April 12, 2016

Friday, December 10, 2010

Poetry Friday: Stillness

'Tis the season to be jolly. Carols and Salvation Army bells are in the background of our daily chores. Our homes smell of pine or frying onions (yum latkes).

There's a kind of pressure to be "on" at this time of year. If you're like me, some down time is necessary to cope with the sensory overload and make yourself available to others, to the happiness of the season.

The painters and electricians have finally left our house -- looking great! -- after three weeks of work. The acceptances are done for the Maryland Writers Association Poetry Anthology.

Before I begin the task of editing the poems and doing final preparations for the holidays, I need to make time for stillness.

Helen Buss Mitchell talks about making time for stillness in the Spirituality issue of Maryland-based art and literary journal  Little Patuxent Review (LPR #8, Summer 2010). She says that in order to experience "personal Sacred Times and Sacred Places": 

"We begin by identifying and then consciously taking the time to experience our own sacred times and sacred places. These are not times and places associated with formal religions. Instead, they are the holder of our authenticity -- the times and places in which we feel most ourselves, closest to who we really are."

I hope you find time for those places during the holidays. Here is a poem about stillness by Chuang Tzu, translated by Thomas Merton.

Action and Non-Action
by Chuang Tzu

The non-action of the wise man is not inaction.
It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything.
The sage is quiet because he is not moved,   
Not because he wills to be quiet.   
Still water is like glass.
You can look in it and see the bristles on your chin.
It is a perfect level;
A carpenter could use it.
If water is so clear, so level,
How much more the spirit of man?   
The heart of the wise man is tranquil.   
It is the mirror of heaven and earth   
The glass of everything.

The rest of the poem is at the Poetry Foundation.

Happy winter season, everyone. Today's Poetry Friday host is lovely Jama Rattigan at Alphabet Soup.

For those of you who have been waiting for my interview with Muriel Weinstein, she broke her hand last week. As soon as she's feeling up to it, we'll get the interview and a review of her chapter book bio of Louis Armstrong PLAY, LOUIS, PLAY posted. Thanks for being patient!


jama said...

Lovely poem, Laura. You are so right about finding a bir of calm and serenity to balance the frenzy of the holiday season.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Jama. I'm enjoying (finally) a quiet day, recharging batteries, breathing deep. Glad you enjoyed the poem.

Tabatha said...

Thanks, Laura -- that poem is just what the doctor ordered!!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha. I love, "The heart of the wise man is tranquil." I try to start my day in that state. Once the children get up, pebbles in the pond.

Terry Doherty said...

Your timing couldn't e more exquisite. It has been a crazy run-around kind of day and I've been thinking about when I can sneak in one of those quiet, still moments that really ARE key to the season.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Terry. I was surprised how many people posted poems today on the theme of stillness. I guess we're all feeling run-down (run over?) by the season. I'm glad this post found you when you needed it.

Jeannine Atkins said...

Thank you and Chuang Tzu and Thomas Merton for the still as water moments. Signed up for a two hour yoga class tomorrow -- when I could be doing, you know, everything else. And I'm glad.

wishing you a weekend with some stillness.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Jeannine. Yoga -- sigh. I haven't made it to a class in over a year. Enjoy. Breathe deep.

Mary Lee said...

I'm taking this early Sunday morning tour through Poetry Friday as my time of stillness before the school work begins...

Amy L V said...

This poem strikes gently right where I need it. Thank you for your perfect timing. The quiet snowflakes remind me of your words today. A.

Author Amok said...

Mary Lee, that sounds like a wonderful meditation before the work week.

Amy -- glad the poem found you. I also thought about the stillness and silence of snow after reading this poem.

Kerry Aradhya said...

Hi, Laura. I missed Poetry Friday last week so am trying to catch up a little. I really like what Helen Buss Mitchell said about finding the times and places where we most feel ourselves. It is difficult to do that--especially during the holiday season--but oh so important. Thanks for sharing, and glad to hear the anthology is coming along!