Discernment September 16, 2013


My new book of poems, Reduced to Joy, has just been published. The book contains seventy-three poems, retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years, about the nature of working with what we’re given till it wears us through to joy. For the next few months, I’d like to share poems from the new book with you.

The mind is such a gift that, unless met and directed by the heart, it will take over the show and run our lives. Then, no matter how well intended, our serious focus can narrow the things we’re looking at to a smallness that betrays their true nature. It’s always our job to meet life where it is, not to break life down so it can enter our small room. This poem explores the difference.



The trouble with the mind

is that it sees like a bird

but walks like a man.


And things at the surface

move fast, needing to be

gathered. While things

at center move slow,

needing to be



What I mean is

if you want to see the

many birds, you can

gather them in a cage

and wonder why

they won’t fly.


Or you can go to

the wetlands, birding

in silence before

the sun comes up.


It’s the same

with the things

we love or think.


We can frame them

in pretty cages or follow

them into the wild meadow

till they stun us with the

spread of their magnificent



A Question to Walk With: Are you looking at something in life in too narrow a way? How can you expand the way you are relating to this?


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