Mystics and Poets Leave Us Love Songs

We get help from our mystic and poet friends today as we celebrate love and passion: love of self, love of others and love of God. Lee Ann is joined in this episode by poet-lawyer, Andrea Grill. Enjoy this poetry in all its naked beauty!

The Works and Their Poetry:

 

The Hope of Loving by Meister Eckhart

 

What keeps us alive, what allows us to endure?

I think it is the hope of loving

Or being loved.

 

I heard a fable once about the sun going on a journey

To find its source, and how the moon wept

Without her lover’s

Warm gaze.

 

We weep when light does not reach our hearts.  We wither

Like fields if someone close

Does not rain their

Kindness

Upon us.

 

Love Does That by Meister Eckhart

 

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes

With heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries

About things that bother only

Burros.

 

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting

Than physical labor.

 

Once in a while a kind monk comes

To her stable and brings

A pear, but more

Than that,

 

He looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears

 

And for a few seconds the burro is free

And even seems to laugh

 

Because love does

That.

 

Love frees.

 

“Dig Here,” the Angel Said by St. John of the Cross

 

She caught me off guard when my soul said to me,

“Have we met?”

 

So surprised I was to hear her speak like that

I chuckled.

 

She began to sing a tale: “There was once a hardworking man

Who used to worry so much because he could

not feed and clothe his children and

wife the way he wanted.

 

There was a beautiful little chapel in the village

where the man lived and one day while

he was praying, an angel

appeared.

 

The angel said, ‘Follow me.’  And he did, out into an ancient forest.

‘Now dig here,” the angel said.  And the man felt strength in

his limbs he had not known since youth and found a

lost treasure, and his relationship

with the world changed.”

 

Finding our soul’s beauty does that—gives us

tremendous freedom

from worry.

 

“Dig here,” the angel said—

“in your soul,

In your

Soul.”

 

 

God Says Yes to Me by Kaylin Haught

 

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

 

Love After Love by Derek Wolcott

 

The time will come

When, with elation,

You will greet yourself arriving

At your own door, in your own mirror,

And each will smile at the other’s welcome,

 

And say, sit here, Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart

To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

 

All your life, whom you ignored

For another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

 

The photographs, the desperate notes,

Peel your image from the mirror.

Sit.  Feast on your life.

 

 

Slicing Potatoes and also, A Vase by Rabia

 

Slicing Potatoes

 

It helps,

putting my hands on a pot, on a broom,

in a wash

pail.

 

I

tried painting

but it was easier to fly

slicing potatoes.

 

A Vase

 

I am always holding a priceless vase in my hands.

If you asked me about the deeper truths

of the path and I told you

the answers,

 

it would be like handing sacred relics to you.

But most have their hands tied

behind their

back;

 

that is, most are not free of events their eyes have seen

 

and their ears have heard

 

and their bodies have felt.

 

Most cannot focus their abilities

in the present, and

might drop what

I said.

 

So I’ll wait; I don’t mind waiting until

your love for all

makes luminous

the now.

 

 

Sweet Darkness by David Whyte

 

When your eyes are tired

the world is tired also.

 

When your vision has gone

no part of the world can find you.

 

Time to go into the dark

where the night has eyes

to recognize its own.

 

There you can be sure

you are not beyond love.

 

The dark will be your womb

tonight.

 

The night will give you a horizon

further than you can see.

 

You must learn one thing.

The world was made to be free in.

 

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

 

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

 

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

 

is too small for you.

 

 

God Would Kneel Down by St. Francis of Assisi

 

I think God might be a little prejudiced.

For once He asked me to join Him on a walk

through the world,

 

and we gazed into every heart on this earth,

and I noticed He lingered a bit longer

before any face that was

weeping,

 

and before any eyes that were

laughing.

 

And sometimes when we passed

a soul in worship

 

God too would kneel

down.

 

I have come to learn: God

adores his

creation.

 

A Place to Sit by Kabir

 

Don’t go outside your house to see flowers.

My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.

Inside your body there are flowers

One flower has a thousand petals.

That will do for a place to sit.

Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty

inside the body and out of it,

before gardens and after gardens.

 

Some Kiss We Want by Rumi

 

There is some kiss we want with

our whole lives, the touch of

 

spirit on the body.  Seawater

begs the pearl to break its shell.

 

And the lily, how passionately

it needs some wild darling! At

 

night, I open the window and ask

the moon to come and press its

 

face against mine.  Breathe into

me. Close the language-door and

 

open the love-window.  The moon

won’t use the door, only the window.

 

Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson

 

Wild Nights—Wild Nights!

Were I with thee

Wild Nights should be

Our luxury!

 

Futile—the Winds—

To a Heart in port—

Done with the Compass—

Done with the Chart!

 

Rowing in Eden—

Ah, the Sea!

Might I but moor—Tonight—

In thee!

 

Biographies of Poets and Mystics in order of appearance in the show:

 

Meister Eckhart was a German Catholic monk, scholar and mystic of the 13th and 14th centuries. His marvelously radical and sublime understanding of the divine was appreciated by his countrymen but condemned by the Church. He was considered a heretic by the Church at the end of his life. But as is often the case, the Church reclaimed him much later when he was “rediscovered” again in the 19th century.

St. John of the Cross came from a family of Spanish “conversos”–Jews who were forced to become Christian–during the 16th century. He was a Carmelite friar who was a reformer, and not appreciated at all by the Church fathers. In fact, he was tortured and imprisoned by priests and brothers. Out of this savagery though came the moving friendship with St. Teresa of Avila and the work most know him by, “Dark Night of the Soul.”

Kaylin Haught is an Oklahoma poet, who is obscure by choice. So I couldn’t get much in the way of a biography of her. I hope that some day she will come out of this self-chosen privacy and share her poetry with us!

Derek Walcott‘s lineage extends to two continents–Africa and Europe. He is a Nobel Laureate from 1992. “Love After Love” comes from his Collected Poems 1948-1984.

Rabia was an Islamic saint and teacher of the Sufi tradition in the 8th century. She arrived on the scene 500 years before Rumi. And if you read her story, she was one of the very first feminists.

David Whyte is a native of England, who now lives in the United States. You can hear him on NPR’s “On Being” with Krista Tippett. This, is where we first discovered this luminous poet. “Sweet Darkness” comes from his collection of poetry entitled Fire in the Earth.

St. Francis of Assisi, born Francis Bernardone, was a beloved brother and saint of the 12th and 13th centuries. Often we forget that this gentle and peace-loving man started his career as a military man enlisting to serve the Pope during the Crusades. He did learn that the military was not for him and turned to serving the people and the church in a very different way.

Kabir was an Indian religious reformer in the 15th and 16th centuries, synthesizing Muslim, Christian and Hindu ideas. In his work, he “takes down” the superstitious, the proud and the delusional who were part of the religious establishment. He reminds us that God has a sense of humor!

Rumi was an Afghani that the whole world recognizes as the great master and teacher of the Sufi tradition. He lived in the 13th century. When you think of “whirling Dervishes”, Rumi is the one that comes to mind–he and his ecstatic teacher, Shams.

Emily Dickinson was a 19th century U.S. poet who became a recluse after attending Mount Holyoke College for a short time. She was strong-headed, brilliant and devoted to her family. Her works were published after her death in 1890.

Please see the masterful renderings and translations by Daniel Ladinsky, Coleman Barks and Robert Bly of Kabir, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, Rabia, Meister Eckhart and Rumi. Also, look for Roger Housden’s edited books of poetry. He has a fabulous eye and ear for poetry.

Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky

110 Poems of Love and Revelation, edited by Roger Housden

Rumi: The Book of Love by Coleman Barks

Kabir: Ecstatic Poems by Robert Bly

About the Author Lee Ann Hopkins

"Smile and the world smiles with you." That's the motto she lives by. Lee Ann is perfectly imperfect and unabashed about it even as she strives for higher and "better" every day. Both her can-do and her foibles are as fabulous as her smile. So take a moment and breathe in Lee Ann's "hooray" for today! Ms. Hopkins is host of the podcast Hooray Weekly, founder of The Hooray Daily and Hooray Living, a speaker, writer and do-gooder, who believe-it-or-not has been a public-interest attorney and clergywoman for longer than she cares to admit. Check out her books, You Are All That: Creating a Great Life with Affirmations, and Hooray for You: 365 Get-Up-and-Go-Go Quotes for Your Year. When you write her, send along a clergy and attorney joke. She loves 'em!

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