Servant of Life

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I reached the park

Next to the temple,

Accompanied by each

Of my terrible fears.

The sun was not oblivious,

Touched me with modest strength

Without ever intruding.

I sat on a moss-filled bench,

Took off my shoes and socks,

Rested my feet on the dried,

Browned leaves of winter’s end.

Then I crossed my legs,

Straightened my back to meditate,

And instantly, I started to cry.

I heaved, I wailed,

My sadness painted

Every hill and pathway

At the foot of the temple.

When my sobs weakened,

Weary, I lifted my head

From its home in my thin,

Cold hands, my heart heavy,

Until, and I don’t know how,

The clattering in my mind stilled,

As though I had made

The whole thing up,

All the restless years of my life,

And in front of me,

Bathed in complete silence,

The things before me appeared

As if for the first time,

And the tree was a tree,

The rolling hills, hills,

A gentle, chilled breeze

Was not the leaves chattering,

Heads bent together in glee,

Was just wind in the tree,

And the quiet revealed to me

In stark relief the theatre of noise

I had mistaken for

The heart of my existence.

I sat in wonder.

I laughed in my heart.

I am here for no other reason,

I realized, than just to be,

In service of what

Has always been here,

And cannot disappear,

And I have to move,

Finally, as I long to,

In the flow of the one

Constant, the one truth

Of this motion unceasing,

This perpetual gift

Of our lives in this life,

From the place that doesn’t die.

 

– Tammy Takahashi

 

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GO SLOW

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GO SLOW

I rush for where
the thistles and moss
will absorb the sounds
of my racing mind
and where the thudding
of my heart
can run alongside
those of the others
escaping their enemies,
running toward survival,
until we are one organism,
moving madly, at first,
and then, as though
in spontaneous awareness
of an internal need,
we pause, and slow,
and it’s the greatest
silence we have ever known,
sonorous and pure,
and we can hear
the ladybug flap her wings,
though she decides to stay,
and the grass is heaving
its gratitude for the earth
sustaining it from below.
The birds slice through sky
to nestle in the treetops,
their every movement
conducing a forest symphony
for our delighted ears.
Our own heartbeats
are making sweet music,
calm, rhythmic now,
because we, too, have stayed,
one for the other,
under the watchful moon
and the playful sun.

– Tammy Takahashi

There is a Treasure

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There is a treasure
long and deep,
the way obscure,
and we are pushing past
a hundred different obstacles
webby, spindly things
scratching our faces,
and it is all we can do
to keep from crying out,
and we are tripping over
exposed roots and mossy stone,
slamming against rough surfaces
that don’t hesitate to take our weight,
and the heart pounds,
and we wish we were anywhere else.
But the treasure!
Eyes in a far off place,
maybe a clearing in the path,
maybe another place,
maybe tomorrow’s tomorrow.
The forest, then,
is no longer a forest
with its endless shades of green,
and sounds from ancient times,
from all the times and all creation.
Each tree is not a tree,
that pillar of wisdom,
joining heart to heart, root to root,
with the entire ground beneath us,
with the foot that touches down.
And what is the forest?
And who am I
in its thickets and dreams?

Welcome to your Garden

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Welcome to the garden of your life.
It’s so pretty here, if you find yourself
taking it all in at exactly the right moment,
when the flowers are in full bloom,
and the sun glints just so through the treetops
and into the lush, verdant space around you.
There is someone praying, maybe it’s you,
for relief from the feeling that everything should stay,
that the worst thing that could happen
is that all of this is going to change.
It is a deep and earnest prayer
that brings tears to the eye
and a deep rattling within the heart cage.
Maybe your eyes were closed, so you open them,
and the sun’s rays have shifted just enough
that the flower petals, as you take note,
have changed their direction to follow
the source of their nourishment.
It’s still your garden; you are still
in its endlessly deep, luxurious confines,
and you’ve never felt more free,
letting the changes do
what they were always going to,
and these transitions around you
are the heralding of life,
it’s coming and changing and going,
and fear that it will all disappear
is the golden emblem of your humanity.
It is your gorgeous humanity,
singing and haunting and taunting,
crying and pleading and laughing.
The garden takes it all in,
has only love to give back.
Take note of your garden; take it all in
with the time you’ve been given.
There is so much being offered,
and it’s all for you.
 
– TT

How About Just For Now

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How about, just for now,
this one small moment,
nothing but this:
As far as I can see,
the world as a history of origins,
life coming into being,
and I dissolve right into
a time that predates me,
and the greens are readying
for the birds that will land for rest,
the sweet supple leaves plump and open,
and the sky, our shelter and window,
has not yet had to bear witness to the atrocities,
the trees are not yet scorched or felled.
But I do not have to travel in time
or let my imagination take over.
I can be braver.
I can stay.
I can let what is, is.
And I can look at my fear
until it turns into love.

– TT

Here in You: A Poem

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It is always a
coming home,
a remembering,
the air whip thin
and sparkling
a sundance of
unfiltered joy
the crackling
under the feet
of a whole
cycle of life
preparing for
its journey
down, out,
through,
standing still
no matter
where you are
to find yourself
at the epicenter
of the language
of birdsong,
and you don’t
want to
decipher it
because
you realize
you already
understand.
You know you
are here
in you.
 
– TS

Love is Here

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When we remove the word,
what remains?
The word is love.
I walk on the forest floor
that will snake up a mountain
on steps made of stone;
the peak out of view.
The sun, too,
flickers in and out from
among the tall cedar tree tops,
glinting now and then
blinding as she does.
Becoming blinded, as I do.
My heart begins to race.
Go slow, I tell myself.
I know where love is not.
I stumble, my mind takes me
to all the places I’ve failed,
to all the things I have believed
I cannot do. Love is not
there either. I didn’t know
how much I had been
trying to find it, in how
many places. But here,
nearly overpowered, not
knowing how to get from
here to there,
I go inside of myself. I bring
it home. I breathe. I look down
and realize I can take
one step. A few steps
later, the small stones
turn into hearts. Not one
or two. I notice that a bed
of heart stones are guiding
me up the mountain. All
I had to do was know I
had exhausted all other options.
Stop running from myself.
And there she was. Love,
to guide me. – TS