — one of the extra tall pillars. For whatever reason, I have been gifted with an extraordinarily large capacity for love. And this is my value in the world. And I am most valuable to the pillars of light around me. Off in the distance I see other extra tall beacons also pulsing and doing the same thing I do. None of us could light up everything — just a limited sphere around us. But all of us together were keeping the world bright.

And I realized that that I don’t generate power, but I do have capacity to receive it and pass it along in great quantities. And that is my goddamn JOB in this world. That is what I am supposed to do.

Because the shorter beacons of light are doing the hard work. They’re in the trenches fighting for justice, truth and goodness — and they need all the power they can get. If the only thing I accomplish in this world is to help the people around me keep fighting with the power of love? Then I will have fulfilled my entire purpose.

I’ve been told many times that I’m a naive fool for believing in the power of love. That my ability to see the best in people, regardless of what they’ve done — and to give generously of myself without asking for anything back is a liability. That my ability to sit with differences and not feel threatened by them, and my belief in the incomprehensible value of every person on this planet is hippie-dippy-bullshit.

I let this feedback define me and I felt silly for splashing around in. such idealistic stuff. But you know what? This isn’t idealistic. It’s the most real and true thing in the world, and it is what I MUST be.

— — — -

But that’s not the end of my experience.

Following the second sitting, whilst in a state of awe at this revelation, I listened to the elder in our group — an 80-something woman — describe the joy of this feeling of interconnection that she’s cultivated over her lifetime of practice. She and our teacher exchanged their truths about this with such humility and brilliance it took my breath away. I soaked in the wisdom and joy of these two people who had been down the path before me, relishing the sheer generosity of spirit that was on display. It was simple. It was pure. It was beautiful.

It was true.

— — —

The next morning I had a call scheduled with a friend I’ve known online for years. She and I had never had an extended 1:1 conversation, and she’s 15 years older than I am — and a very wise woman to boot.

She spoke to me with kindness and love, and she told me without any solicitation (and before I had a chance to even get a word in) that I matter and that I help people online and offline with my honesty and ability to love. She said I make a difference in the world and that I’ve made a difference in her life.

It was the clearest confirmation of my experience there could be.

And then, I felt at peace.

I felt unafraid of death and dying.

I felt like I understood on a cellular level what I must do.

And I understood Maya Angelou’s words:

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…”

I have paid the price with my self. I thought for a while it was too much. That I couldn’t afford it.

I didn’t realize how much I have, and that my self is actually the least valuable part of me.

— — — —

You may wonder why I feel compelled to share (or, as some call it, over-share) my experiences. You may wonder if I’ve lost my mind. You might think I’m dabbling in silliness and woo. I can assure you, this is exactly what I should be doing and that my experiences are real.

Finally, I want to say that I have been BLESSED by the community of people I’ve been able to cultivate over the years. And that includes YOU. I belong nowhere, and everywhere. I belong to you, and you belong to me.

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

And I’m back, baby. 💙

—Amanda Quraishi

Leaves in Memoria

 The sun sets through broken clouds,
reflects off flickering leaves falling
to the ground before
the cold winter sets in.

In a passing moment, 
        their lives reflected 
                before they dissolve 
                away to nothing.  

They are not real. Not now.

Their flesh was only an illusion 
        of every other leaf,
                every other face 
                        that gazed upon them.  

They were the buzzing bee 
        that pollinated its flowers,
                the caterpillar that feasted 
                        on its tender shoots 
                                and laid its eggs among its branches.  

Each leaf was something else 
        experienced a hundred-fold.  

They too were not real. Not now.  

For what once was, 
        death takes away.  
                Becomes something else.  

We loved, we hated.  
        We were sad, joyous.  

Not now.  
        No longer real.  
                Simply were.

—Paul Causey




A tribute to those affected by the Marshall Fire that occurred in Boulder County, Colorado in December.

When she first told us, she listed out the things most dear:

Two decades of soul collage.
Handmade mosaics in every window.
Process painting.
Children’s art and birth books.
Grandparent’s legacy.
Dad’s meditation shawl.
Her wedding ring.
Her son’s clay turtle.
Rainbow weaving and sunflower and self portrait.
Her other son’s family newsletters and battle scenes and mazes.
Decades of pictures saved on a laptop.
The porch her son built.
Their cars.
Climbing, camping, skiing, and biking equipment.

All of this that made up not merely a home, but a self-proclaimed sacred space. A part of her, like bones.

Then she said:

Swaha. All is gone.

I have been holding this word – swaha – ever since.

So be it, by the fierce power of agni, the fire.

OK. I surrender. I surrender now. And now. And now.

It is easy to curl into a ball and let the inertia of grief envelop you. It is the greatest courage to let the inertia be alchemized into the gratitude that gets you up and open to all that is being revealed to you.

I am connected now to all of the griefs of the world, for all those who have lost everything.

I am not my possessions. I am something else entirely.

When all has dropped away, the steady gaze and comfort of compassion remains. It lives in our blood, behind our eyes. It helps us to remember the power of the invisible.

To raise your hands to the sky and say thank you, thank you for all that remains, for all that is not lost, that has not gone.

—Liz Tucker-Rogers

winter booster


winter booster
the surprising depth 
of his eyes

—Melanie Alberts

No Resistance

"To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of ease, grace, lightness. This state is
then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad."
— Ekhart Tolle

I experience a lot of resistance to life. 
I experience a lot of judgment.
Even now as I write, I notice the judgment, the anxious wondering 
whether readers will find my prose articulate, my words clear, 
whether the essence of my message will come through. 
I resist the urge to backspace, delete, as I desperately strive towards
A state where my worthiness isn't dependent 
On judgment, on good or bad.
Ease, grace, lightness. Life has felt anything but. 
Heavy, burdensome, stumbling.
Forgetting what's in the path is part of my path, 
   that the obstacle is the way. 
But I wish there weren't so many obstacles… 
I wish I wasn't in my own way. 
The obstacles of my mind, and my judgment, and my wishing things were different. 
The obstacles of seemingly insurmountable grief and pain and suffering. 
The obstacles of this quivering mountain, threatening to swallow me whole.
But maybe if a landslide is bound to happen, I can learn to ride the wave. 
Become a part of the mountain, be at one with the suffering, be submerged by the
Remember that things look steeper from a particular angle. 
Remember that we’re all made of stardust and I can one day be part of the journey others
Indeed, I already am.
Maybe one day my bones will shatter, and my corpse will turn to ash. 
To be scattered into soil, my death and my passing 
To nourish, give life to what’s next to come. 
Death and rebirth into different forms, until I learn that we are all empty and we are all one.
We are all empty, and we are all one, there is no perfect form, These constructs are
judgements; separation - illusion. Emptiness is where we all come, to where we will all return.
If are the universe experiencing itself, this part of the universe is suffering.
And that's okay... it's not good or bad, I need not resist. I need not persist. It just is. It just is. It
just is.

—Maggie Huang

What does a Mirror do?

The sun has set, the sky turned black.
The view through the window is now looking back. 
I see you. Can you see me?   
You have eyes, but can they see?

They say the eyes are windows to the soul.
But when I look into your eyes, looking back into mine, 
my mind sees you, in time 
sees me, the person that you stole.

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Or thinking what you will?
Or are you thinking much at all? Alas,
has your mind become so clear, so empty and so still?
Empty mind. No mind, smooth as glass?

I wish that I could have this buddha’s mind I see. 
Within this glass, you look like me,
perfection in duplicity.
But sorely lacking in humanity.  

You mock me while I am looking out, while you are looking in.
What truths do you hold, that in this glass call home?
The life you claim you take within,
save only what I give you from my own.

When I gaze at my reflection,
I see your silence. I hear myself put words into your mouth.
So soft, almost beneath detection.
A northern whisper heading south.

Do you even have a choice?
Of whom or what appears?
For that alone would free your voice
from beneath your cold veneer. 

Speak to me, my face, with words with great inflection.
Speak to me with words, words of your selection.
Talk to me, enlighten me, give me words of direction.
Let me know that I am real and not a mere reflection.

I see me.  I see you.
But which of us am I talking to?
Do not answer that, but when you do,
are you asking me? Or am I asking you?

Reflections cannot lie,
they do not live; they do not die.
Forever is their nature to reveal what they are shown
but their eyes are blind to what we all have known.

If you look into the eyes, one may well see a spark
but you will never know what truly holds the heart.
Unlike you, unlike me, it can never mourn
or shed its tears with empathy torn.

A mirror is often held aloft,
for qualities it holds true.
But behind those eyes is reverence scoffed.
While silent, it emboldens you.

Is there a soul behind those eyes?
In essence we do realize
in humanity, a soul resides
and who determines truth or lies.

I see you. I see me in the mirror of our lives.
I see the heart, the soul and all that that implies.
I see me. I see you.
And that is all that mirrors do.

—Paul Causey

The Light

Hope, is in the dark corner, behind
the doctor’s head, who has just told
you that your cancer is inoperable. 

Let your eyes, your thoughts hold onto 
that infinity point where all that is possible
is awaiting the birth of its potential to
make a difference, for you. 

It is the gift that gives us life and death
- each being its own gift, when you look 
at it in a certain light, right? Light 
perceived as an infinite wave length in 
which our particles have our time, our song, 
our dance.

What will you wear to your last dance on
earth? What poem or what song will be on 
your lips when you cease to breathe? Where
do you want dance through infinity?

You say you don’t want to be free, you want
to stay and see, another dawn, high noon,
sunset. Do, please do, and know, too, that
in each of these you are the Light.

—Martha Ward

To Robert Bly

 "A four-year old speaks some ancient language"
"Ravens Hiding in a Shoe"

We gasp to hear the boy.
What is he speaking? Old Norse? Hittite?
But don't we all speak an old tongue?
We cry the stroke of galleys in our dreams
sweat on our oars across a wine dark sea.

The broom by my hearth
straw sewn brushy around the handle
speaks to my hand in an ancient's voice
Grandmother Broom.

The baby who looks across the room at me
from silent eyes, sees with the eye of the raven,
with the stillness of the deer.

When the pines close round us and the path is lost 
something in us knows the way.
Trees have sprung up and boulders tumbled
but under the silt and the needles
a way we've walked.

Die and rise up, die and rise up
we and the deer and the child.

—Sarah Webb

The Winter Night

I went out into the winter night
to place the trash at the yard's edge. 
Just as I completed my task, I stole a glance 
upward to see the waxing quarter moon 
shining brightly far out into the sky,
far enough to reach my eye.
I was captured too by a reddish planet 
hovering below the moon, a bit off to the west.
My eyes shifted a little to the left to catch the
regularly flashing green lights of an airplane
crossing the blackened sky.
Bit by bit, more stars began popping into my awareness
as I slowly turned my head from side to side.
Just then, I became aware of the silence of the night.
I wrapped the stillness around me and
for the first time that day, I felt at ease.
My eyes drifted downward onto the spidery
arms of the Arizona Ash trees. I imagined 
some as witches' fingers pointing off into the distance,
while others seemed to encourage me closer.
These darkened silhouettes drew me in
as they appeared to have a story to tell.
As I leaned in, I heard the few remaining leaves on the branches
rustle as they scraped against each other in the evening breeze.
Standing alone in the darkened street, I found myself
savoring this moment of beauty, peace and imagination.

It seems curious that something so simple as a night scene
can remove all the stress of the day; or is it simply the act 
of being with the night that soothes.

—L. Winnette


We stand at the threshold only twice.
Once when we enter,
And once when we leave.
What happens in between is just this.

—Paul Causey



Sitting at this desk, and yet,
Not here at all…

I find my home in the waters
Of the deep blue sea,
The sanctuary of a holy sky,
Lit by the embers of time.
The candle burns brightly
As I imagine a life beyond this desk.
Am I really


—Ivory Smith