Wednesday, January 26, 2011

what feeds my soul

           ~by Sylvia Levinson 

Yesterday it was the little red-headed bird
that lit on my balcony and poked its beak
among the sweet alyssum.

Last week, the December rainstorm,
water curtain spilling
from the leaf-filled eaves.

Last month, the bowed head of a classical guitarist
suspended over his instrument,
waiting as the final note disappeared.

It’s always something.
Every day there is something.

What “something” takes you out of the routine
and mundane and feeds your soul?

used by permission from Levinson's book Gateways: Poems of Nature, Meditation and Renewal, A Self-Guided Book of Discovery

Saturday, January 15, 2011

book reception

It was a cold January morning but I was eager for the day. Today would be our Spirit First reception in honor of publishing Moments of the Soul. What a great year it has been, with an abundance of beautiful words, the creation of a community of poets, and the birthing of a book. Today we would come together to celebrate what we have done.

Before the opening of the reception, we came together for our Spirit First monthly meditations (several poets from across the country who could not attend planned to meditate with us from afar). I love how this group of people from across the Washington, D.C., area has been learning how to come together to share the spirit of meditation. We have become a family. On this day we began by greeting each other silently, and the experience was so rich that we shall continue this as a regular practice in our gathering.  

After meditation, our book reception opened and our guests began to arrive—everyone coming was either a poet or a friend of a poet (thank you, Hershel…). It was all quite wonderful to meet everyone. 

Our first poet to read was A. Jarrell Hayes from Baltimore, author of “Stone Mind.” Jarrell was thoughtful enough to let the gathered crowd know his poem was on page 10 so they all could follow along (what a great idea…). “Enter the mind of wood, not of treetops and leaves swaying in the wind, but sturdy trunks which remain unmoving…”

Our second poet was Anne Whitehouse, who came to us from New York. Anne’s poem, “Blessing XXXV,” leads us to a place of meditation: “…My body fills with breath, my heart at front and center, thoughts dissolved, softening, deepening into the interval where a goddess passes by.”
Our next poet was Krista Kurth from Washington, D.C. Krista has two poems in our book, and she read for us from “Evening Grace.” The grace she described comes from a place of thanksgiving and brings peace…“Breathing in, I feel tiny tendrils of peace twirling and opening out, taking root, in the new found space in my day – in my heart – spreading warm comfort throughout – and – into my core, and with it ripples of expanding quiet joy.”

Our fourth poet was Carol Peck, from right here in Maryland. Carol first read “The End of Suffering” for us from her friend Stephen Cribari, who couldn’t be with us (he was in London). Carol then read to us her poem “Quaker Meeting,” showing us how we can carry our peace with us wherever we go (we also read this poem at our last month’s meditation gathering).

Our closing poet was Terry Quill (also from Maryland), whose poem “Silence and Stillness” has led to a bit of discussion. Terry explained how he wanted to create a page of silence in the middle of all the reading and how he hoped readers would understand (Terry’s poem was not part of the contest).

To the many friends who gathered with us to celebrate...thank you (I wish I could name you all here but I can't). You have been beautiful in your support and your love. 

I didn’t know anything about hosting a poetry contest or publishing a book, and all along I have been learning as I go. I am grateful to all of you for helping make it happen, grateful that it became “its own rich thing” (thank you, Lisa Dordal…I quite like quoting your poem). I have loved getting to know all of you. Your poems have become part of who I am.