It is nearing the one year mark since I published Most Mornings. I find myself attentive today to how those poems from a year ago are now living in me. It’s one of the things that I love about poetry — it can evolve meaning and presence over time.
For this particular poem, Splitting Wood, I’m also attentive to the good work that men can do together, and need to do together over time. I’m headed to a men’s retreat this weekend, a version of which from a few years ago helped to create the content for Spitting Wood. It was such a beautiful thing to be with kind men in friendship and journey. It was the last line about “stacking friendship” that helped get the poem going in my imagination.
I’m grateful again to Michael Meade for his posts and shares. I’m drawn to this one above that points toward being from a deep center.
For many of us in facilitation work, it is the deep center that we try to cultivate. To grow. To animate. To center the work of the day or the season.
There’s a poem that I included in Most Mornings, which is now coming up on a one year anniversary of publication. It was that last line — “You’re being wishes to know you, just as you are.” — that was compelling me in this poem. It was a time of trying to remember that my relationship with the deeply inner helps to clarify so much of what I do in the outer. It was a time of trying to remember the utter fruitfulness of stillness.
The poem is called Start Here.
Start Here Tenneson Woolf
Generally, don’t start with noise.
A program, a podcast, music.
Email, an article, a book.
Start instead with stillness.
Breath, emptiness, feeling.
Pause that honors new day.
Your being wishes to know you just as you are.
Much of my work continues these days, helping to bring being and the deeply inner. Helping to cultivate such sustained orientations in learning and leadership. I’m beginning to recreate, expand, and nuance some of the work that I love — facilitating, speaking, teaching, sharing poetry, coaching, and guiding — that brings more fulfilling ways of being in work and community. Perhaps some of this also calls to you and your being, in your work and in your community. The first step is always a call to begin the possibility.
I love this image from a recent walk, seeing both the cones on this Pine Tree, but also the long expanding needles. Particularly in Spring, such sights nudge me to reflections on newness, on life expanding. The images — when I’m open to feel and to follow — they inspire a depth of being that comes from essence.
And so does poetry. Writing in prosed form has become one of my longest daily commitments now. It is over the last six years in particular that I’ve made habit of both writing poetry and reading more from others. It’s oodles of journal entries to reflect on what the morning and the overnight has offered. Some of those remain in rough form. Some get polished. Some get shared. What I love most about it, over these six years, is that writing poetry brings me to a relationship with essence, which I feel has been with me for 60 years. Poetry invites an attentiveness to the core of what is happening and what is unfolding, what is feeling and what is finding. Often through simple beginning points, such as new growth on a neighbor’s Pine Tree.
Hmm. Poetry invites relationship.
With essence. I find also, with structure. When I write, I’m paying attention to the way that a poem wants to appear on the page. I’m paying attention to phrases that wish to be repeated. And there’s something I love in this. An invitation to relationship with structure is broader than words that I write on page. For then, I’m also paying attention to structure in other aspects of my life. In work. In relationship. In family.
Yesterday I wrote more paragraphed, short essay style about what All Humans seek. To be loved. To be heard, seen, and loved. Belonging, safety, accomplishment. Well, there was a prosed form that came first, from morning journal writing. Again, with attentiveness to some of what is most simple.
For clarity, and love of essence.
What All Humans Seek Tenneson Woolf
The descent to neuro-entrained fear is steep and slippery. It is harsh deception and over-reached survival insistence. Fear’s shouting is persistent.
Yet I don’t think what we desire is really that complicated. I, and so many others, seek belonging — acceptance of who we are. I, and so many others, seek safety — physical and emotional, spiritual too. I, and so many others, seek accomplishment — excelling and contributing both solo and with others.
The first step is deeply inner. If sought only in the outer, there is less container to hold found healing waters.
The first step also is to give what one wishes to get. It is living and invoking belonging, safety, and accomplishment.
I am learning that there is profound necessary undoing to find way to essence. I seek belonging — to notice and welcome what is already and undeniably here. asdThe plethora of friends and colleagues with whom creation and joy compels. I seek safety — to celebrate and assert what already is. asdThis home, this car, bills paid, a meal to nourish. I seek accomplishment — to love and accept what is already occurring. asdThe planning meeting, the shared podcast, the collection of poems nearing publication.
Yet maybe essence is even more simple than that, in the poetry and in the practice.
Live from love. asdIn self. asdWith others. asdWith Life.
Nowness remains quite a teacher for me. Sometimes, I’m following Nowness, efforting and fumbling my way. Sometimes, Nowness teachings spiral their way into my body, and so much of life turns effortless. Sometimes, Nowness and I go together, with the ease of afternoon tea, enjoyed spaciously. Nowness teaches me in work, in workshops. Nowness teaches me in life, in living.
So, a little harvest of Nowness below. Received in an afternoon walk.
I Only Know What To Do Is Now Tenneson Woolf
I only know to do what comes from the Now.
In the Now I live with lover’s love for yes.
I walk the little Dog, because it is time. I smile extra at the purple Iris blossoms, because they are there. I thank the red rust leaves of Maple, because she’s magnificent. I say hello to the squabbling young kids returning from school, because they need seeing.
I only know, and keep learning, to do what comes from the poignant Now.
I know to listen keenly.
I often wish I could plan better into the future, which sometimes is my focus.
But it just might be that my best contribution is my surrender to this very moment.