Sunday, December 22, 2019

Life Unstifled

Slow walk
     my breath
          hold it
Pause fretting to allow
     fragments of light
          from the periphery
Pulsating glimpses of
Life stories unstifled
     hope lifted from
Enfold pernicious
     despair into
          love reservoir
Reminder to
     control the focus
          decide the feeling
Standing off balanced
     in the mud
          seeing still the stars
Once and always
     move forward with         
         hope infused story

     Kang Koo Ri was lifted from the lifeless form of his mother in a valley of death and taken to the
orphanage. He would not--could not smile until the little girl broke through. When I took the picture
during the forgotten war in 1952, he was more like the little boy who couldn't stop smiling.  I was reminded of their story when I wrote this poem.
     *I tell more of the story in my YouTube video "The Little Boy Who Wouldn't Smile".

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Soul Focus  
6,544 miles away
     fifty years in
          the rear view
Pilgrims welcomed
     contemplation imprinted
          to emerge time to time
Zazen discipline
     introduced redirecting
          wandering minds
Weary travelers
     surrendered to the moment
          eased the soul
Truth pulled through time
     meandering life choices
          now reliving moments
Footnoting the negatives
     counting the Yes
          opening to the possible
Emptying the trash of
     misused dreams
          restarting the balance wheel
Worth the trip
     still surprised by joy 
          a clearer focus
Fifty years
     and counting

     It was the winter of 1969. A down-in-the-dumps student was hiding out in the campus ministry lounge. I was her campus pastor. I pushed, "What would you like to do, where would you like to go?" Finally,  a timid tearful response, "Japan, I suppose, but that will never happen." I ran with that.
     Long story shortened: the next summer, 16 of us, mostly students, took a self-guided independent tour in Japan. We booked our own travel and made our own arrangements with friends we mostly met along the way. 
     We spent a night in a Zen Buddhist Monastery on Lake Biwa. At 4;30 in the morning a monk beat on the prayer board, calling us to a Zazen meditation practice that brought the three week trip into focus. The student said it was the best part of the whole trip.                                                                                  Max

         Cannot avoid death
          Moments passing
          Value this moment
          Things change quickly
      *Prayer board inscription