Words of WonderGive up the fight - Gretchen Haley

Give up the fight
For some other moment
Some other life
Than here, and now
Give up the longing
for some other world
The wishing
for other choices to make
other songs to sing
other bodies, other ages,
other countries, other stakes
Purge the past; forgive the future –
for each come too soon.
Surrender only to this life,
this day, this hour,
not because it does not
constantly break your heart
but because it also beckons
with beauty
startles with delight
if only we keep
waking up
This is the gift
we have been given:
these “body-clothes,”
this heart-break, this pulse
this breath,
this light,
these friends,
this hope.
Here we re-member ourselves
All a part of it all –
Still growing, together.

by Gretchen Haley


There was a lovely conversation about the meaning of surrender, during the Midwinter practice day with the theme of Grace. If grace becomes possible by getting out of the way and opening to something other than what I can conjure up, then surrendering to ‘what is’ seems an important ingredient to me. This poem by the Unitarian Universalist minister Gretchen Haley (more of her poetry can be found here) says it in such a way that hearing the words, I feel the softening and melting happen in my body like sugar dissolving in tea. Such a marked difference with that other possibility, the trying to make stuff happen with gritted teeth!

And giving ourselves permission to ‘give up the fight’ during a practice day can be profound. I was moved to receive an email with the words below from one of the participants, speaking of what she found when deeply listening in that stillness…


A Dream of Winter

The Ghost of Christmas Past.
In this winter dream
I did not
deck the halls
don my gay apparel.
I did not
strike the harp nor join the chorus.
listening to
my heart
“the soft animal of my body.”
I fell silent
and still
and rested in grace.

by Karen Lerpiniere


More retreats coming up in the new year, I’m already looking forward to the next!


Photo by another participant of that day, the talented photographer Fiona Dodd on Unsplash