Saturday, February 26, 2011

Springtime in Los Angeles!

Such a glorious spring day--LA seems so fresh-scrubbed and beautiful after last night's rain I felt like dancing when I went on my morning walk. Everything is in bloom and the trees seem so happy they too look as if they want to dance.

Here are two poems I wrote 25 years ago when I was just embarking on my spiritual journey as a Friend. They embody the spirit of joy and "beginner's mind" that I feel today, and which I wish all the world could feel.


(for Yuki Brinton*)

The sunlight seemed to sing out
in a weeping cherry tree
that spring day I arrived at Pendle Hill.

Someone had hacked it halfway down,
and yet it sang to me:
There’s that in me no one can ever kill,
There’s that in me no one can ever kill.

I stood amazed and listened
until someone told me how
a widow old and small but hardly frail
had hurried to this spot when she had heard
the horrid sound
of a chainsaw and its silence-shattering wail,
a chainsaw and its silence-shattering wail.

This tree her husband planted,
and it is now was in her care.
Some say she climbed it like a mother cat.
Some say she brought the woodman down
with just a piercing stare.
This much I know: this broken tree still stands.
This much I know: this broken tree still stands.

In the stillness of the morning,
in the stillness of my heart,
it sings its light-filled song to joy and spring,
it sings its light-filled song to joy and spring.



It’s nine o’clock, and rain is falling gently on South Street,
an end-of-summer rain.

I am a newcomer to the city,
curious and mildly hopeful,
surprised at how easily the pieces are falling into place—
the tiny, but necessary pieces of my life.

The rain feels cool and refreshing.

A couple of shriners,
with plastic covering their purple turbans,
hurry past as if they have somewhere important to go.

A crowd of young people, dressed in Sunday finery,
bored with the wake their parents dragged them to,
dawdle in front of a Baptist church
and watch the rain.

Walking briskly past,
I remember the words of a woman I have just met:
“Here I am thirty-seven,
and I figure there must be more to life
than just consuming stuff and dying.”

With hardly a word spoken, or a question asked,
the fever of summer is being washed away.

All I know is that’s the rain is falling
as if it had been falling forever,
or for the first time.

And everything seems brand-new,
and completely familiar,
as I walk briskly by.

Philadelphia, 1984
*Yuki Brinton was the wife of Howard Brinton, well-known Quaker educator and writer who was a director of Pendle Hill, a Quaker center for study and contemplation near Philadelphia

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