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Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

A Saturday poem, a reprise from July 2016: “A Time to Grieve”

March 28, 2020 Leave a comment

I came across a printout of this post from July 8, 2016, as I was clearing out some papers from my office. I read the poem again and thought: wow, here we are in the midst of yet another crisis; maybe the worst one yet! And there will be grief, lots of grief. A new killer is on the loose, not with an automatic weapon designed for war but a tiny COVID-19 virus mutation out to kill as many as it can.

In the nearly four years since I wrote and published this poem the first time, we’ve experienced a lot of loss! I don’t think I need to go through a list;  you all know what I’m referring to. But there is still hope; there is still light; there is still love! As we go through the changes brought on by the virus and the mixed responses to it, there will be more loss. There will be more love! We need a lot more love!

So here is what I wrote about the time then, and here is the poem about grief:

From July 8, 2016:

You know there are no coincidences. Everything is in flow, in divine order. The other day I wrote briefly about reading “The Smell of Rain on Dust”, the latest book by my most esteemed teacher, Martín Prechtel. This lovely little book is all about “Grief and Praise” – its subtitle. As I said the other day I’ll write a complete review of it when I have finished savoring every word. But in the meantime I am struck that I have chosen the perfect time to be reading it. It is time to remember how to grieve!

It is with humility and the deepest respect that I offer this riff on Martín’s work. These are his thoughts that I heard from his lips as I sat learning at his feet and I read in his marvelous book. And I offer it to you as a way to cope with a world that seems off the rails. It is only love that can right the wreckage.

A Time to Grieve

We seem to drift, as a nation,
Ever more deeply into violence and divide;
More killings; cops killing “innocents” –
“Innocents” killing cops.
There is an emerging frenzy to this senseless,
Escalating violence. It is so much, so intense.
It is maddening.
And it is not clear where it will end; or when or how.

Martín knows how.
He has spoken and written about it over and over.
We as a nation – as a so called culture –
Have lost the ability to grieve.

In fact this ability has been taught out of us!
Go shopping instead!
This is always the remedy. Consume more.
Eat up the world to mask the grief.
Hide our losses and sorrow
And desperate need of relief through grief
In our purchases.

Salve the wounds over with stuff.
Feel better with that latest broach –
Pin it on over your heart as a shield to hide behind.
Pin together the tatters in your broken heart.
Pretend it is whole; mend the tears
And choke back the tears.

For Heaven’s sake don’t embarrass yourself
With any display that would reveal your vulnerable soul.
That will not do!
There is no comfort there; only in more stuff.
How else do we keep the wheels on this economy
That promises protection, plenty, prosperity for all
And that pursuit, so elusive, of a happy life?

Grief is equally elusive as happiness!
We are not allowed to grieve.
Three days off for our dearest family members.
Take your own time for friends. Then back to work;
Produce so you can consume more.
No, we are not eating the world! There is always more.

Oh, and there will always be poor. Jesus said so;
And he was right about everything.
And they killed him too!
Never mind the poor; they are not worth dying for.
They are not worthy of our life style.

It will end in one of two ways:

We may kill one another as the violence escalates
To a new world war – a Global War on Terror
Brought to you by terror. Fight terror with terror –
It is the American Way. Our violence begets more violence.
It matters not how it began – it only has a violent end.

Or, we may remember how to grieve.
We can go to the sea and cry a river to fill it.
Weep for the deaths.
Weep for the brutality.
Weep for a society gone so wrong.
Weep for the wars.
Weep for the enemies “following orders.”
Weep for the loved ones whose bones we stand upon.
Weep for us, victims and perpetrators alike.
We are all in this together;
And we will never get out alive!

And when we have wept that river
Flowing to the sea, it might then be time to
Remember something else:
Remember the love that brought us into existence.
Remember the beauty of the world.
Remember the generosity of the Universe
Offering enough and more!
Remember to offer in return our praise and gratitude.

There is a cycle to the loss and gain,
The constant flow of less and more.
Know wherever we are in this cycle
It will continue.
There must always be time for grieving
Because there will always be loss.
Life is loss.
There must always be time for praising
Because there is always gain.
Life is love.

Live life to the fullest in grief and praise!

©2016 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

A Friday Poem for the US, with Love: “Get Out the Vote”

February 14, 2020 Leave a comment

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air. And you may wonder where the love is when you read my poem today.

One of my heroes is Robert Bly. I’ve had the privilege of studying “at his feet” – yes, literally. And I read and reread his poems often. One of my favorite refrains he has written is “It’s already too late!” This is from his second collection of ghazals: “My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy” and the poem titled “Listening to Shahram Nazeri.” So, the other day as I was listening to the news, a commentator said something like: “how far is too far?” And my immediate thought was “it’s already too far!” So, with apologies to Robert I am echoing his refrain in the following:

Get Out the Vote

Russia, if you are listening; Lock her up:
Call and response, chant the chant,
Lies and deceit, cover up: it’s already too far.

Get out the vote, trolls take note, purge the rolls,
Establish the doubt, break the booth;
Lies and deceit: it’s already too far!

Electoral College completes the lie; three million votes,
worthless; Michigan’s few thousand swing the tide.
We begin the slide; it’s already too far!

State is in shambles, FBI firings, DOJ meddlings, DOD
next? Fourth Estate attacked day and night;
Can’t hide the slide: it’s already too far!

Babies in cages, walls blowing down, Native lands sullied,
Rivers muddied, bridges collapsed, brown water sickens:
American carnage, yes: it’s already too far.

Laws don’t matter, impeachment’s ignored,
Power unbounded in the name of us all!
Where is the check? Or, is it already too far?

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.

A Time to Grieve

July 8, 2016 1 comment

You know there are no coincidences. Everything is in flow, in divine order. The other day I wrote briefly about reading “The Smell of Rain on Dust”, the latest book by my most esteemed teacher, Martín Prechtel. This lovely little book is all about “Grief and Praise” – its subtitle. As I said the other day I’ll write a complete review of it when I have finished savoring every word. But in the meantime I am struck that I have chosen the perfect time to be reading it. It is time to remember how to grieve!

It is with humility and the deepest respect that I offer this riff on Martín’s work. These are his thoughts that I heard from his lips as I sat learning at his feet and I read in his marvelous book. And I offer it to you as a way to cope with a world that seems off the rails. It is only love that can right the wreckage.

A Time to Grieve

We seem to drift, as a nation,
Ever more deeply into violence and divide;
More killings; cops killing “innocents” –
“Innocents” killing cops.
There is an emerging frenzy to this senseless,
Escalating violence. It is so much, so intense.
It is maddening.
And it is not clear where it will end; or when or how.

Martín knows how.
He has spoken and written about it over and over.
We as a nation – as a so called culture –
Have lost the ability to grieve.

In fact this ability has been taught out of us!
Go shopping instead!
This is always the remedy. Consume more.
Eat up the world to mask the grief.
Hide our losses and sorrow
And desperate need of relief through grief
In our purchases.

Salve the wounds over with stuff.
Feel better with that latest broach –
Pin it on over your heart as a shield to hide behind.
Pin together the tatters in your broken heart.
Pretend it is whole; mend the tears
And choke back the tears.

For Heaven’s sake don’t embarrass yourself
With any display that would reveal your vulnerable soul.
That will not do!
There is no comfort there; only in more stuff.
How else do we keep the wheels on this economy
That promises protection, plenty, prosperity for all
And that pursuit, so elusive, of a happy life?

Grief is equally elusive as happiness!
We are not allowed to grieve.
Three days off for our dearest family members.
Take your own time for friends. Then back to work;
Produce so you can consume more.
No, we are not eating the world! There is always more.

Oh, and there will always be poor. Jesus said so;
And he was right about everything.
And they killed him too!
Never mind the poor; they are not worth dying for.
They are not worthy of our life style.

It will end in one of two ways:

We may kill one another as the violence escalates
To a new world war – a Global War on Terror
Brought to you by terror. Fight terror with terror –
It is the American Way. Our violence begets more violence.
It matters not how it began – it only has a violent end.

Or, we may remember how to grieve.
We can go to the sea and cry a river to fill it.
Weep for the deaths.
Weep for the brutality.
Weep for a society gone so wrong.
Weep for the wars.
Weep for the enemies “following orders.”
Weep for the loved ones whose bones we stand upon.
Weep for us, victims and perpetrators alike.
We are all in this together;
And we will never get out alive!

And when we have wept that river
Flowing to the sea, it might then be time to
Remember something else:
Remember the love that brought us into existence.
Remember the beauty of the world.
Remember the generosity of the Universe
Offering enough and more!
Remember to offer in return our praise and gratitude.

There is a cycle to the loss and gain,
The constant flow of less and more.
Know wherever we are in this cycle
It will continue.
There must always be time for grieving
Because there will always be loss.
Life is loss.
There must always be time for praising
Because there is always gain.
Life is love.

Live life to the fullest in grief and praise!

©2016 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

A FRIDAY POEM FROM “RHYTHMS AND CYCLES” – Grandmother Moon

May 23, 2014 Leave a comment

We are well into the last quarter of the Moon cycle today. The New Moon in Gemini is coming up on Wednesday. I always feel the Old Moon as she loses her race with the Sun and “falls” into Him. It’s a good time to let go of anything that is no longer serving. Give it to Grandmother and she’ll take it with her to her temporary grave.

I wrote this last year with the Moon Cycle and especially the “dying Moon” in mind.

Grandmother Moon

She is dying into the arms
Of the Father.
She is old and worn,
So close to his breast.

What will you give her
To offer the Father?
Her emptiness can hold all
You have to release.

Are your standards so fixed
To forgive and forget?
Let fly the high-horse
To Grandmother Moon.

Release your regrets
To her skinny white arms.
She’ll fold them and hold all
To burn with her heart.

In three days she’ll appear
Reborn and renewed.
Look to the west for the joy
Of her face and rejoice.

You too are new!

©2014 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

What’s Your Commitment Level? – Richard’s Commentary

March 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Life Purpose; Commitment; the Universe is waiting. And:

I can assure you that no one’s Life Purpose is to play small in the world. Remember that there are a lot of other souls waiting for you to show up to play your part.

This is heavy stuff; a challenge! Am I ready? Am I already living my purpose? How can I know, for sure?

A number of years ago I did a values assessment exercise. I listed out my top five or so values, the usual. And I wrote my “morning pages” on each value across several days. I worked hard on this. Then I reflected on these values and I began to reduce them, to simplify them into a formula I could easily follow. The result is pretty simple:

Practice———>Love

A bit of time after I worked through this exercise, I learned about Scientific Hand Analysis. This approach, to determine things about ourselves from our finger and hand-prints is both fun and pretty amazing. Turns out my fingerprints are all of one kind, loops. And the simple meaning of this is my Life Purpose is Love! I also happen to be in the School of Love and my Lessons revolve around Love.

Now, this too seems pretty simple! (Believe me it’s not!). And it certainly aligns with my values nicely! But here’s the thing: that first word in my “simple” values statement is Practice! Oh, yeah. I’ve got to practice this! Every day, in every way.

And, following Rosemary’s reminder, I have to commit to this 100%. There’s no playing small here. There is no end either; no limits, no boundaries. No perfection!

But then just a day or so ago a poem came to me in an interesting context: on Sunday I had taken a day off, completely off, no practice, no schedule, no thinking, a real day of rest. Then as I reflected on this day off, I came back to my purpose, my values:

Practice———>Love

Values:
Two words,
A gesture.
A flow:
No striving
No stress
No cramming
No rush
No push
No list
No deadlines
No wish
No angst
No want
No grief
No fear
No anger
Only breath!
Rhythm
In time
With All.

©2014 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

MONDAY’S POEM: Celebrate Emptiness

April 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Because some days are just like this:

Celebrate Emptiness

Celebrate Emptiness as
The beginning of Fullness.
Inside of grief is always
Room for praise.

Buddha taught Shariputra
“Form is no other than emptiness.”
This completely relieves
Misfortune and pain.

When down there is always up.
When empty, only a filling.
Let the empty cup of grief be filled
With the joyous song of praise.

©2013 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

Monday’s Poem: New Humanity

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve been posting a lot about new thought, new time, a new way to look at the Universe and our place in it. Today’s poem is motivated by all this writing about Oneness, Time as an Echo-Chamber, the endless cycles and where they are leading. The main reference here is the Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.

New Humanity

Gate, Gate:
Avalokitesvara
Clearly saw emptiness.
Nothing new here.

But what if
This emptiness is
Everything?
What if
Avalokitesvara
Sees the All?

No separation,
No you and me,
No it, no out,
No then, no now.

What then?
No war, no peace,
No loss, no grief,
No mine, no yours.

Imagine!

©2012 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

PS: To start 2013 off with incredible guidance from The Divine Feminine you can get the 8 recordings Rosemary made at the end of 2012 during her Wisdom of the Week (WOW) calls. Get them here.

Love and Self-Love: Part 2

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

(Post-Epilogue: Today, November 30, I broke one of my special, probably most precious, Yixing teapots, one that I’ve had with me for years. Another loss, this one more permanent than misplaced reading glasses and a lot closer to my heart. Lesson? Another one; very hard this time? Really? Clearly I am in a fast-paced learning mode at this stage of my journey!)

Self-Love. Not a simple path. Practice Love; begin with self!

It is even difficult to go back to my last post and read my own words on this subject. How do I love self, the clumsy oaf who swept his pot from the counter in an over-exuberant flourish? But life hasn’t stopped and I must Love on!

My first step in working through the lesson today, the loss of another precious object, is to accept impermanence. It’s all just temporary, right? Let go. Yes, of course, grieve the loss. But within the grief is the built-in praise. I can certainly find gratitude for all the years of service the pot gave me. My memories of pouring tea from it, admiring the design, experiencing the beautiful color develop over the years of use are still with me to celebrate. This is another reminder of the cycle in everything; the pot began as dirt in a ditch in China; the dirt was harvested, hopefully with ceremony, thanksgiving and praise; then it was processed into clay, worked, hand-shaped, finished and fired; somehow it made it all the way from China to me safely; and now it returns to dust.

When I worked with micaceous clay in New Mexico with master potter, Felipe Ortega, we experienced the entire life-cycle of the clay. I made several small pots; and while my first attempts were nothing to take pictures of, they were special to me. One of the assignments, we later learned, was to sacrifice a pot to the Holy. We each broke one of our pots against a post as an offering, as a way of giving thanks for the clay and for our hands that shaped the clay, and the Holy who shaped us all. The shards remained in that spot for years afterward. And we each took a shard from that pile of rubble to grind down and incorporated into our next pot; the cycle was unbroken.

I can do this with a shard from my teapot. I can keep it going, giving, by recycling it in a personal and useful way. The object doesn’t go away, it only changes its shape. “Pots are fashioned from clay, but it’s the emptiness that makes a pot work.” – Taoteching, Ch. 11. The pot may be impermanent, but the clay is still there as is the emptiness!

As another step in the learning, can I turn the curse at my ill luck at breaking the pot into a blessing? This is another practice I learned in Bolad’s Kitchen with Martín Prechtel. Oh, yes, I did curse myself, my luck, my inattention, my carelessness, my mindlessness as I watched the pot tumble to the floor and become shards. Then I withdrew before my anger spilled over too far to hit others in the path of my negative energy, the antithesis of self-love. And I went inside for awhile. And as I write I am still processing, learning to do it through words coming from the inside rather than holding it all in where it churns and festers. Where are the blessings that come from this loss? In a sense I have already done some of this work, thanking the pot for its years of service. But what about me? Can I find a way to bless me through this lesson? This is where it gets really hard!

I am here, at the keyboard, writing words that will help me work through the curses that I can’t take back. I am letting go the anger, giving it to the compost heap where it can metabolize back into usefulness rather than metastasize within me. And I can recall the years with the pot and all the use it gave me and the care I gave it during those years; we took good care of each other for a good long time. And I can place the pot in a corner of my mind to remind me to come back, cycle back to the present moment. And I can know that the pot can help me pay attention to everything in the moment; to expand my awareness beyond a narrow focus and take in my environment, appreciating very thing around me and near and dear to me.

So, I bless myself for my deep thought, my appreciation for fine things, my attention to detail and my broad and extraordinary experiences that come together to inform and refine my approach to life, and the impermanence that threads through it All.

And with moist eyes I come back to Love, even self-love as I accept my blessings and learn a bit more about forgiveness.

Men and Emotional Health – Grief

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

In recent posts I’ve been writing about emotional health and balance. And just yesterday I included some thoughts about balancing yin and yang energies as we go inside to seek guidance, to switch on our internal GPS and determine if any course corrections are needed. In these turbulent times, the waning days of 2012, I’m finding the need to go inside frequently to establish balance and take a close look at my route forward!

And part of what is going on for me, what I’m working on is processing grief. Sometimes I look back on my life and sense that I’ve done a lot of grieving, and of working through the grief that so many men seem to feel. This goes back to the 80s and Robert Bly’s Mytho-Poetic Movement. He was all about the grief process and how little western society allows any real space for this emotion. Another of my teachers, I met him through Robert, addresses grief as one side of a coin; the other side is praise! This comes from Martín Prechtel (see my review of his most recent book).

What Martín offers is very much in keeping with the Taoist approach to transforming emotions to virtues which I addressed here a few days ago. For Taoists Grief is transformed to Inspiration.

Grief is a good way to end this series on the transformation of emotions. We in the west pay much too little attention to this deep emotion. It is our unexpressed, unprocessed, unmetabolized grief, even more than anger, which leads us into wars. Grief leaves us empty if we don’t deal with it. And we then fill that emptiness with aggression. A milder but still potent manifestation of this emotion is Disappointment. Here again we have no good way to process this. We need to learn to transform grief and disappointment to Awe, Inspiration and Praise. Again there is deep Inner Work needed to work through this emotion. Our stories help with understanding. Meditation helps with moving from Grief to Praise, from Disappointment to Inspiration.

Grief is often associated with death, of course. Death is the ultimate loss. When we lose something, especially a loved one, an emptiness opens up that is difficult to fill. When we go inside and touch that emptiness we too often shrink away from it. It is a cold and bitter sensation that we would rather avoid, cover up, fill in, and ignore. None of us likes that hollowness; it is painful!

So, how do we get to Inspiration and Praise from that lonely, empty place? How can we even suggest that there is Praise on the other side of Grief? When we lose someone truly close to us through death, we turn to celebrating a life lived well. We remember shared stories, inspiring moments together, important milestones on our shared journey. We find many ways to praise that life. And from the specific, from that loved one’s life, we can expand to celebrate Life, the larger cycle of Life and Death in the great context of Becoming.

Here we find connection. And through this connection to the Greater we can begin to fill in the empty hole in our middle. This is a lengthy process. It takes time and work, inner work, to reach for the connection; to move into the context of Life. This is where we find Inspiration and reason enough for Praise.

Grief to Praise. It is not an easy route; it takes time (more than the three days offered by businesses to employees for the death of loved ones!). It requires an expansion; the hole in the heart is not filled in but the heart expands to somehow accommodate the hole! Take the time for this expansion process. If you find yourself grieving, whether it’s for the loss of a loved one or some other great loss (job, home, youth, energy, health…) sit with it; touch it gently; move into the emptiness; begin to see the possibility for expansion. Do the inner work, a bit at a time as you can.

And remember to bless yourself in this great work!

A Review of “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic” by Martín Prechtel

March 22, 2012 4 comments

I recently finished reading Martín Prechtel’s latest book having preordered it and received it on its publication date. My long anticipation of the work and excitement to devour it in wholly massive gulps was only tempered by its importance and my savoring each bite as I moved through the elegant prose poem word by precious word treating each one as a seed for growth and understanding. This is a giant of a book unlike anything else out there. This work is itself an instruction manual for humanity to find an “unlikely peace” in this post-modern, post-everything chaotic world we are waking up to.

In the interest of full disclosure I first met Martín in 2002 at the Minnesota Men’s Conference. I had at that point read his first book, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, published in 1998. I have since read everything he has written multiple times and will continue to read his books for the rest of my life. Each is built of many layers of information, knowledge and wisdom. And I am currently a participant in his school, Bolad’s Kitchen, in his third group known as the New Sprouts.

That said, The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic is Martín’s most important work yet. It offers me many additional readings as I absorb each layer of the stories and the wisdom much like an archeologist peeling back the compost heap levels of ancient communities to reveal the underlying meaning and cultures that instruct us in ways to build a new community and a new culture in order to keep the seeds alive! These seeds are our seeds if we can find them. In fact these seeds are us. And they are vital to the very survival of humanity.

At first blush the part of the subtitle: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants, sounded a bit strange to me, and intriguing. Martín explains his meaning here very clearly, again in the extraordinarily multivalent way he has of bringing together complex thoughts and concepts into juxtaposition to deepen the understanding of his meaning. Read the book to discover for yourself how true this exploration of people as plants is!

As I read this book I found myself chuckling at the humor in the stories and anecdotes from his time in Guatemala. More often the tears would come as I went through both grief and inspiration as the words sank slowly into my psyche, almost at once plunging me into the depths of despair and rising to the heights of confidence and optimism as I with Martín consider the human condition and our future.

If you have had the privilege of meeting Martín you will hear him, see him and sense his very presence as you read his words. It is so good to have him close, just here on my shelf! And if you have not yet met him this is a wonderful opportunity to begin your journey toward an “unlikely peace” with yourself and your fellow humans! You will meet Martín on this journey.

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic ended much too soon for me. The work is totally satisfying and certainly complete meeting all the promises of the delicious title and the enticing Part and Chapter titles. I just wasn’t ready to let Martín go; I wanted to keep his voice in my head. So, I went back to his earlier book: The Toe Bone and the Tooth (now published as Stealing Benefacio’s Roses) to again savor that sumptuous feast and retain his voice echoing through my whole body down to the very core, that seed within!

If you have any sense that the indigenous cultures of humanity have something to teach us, if you are interested at all in how we can resuscitate a culture from the mess we are now in, if you have ever prayed for peace, if you love stories, if you are intrigued by the title, if you find yourself wondering where the human family is going, then read this book. It is important. It is powerful. It will make you cry – and laugh. And you will love yourself just a little bit more for having read it!