Category: Musings

The sky came first and then the earth. It’s what birds know and trees and clouds. Here I am up on a mountain in the Himalayas in love with the sky. The sky is teaching me. I’ve rarely noticed the sky before – just a glance to check the weather. But here in the mountains of Ladakh, we sit and walk and live in silence so close to the sky. I never knew I could love the sky.

Thank you room of my own
For holding all that was in me

All of the bits and pieces
of my quest to find Elinor.

I came scattered
And I leave whole.

This monk time
Of silence and work,

Of calming down,
Rejecting distractions,

Focusing, walking,
Sitting, breathing,

Sleeping in the loft
Like Heidi,

Remembering, thinking, 
Hunting for the core

Here, where I sit alone with myself 

And with you.

Hold Loosely

Susan Hadler May 5, 2014

ElephantsWhen he was young in Africa, he said,

people held things loosely.

Nothing was yours to keep.

Life and death forever present –

you held things lightly

and you felt at home wherever you went.

You were part of everything – baobab trees, elephants, and people,

and everything was part of you.

P102002DucksSunday morning I noticed my mind going into a frenzy of worry about some small thing and decided to take a walk.  After walking awhile I stopped at the fountain in Malcolm X Park to watch a family of ducks.  Watching the ducks reminded me of standing and breathing with the nuns in Plum Village (Stillness is a Door), silent and still, with enough inner space to know that I was alive and part of an amazing world.

I remembered other times when I felt alert and undistracted, attentive, and happy to Giraffbe alive.

Still sleepy I stopped by the local coffee shop this morning.  While waiting for my chai I glanced into a round, leaf-framed mirror and jumped back.  The face in the mirror was that of a young, dark-skinned man, not the familiar pink-skinned face I was expecting.  Chuckling, I saw that the mirror was a wreath, a Christmas decoration, not the mirror I had assumed it to be.

P1010987Standing tall now where he fell then as a young soldier,

my father is a tree.

First he became earth, then he sprouted,

grew a mottled trunk and branches.

By the time I found him he was fifty years tall,

head in the sky, arms embracing life.

I find him in trees everywhere.

He is the light that comes from darkness.


Slowing down, waking up,

standing, breathing.

A heron glides down to the pond

and folds it’s wings.

Silence is a window.

Stillness is a door.

  The heron flaps its wings

 and flies.

I wrote this poem during my first stay in Plum Village in 2001.  After leaving the stone meditation hall at dawn, I joined a row of eight brown-robed sisters standing in a line on the hill above the lotus pond.  A heron appeared as we stood in silence watching the sky turn red and orange and gold.