Poem of Instruction: Reminders to my Future Self

I was invited to write a poem of instruction. Maybe some words of wisdom to my older self. Something I want to remind myself later to remember. Maybe on how to be a pilgrim or an artist or a creative or a monk, or how to be a writer or a contemplative…

I am not sure I know…

Mary Oliver says “Pay attention”
so see, hear, feel, taste, touch, perceive
go slow so you don’t miss anything

Record, she says “Tell about it”
God tells me to proclaim and witness
though I am not sure what that means
share, I guess

Perceive the sun setting
the dimming light
feel it, see it, taste it
What does a sunset taste like?

Be open
to both new
and old

Pack lightly
trust that the journey will provide
yet always bring pen and paper

Bring friends
and meet friends
and also leave friends
sometimes not everyone can go
where you need to go

wonder day
and night

And then follow
be an adventurer
the labels don’t matter
go where the wonder
takes you

Take your faith with you
not as tether
but as a light

remember what you know
and be willing to add to
that stockpile of inner wisdom

You will be afraid
go anyway
find a way to go anyway
you can be afraid at home
or you can be afraid
on the adventure of a lifetime
pick the latter

Eat good food
whenever you can

Be willing to cry
and acknowledge
that you will probably
stub your toe
a few times along the way
no worries
keep going

Don’t always look outside yourself
look inside too
sometimes what you are looking for
is already there

Be willing to lighten
the load as necessary
somethings will be
too heavy to carry
it is okay
to just drop them
and let them lie

Be kind
and loving to yourself
you have never
been here before
show grace
accept grace

And have fun
be silly
and then laugh some more
even when people are watching
who knows
they may laugh with you
and how wonderful is that.

The Hydrangea

I notice the hydrangea
huge dried flowers
dingy paper petals
still standing
showing itself
in the cold
amidst the snow
without leaves
without warmth
yet still showing itself

I understand the hydrangea
saying I am here
I am still here
finding the courage
to show
even out of season
out of plumage
unpolished and faded

I am still here
I am still me
I matter
hear me
see me
I am still here

I am like
the hydrangea
trying to be
seen and heard
and loved
even in
my winter moments.

How do you feel about being seen even in your winter moments? Can you find the courage to show yourself out of plumage, unpolished and true?


I am asked: “What is your inner source of orientation? What is your inner compass?”

So I begin to wonder….hmmm….what guides me?

To be honest,
curiosity points the way.
I follow until
the road gets tough
then I ache to
turn back.
Who wins? Comfort or curiosity?
On a cold day, maybe comfort.
When I have the energy, maybe curiosity.

So, is curiosity my inner compass?
Sounds dangerous but true.
Sometimes I wish for
something more noble
like wisdom
or faith
or even courage.

Truthfully, I am a shy adventurer.
Always on the lookout
for another shy adventurer
to explore with.
Someone whose courage
I can borrow, or whose
wisdom I can follow
and whose faith will
keep us on the path.

Being shy makes
companioning difficult.
Needing alone time, quiet,
solitude, but friendship too.
The paradox, the balancing
of the paradox.

Maybe someday I’ll have the
wisdom, courage, and faith
to explore on my own.
Maybe someday I’ll trust that
the companions are
already waiting for me
just up the road a bit.

Maybe someday I’ll take
that one step that
leads to the rest
of my life.

Today, it seems, I’ll just
write about
the dream of it all.

The Moments Without the Oar

I’ve been taking an online class on spirituality and poetry (The Spiral Way: Celtic Spirituality and the Creative Imagination – abbeyofthearts.com). It was a four week class and the final class was a doozy with several writing exercises. The subject was pilgrimage, specifically a form of Irish pilgrimage called Peregrinatio. Irish monks would be prompted by a dream to head out on pilgrimage. They would set off in a small boat called a coracle without a rudder or an oar and just go where the current took them. It was a spiritual journey of trust and exploration. In the class we were given several writing prompts and the first one was: “I step into the coracle and release the oar.” Here is my writing exploration and my poem: 

I am reminded of kayaking on Webb Lake in Maine. My husband, Rick likes a direction and a purpose. Yet I remember the experience of just being in the kayak on the water. The temptation to drop the oar and just see where the lake takes me. What does she want to show me? Somehow I trust her more than my own choice of direction. Sometimes I just want to be taken somewhere wonderful. I don’t want to risk making the wrong choice. I’d rather trust the wisdom of the water to show me what I need to see.

But then I have the memory of racing to shore before the storm let loose. I was very grateful for my oar at that moment. Would the lake have carried me to safety? Maybe my own instincts are more trustworthy than I give them credit. Maybe we can partner. The spirit of the water can suggest a direction. And then I can choose. Sounds like a good life and a good journey.

The Moments Without the Oar

I can trust
those moments
without the oar.

I can trust the Spirit,
your Spirit,
to deliver me to dry land

the land of your suggestion,
one you think fits me
for the moment.

I can choose
to step ashore
and venture

into something new
or something old,
whatever awaits.

I can trust
that when it is
time to journey again

the coracle will be
at the shore
waiting for me.


Morning poem

I am not sure where to find You today, Lord,

so I’ll start here…

It is still on the back patio

except for the siren of the cardinal,

the buzz of the bee,

the peck of the woodpecker,

and Molly rustling in the bushes.

A mourning dove joins the chorus,

and other songs and calls I cannot identify.

I miss the neighbor’s tree towering over

with perches in my view.

Yes, Lord, You are here.


Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.