heart and soul Poetry

Mercy and Starting Afresh.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I rise early. In the quiet moments of dawn, when the world seems to hold its breath, I find the gentle, yet profound, presence of mercy. There is no searching, no pleading. It comes knocking, seeking me out, wanting me to leave yesterday and start over. 

As I navigate disappointments, errors, and unmet expectations, the concept of mercy  becomes not only a balm but a transformative force.

 I wrote a poem about mercy. Although it is quite simple, it is exactly how I experience it. The poem is untitled in my second collection ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing’, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s call it ‘The Dawn of Mercy.’

The Dawn of Mercy

'Morning knocks on my window.
I lift the latch 
And let her in.
Mercy spills into the room
And gets all over me.'

In these lines, I attempt to show how mercy is a daily renewal. The act of opening the window is symbolic of my need and willingness to receive, to be enveloped and changed by this gentle force. I have found that mercy, in its quiet power, does not merely visit; it transforms, covering me, offering a fresh start, a new perspective.

The Echoes of Forgiveness

In another piece, poet Maya Angelou offers a reflection on the nature of mercy through the prism of forgiveness:

"The sun has come.
The mists have gone.
We see in the distance...
our long way home.
I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out of time."

Angelou’s words speak to the enduring quality of mercy that exists within the fabric of love and forgiveness. The imagery of the clearing mists and the dawning sun parallels the process of moving through pain and misunderstanding towards a place of clarity and reconciliation. It is a reminder that mercy is not just about the forgiveness we extend to others but also about the grace we allow ourselves, acknowledging our shared humanity, our capacity for error, and our potential for redemption.

The River of Compassion

The poet Rumi offers another facet of mercy in his work:

"The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
Don't turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place.
That's where the light enters you."

I love this poem. Rumi’s perspective invites us to view our wounds, our failures, and our disappointments not as mere sources of pain but as openings for growth, understanding, and ultimately, mercy. It is in our most vulnerable moments that the possibility for true compassion—towards ourselves and others—emerges. This poem encourages me to embrace my imperfections, to see them as the very sites where healing and mercy can begin their work.

Starting Afresh: The Mercy of New Beginnings

The common thread that weaves through all these poems is the transformative power of mercy. It is a force that does not ignore our flaws but lovingly acknowledges them, offering a pathway to healing and renewal. Mercy invites us to turn the page, to see every sunrise as an opportunity to start afresh, unburdened by the past.

In my life, this means forgiving those who have wronged me, or perhaps, more challengingly, forgiving myself. It involves a commitment to seeing the world through a lens of compassion, recognizing that everyone has their struggles, their ‘bandaged places’, and that we are all, in one way or another, in need of mercy.

heart and soul life lessons Poetry

Begin with wonder: The Art of Starting the Year in Awe.

Embracing the Beauty of Early Mornings

There’s something amazing about early mornings. Imagine this: It’s only 7 AM, and already your eyes are wide with bright luminous colour as you take in multiple rainbows that span the sky. When I wrote these lines, I wasn’t just referring to the beauty of the combination of sunrise and rain but also about the possibilities that each new day holds.

Early mornings have long been my favourite time of the day. I love the cool, crisp air, and the gentle hues that paint the sky. I love the quiet before the day’s hustle. – a moment of peace and potential. For me, it is a time for reflection, for setting intentions, and for appreciating the simple beauty that brims in my front garden.

Learning from ‘Phosphorescence’ by Julia Baird

I’ve just finished reading “Phosphorescence,” by Julia Baird. In this book she talks about finding awe and wonder in the natural world. She delves into how awe can help us lead happier, more fulfilling lives. This message aligns perfectly with the sentiment of my short poem. Baird encourages us to find our “phosphorescence,” those moments or things that light us up from within.

Starting the year in awe is about intentionally seeking moments of wonder in the everyday – a stunning sunrise, the tranquility of a quiet morning, or the simple act of watching the world wake up. These experiences ground us, reminding us of the beauty and wonder that exist in the world, even amidst chaos and routine.

The Power of Awe in Daily Life

Awe isn’t just a pleasant feeling; it’s a powerful tool. Studies have shown that experiencing awe can lead to increased happiness, decreased stress, and even a more profound sense of connection to others and the world around us. When we start our year (and each day) seeking out awe, we set ourselves up for a more positive and connected life.

This approach to life is about slowing down, being present  and appreciating the world in its full splendour. When we pause to observe the beauty around us, we’re not just seeing it; we’re feeling it, and it becomes a part of us. This practice can transform our outlook on life, making us more grateful, more compassionate, and more attuned to the beauty in others.

Making Awe a Daily Habit

So, how do we make this a part of our daily lives? It starts with intention. Wake up a little earlier and take a moment to watch the sunrise. Spend a few minutes in silence, sipping your morning coffee, and just being. As you go about your day, look closer – the way the light filters through the trees, the sound of laughter, a bird on a wire. 

Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for Living a Life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” When I read this short yet stirring quote, I decided to put Mary’s advice to work.  The process – paying attention, observing life’s nuances and subtleties. In this attentiveness, astonishment naturally blooms, awakening me to the wisdom and wonder found in the natural world. The result – my second collection ‘A Strong and Fragile thing’. 

A Year of Wonder Awaits

Starting the new year in awe isn’t just about enjoying the beauty around us. It’s about finding joy and meaning in the small things and connecting more deeply with the world and people around us. As you step into this new year, remember my poem, Mary Oliver’s words and Baird’s insights. Be inspired to look for wonder, awe, and phosphorescence. Here’s to a year of consuming rainbows, not just at 7 AM, but at any time we are still enough to notice. 

The poem featured in this post is part of a collection called ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing’, musings in reflection of the wisdom and wonder found in the natural world. It is available from bookstores worldwide.

heart and soul

Hopeful New Beginnings: Embracing a Fresh Start.

I remember writing this poem. I was walking a beach not too far from where I live. The ocean loomed that day. In my mind, I was searching for something to hang onto, which means, I was looking for words. Something I could say aloud and repeat over and over to prevent myself from going to a dark place.

Some words sound better when read aloud. When voiced, they come to life. They have a kind of rhythm, a kind of feeling that you can’t experience when you read silently. Speaking words aloud allows us to experience them. When spoken this poem becomes a declaration.

This is the hope we hold, the new will forever dawn.

The first line came to me as a kind of lifeline. It suggests that, despite challenges and setbacks, things will not always be the way they are. The night will end and the day will come, and then another day, and another, and another. 

Essentially what this means to me is, here, where I am right now, is not forever. Something new is coming, and for a lot of us, including me, that feels like hope. 

And although better does not rise with every new day,

Of course, we know that every new day doesn’t automatically mean things will get better. Even though days keep coming, improvement isn’t guaranteed with each sunrise. 

This line acknowledges the silent ‘middle’ we often experience on the way to better days. It speaks to the less noticeable, transitional moments when we’re in the process of moving forward.

During this “middle” period, it might seem like not much is happening on the surface, but beneath the surface, there’s often growth, learning, and preparation.

the backflow of life proves with time, that generosity, kindness and forgiveness are as forceful if not more, than ever the deepest realms of fear,

On the beach that day, I was aware of fear. I was afraid that newness would not come. I feared I would be stuck in pain and confusion forever. To counteract my fear, I asserted to myself that I would try to be generous, kind and forgiving even as I experienced lack, heartache and anger. 

These words suggest that good and goodness are powerful. Even if we are scared that things won’t get better, that the night will never end, we can make the hard times fruitful as we practice generosity, kindness, forgiveness and the like. 

and will with fixed intent, deliver unto us manifold facets of love.

Generosity, kindness and forgiveness are different expressions of love. As I use my power to practice these things even in hard times, I believe I will see them show up in my own life. This is not a transaction where doing one thing guarantees a specific result. This is simply an expression of faith that in being loving I will become less controlled by fear.  

Say the words you need to hear.

So, my friends, what do you need to say aloud that will foster hope in this season? What words do you dare to proclaim at the start of a new year? I say, write the words you need to read. Say the words you need to hear. Throw yourself a lifeline. Embrace a fresh start, even if you’re still waiting for daylight, by penning a poem, a paragraph, heck, even just a sentence to hitch a little hope to your heart. 

The poem featured in this post is part of a collection called ‘Beyond the Safety of Trees‘ available from bookstores worldwide. Immerse yourself in a symphony of 74 wilderness-themed poems and 40 evocative writing prompts.