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

Each Breath

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Each breath

Softly quiet

Snowfall 

By the edge

Of the wood

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

 

A Visitor

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Kindness visited

…….in a flurry

Of brown speckled

Rose-tipped feathers

And scarlet cap

Clutching a reed

On a cold, blustery day

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

*photo by Phil Winter

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philwinter/8405745964/

The Child Within

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“A child is always able to live in the present moment.”

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“The child in us is always alive.”

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“Maybe we have not had enough time to take care of the child within us.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

Jack and Jill

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Simple life pleasures

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The first taste of frozen milk

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Afoot in the snow

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Heart Fires

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All the paths
I have wandered
Always lead home
Where heart fires
Warmly welcome.

My soul has been whispering to me today to look and listen more deeply to the love within myself. I have felt alone a lot in my life, but the more I come back to my essence the more fulfilled, connected and joyful I really am. In my meditation this morning, I came across the words of Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, “When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger and desire, you run away from yourself and lose yourself. Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. Life is only available in the present moment.” I paused after those words and knew clearly that this year that would be my theme. No more waiting for some magical moment to appear…life isn’t gonna be like I want it to be, but I already have enough to be happy now.

So, I wrote a list in my journal of all the things that I was happy about right in that moment: a red gerianium looking out the kitchen window, Jill, my tabby, sitting beside it like a domestic goddess, watching fluffy, white snowflakes flying by horizontally on the wind, the pines quietly standing in the their wisdom across the way, my children sleeping in their rooms, a white French country table standing in the turquoise kitchen, the pen scribbling out my heart’s contentment onto the page, the gift of sight, the knowledge I’ve been blessed with to heal myself and others, Thai’s teachings of mindfulness, mysticism, and Tao, the Yaqui heritage of my ancestors, shamanic whispers of ‘old soul’ wisdom always with me, my lungs filled with air, and the present moment. Yes, I already have enough to be happy now.

I will rise to tantalizing heights this 2015 and fly on the wings of my highest potential into the space of my own unique spirit. What about you? What makes you happy in this moment?

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*photo ‘Loneliness of the soul’ by Kondakova Tata, http://thewinterhome.blogspot.it/2012/10/magia.html

Celebrate Winter’s Coming

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Dance of purity

Falling softly from on high

Winter shakes her lace

© S. Islas-Madlo 2014

*illustration by Richard Scarry