Inspiring Poems about Life and Love


Pain as Portal
A piercing word
A stab of betrayal
The boundary crossed,
A trust broken.
In this lacerating moment
Faith is all you know
Life is tattooing scripture on your flesh,
Scriving incandescence in your nerves.
Right here,
In this single searing point
Of intolerable concentration
Wound becomes portal
Brokenness surrenders to
Crystalline brilliance of Being
~ Lorin Roche. The Radiance Sutras

I am not a mechanism
an assemblage of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism
is working wrongly that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the Soul,
to the deep emotional self
And wounds to the Soul take a long time, a long Long time to heal. Only time can help,
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance;
A long difficult repentance,
Realization of life’s mistake and freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
that mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.
~ DH Lawrence

Stand still.
The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.
Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.
~ David Wagoner

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
Comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house empty of its
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
~ Jellaludin Rumi

Awakening To The Trauma of the Past
For everything under the sun there is a time.
This is the season of your awkward harvesting,
When the pain takes you where you would rather not go,
Through the white curtain of yesterdays to a place
You had forgotten you knew from the inside out;
And a time when that bitter tree was planted
That has grown always invisibly beside you
And whose branches your awakened hands
Now long to disentangle from your heart.
You are coming to see how your looking often darkened
When you should have felt safe enough to fall toward love,
How deep down your eyes were always owned by something
That faced them through a dark fester of thorns
Converting whoever came into a further figure of the wrong;
You could only see what touched you as already torn. Now the act of seeing begins your work of mourning. And your memory is ready to show you everything, Having waited all these years for you to return and know.
Only you know where the casket of pain is interred.
You will have to scrape through all the layers of covering
And according to your readiness, everything will open.
May you be blessed with a wise and compassionate guide
Who can accompany you through the fear and grief
Until your heart has wept its way to your true self.
As your tears fall over that wounded place,
May they wash away your hurt and free your heart. May your forgiveness still the hunger of the wound So that for the first time you can walk away from that place,
Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,
And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes. Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with new beginning.
~ John O’Donoghue

For Equilibrium
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of god.
~ John O’Donoghue

Blessed Be
Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
the blueprint of your life would begin to glow on earth,
illuminating all the faces and voices that would arrive
to invite your soul to growth.
Praised be your father and mother,
who loved you before you were,
and trusted to call you here with no idea who you would be. Blessed be
those who have loved you into becoming who you were meant to be,
blessed be those who have crossed your life with dark gifts of hurt and loss
that have helped to school your mind in the art of disappointment.
When desolation surrounded you,
blessed be those who looked for you and found you, their kind hands urgent to open a blue window
in the gray wall formed around you.
Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
your health, eyes to behold the world,
thoughts to countenance the unknown,
memory to harvest vanished days,
your heart to feel the world’s waves,
your breath to breathe the nourishment of distance
made intimate by earth.
On this echoing-day of your birth,
may you open to the gift of solitude
in order to receive your soul;
enter the generosity of silence to hear your hidden heart;
know the serenity of stillness to be enfolded anew
by the miracle of your being.
~ John O’Donoghue

For Longing
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging, in love, creativity, and friendship,
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
~ John O’Donoghue

For Suffering
May you be blessed in the holy names of those
Who, without you knowing it,
Help to carry and lighten your pain.
May you know serenity
When you are called
To enter the house of suffering.
May a window of light always surprise you.
May you be granted the wisdom
To avoid false resistance;
When suffering knocks on the door of your life,
May you glimpse its eventual gifts.
May you be able to receive the fruits of suffering.
May memory bless and protect you
With the hard-earned light of past travail;
To remind you that you have survived before
And though the darkness now is deep,
You will soon see approaching light.
May the grace of time heal your wounds.
May you know that though the storm might rage,
Not a hair of your head will be harmed.

There is no check list to get through,
ticking off each task as we complete it
at the end of which we are all better.
It is a life long dance,
a constant opportunity
to open and grow
The trick is to approach our grief
with as much awareness and compassion
as we can muster.
~ Mirabai Starr

All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

And when the work of grieving is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned

To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air

And be able to enter the hearth

In your soul where your loved one

Has awaited your return
All the time.

The Healing Time
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into all the places where I said no to my life

All the untended wounds the red and purple scars

Those hieroglyphs of pain carved into my skin, my bones,

Those coded messages that send me down the wrong street

Again and again where I find them

The old wounds, the old mis-directions

And I lift them one by one close to my heart

And I say holy holy, holy.

~ Pesha Joyce Gertler


Willing to experience aloneness,

I discover connection everywhere;

Turning to face my fear,

I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,

I gain the embrace of the universe;

Surrendering into emptiness,

I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed

Into its radiant jewel-like essence.

I bow to the one who has made it so,

Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight;

To honor its form — true devotion.

~ Jennifer Welwood

To Come Home to Yourself

May all that is unforgiven in you be released.
May your fears yield their deepest tranquillities.

May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future

Graced with love.
~ John O’Donoghue


The Healing Time
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the unintended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy,
holy, holy.
~ Pesha Gertler

The Dakini Speaks
My friends; let’s grow up.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice.
Look: Everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It’s simple — how could we have missed it for so long?
Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let’s not be so shocked by them.
Let’s not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us. Impermanence is life’s only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.
To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride — let’s give ourselves to it!
Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!
~ Jennifer Welwood

“Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.”

Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives
Is best achieved when we place profound trust
In the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally.
To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a questioning look at
where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have
become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening.
There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different.
I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over.
To create a space for all our words, Drawing us to listen inward
and outward. We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

Early Retirement or More Generally – a Reset
For far too long now I have been running
I want to stand still
I want to listen
I want to set aside the troubles of this world
And go into the other world
Deep within where silence is welcome
Where life is not manufactured and sold through advertising
Where there is no business model
Where joy has room to breathe
Where love governs the land
Where I can hear and rediscover myself moment by moment
With no deadline fully open to endings
Fully open to new beginnings
~ Jean-Pierre Swennen

Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn
The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.
I arise today In the name of Silence Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude Of the Soul and the Earth.
I arise today Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.
May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

For Light
Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death In its own way turns into life.
In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.
That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.
That we never place our trust In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.
When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.
That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.
When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.
When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.
When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.
As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure In the fields of memory.
And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside The color and stillness
Of a found world.
~ John O’Donohue

Transformative Fire
There is a great fire that longs to burn you
Don’t let fear imagine a separation.
It is only yourself, burning for the truth,
The truth burning for itself.
Knowing this, give yourself, without reservation:
In ecstasy the fire burns.

~ Jennifer Welwood

Love After Love
The time will come when,
With elation you will greet yourself
Arriving at your own door,
In your own mirror and each will smile
At the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself,
To the stranger who has loved you all your life,
Whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~ Derek Walcott