Reading Stitches
Books, Poetry, Things I Wish I Knew For Sure, and not all that much about Knitting

Dec 16, 2011


When I grow old, and my past begins to fade,
Will you remind me of how memories are made?
Remind me of how I had always insisted the future is clear and full of hope -
How it’s contained within each tiny moment of the present - and how,
In every wrinkle and sudden movement, my life and my self
Are created, again and again, without end.

When my ideas grow dim and my thoughts get quiet,
Show me the sky and tell me my name and how lucky I’ve been
All my life.  Tell me about how well I’ve known love - and how it was
The trees that taught me the most.  Promise they will teach me again.
Take my hand in yours, and draw pictures for me on the lines that are there -
And trace how my life has joined yours.

When I get sad, remind me of you - how your laughter is all
That is essential for this life.  Tell me how you wake, and how you drag out of bed,
And how your bones will ache - and then, how the smell of brewing coffee
Renews the morning spirit of millions just like us.
Remind me that sad is just a tired survivor, who is only passing through - and,
Because of this, remind me to be kind and patient with my guests.

When I am no longer able to speak, remind me with a smile
That all will be fine.  Don’t linger with worry or fearful regrets -
Remind me of how I worship the moment.  Read me some poems,
Or write me a letter with all of your thoughts, your dreams and your hopes.
Read the words slowly and savor the sound of your voice, in order to remind me
That love is contained in all of the words of the world.

(Thanks, Vicki, for the photo.)

Dec 5, 2011

Found things

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Somewhere, in a shadowed place,
    You have found the hidden me.
I lean toward you, silently,
    To welcome you to me.
You may not know the place yourself,
    But be aware of this:
I hold my secret arms extended -
    In anticipated bliss.

Oct 27, 2011

The Spirit of Compassion

Listening is a practice of compassion.  When I calm my mind, release my need for attention, and center my focus on another, I am choosing the gift of compassion.  Listening is the companion of silence, and we listen most closely when we begin by silencing the mind.  As another begins to speak, our focused silence acts as a beacon.  As the act of listening begins, the speaker begins to relax within the unique sound of her voice, and her voice may become akin to the soothing murmur of nurturing.  As the speaker begins to listen to her own sound, she may experience a feeling of awkward joy; and it is the listener's continuing focus that encourages joy over discomfort. 12/15/08

Sep 11, 2011


On this broad day,
We remember
The falling skies,
The hot horror of death,
And our broken minds
Turned to steel and ash.

As the dust settles
A gray blanket over the heart,
It won't muffle the noise
"We will never forget"
All over town.

What if -
I want to forget?
Will I be forgiven
Or even remembered
If I lose the path
To vengeance...

On my way to Peace -
As I work my way to health,
Does my obligation
Have an ending?
Or is it always a beginning?
I am frightened...

But, I am also brave.
And, I am also free.
I cover my hands
With a wrap of Hope
And break more glass
Through some interior wall

To find a sole survivor:
Of no gender or name,
No age or color -
There is only an echo of sound and memory
Still struggling to comprehend
The loneliness of violence and hate.

Can we all be heroes today?
We can shed our shields
Of now-shaken and tarnished pride.
We can re-center our hearts,
And renew our vows
To face forward with our new minds.

Heroes are the many souls
In desperation
Getting up again.
Remember the sunshine - why not?
It did not become our enemy
On that broad blue day.

It, too, was just a witness
To humanity's hurting itself, again.
Don't blame the sun!
I want to be able to thank it over and over
For being present on the day
It should have disappeared.

I would not have wished
For a cloudy day
To blur the edges
Of such stark waste and anguish.
Perhaps clarity was there
For a reason...

Take a new look at the sun...
Remember each day
As it shines - and why.
Thank it for coming back, again.
Didn't it forgive and forget
Our ugliness and pain?

I want to be like the sun.
I want to shine warm and blue
And make a bright day,
And see clearly our pain and redemption,
In order to know what I might forget:
It is the beginning and the end
Of my obligation.

Jun 23, 2011


It's not as if
I read fortunes
Or understand the nature
Of being True.

Time is falling -
That's not my fault -
No space for big steps,
There's only enough room
For breathing.

Grasping at feathers,
Fathers and mothers,
Experience flies
In the face of Time.

I might turn to prayer
Or words to chant,
And talk to the trees and birds -
There are solutions there.

But they are busier than I,
And God is, too -
My hope is smothered
By an onslaught of sound.

And in my mouth
I hold only unformulated thoughts -
Some garbled mix of hidden wants
The desires of an unformed creature.

The birds seem True.
Nature is wild with Truth.
And I watch as if in the shadow of a cinema,
Holding onto my seat, afraid to miss out
On the telling part.

I move forward, or at least in place -
Stepping as if with new feet
Made of fresh and sticky clay
I will make the forward motions.

I refuse to march to the pace of Time,
And my rhythm shows this fault.
I fall out of step with what might be called
My fellow travelers.

Apr 3, 2011

Time's Garden

for Chris

It's OK to cry, my friend,
If you feel like a little boy
And your life appears empty
Of pleasure and comfort.

You are still Alive;
And it still has meaning
Through this dis-ease of
Pain that consumes your attention.

It's OK to feel like an old man, too,
If suddenly aging and dying
Seem to glow dimly in a false mirror at your face,
Taunting you into frustration and nausea.

'Why?' is the question you ask.
'Why am I punished?
I was only doing my best
And I'm sorry if I failed so deeply.

But, it's not fair!
How can it be?
There are worse failures
And I am only human.'

You are only Human,
So don't forget
This Pain is not Evil
Or Good, it just Is.

It is not God
Or an Angel of Darkness
Sent to scare you away
From Love.

It is a thing of Fate, perhaps,
A mystery of living,
A chance to watch your loved one
Love you, maybe.

If only you could see Her!
She is all Beauty now,
More than ever.
And her face is like the Light in a tragic darkness.

Pain is between you
But it's only a symptom
Of Time,
Flexible and strong.

Forgive Time;
It has no clue.
It is oblivious, in its Innocence,
As it does its job.

It moves at its own pace, true,
Crushing us on its way, but then
When it's had enough, it creates
Great sweeping and fragrant gardens
Of Relief.

And Relief will come,
Another symptom of Time.
The exotic pain will suddenly
Become a memory of
Time, having its way with you.

You will Live with your Angel
The one with the Light,
Who hovered gently along with Time,
Together inhaling the fragrance of Relief.

(Thanks, Liz, for the photo.)

Jan 6, 2011

I Deeply Regret

I received an email from a dear friend asking for my thoughts on this quote from Henry David Thoreau:

"Make the most of your regrets... To regret deeply is to live afresh."

I think going deep into the feelings we get from our mistaken behavior, actions and inactions, we can find out what matters most to us, what makes us feel successful and good, about ourselves and the world. So, if we regret deeply, we can seize that information as an opportunity to do much better.

I think we often confuse regret with guilt and obsession. They aren't the same things. We can regret our actions without blaming ourselves or others, so there is no need for guilt. And obsession is just another behavior we can regret. I think regrets teach us to live better and more honestly. To dwell only on guilt and obsession about our regrets keeps the deeper lessons hidden beneath a shallow veneer of concern.

The idea is to understand our behavior, to recognize when we have acted against our better judgement or personal moral code, and to learn from it. And learning from it, to move on to "live afresh". Not harboring obsessive thoughts and guilt trips about the regrets, but seeing them as milestones, or using them as stepping stones, in our learning about who we are and who we want to be.

You can start over and try again. (Every moment.) (I read recently, in Pema Chodron's book, When Things Fall Apart: "This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are".)

I always think of dogs, when I think of starting fresh, because Vinny has taught me so much. They don't waste time regretting. I forgive her for everything. And, because she knows this, knows that I love her and will protect her to the best of my ability, she trusts me completely. (She forgives me for everything.) She starts "afresh" every moment.

(Before Vinny taught me the reality of it, I first became aware of this natural gift that dogs have, from some very good books about dogs. The Dog's Mind by Bruce Fogle, Cesar's Way by Cesar Millan, and The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell, are a few that come to mind, among others.)

You always have the opportunity to change the dynamics of your relationship with dogs (as long as they haven't been permanently damaged somehow). If you act as if we are "moving forward", "being present", not dwelling on what she has done that may have displeased you in the past (even the past few minutes), she will respond immediately. So, she reacts to what I do right now, not what I did, or what she did, but what I do, and what I will do next. She's always fascinated by what happens next. She really lives afresh in each new moment.

I can take my regrets and waste their lessons by dwelling in guilt or obsession, or I can learn from them and be grateful for them because they teach me things I need to learn right now.