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.

chase-gagnon2

“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

I Know You’re There

Tree of Life1

Inner child

Grow inside my heart

First day of spring

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!”
― Charlie Chaplin

 

*photo by Enkel Dika,

https://www.flickr.com/photos/23774436@N08/4996634360/

The Willingness to Look

IMG_0690

Dandelion dreams

Walking home along the path

In step with the wind

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

“Honesty without kindness, humor, and goodheartedness can be just mean. From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see. Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason why is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe.”

-Pema Chödrön

I Celebrate Myself

celebrate myself

I rejoice in the light of my own soul! I rejoice in remembering who I am! I rejoice in the essence of my being! I love being me! I celebrate who I am! I breathe it in and out like life itself! I am happy to be in my own skin! I wouldn’t ever want to be anyone else than who I am! I thank myself! I am kind to myself! I love who I am! I relax into myself! I allow myself freedom to be me! I am thankful to be me! I celebrate myself! I love myself so much! I enjoy being me, myself and I! I celebrate myself! I AM that I AM! I am glad that there is a ME in this world! I celebrate myself!

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. Seuss―

*photo from  http://www.pinterest.com/source/madlyglowing.tumblr.com/

Walking Down the Road

Tomorrow is the 14th of May; and it will have been a year since I’ve started writing this blog….Deep Souldiving…and well the one thing I’ve found out in all that time is that I’ve only begun to touch the truth of who I am.

To look at myself everyday with eyes of wonder…takes courage…and most days I struggle. Lately, it just feels like I’ve been going round in circles…weighed down in loneliness and sorrow. A sense of self, peace and joy are just gone…or at least those are the thoughts stumbling into my words…

The reality is that in learning to be true, there is a fine line between protection and vulnerability. It is a miracle when heart and mind open to life…but so is closing to it…it takes a willingness to die and be reborn over and over again…simply being in the life/death/life cycle.

I will look at myself, smile or shed a tear and breathe one more day…as I mindfully walk on down the road.

Infinite Distance Yet Side by Side

“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see … Continue reading