Music

 

 

 

“music despite everything”

 

when she died they showed
us her photo, just in case
we didn’t remember

crooked pigtails atop her head
not quite even, and never bows

a scratchy voice through a crooked smile
shouted down the hall

feet tromped crashing
her entrance into quiet study rooms

her laugh, oh, her boisterous belly laugh
that only sings in memory

 

“music despite everything”

 

the batter’s up
the crack and soar
the roar
no longer plays through our house

an empty chair
two ball caps side by side
one for yard work, one for dress
no longer a head to wear them

Girlie, don’t forget to…
I always was, will always be his girlie

 

“music despite everything”

 

silent snownight
coyote chortle
morning bird song
seasons pass as I rise,
my God and my all

“music despite everything”

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Author’s Note:

Today was a deep breath in a week that needed a cleansing.

Stephanie Dunlap led a group of us at A Church of the Holy Family,  in a safe and powerful writing retreat. Thank you so very much, Stephanie.

Through quick writes and sharing we grew through the morning, freeing our voices, and sharing our stories.

The prompt that spoke to me – music despite everything –  was from a line in A Brief for the Defense, a poem by Jack Gilbert.

I am continually grateful to have opportunities that gently lead me to explore my life through writing. And today I found a place to include my mantram from St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer – My God and my all.

With much heartfelt peace for this day of wonder,

Lexanne

 

P.S.

We ended with another prompt that caught my heart. Write a letter to God.

Holy One,

I give to you all I am
that which has always
been Yours

I surrender
to the dark unknown
and open my
heart

I place my hand
in Your open palm,
I need no other

With reverence for all,
beings who talk and sing,
crawlers and fliers,
swimmers and those
who simply are

I trust,
no longer forging my way,
in gratitude
I rest, I rest, I rest in You

 

 

Filters, Poems by Lexanne Leonard

It is with great joy and gratitude that I announce the publication of my first book of poetry at Amazon. com.

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I discovered my love of writing in 2009 at the Colorado Writing Project. For two weeks teachers of elementary school students gathered to expand our skills in the teaching of writing. What we didn’t know was that we were going to be asked to become writers ourselves. The mornings were filled with research and lesson plans and the sharing of ideas. In the afternoons, we wrote. There I discovered I am a writer.

Fast forward a few years and another milestone in my life came as I stepped away from the Roman Catholic Church and found Fr. Scott Jenkins at A Church of the Holy Family. It is a Catholic, but not Roman, church of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. The ECC truly welcomes all.

Here I found a love for the arts – poetry, theatre, music, visual. I also found a place that creates space for Passage Meditation and numerous ways to pray and learn to live a Christ-centered life through a Celtic lens.

Soon I was writing and acting in plays, designing liturgy and liturgical space, composing prayers, and most important to my journey, writing lots of poetry. Filters is an encapsulated account of my faith journey.

During this time my monologues were published in two editions of Audition Monologues for Young Women compiled by Gerald Lee Ratliff. My poetry is included in How To Write A Poem by Tania Runyan, published by T.S. Poetry Press. Two of my poems will be seen in Casual next April 2016 in Tweetspeak Poetry‘s e-book for National Poetry Month.

Finally, my Advent devotional commissioned by A Church of the Holy Family will be available on Amazon.com this coming Advent season.

I thank all of my family at Holy Family, as well as my husband, Leroy Leonard, Fr. Scott Jenkins, and Kathleen Gorman for their unwavering faith me. They gave me the encouragement, the hard-ass-stick-to-it-lady-you-can-d0-its, and led me to discover in myself where the Divine resides. I now realize that I actually do have a ministry – sharing the Word though poetry and theatre.

I am deeply grateful for the harvest of this season.

 

 

Forget-Me-Not

Lea sat criss-cross in front of the bookcase staring down at the Persian rug underneath her.

The small round rug was in the alley behind Roe’s apartment the night Roe cut his wrists. Lea tripped over it as she ran home after the ambulance left. She kicked it and the rug unrolled itself a bit offering a glimpse of intricate patterns woven into a thick pile. It whispered to her in the throws of painful bellows. It was soft, and surprisingly clean.

She picked it up and held it close to herself and walked the rest of the way home.

That night Lea placed the rug in front of the bookcase. It made its place there for when she needed sit to center herself, or remember Roe.

Now, all Lea could do was stare at the rug.

She didn’t understand why these things always happened to her. Why was it when things started going smoothly, like with Roe and their two years together, that blackness always seeped in, blackness like tar oozing from a pit that snared unwitting dinosaurs on their journey.

This morning Lea decided it was time to scrub away some black tar. It was time. Roe was gone now. Summer was waning. Lea needed to say a final goodbye.

Her photo of Roe and herself sitting on the horse standing on the big red chair in front of the Denver Art Museum once sat on the bookshelf. That space was cleared away the Night The Rug Came Home. That’s what she called it. The Night The Rug Came Home. It was easier to say that instead of what it really was. The bookshelf was ready.

She bought a new candle at the carniceria. It had a picture of Jesus with his large red heart in the center of his chest surrounded by a ring of thorns and light coming out as if it was a red sun. That’s how Lea thought of Roe’s heart, big and shining but circled in pain.

She still needed a vase. The ARC store had just what she was looking for.

It was bronze and it was beautiful sitting on a rose-patterned scarf draped over the glass case filled with old jewelry. The lines were soft, round and smooth like her belly. Swirls dipped freely down from the rim curling around the vase much like her own hair around her head. But tarnish had made it less desirable. The vase was a lot like Lea.

The lid on the vase sat firmly in the rim, remarkably like the knitted cap she was wearing. Lea wore the cap all year round. She liked the feeling of a hat grasping tightly around her head. It was almost as if it pushed her into the ground so she wouldn’t float away. There were days when she wanted to just throw off the cap and fly, but she knew the time wasn’t right yet.

Lea bought the vase, even though it was much too expensive. She would deal with that at a later time when bills needed to be paid. It was one of her gifts. She never had money to spare, but she always had enough for what she needed.

On the way home she would go past Zara’s house. Zara, the old woman from Russia, always allowed her and Roe to pick flowers from her garden. Zara would tell the two what the flowers meant and how you could use them as medicine or for tea or in love potions. So they always made a point of choosing new ones each time they visited. Even though the two friends had been picking flowers for two summers out of Zara’s yard, there were always new species with new meanings and purpose each time they visited.

Today, Lea would let Zara pick the flowers in memory of Roe. She didn’t think she could do it. Zara would probably insist that Lea choose them, but Lea would be strong and say, “No.” Zara would understand.

And that’s how it happened. Lea entered her apartment with an fist full of forget-me-nots.

She set the flowers on the kitchen counter and proceeded to fill a pitcher with water. She grabbed some matches, the flowers, the pitcher, and proceeded to the rug.

Lea arranged the items around the rug and sat down in the middle, legs crossed, hands cupped together in her lap. After several deep breaths, she began the prayer from the Sutta Nipata.

 “May all beings be filled with joy and peace.”

Lea lit the match.

“May all beings everywhere,
The strong and the weak,
The great and the small,
The mean and the powerful,
The short and the long…”

She lit the candle and placed her hands around the belly of the vase.

“The subtle and the gross.
May all beings everywhere,
Seen and unseen,
Dwelling far off or nearby…”

She picked up the pitcher ready to pour the water into the vase.

“Being or waiting to become…”

Lea pulled off the lid and began to pour.

“May all be filled with…”   “Fuck!”

Water streamed all over the rug mixed with a black gritty substance.

Lea sat criss-cross in front of bookcase staring down at the Persian rug underneath her.

Ashes.

They were someone’s fucking ashes.

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Author’s Note:

Today our Wednesday Afternoon Writers met for lunch and a bit of writing. The wonderful thing about a writing group is not just the writing but the fellowship that grows out of it. Thank you writers, Niki, Dorothea, Shelia, Sandy, Gracie, Crystal, and Diane. And we were serenaded by Wayne on the piano while sipping mimosa and eating food to delight all.

My prompt pulled from an envelope:

At a garage sale, your character buys an antique urn she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase. But when she gets home, she realizes they are someone’s ashes.

 

Little by Little

If I don’t still myself I can’t welcome the birds. It is
against the backdrop of silence I hear them. Little by

little their being unfurls. First the loudest, closet to
my ear. When I release into you, relax in your arms,

beauty erupts. Flap of wing, flash and whirr, a trill
between two lovers. I hear. I don’t need to see. But

I must welcome silence first. Little by little
I become One with your Incarnation.

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Author’s Note:

Sorry, but this note is a bit long.

I go to a retreat house several times a year. Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House is a silent house, unless there is a group retreat where the participants are encouraged to share in their workshop. However, they are still required to keep silent in the rest of the house, as well as on the grounds outside. Being that this is new for most, whispered conversations, stolen giggles or phone calls home can ring through the house without the suspects suspecting anything. One does not realize how expertly silence carries sound. I don’t mind. I understand.

But this weekend there are no groups. There are only ten of us and the silence is luscious.

Except for the birds. Oh, the birds.

I have never heard such a choir in my life. It has continued through day, except for an occasional pause allowing them to listen, along with us, to the thunderstorms.

My poem came from my wide reading so far this weekend.

Nadia Bolz Weber‘s homily at the 2015 Festival of Homiletics regarding Jesus instructing his disciples to become-child like is refreshing. Also, I so welcome her choice of referring to God as God, not Him or even Her. Thank you.

Also, informing this poem is a group that is new to me. Street Psalms makes a home in Denver and my pastor, Scott Jenkins, works with them. This quote from their e-mail scripture lesson spoke volumes to me. It is adapted from their book, Geography of Grace: Doing Theology from Below, Chapter 4, by Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke

“The Apostle Paul uses another metaphor to unpack the incarnation in  Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for us to do.” The Greek word here for workmanship is poiema. For Paul, the incarnation means that “we are God’s poetry” to the world. God is speaking poetry to us and through us to the world.

It is our distinct privilege to be in community with people in hard places who live as God’s poetry in this world enfleshed in human form. Raising up poets to incarnate God’s gospel song to lost, disenfranchised, and marginalized people is a vital enterprise.”

I cannot live my spiritual life without my home base. This weekend I am reading Eknath Eswaran‘s A More Ardent Fire, bringing me back to the basics of passage meditation and discovering the path to the Way of Love and the Way of Knowing. Thanks to my meditation partner, Kathleen Gorman, for this brilliant suggestion.

Finally, I am memorizing a new passage for mediation. Who would think that this would tie everything together – even using some of the same terminology spread throughout my reading – as it was chosen first before the other readings came to me.

Ah, yes. Synchronicity.

St. Teresa of Avila:

Her heart if full of joy in love
for in the Lord her mind is still
She has renounced all selfish attachments
and draws abiding joy and strength
from the One Within.
She lives not for herself, but lives
to serve the Lord of Love in all,
and swims the sea of life
breasting its rough waves joyfully.

Here are some photos of birdies I snapped on my walks.

I don't know birds, but this one was lovely.

I don’t know birds, but this one was lovely.

Look closely. Little green hummingbird walking with me.

Look closely. Little green hummingbird walking with me.

This tiny little one was so precious, not bold in color But the song was glorious.

This tiny little one was so precious, not bold in color. But the song was glorious.

 

At first I thought he was imagining himself a bird. Then I noticed he was just looking t himself in the clouds.

At first I thought he was imagining himself a bird. Then I noticed he was just looking at himself in the clouds. His little paw is balancing himself on the tree limb. 

 

Wonder

If we stand in one place and never move,
if we brick our house around us,
we will never see the wonder that
has been gifted to us.

Wonder changes as the seasons, grows
and wanes. At times there is joy, other
heartbreak. If we are safe behind high
walls of surety, we will never feel Wonder.

Only when we let go to Wonder,
the changes, embrace questions so
we can look for answers, only then
we come face to face with Wonder,
only then we see.

Be Wonder-filled, do not be afraid.
Light is always there, unchanged,
with love, deep love that never
changes. Be you, that’s Wonder.

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Author’s Note:

I wrote this for a friend, one who inspires me. I don’t think this friend will mind that I am sharing it.

There seems to be a theme today on social media. This fits. I am always amazed at how things fit.

A prayer by St. Teresa of Avila comes to mind, also. I use it as part of my daily passage meditation. this is a translation by Eknath Eswaran, founder of the Blue Mountain Center for Meditation.

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing frighten you.
Everything is changing.
God alone is changeless.
Patience attains the goal.
She who has God lacks nothing.
God alone fills every need.

Light Electric

I smell fall in
the rain tonight,
not bright and green,
crisp in spring’s newness
but a little musty,
a gentle touch layered
in seasoned experience.

I think of your smile
not a youthful grin
drunk on life
but a perfected bow
knowing its pleasure
patient in experience

As clouds relinquish
the first lightning on this
passing autumnal equinox,
so I surrender myself to You
ablaze, alive in Light Electric.

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Author’s Note:

This evening of the passing of the autumnal equinox it rained and a rainbow appeared. Later the sky glowed electric with lightning bolts in the distance.

My friend Kathie Kelly, my meditation satsang buddy at A Church of The Holy Family, challenged me to write a poem. I began this poem last evening and tonight’s light show helped me complete it. My apologies to Whitman.

My Child, A Lament for Peace

My child,
Never forget you are
a child of the Beloved,
rocked in her gracious arms,
held safe under his gaze.
You are a child of the Beloved.
Not one of you turned away.
Not one of you held closer
than the other.

My child,
You are sisters and brothers of
one another, one family in the Beloved.
The earth does not belong to you,
its land and fruits, all gifts to be shared,
gifts to be tended,
just as the Beloved nurses you.

My child,
you are a child of the Beloved.
Not one of you more precious,
not one of you more cherished
than the other.
Mother and terrorist,
teacher and gunman,
oppressed and the oppressor,
rest in the lap of the Beloved
swathed in forgiveness,
all made whole.

My child,
do not forget you are a child
of the Beloved, compassion
and grace rain down upon you
with boundless, unselfish passion.

My child,
Child of the Beloved,
in gratitude,
be a mirror of your Beloved.

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Author’s Note:

I struggled for a long time with how to write this poem. What form it should take? What exactly did I want to say?

I am a first grade teacher. Sandy Hook.

I live in Aurora. The Aurora Movie Theatre Shooting.

I live in Colorado. Columbine.

I am a United States citizen. 911.

The rest of the world has experienced terrorism for millennia, much longer and more intimately than I have. These current killings – Gaza and Ukraine – brought me back to the empty page.

I don’t know if it is due to my recent study of the Gospel of John with Fr. Scott Jenkins at my church. If it is the Celtic kirtan chant project I am involved in, with Macushla introducing me to the Irish lament. My recent immersion into Mary Magadlene, giving voice to her story in a monologue I wrote and will be performing later this year. Or my satsang friend, a mother, with a daughter in Israel and another friend, a mother, whose mother and father live in Palestine. It must be combination of all of these events and people that kept me from sleep this evening, muses that finally led me to this poem.

The insanity of killing one another must stop. I don’t know how, but I think it is summed up in a quote I read earlier this night from an Israeli. In response to a call for prayer from the Book of Isaiah, he said rather eloquently and simply:

“AMEN to Shalom over ego.”

I wish you peace this night and a blessing of surrender of ego.

 

 

Here is one of Macushla’s songs, “We Are Beloved of God.”