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!

Tea With a Brother

The intimacy of sitting in little chairs,
with your brother
at a little table set for two.
Having a little tea or cocoa,
in little tiny cups.
Imagining, 
…imagining what it is like
to be another,
to be you at a different time.

Here, sitting with your brother
with just a taste
of orange, 
and just a taste of apple,
and just a taste 
of an older life.
Pretending
…and being real,
being both silly
and  grown up.

Then looking out the window,
seeing the horizon in the distance,
the edge that is yet to be explored.
Sitting there with  your  older self,
tucked safely deep inside.
This communion, always with you
at a table set for two.
You are living now, as you will be living then.
Though, your view is sheltered,
this is who you are.

The courage it will take to leave,
But, the delight in coming back…
to this shelter,
to this tea,
to this brother, and
to this your centered self.

This poem came from seeing a picture of two grandsons having “tea”, a small snack to provide some nourishment but also to occupy them for a “little” while. It is a beautiful picture of two brothers having fun…the older looking out the window that he faced, past the younger. While the younger seemed to be chatting and engrossed in the setting.

The Roar

The roar, a prayer, from somewhere deep
A prayer of grief
that keening makes,
…because of pain that mourning shapes. 
A moan at first, there are no words,
then wrenching out to final roar. 

The roar it comes from somewhere real
Do not defy, do not pretend:
This place, this desert, so destitute.
A rocky valley, a swirling eddy, …
a place where others seldom enter .
But it is the
cry for others,
and how tragic if not shared.
So roar your prayer, and some may see,
this place with empathy.

To listen to the roar
is to listen to a prayer,
look  down the depth of pain,
look down that  well with them,
…then sob and wail.
For from the bottom of that well
their honest roar it came.

How can the body hold,
such grief, such anger or despair?
It must not, else it fall apart.
Let it roar and be a prayer. 
Oh, Lord, this roar,
is our only prayer.
It is our holy prayer.

So for now
find that place where you can roar
and let the roar be your honest  prayer,
your primal prayer…
…your only prayer.
Then take a breath…
and say, 
            Amen.

In Psalm 73, the psalmist says, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant: I was a brute beast before you.” (verses 21 & 22)  Sometimes our prayers are groans or sighs.  And sometimes they reach to the center of our core and are expressed in roars, from that place of deep grief, frustration, anger or utter despair.  Seldom do we give each other or ourselves permission to express that sort of emotion, and that is tragic.  So it is stuffed and I wonder if it leaks out of us in other ways…unhealthy ways. 

Knitters

Tension transferred
from body to the yarn, 
as heartbeat paces
to the rhythm of needles,
knitting a rosary of sorts,
bead for stitch,   
   …by stitch,
knit one,purl one.
Allowing the mind
to weave its way gently,
through the skein 
of thoughts that come
…in the evenings.
Unraveling the day.
Unwinding.
Knit one,
…purl one,
…yarn over.
Settling.
Integrating,
   Stitch by stitch
making a garment,
…something to wear,
   …that will cover
      shoulders or head, hands or feet.
Yarn over, increase, the language of faith.
Knit two together, the language of unity.
Knit one, purl one,
a fingered prayer that covers a life.

Mary Herbert   2/2021

This poem was written after a discussion with my sister.  I have no idea how knitting became a part of that time, but we talked about what we have knitted, that we liked knitting with quality yarn and that my daughter had renewed my interest in knitting.  I mentioned that I had observed women knitting in a train station and they seemed so relaxed and that I’d noticed that just watching them knit was relaxing.  Then she began wondering what happened when knitters got “in the zone”.  It made me wonder as well.

Sacred Moment

Six and standing silent,
there beside my bed,
watching me sleep,
willing me to wake,
wanting me to see.

Startled by presence,
seeing him, I smile.
…Can I snuggle or
do I sneak back 
to sleep alone…
the question in the air.

I lift the covers like
the wing of a hen
and slowly gather
these pajamas close in.
And as his breathing slows
I wander in my mind
and wonder where we’ll go,
and wonder if he will lead me,
and where
we go
from here.

1/23/21

We went up to visit my daughter at the end of 2020.  We’d had recovered from Covid, and wanted to be around family.  One morning I woke to my grandson standing silently next to my bed with his “snuggly” in hand.  As I lifted the covers I had a sense of the sacredness of that moment.  As I have reflected back on the moment I had the desire to crawl under a divine wing and just be.  I thought about how the Scriptures say a “child shall lead them” and realized this child had led me to this sacred desire to draw in close to the divine and it made me think about how a child’s life changes a parent’s and grandparent’s life.  I was aware of the deep love I have for this child, for all my grandchildren, for my children.  They have each changed my life and led me to different places within myself.

My Environment

Right now my environment is in chaos!  We are getting ready to have our living room and bedroom re-carpeted.  We have odd furniture in the kitchen and other rooms, and the room that was set up as quiet space is filled with years of clutter from sentimental accumulation.  I miss this room.  I feel it’s absence because I had gotten used to the aroma of the scented candle and the routine of entry into that quiet space with it’s slanted ceiling.  There are things that I can’t find right now because the usual place has been misplaced.  But, Lord willing, this chaos is not forever.  I will bring order, a new order with fewer possessions, by the end of the month, after the new carpet is laid.

Outside the leaves are changing color.  It is cooler and the wind has begun to pull the leaves from the branches of our hackberry tree.  It is here, in this environment that I sit in silence, listening to the wind and the migrating birds.  Giving peanuts to my neighborhood squirrels, who have gotten used to me.  I seldom see my neighbors, even though the fences are low.  It seems we have become an indoor society, venturing out only to deposit our garbage in bins or to mow.  So if I walk the neighboring blocks, where the houses have numbers, but the people inside have names, I will seldom if ever encounter any of them.  But, my backyard, with it’s blooming mums and nasturtiums, is a place, an environment that holds a peace in this changing season.  It welcomes me when I accept the invitation with its aroma of autumn.

In some ways, my interior environment seems to be a reflection of the environment I live in.  A mirror of sorts, or maybe the source?  My interior is both a place of chaos and a place of changing color.  I find myself sorting through an accumulation of interior sentiments.  Anger as I walk through the election process and read about racial injustice.  I feel the frustration of being held in isolation.  I am sad, angry, frustrated… right along side my feelings of delight and enchantment… at seeing pictures of grandchildren, or feeling satisfied in the deep discussions with family and friends.  But I’ve also lost inner places or things that have grounded me in the past, things like scripture, or journaling, and centering. For those seemed to require a place that is lost in the chaos of carpet.  I find that it is in my outdoor environment, my natural environment where I find a place that my mind isn’t circling and cycling from one thing to the next.  But, where it rests and wonders.  Where thoughts of what’s next can take root and maybe grow.

So maybe this quote by Parker Palmer applies.  With its background idea of letting go of ego, and instead of being the spotlight, fading into my environment.  The acknowledgement of patience…extreme patience, as I give myself to attentiveness and openness to what it next.  It seems as though it is not an invitation to fade into and sleep as Rip Van Winkle did, but rather to go quiet, let go of my fears and become awake, fully alert and attuned to the environment.

“The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and fade into our surroundings, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance.” -Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

To continue in the dense underbrush, the frenzy and chaos that is part of my interior and exterior life, will not sustain me.  It is a place of safety, not sustenance. So I will go to the place that has opened for me and if I can let go and go quiet with patience, I might hear, see, or experience something wild that becomes the voice of the Sacred for me.