All posts by Mary Herbert

About Mary Herbert

I am a gentle listener, a woman of few words. My journey through life has been a spiritual one, as well as a physical one. My daughter, Katie, and I thought it would be interesting to combine some of our giftings/talents in a blog and see what happens. Let us know what you think!

The Good Samaritan

I stand looking at the body
whose blood 
lays in rocky ruts,
the angles are all wrong.
Here I stare,
standing with this person
whose breath 
is jagged as the rocks. 

 … Third in line, yet all alone,
I stand as outcast 
so tempting to pass on.
To simply move aside.
For who am I?…
   Not my problem.
   Not my neighbor.
   Not my friend.
   Not my business.
… I could pretend 
that I have not seen.

Yet I cannot unsee
how ugly are these wounds,
or move along alone.
I cannot move aside.
From some unknown place
I must find the strength 
to heft this body
into healing space

…I must pay
for I cannot move aside.



As I’ve thought and wrestled with the tumult our society finds itself in…the political divide and the racial wounds, the parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind.  The story of a man, a person, who had been robbed and beaten, and left half dead on the road must be prefaced with the question that was asked of Jesus:  Who is my neighbor?  So Jesus tells the story.  

First came  a priest, then a levite, and both passed by.  Then a Samaritan (third in line) came along and had compassion on the fellow who had been beaten and left half dead.  He bandaged him, put him on his donkey and took him to an inn.  He took care of the man’s immediate needs and then paid for his lodging till he returned.  

When Jesus is finished telling the story, he asks, “Which of the three who saw the man was the neighbor?”  It was the third in line, the one who didn’t move along alone.

We have seen some painful things in the recent months.  Pain that has been with us for centuries.  Can we continue to pretend that we have not seen?  It is hard to watch the history.  Hard to listen to the stories.  Hard to see the anger.  It is real work to create safe spaces for those who have been wounded…but that is a small payment and I cannot move aside.


…the presence of air

every parent listens for it
   tip-toeing into silent room
      to watch the rise and fall
the chest of sleeping child
…a quiet, perfect
      angelic form.

aeolian movement
   within aveoli
      from the moment of birth
air becomes gold
   by the tiny cry of life
for breath is sacred
   and the veil is thin

children laugh
lovers whisper
the grieving weep
we have voice as
breath goes in
breath goes out
a sacred respiration
   oh, the veil is thin

flute is played
   and breath is drawn
clarinet, bassoon,
      all infused with breath

but when breath is gone
   and trumpet sounds
we wait
   …and wait
      …for breath again
but the veil is thin
and breath is sacred

breath goes in

…breath goes out

   breath goes in

   …breath goes out

      breath goes in

      ……breath goes out

…the spirit, the soul


I stood beside her,
…in her mourning.
   In the grief wrenching,
      soul shaking,
She’d stood for hours,
love, streaming down her cheeks.

But, in the end,
when he’d looked at her
…she knew,
and I stood beside her.

She’d seen him
…in the morning of his life
when breath was firmly grasped.
She watched him
as breath expired…
    on timber frame.
Now, soul shattered,
her mother’s heart is crucified.