Coffee Poems

Like most things we currently need to lift our spirits and keep us surrounded by an illusion of safety and security, this book–like face masks–is not easily attainable. There is no Kindle version, and the book itself is on back-order. However, we take pleasure where we can, and the first pages, offered for perusal on Amazon, are a comforting international mix of memories–including images of cafes and coffee shops we once took for granted. 

Instead of heading to the local bookshop to touch the texture of the front of the book, consider sitting in your kitchen near your Keurig, savoring the first poems in the collection, with the pleasure that poetry and coffee still afford us, even when we sit alone. 

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March 29

In Richard Rohr’s 2019 The Universal Christ, Rohr argues for a broader understanding of the divine–one that encompasses multiple and wider belief systems. I almost hate to reference the book title for fear that those with liberal or no religious inclinations will shut out what I am about to observe.

Please stay with me.

Rohr argues for the importance of this life, the one we are living now, saying, “What you choose now, you shall have later.” Part of any heavenly experience, he argues, is happening right now, and so we cannot “jump over this world or its woundedness.”

I understand that he means our love now connects us to the divine; we cannot wallow in our losses, live in the past, or refuse love and joy here and now if we hope for love and joy in the future. We do not forget our deep loves and losses, but we wrap our arms around life and light and love despite our wounds.

Incidentally, for those who are less conventional, I have received this message through many experiences, including more than one message from mystics.

Also, see below a short review (Feb. 16) for Falling Upward, my favorite (so far) of Rohr’s books.


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March 15

 

“It was the prettiest afternoon, all breezy and yellow-green with a sky the unreal blue of a Noxzema jar” when Abby fell in love with her husband Red, but the sunshine fades a bit as Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread unwinds. That’s not to say that the novel is without its bright spots.

Readers will view Tyler’s twentieth novel through their own literary lenses–that is, those with a penchant for literary realism and family drama will like/love and relate to the story, and those hoping for a bit of literary romanticism might be disappointed.

Almost every reader’s life will coincide with someone or some event portrayed within the book, and the characters are finely drawn. The story unfurls like its title: connected, compelling, binding. But those hoping for redemption and an uplifting lesson might have to puzzle long and hard. Those hoping primarily for an expertly threaded tale will have a satisfying time of it.

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March 8

Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor

The 2002 collection of poems, often read on NPR’s The Writers Almanac, is as warm as the voice that has performed the poems on air for years. The specific poem from the collection, offering optimism for this week, was written by Sheenagh Pugh and is entitled “Sometimes.”

Sometimes

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

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Feb. 23

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett provokes thought, yes, but its most compelling feature is its allure. I found myself thinking, “When can I continue reading? How can I possibly wait to find the time and quiet to follow this story?”

Although at first I had my doubts that Ann Patchett could realistically pull off the voice of a young male narrator, she did so admirably. 

The Dutch House is a story of a physical paradise lost and found, though in the love and spirit realm the losses seem so great that readers are left to marvel at resilience. This novel makes us begin again to understand that what goes around comes around.

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Feb. 16, 2020

Falling Upward is a transformational book. Period. Full stop.

Our paradigms, after reading this book, are likely to be forever shifted, leaving us to understand through a different lens all that has happened and is happening in this “second half of life.”

A Franciscan monk, Rohr honors all spiritual traditions and offers hope for awakening to the mystery and deep spiritual understanding that can only develop after we attempt to come to terms with losses, failings, regrets, ambitions, and ego mistakes prevalent in the “first half of life.” 

This is a book of hope and mercy, of straight-forwardness and authentic communication. Rohr’s scholarship lends credibility to his observations. He draws on the wisdom of cultural stories and myths, biblical and other sacred texts, as well as his own action and experience.  Although it is difficult to choose one passage as an example of the depth of the book, this paragraph exploring our “second halves of life” provides a good preview:

“Poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mary Oliver, David Whyte, Denise Levertov, Naomi Shihab Nye, Rainer Maria Rilke, and T.S. Eliot now name your own inner experience, even if you have never read poetry before. Mystics like Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Baal Shem Tov, Lady Julian of Norwich, and Rabia will speak to you perhaps more than people from your own tradition–whereas before you did not know, or did not care, what they were talking about. Like Jesus, you may soon feel as though you have “nowhere to lay your head,” while a whole set of new heads are now making sense to you! This is true politically, too. In fact, if your politics do not become more compassionate and inclusive, I doubt whether you are on the second journey.”

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