Refuge

“This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.
Be bold. Be humble.
Put away the incense and forget
the incantations they taught you.
Ask no permission from the authorities.
Close your eyes and follow your breath
to the still place that leads to the
invisible path that leads you home.”
St. Theresa of Avila
Photo by Jay Manti

Prayer #4 (in the aftermath of rape)

Let me not do more than slam, hammer, pound
and send all the contents smashing against the ground,
the wall, glasses, books, whatever in the vicinity of this holy rage.

Let me not grind my teeth endlessly or linger too long
in the fantasy of obliterating the one who trampled innocence.

Call the gatekeepers, please.

Call the standard bearers, too.

Rouse the warriors against the wave of scurrying human cowardice
that reaches rapidly to blank out, redact accountability
and stroke, stroke, stroke the enablers.

Let me not be so done with children posing adulthood
so fury-blind that I alienate them every last one
in the fallout of the brutalization of one actual child.

Open our eyes to the beasts we pursue in the hopes to subdue,
subsume and subjugate, feeding our own inner monsters
while we weep under the light of the moon
wondering why our children have been devoured.

Stop the generational wreckage smash and crash
rolling through the fast lane in the here and now.
For once, end the long game, the one where the children pay
and pay, and pay for the violations of the fathers.

Keep us all sane, keep us all open to being better people
so the ones who’ve paid a price not their own,
can know safety in our presence.
Make our lives, our days, our minds, our hearts
and our actions a refuge from delusion and insanity.

Waken the dead, the walking dead
who thrive more in pretending love
than the doing of care, of forethought, of protection.

Wash over the blistering wounds made,
the whispering haunt and the innocence fade.
Conjure from the cracks a tree more resilient,
refusing that perpetual derision as it rolls downhill,
mocking how precious the sighs and pulse
of our children, our heritage, our hope.

Conjure creation’s cure, a resounding war cry,
calling from the heart of mother and father divine a raging justice,
insisting growth, smashing lies and building newness in the after.

photo by j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

 

Prayer #3 (for protesters)

Each step taken, every chant and cry,
every movement for justice,
every insistence on equal rights,
every standard and arm raised for safety,
for the end to brutality and racism at the hands of…

police, government, the system,

each one land home, right to the heart
of what brings true change, what sets aright
the system set in motion against humanity itself.

Revolutionize hope, radicalize grace.

Every effort met with heaven’s support,
earth’s nurturance and the flesh and blood strength
of all who embody truth and justice.

Each one held safely by love.

Prayer #2

Mother earth, Father sky, Creator, Love,
draw me out of grief’s clasp,
loose my fingers’ grasp ‘round the ways I failed,
the things I can’t unsay or unfeel,
the hapless, arrogant beliefs I held
about love, about people, about hope,
about value, about life itself,
the fool, the naked fool I so often was, and can be even now.

Strengthen my arms after decades-long holding
to love unrequited and unforgotten and eventually unknown.
Lift my eyes beyond the carnage, the years lost believing he/she/they
cared as I cared, felt as I felt, valued as I valued.
Help me to see the worth of the time as it clarified
who I am, who I am not and what I live for.

And what I do not.

Help me to embrace the inspiration those days were and may still be.
Help me to reclaim them in forgiveness and acceptance.
Deepen my capacity to love regardless,
to love fearlessly and to love wisely.

Open my arms wider to encircle my growing path,
to embiggen the reach of my grasp
and to dance for new joy with keener vision, and measured hope.

Prayer #1 (For Michael)

May your whole body/soul/spirit shift in alliance with the well-being
of eternal and perpetual grace, renewal and wholeness.

May you breathe deeply into your worth and know the love that upholds your life
and has held you close all of your days, even when you least felt that comfort.

May you stretch your arms out wide, reaching far and further still out to places
you feel most inhibited, afraid to reach for fear of rejection, for fear of vulnerability,
for fear of your own beauty being more than you can contain.

May every corpuscle, muscle, vein, artery, organ, system,
neural impulse, heartbeat, rumble of your being vibe with the jive of clarity,
unobstructed, unhindered, blossoming wellness.

May you soak up the sun of healing.

May you know the love that upholds us all as a bliss-force flowing
through every fiber of your being
as you breathe in, breathe out,
breathe deeply the life force sustaining us all.

j. ruth kelly, 2020, all rights reserved

Season’s Christalizations

“I love Jesus. I love the Pagan Solstice Christmas pine. I love Mother Earth, I love Goddess Shakti. I love my Buddha-heart. I love freedom from religious authority. I love the perfect consistency of my contradictions. I love luscious berries of fire and mistletoe clustered on the cross of paradox. I love the tree of life, where I am ripening fruit. I love the newborn sun.

And I love what my body says to my soul. ‘Every particle of me is made of Matter, Mater, Mother Dust, each atom a cathedral where pilgrims arrive from the stars to celebrate the miracle of flesh. O my soul, You irradiate the world through me. I am your dance. Let there be no more talk of our difference.’ And so after thousands of years of religious combat, my body and my soul are Christalized in one magnum mysterium.

And where does this mystery occur? In the nameless roadside shrine of my chest, in a flame that never stops burning yet has never been lit until Now. Here I celebrate the birth of God, who is this Breath.” Fred LaMotte

 

photo by j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2019

A Brave And Startling Truth

“A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.” Maya Angelou

The Unborn

“’The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn… You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”
Dave Barnhart

Circles and Curves

We wend and reach ’round curves,
our circles and circuits of intent.
And whether we mean them to or whether we’re oblivious,
our days become us as we stretch
towards sun’s warmth with hope,
and a strange courage revealed
only by life’s catastrophes.
While we break, our resilience refines itself
sifting through the bits left behind,
a quiet knowing we’ve yet to find,
and ’round another bend, a field of growth flourishes as we weep.
Though we sleep through days on end,
awaiting a less raging grief,
these circles and curves unfold us
eternally towards the sun.

j. ruth kelly, 2019