All Hallows Day

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“All of the places of our lives are sanctuaries; some of them just happen to have steeples. And all of the people in our lives are saints; it is just that some of them have day jobs and most will never have feast days named for them.”
— Robert Benson

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“The challenge of the saints of the twenty-first century is to begin again to comprehend the sacred in the ten thousand things of our world; to reverence what we have come to view as ordinary and devoid of spirit.”
— Edward Hays

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“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. A higher paradox confounds the emotion as well as reason and there are long periods in the lives of all of us, when the truth as revealed by faith is hideous, emotionally disturbing, downright repulsive. Witness the dark night of the soul in individual saints . . .”
― Flannery O’Connor

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“What if the church should be less concerned with creating saints than creating a world where we do not need saints? A world where people like Mother Teresa and MLK would have nothing to do.”
― Peter Rollins

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“Saints are sinners who kept on going.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

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“A saint is a person who is reborn from his grave where he was trapped by living in himself. The time has come for all mankind to become saints, to be complete human beings. A saint is one whose self has completely died to become the living Truth.”
― Woo Myung

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Becoming Rain

rain1

the tears

i shed

yesterday

have become

rain

“In one of my former lives I was a cloud. The cloud had a nice time in the sky, travelling around and looking down. A cloud is sometimes transformed into rain, and when the rain comes, the cloud isn’t scared to death. The cloud knows that the rain is something very exciting too. So, instead of crying, the cloud begins to sing and becomes the rain falling on fields and into the rivers.”

“If we look deeply we see that the nature of a cloud is also the nature of no birth: The cloud does not come from nothing. It has come from the water in the river and ocean. It has come from the heat of the sunshine. You know that the birth of a cloud is a poetic image. The cloud is simply a new manifestation. Before being a cloud, the cloud has been many other things. Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death. Birth and death are notions that cannot be applied to reality, because there is nothing that can be born from nothing, and there is nothing that can become nothing at all. The meditation practice of looking deeply will bring about insight. It will dissipate our fear and our despair.”

-Thich Nhat Hahn

*art by Omer Agam (digital artist and graphic designer)

The Heartbeat of All Things

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Listening

To the sacred

Within

Sighs brush by

While words

Silently wait

In the stillness

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A stillness

Pouring

Into emptiness

Existence ceases

To have meaning

Ideas fade into

The Unknown.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

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“People are very afraid of nothingness. When they hear about emptiness, people are also very afraid, but emptiness just means the extinction of ideas. Emptiness is not the opposite of existence. It is not nothingness or annihilation. The idea of existence has to be removed, and so does the idea of nonexistence…When you practice looking deeply, you see your true nature of no birth, no death; no being, no nonbeing; no coming, no going; no same, no different. When you see this, you are free from fear. You are free from craving and free from jealousy.”  -Thich Nhat Hanh

Mother Nature

Breathing in silence

Breathing out love and patience

Earthling gratitude

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Lunar Eclipse and Sweet Harmony

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Excerpts from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”:

Lorenzo:
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb that thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn:
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
And draw her home with music.

Jessica:
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

Lorenzo:
The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted… Music! hark!

Nerissa:
It is your music of the house.

Portia:
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Nerissa:
Silence bestows that virtue on it.

Portia:
How many things by season season’d are.
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak’d.

(Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.)

The Pain of Being Pruned

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“Trust is my strength…and from trust I live.”

-Hermann Hesse

This hurts…terribly. Being pierced in the heart. Cracking open. Raw vulnerability.  Dying a slow death. Being pruned time and time again.

Pema Chödrön describes a time in her life when she had the following quote pinned to her wall, “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” She shares that even before she heard of Buddhist teachings she knew this to be the spirit of true awakening.

When you’re suffering it can be so paralyzing that you wonder if you will ever have a chance for happiness. Change has a way of seeping into our lives whether we’re ready or not.

Chödrön depicts it as “Letting ourselves be nailed to the present moment.” This has been my experience…and it has left me with two possibilities either to let it harden me or to walk through the portal towards self-compassion. What happens next is a good question. That is where the strength of trust kicks in…it is the difference between being alive and living.

I Will Never Die

undercurrents

Do I have the courage

To allow the undercurrents

Of pain to rise in my life

There is healing and then…

Something simple like 

The sound of a piano

Breaks me wide open

A stream of pain…

Running waters

Yet these are waters 

That can gurgle

With the mirth 

Of laughter

water death

But I am haunted by fear

Fear that these waters

Will begin to rage 

Flooding my existence

That I will be surged under

To my death

pines cradle the sky

Then I look to see 

How the tips of swaying pine

Cradle the sky with love

I remember how deep their roots 

Reach into the Earth

How she holds them to her bosom

I wonder…

I wonder whether this is my pain

Or the pain of my ancestors

I can still be grounded

Even when the waters are rising

I can allow this fear

To have as much space as it needs

To breathe

naked before my own eyes

I find that I can allow the pain 

To mingle with mistakes I have made

Over the years…

I can allow the pain to flow freely

I can unlearn behaviors that bring despair

I can let the underclothes of judgement fall

Once again I am naked and vulnerable

Before my own eyes

leaflets and buds

Again I breathe

This time the running waters

Aren’t undercurrents of pain

But a cleansing rain

Cascading down upon 

The leaflets and buds of my heart

Nurturing the spring within me

That will awaken new life

Delicate and tender

I am flower fresh

jutting granite

Inwardly, jutting granite speaks

Of the solid strength

That we all bear together

In state of Oneness

Running waters grow still

As they collect in a natural basin

Of Love…

Reflecting what is true

Until the sun and moon

Sing of boundless freedoms

Ever expanding…

through the clouds

I know that I have arrived home

I have my place in the cosmos

I will never die…

I will return again and again

To kiss the earth through the clouds.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

*photos (in order of appearence) by:

Adam Taylor,

https://fstoppers.com/nature/photos-adam-taylor-captures-captivating-landscapes-5925

Brooke Shaden,

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brookeshaden/4916539764/

Luke Gram,

http://man-and-camera.com

Greta Tu,

http://www.gretatu.com/about-me

Droplets from Tumblr:

http://mariplopis.tumblr.com/post/29797090845

Alan Howell,

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashcroft8/3128393783/

Silouhette of girl on swing from Tumblr:

http://valscrapbook.tumblr.com/post/23284163399

***this poem was inspired by a dear friend on Twitter @stillnesspeakin