Three Poems…

by Melannie Svoboda SND on August 31, 2020

There was a problem with my blog this week, so many of you were not able to open it. But our IT people fixed the problem, so here’s this week’s blog. Thank you for your patience!

Today I’d like to share three of my poems with you. The first is unpublished. The other two are from two of my poetry books.

#1 “A Tree Wrapped in Fog”

(photo by Johannes Plenio – Pexels)

I pray facing the window, with the book on my lap.

As the morning light comes, I glance up and see

the ancient maple in my backyard. It is wrapped in fog.

“Wow!” I say breathlessly as I gaze upon it.

Then, recalling my purpose,

I direct my eyes back to the printed page.

But my rebellious eyes refuse to stay with the words.

They want to stay only with that tree.

I try to reason with them: “No, it’s time to pray.”

But they won’t listen. So, finally, giving in, I say, “Okay. You win.”

And together we lovingly contemplate the beauty set before us.

Sorry, Book. Sorry, Holy Words.

This morning a tree wrapped in fog wins my full attention

and becomes my morning prayer. Amen.

#2: “This Is Your Task in Life” (from my book When the Blue Heron Flies)

(photo by Andrea Piacquadio – Pexels)

This is your task in life:

First, befriend yourself.

Learn to enjoy being with you.

This is task number two:

Find good companions

who share your deepest longings

and are both cheerleader

and goad for you.

And your third task?

Find people in need

and pour upon them

the contents of your heart.

#3 “Strive Less, Be More” (from my book Picking Strawberries)

(photo by Jennifer Murray -Pexels)

Strive less, be more.

Do less, enjoy more.

Search less, wait more.

Buy less, have more.

Analyze less, notice more.

Conclude less, wonder more.

Fix less, accept more.

Judge less, ponder more.

Rush less, linger more.

Plod less, dance more.

Gripe less, thank more.

Control less, surrender more.

Condemn less, bless more.

Fear less, trust more.

For reflection:

Do any of these poems speak to you today? If so, which one(s) and why?

Do any of the words or phrases stand out for you today?

For poem #1: what is this poem saying about prayer?

For poem #2: would you add any other task in life?

For poem #3: which line(s) do you find the most challenging?

PS: Reminder: I’m giving a virtual retreat Oct. 3-4, sponsored by Mount St. Joseph Retreat Center in Maple Mount, KY. The opening conference is Friday at 6:30 pm (Central time). Saturday’s schedule is 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and includes conferences, handouts, breaks, and sharing. The cost is $60. Check the website for details: ursulinesmsj.org/retreat center. I hope to see some of you there!

Today’s video is the beautiful song “Memories Bring You Back” sung by the American Children’s Choir in Utah, founded by Masa Fukuda in 2001. (Thanks to Sister Sandy for directing me to this video!) Today is my deceased sister’s birthday, so I dedicate this song to her and to all of your deceased loved ones as well.

My sister Mary Ann…

There are no lyrics with the video, so I’ve typed some of them here:

Here’s to the ones that we got

Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not

‘Cause the dreams bring back all the memories

Of everything we’ve been through.

Close to the ones here today

Close to the ones we lost on the way

‘Cause the dreams bring back all the memories

and the memories bring back, memories bring back you.

There’s a time I remember, when I did not know pain

When I believed in forever, and everything would stay the same.

Now my heart feels like December when somebody says your name (ay, ay)

‘Cause I can’t reach out to call you, but I know I will one day, yeah…

Everybody hurts sometimes, everybody hurts someday, yeah

But everything’s gonna be all right,

Go and raise your voice and say, ay…

There’s a time I remember when I never felt so lost

When I felt all the hatred was too powerful to stop (ooh, yeah)

Now my heart feels like an ember and it’s lighting up the dark

I’ll carry these torches for ya that you know I’ll never drop, yeah…

I invite you to respond below to anything in this blog. As you know, we love hearing from our readers!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia Torpie September 2, 2020 at 12:05 pm

I loved your poems, and all the poems. The singing of those lovely children and the song, Memories, was wonderful on this rainy day in CT. Thank you.
Pat

Reply

LJ September 2, 2020 at 3:28 pm

Thank you, Sister!

Reply

Shirley Sahlfeld September 2, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Thanks Sister, the poems were great and the song wonderful. Thanks again for your blog, I so enjoy getting it always!

Reply

Christine Bianco September 2, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Good afternoon Sister….so glad I could finally open this. I did not delete it, just kept trying, although I did spend some time with Samsung tech support who informed me that the problem was on your end. That aside, I loved all three poems, they all spoke to me in some way, but the first one struck me especially. So often when I am praying, I am distracted by what is happening around me, outside noises, the TV(which shouldn’t be on in the first place) and family life. Sometimes I start my morning devotions while I’m still in bed and wind up falling asleep. Then when I wake up I to have remember where I left off! I so enjoy your blogs and I’m glad you got the problem figured out so we could read it. Condolences on your deceased sister’s birthday and many blessings to you and your community!

Reply

Bill & Roberta September 2, 2020 at 5:12 pm

We called you yesterday, we were not able to read your blog for the first time in several years. I forgot to mention, but my wife reminded me, to tell you how lucky you are. Our pastor in a small country church in York Haven, was chosen to be the Fifth Bishop of Greensburg, PA. We miss him a lot, they don’t come like him very often. Now on September 14 he will become your Bishop in Cleveland, Lucky Lucky You and the Diocese of Cleveland.

Reply

Seeking Pilgrim September 2, 2020 at 6:20 pm

Melanie, I was able to get in today but website says “not secure”, which it neveer has before.
Poem #1: prayer can be non-traditional & not in a book, but sometimes Holy Spirit calls us to another place, such as nature.
Poem #2: the 3 tasks make a good reminder and mission statement for how we should live.
Poem #3: the grouping of opposites makes clear the right path leading to God

Thanks for your wonderful blog. I am a first-time responder but many years reader.

Reply

Susan Wigg September 2, 2020 at 9:39 pm

Beautiful poems, the first is my favorite. I often start my day with a cup of tea and my prayer books on the patio. Lately I’m distracted by the little yellow finches perched on the sunflowers having their breakfast. Then I’m reminded that we are all part of God’s universe.
Loved the song, my sister passed 10 years ago. She was my best friend, miss her every day.
Thanks Sister

Reply

Sunnie September 2, 2020 at 11:42 pm

Love, love the children’s choir. And your weekly blog.

Reply

Pat September 3, 2020 at 2:48 pm

I love these poems! The first one spoke to me. Just gazing at beauty,
without thought, without words while remaining in silent Presence.
The older I get, I feel in my prayer sometimes wordsseem to get in the way of that deeper Presence. Thank you for your poetry! Pat

Reply

Rita Torres September 4, 2020 at 3:17 pm

THE WORLD WOULD BE A HAPPIER PLACE IF EVERYONE READ SISTER’S WORDS AND TRIED TO PRACTICE HER SUGGESTIVE QUOTES!!! I DEFINITELY HAVE TO STOP ANALYZING! AND JUST ENJOY MORE OF THE BEAUTY THERE IS ON EARTH!
THANK YOU!

Reply

Pam September 5, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Loved all the poems. But especially enjoyed the song. Thanks

Reply

Thomas DeFreitas September 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Poems 1 and 3 speak to me especially. “Nature certifies the supernatural,” Emerson writes in one of his essays. Contemplating a tree can be lectio divina (holy reading) every bit as contemplating a psalm.

As for 3’s challenges, judge less and condemn less are always difficulties for me. And at my current amplitude, a little plodding seems inevitable! I cherish “rush less, linger more.” That’s a challenge and an invitation that speaks to me profoundly.

Reply

Grace Scola September 6, 2020 at 4:03 pm

I look forward to your articles each week; poetry today. The children’s singing was delightful and I loved their instrumental music as well. Such talent! Sister Grae Scola, CSJ Nazareth, Mi.

Reply

Jean Canatsey September 6, 2020 at 8:25 pm

Dear Sr. Melannie,
Thank goodness, you are back! I loved the song. At 80 much of life centers on memories. How precious they are!
My best prayer time takes place in the morning while swimming. The water is clear and warm, the sky is blue, the trees are green and the butterflies are flitting from flower to flower. God is in his heaven and I am privileged to have a glimpse.
The line that gives me the most pause in Poem #3 is: Control less, surrender more.

Reply

Leave a Comment