Friday, August 15, 2014


This week, my meditation group got into a deep and emotional discussion about the idea of purpose.  (After we meditate, we read from a book we're working our way through, and then discuss it).  It can be a real source of pain when you feel you must have a purpose, a reason you are here, and yet you don't know what it is.  Unlike in cultures like that of the Dagara in west Africa, where the elders see who the child is and name him or her according to the child's perceived purpose, in our society very few of us get this kind of support.  I (and I'm sure many of us) had the experience of my parents wanting me to live according to what they wished; I often did wonder if they really saw (yet alone accepted) who I was.

One of the main concepts Angeles Arrien taught (and oh, I'm still so sad that she's gone) is that we all come in with what she called "original medicine," and our job is to bring it into the world.  If we do not, in fact, the world will never have it.

My friend Greg Kimura wrote a wonderful poem on this called "Cargo."  In fact, it's the title poem of his book.  If you don't know the poem, check it out here.

The synchronicity for me about the group's conversation was that I had just written a poem myself on the topic after having a little flash of insight about it.  The poem still feels a little rough around the edges, but I like the idea behind it a lot.  It's called "Purpose."

I love to watch ink forming
            words on a blank page.
I use purple,
            with a cartridge pen
Given to me by a friend
            who knows me well.

Computers come into play
            only later on, for me.
I use my laptop
            to edit, to craft,
But first comes the ink
            flowing onto lined paper,
My hand moving
            sometimes in fits and starts,
Sometimes with
            effortless speed.

When I consider
            my purpose in the world,
When I don’t know who I am
            or what I belong to,
I look at what it is
            that I do.
I build and keep altars,
            and I write.

Mornings, early mornings,
            find me at my desk with
Candles lit, fresh flowers
            in the vase my son made,
Picture of my parents
            beaming at me
In a beyond-death blessing,
            and my old, leather-bound journal.

I face an array of goddess figures
            and a window looking out
On the garden, the hillside sloping
            down to the avenue,
A big expanse of sky, the distant higher hills
            and the edge of the chicken coop.
I silently offer up
            my simple morning prayers       
And then put sleek pen to paper
            and begin.
I writer is who I am
            because it is what I do.
(I am a priestess, too.
            but that is another story.)


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