But for the Love

“Unless you know how to love your neighbor, you cannot love God. Before placing an offering on the altar of God, you have to reconcile with your neighbor, because reconciling with your neighbor is to reconcile with God. You can only touch God through his creatures; you will not understand what is true love, the love of God, unless you practice the love of humanity.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen master, poet and peace activist, Taming the Tiger Within

Recently, I had the honor of becoming friends with Chase Gagnon through a poetry group we’re apart of on Facebook. To say it simply, his words move my soul. Today, I have the privilege to share the power of his poetry, photography and storytelling! Enjoy.

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“I was walking into Zeff’s on the corner of Russell and Winder for lunch when I saw him sitting against the wall. The same tattered old man who’s always roaming around Eastern Market through the snow and freezing rain asking strangers for money, the guy who you can see digging through dumpsters and trash cans looking for scraps of food.

I never have anything to give him, and he knows this by now. But it’s the day after Christmas, and I just hit it big off a dollar scratcher. Won thirty five bucks. He puts his head down as I approach, shielding his face from the wind. “Hey man, you want some lunch?” His eyes lit up “you serious fam? I’m hungry as a motherfucker!

I said “hell yeah!” motioning him with my head to get up off the cold ground. We walked into the filthy dive and sat at the bar, each ordered a couple coney dogs and some chilly fries with a hot cup of coffee.”

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“We sat and talked about basketball, how insane Andre Drummond played last night as highlights from the game flashed across the fuzzy TV screen above the counter. Laughed at how stupid our fellow Americans were for electing Donald Trump, and then talked a little bit about how goddamn cold it’s been this past week.

I saw his eyes ice over when he thought about the weather outside, gazing back out into the filthy streets where he sleeps while he sipped his piping hot coffee, both bare hands gripping the mug for warmth. “You know, I can’t remember the last time someone treated me like a human.”

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how bitter
its silence —
gently falling snow

~Chase Gagnon

*photos, poetry, and storytelling by Chase Gagnon

Masculine Energy

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Masculine energy

Within mySelf

Seeking healing

In warmth

Surrounded

By the frosty cold

Of uncertainty

Masculine energy

Within mySelf

Seeking love

In the secret garden

Where judgement

Pruned

What was left

Masculine energy

Within mySelf

Seeking acceptance

In barren

Sacred space

Where the wild

Awakens fragilely.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

 

First Snowfall

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Two tiny snowmen

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In woodland garb

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Enjoy a leafy picnic

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”

~J. B. Priestley

Putting Fears to Good Use

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PRAYER TO PUT FEARS TO GOOD USE

Going over and over one’s fears
is empty
and emptying.

There’s something Greater that sustains.
We call it esperanza. Hope.
We call it guerre es podar. Desire is power.
Hope and desire are powers.

Fear—ha!
Fear—ha!
Ha, hum—fear.
Pstt, pssh!

Consider that most fear
is not fear of failure:
it’s fear to live wide
and deep, as soul calls,
in full power.

Choose your petty fears carefully,
because they can grow big teeth.

Instead, draw your attention here.
I have several fears
I would like you to have.

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Fear these:
Fear not loving
while you have the chance.

Fear becoming bitter.
Fear cynicism.
Fear turning to stone.
Fear living underwhelmed
by everything.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between being fearful
and being a person
who gives blessings.
Give blessings.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between being fearful
and being merciful.
Be merciful.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between being fearful
and being forgiving.
Be forgiving.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between fearing
and loving.
When the great “they”
say it must be decided,
one or the other,
you can either be fearful,
or do the other, be loving…
refuse to do only one.
Choose all of them.

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Be fearful, and bless others.
Be fearful, and be merciful.
Be fearful, and forgive.
Be fearful, and do.
Be fearful, and love.

It is by doing,
by doing the blessing,
the mercy, the forgiveness,
the doing, and the loving,
that fear is dissipated.

Be not afraid to ride
right up to the enemy
and touch with your
most sharpened flint
made of Love.

So may it be for you.
So may it be for me.
And so may it be for all of us.

*prayer by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, posted on her fb page Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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*this post is dedicated to all the water protectors at Standing Rock

Unearthing Bones

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Unearthing bones 

That were buried

In silence

By the ignorance

Of cold, distant minds

Through darkness

The wind rattles

Between  gaps

Of light

Where the heart

Begins to beat

Flesh to life

The sacred dance

Of true love.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Embers to Ash

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Embers to ash

Fragrance

Of a mindful life

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Meaning
Being Your Own Voice of Reason

by Madisyn Taylor

How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.

The meaning we assign to our experiences–whether pleasant or distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives. What we imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving meanings to what we experience.

Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow being “stood up” to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to mentally attack your friend’s character, or you could assume that something big must have happened to cause them to miss the date–then, you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.

If you were recently laid off and are having difficulty finding a new job, consider that you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped in your regular career that you are now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more fulfilling direction. If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the world a bit more.

When we begin to bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at the messages we have been feeding ourselves all these years. Try taking the reigns and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.

an excerpt taken from DailyOM  Meaning

a song by Akira Kosemura, Embers

Walking Sacredly

Fire / European Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

I AM all life

All life AM I

Fire walking 

With each step

Homewards.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“Let us move on, and step out boldly, though it be into the night, and we can scarcely see the way.”     ~Charles B Newcomb

“Move and the way will open.”     ~Zen Proverb

*photo by Alex Hyde, Alex Hyde Photography