|JENNETH GRASER is South African born and has lived in Cape Town for most of her life, but has also lived in British Columbia, Canada when her family immigrated there in the early 80’s. She is married to Karl and they have 3 girls who are being homeschooled. Jenneth has a degree in Library and Information Studies.
Together Karl and Jenneth facilitate a contemplative group called Free Flow. Jenneth plays contemplative piano and has a love for traveling, teaching, poetry, books, creativity, meditation and adult coloring-in books. Her book “Catching the Light: a Devotional” is available as an e-book on Amazon.com. This volume combines devotional readings with poetry for contemplation and healing. You may listen to a selection of the audio version of her book, as well as her contemplative music, and catch up with her blog Prayers on the wing, at www.secretplacedevotion.weebly.com. Her poetry has been published at My Utmost Christian Writers. She is also part of a community of writers for the Godspace blog, which is a part of Mustard Seed Associates.
A Still Invitation
My hope is resting, between the pages I turn
Within each moment, moves a still invitation
To forgo the rushed, intent striving for more
To live peaceably with what I am offered.
Within each moment moves, a still invitation
Life may be lived with a hand that lies open
To live peaceably with what I am, offered
To let go of strife, tranquil in all forms.
Life may be lived with a hand that lies open
Scourged listening may develop into clarity
To let go of strife, tranquil in all forms –
Allow what is not, to be what it is.
Scourged, listening may develop into clarity
To forgo: the rushed intent striving for more
Allow what is not to be, what it is
My hope is resting between; the pages I turn.
Where the veil grows thin,
portals open and the viewing of things
eternal touch us on the brow.
A feather from autumn fields slip
through fingers into tall grass waving.
She takes off, feet crunching earth,
clear into the sky of your countenance.
You place the convergence of
worlds in my belly;
the Northern Star in my mouth.
Barefoot I run through dimensions
of people calling me home.
I am greeted beyond every appearance,
as pretence folds into the ground.
You spill my cup generous
where souls whisper, more.
Walk me through the prayer of your eyes,
beside fountains flowing with
the messages you gave.
Radiant Man! You dreamed of me
before the film of time:
and there I was, a baby in my mother’s arms.
Vacillate me between realms
and find me on the blazing suns, reborn.
Wake me up in a thousand years
with the scent of your face in the morning.
The river flows beside sacred trees, bleeding
frankincense; the mentors have gathered
at the door.
I wrote this poem without the letter “t” as a lipogram and it is an invitation from William Butler Yeats.
William Beckons you for Dinner
Come over my friend: Karl and Jen’s home
7 May, 6 o’ clock, dress as desired
We will commence on a backporch of honeycomb
And gradually maneuver beside a parlour fire.
An abundance of food will be all around
Sushi, rice dishes of an Asian kind
Noodles, ambience and a communion of sound
A fullness of being and accord of mind.
Candles dim, coffee and rooibos served
We will converse and be jolly all hours
A drink or more, no one reserved
We will emerge calm on a fragrance of flowers.
We will be all ears as music is played,
Lay down our heads and close our eyes
Our souls serene, our worries mislaid
Peace dropping slow as we say our goodbyes.
Curve your way up through the lines
Into the heartbeat of every word,
Swap out nibs.
Paint without eyes on your back
Oblivious to impact –
Show procrastination the door.
Come down to the pulse of creation
Be a sweet observer of all things, play.
Wear a palette on your sleeve;
Elucidate the matters of spirit
In the colours that are gifted to you.
Peel off the bark of your skin, moult,
Give your new skin time to grow.
Be prepared to drop old thinking:
Wear a pair of moccasins for a day
Breathe into the lungs of the other.
Allow the music out, birth it
Don’t wait another minute for a midwife,
Press into the contractions of season.
Sit at the feet of the wise ones
Who took the fork in the road long ago.
Be a grace to yourself, forgive rampantly
Bear the tools of your trade
Remember the infinite space that resides
And be open, a channel
For what passes through.
Line the soil of your heart with compost
And mulch it, sow seeds.
Carry a lamp through the corridors,
There is fire to be fed, to be stoked
For the guests.
Grateful thanks to Lewis Carroll and Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
A romantic baboon by the wabe of the moon
Playing so brillig on his golden bassoon
Stopped in the middle of his mimsy and swoon
To orate a piece from his favourite poem:
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”
His voice bellowed clear to the edge of the room
Where the Jabberwock on such a frabjous day
Chortled in her joy, “Callooh, Callay!”
She knew love came in beamish fashions,
This baboon was the epitome of her passions.
True love ignited as their uffish eyes met
The most unlikely pair you have ever seen yet:
A romantic baboon by the wabe of the moon
Hand in hand with his manxome buffoon –
She gave a whiffle and burble of outgrabe affection
No more regarded as an object of slithy rejection.
My hands upon cool black and white piano keys,
while eyes are closed, the peddle sinks rhythmically.
I feel for sounds that rise from my core, pleased
to live outside of time and visibility.
To set aside the ticking clock and let my spirit
take the wheel to places I don’t know of yet
with my earthly mind, but I am in it
knee deep, thigh, waist, over the head, I set
Out for the far off shores of other realms
as visions like a trance embrace my mortal being,
the frequencies play through me from the helm
of a great silver vessel made of music, seeing
Into places I have heard of only, but now uplifted,
I weigh anchor and let go before the tides have shifted.
You wait for me on the other side
Where do you lift the dawn from her slumber,
turn back the sheets of the night
as showers of rain catch the morning’s yearning?
Where do you bury the days long gone?
The hands that reach for the next moment
are bones now at rest under the shore.
How do you hold a new born baby?
When she took so long to come and flesh of your flesh
now rests at your breast and suckles there, my baby oh.
How do you seal the perfect moment?
Play, repeat, and play again:
The turn of your face in the angles of evening
when the sun presses down on the soul.
What became of the music we played
when we walked through the door?
It circled our feet, and flew up
with the clanging of the bells.
I don’t yet know what your face looks like, when
we’ve been walking blind in two dimensions
closer than skin folds.
On the threshold of the spirit
You wait for me on the other side.
I hear my singing in the night hours –
all the windows thrown into the wind
as the clouds rush by.
We step into the craters
of the moon, you and I.
It is your feet next to mine
where evening stars kiss our fingertips.
Under the sanctuary of silver awning
all fearful feeling drips through
the floorbeams with the stress
of what could become of us.
We tumble into the sand
beside granite boulders, the ocean
a backdrop to our dreaming,
even though we lost your camera.
Look, everything is stars above
with no obstacle to conversation
and images that remain
before our souls strike the matches.
Two shooting stars
at the same time, exactly,
plummet into the light
of the full-bodied moon.
One falls into the Sea of Nectar,
the other zips into
the Sea of Fertility –
and I know:
The beach is a blue aura
of wonder, and the eyes of us
reflect four perfect moons,
all nodding “yes”.
The Present Moment of Happiness
Peeling this orange with the best peeler
I’ve ever had, the zest tickles my nostrils
and sends citrus endorphins dancing
through my brain.
One moment to remember
like déjà vu, what it is to be
present and forsake all things.
Heaven opens up like a jigsaw puzzle
and explains nothing to me:
not why I have been born
for such a time as this, not
what my future may be,
But my thoughts take a javelin leap
over the mandarin moment
into the furthest reaches of
the galaxies, beyond time and
definitions of eternity in maths
books for the professionals.
And a hand is laid upon my
shoulder that I cannot see,
and spins me like a merry-go-round
of blurry children in the park,
and I’m drawn to one revelation:
The sounds I hear, the things I see,
the breath I breathe, the taste,
the taste of this orange bursting
into each individual juicy follicle
Wrapped in folds of origami paper
The book has entered her life.
It has fallen open on the much-leafed
Pages of previous owners.
It carries the smell of Angela’s bedroom
In August when the nights weigh heavy.
Before that, it rests on the shelves
Of Antiquities & Rare Books,
2nd storey, Prior Street, the Malay Quarter.
A professor of botany drops it off there
No longer able to abide the painful scent
Of L’Air du Temps on the margins.
Yes, it costs a fortune,
But it is a symbol and a sign
Of gifts that make way for the giver.
Once pen and ink upon the paper,
Visions flicker before her eyes of a book
Imbibed with the perfume of time:
She digs her nose into the centre,
Spine laid bare, she breathes –
And is transported.
To row a boat in April on the waters
Between the dipping trees alive with song
To see the flash of red wings tag along
Is how the love of dawn and all hearts saught her.
Under the amber sky she could not falter
Though so much behind her had gone wrong
To row a boat in April on the waters
Between the dipping trees alive with song.
She listened so intently to her daughters
For this moment was a treasure to prolong
An awakening of where her heart belonged
It was all and more than he had taught her
To row a boat in April on the waters.
The Lyrics of a dream
I was seated, where I don’t rightly know
But it was a convention of some kind, and in the corner
A man I’ve heard of, who teleports to other places
Approached me on the fringes, on the edges.
He hugged me from the side, an awkward angle
And said, “Give me a hug,” so I responded.
He whispered into my ear as he leaned over:
“Your love for God has not gone unnoticed.”
I could weep upon each word that there was spoken
I could weep openly with free abandon.
He gave me scripture verses of his translation:
A woman who had treasured up the things
Within her heart and then who grew
In incremental favour, who grew in
Incremental favour. And an oracle of angels
Assigned to cover us with stalwart wings,
Without which I know I could not have survived
What followed in the musty forests of the night.
I could weep upon each word that there was spoken
I could weep openly with no reservation.
Perspectives on miracle books, emancipation and the abundance of travel
She allowed the sheets of her favourite books
to fan her dripping face, paging
through each account of the miraculous:
Gold teeth appear, white feathers and legs that grow,
eyes blind from birth metamorph to cobalt seeing blue –
freedom from the heavy scales of all they carried.
Argentina, Australia and castles of Italy,
wine glasses that clink and lips that tremble;
we approach the equator with a longing for the doldrums.
Nothing happens, and then something happens
when there was nothing but the books –
suddenly plane tickets begin to manifest
With gold dust, and a glory cloud in the lounge.
Where the veil is thin and our mortal breath
turns us around, as we catch it again
Let go of every hindrance and sip sweet cappuccinos.
It is after all for the ordinary folk, we whistle
tunes of holiness in the backstreets of Heaven.
Entrance of a silent kind
Where the air grows thin on mountain heights
Of Mussoori winding roads, the terrace lights
Up with green upon shade of green, and green again,
Delicious scents rise up from the monsoon rain.
But now sitting on the boulder of the Himalayas
A stranger and a pilgrim here, I see Messiah
Spread out everywhere, on the cud and forest flushing
Through with sounds unheard, from all the rushing
Of Humanity bent on the highways of the mind.
It is here I regain entrance of a silent kind
Into a rest found through contemplating nature –
This indescribable sun that only shines from our Creator
On such a day in India, where quotes of graffiti
Speak of love unreserved and so completely
One with blade of grass and river of gold on yonder plain
Where eagles rise into my line of sight, I remain
A pilgrim and a stranger in the country of my travels,
I am taken back each time as history unravels.
Choose the 9th book on your bookshelf, go to page 9 and use the 9th sentence on the page to start your poem. The 9th book on my shelf is Visions and Longings: Medieval Women Mystics by Monica Furlong. The first sentence takes up the first two lines of the poem.
Love Conquers All
She was born too early to take advantage
Of the fashion of using the vernacular.
She had to express herself in Latin instead:
The ecstacy, the visions of internal bliss
Conveyed from trances onto parchment,
Somewhat tripping over each splatter of ink
In her enthusiasm to elevate her readers
Through the portal of infinity into the Sacred Heart,
Per angusta ad augusta, amor vincit omnia.
(Through difficulties to honours, love conquers all).
I have sat in my chair
trying to get to know God
for hour upon hour.
The abject boredom
and effort to stay awake
clashed heavily with my desire.
I got up from that chair
a long time ago,
because I heard God sing.
The clear baritone of his voice
transported me to porcelain cliffs,
as birds skirted the edges, swooped up
to greet me cross-legged
in a tease of flight.
God was not bored.
There was no trying.
Underneath the music he composed,
was millions of years of laughter.
The wise quiet of his eyes
invited me to walk into his heart,
to step barefoot into water,
to come into the inner chamber
of his temple of holy fields
open from eye to eye, no wall, or curtain made,
Where every question has another question
with no answer,
I was once led into a house made up of
A man handed me a lamp. “Look,” he said.
Adjectives, conjunctives and verbs
pulsed with inclusive form
and the spice of foreign language.
Then out came the Architect’s plans:
the science of foundations
entrusted to me,
a mere child.
He was open to the suggestions
of every visitor,
but did not subject himself
to popular opinion.
Each house is built using what is
accessible to any passer by who
may enter, and find an easy chair
of familiar feeling.
But look, look carefully
and you may find yourself transmute:
Into the spirit of vocabulary.
On the tundras of another land,
a girl looks up from her sheep
and sees a comet trail the sky.
This shepherdess hears a voice
in her head and fears
what she cannot understand.
But in the next hair’s breadth of a moment:
A burst of violent joy
splits the seams of the deep
belly of her, and she worships
What she does not know
and cannot understand.
Every person on the sidewalk
carries more than their
The eyes of each
tell of more than
each eye has seen.
More than the sums of their ages
reside within every human
She carries a powerful
atmosphere in her chest
of Nigerian rain.
He sings dirges through his mind,
while hiding lapis lazuli in his shoes
But that woman of a hundred years
with the Northern Lights in her soul,
is the youngest of them all.
A winter hermit
Holds the leaves of summertime:
Two fragrant bundles.
(Trust in dreams quote by Khalil Gibran)
Mr Brian has a classroom lined with quotes:
“Every cloud has a silver lining”
“Trust in dreams, for in them is the hidden gate to eternity”.
Mr Brian tapes each one to the wall
For each child who passes through the door.
He looks into the eyes of a child,
Sees what cannot be seen and draws it out.
I see a child taken by the hand and told,
“You are worthy! You are Someone!
There is no-one else like you!”
I’m telling you, I have never seen a kid change
In such a short space of time.
Labels of “reject”, “loser”, “dysfunctional”, “ADHD”,
Melt off like rivulets from an iceberg
In the summer sun.
So much growing happens here. It’s like
Mr Brian opened up a nursery of holy flowers
As each heart trembles with the pleasure
Of knowing: “I’m AMAZING! I’m OK!”
“I’m going to make this world a better place.”
“You know all secrets of this earthly sphere,
Why then remain a prey to empty fear?
You cannot bend things to your will, but yet
Cheer up for the few moments you are here!”
You know the beginning from the end
The first crispening beads of frost,
Light on morning’s spacious wing,
Your heart dipped in awareness lights a lamp
For others to receive in equal measure.
One breath noticed is now infinity near,
One beckoning hand turns the eye
Twice beckoned, and face to face you kiss
The Beloved and eternally dear,
“You know all secrets of this earthly sphere”.
The heart of all things groans and murmurs
From carrying the past entangled in the future.
To forget, and then remember, only to forget again.
Grief unshed in weeping, storms the empty cot
Of old men, still waiting to be lifted up.
Constricted in this mortal frame, as yet unclear
About the way to hold life and death to follow,
Hands now calloused hold the trembling compass,
As yet unsure about which way to steer,
” Why then remain a prey to empty fear? ”
For what is it to come down to the earth?
To place your ear upon the ground and listen
To the quietness of beetles, frogs and lowly worms
Beside the holiness of rivers in the dell,
To bring the mind into the noticing of now
And refrain from miserly thoughts that fret.
Letting out the breath, there is room for another,
To blow the dandelion seeds upon the grass
Together with the heavy burdens of upset
“You cannot bend things to your will, but yet”
You may pick up your sight to yonder mountains
You may awaken the centre point of soul,
Look above into the great unknowing
Meet with the ecstacy of Great Lover’s kiss,
Entering Spirit to spirit through the door
Now partially open, then swung from ear to ear.
There is so much to discover from a humble stance
The vantage point of eternity must enlarge the heart,
All that restricts your flight must disappear!
“Cheer up for the few moments you are here!”
Araucaria Araucana O.K.A. The Monkey Puzzle
He couldn’t get enough of the mountains
Rippling over sand dunes to the harbour, boats
And sea. But trees in the neighbouring gardens
Were growing a bit vociferous, slightly charismatic
For his liking.
Closer to home, the Monkey Puzzle loomed
Claustrophobic through the sliding doors.
Plans for diplomatic removal were considered,
But it came down to this:
“I’ll meet you in the middle,” she said.
And that is what he did, a saw in hand
One by one the branches came down
To a middlish height.
The neighbour sidled up to surreptitious
Gardening beside the fence.
His eyes must have glistened from the
Enthusiastic brandishing of the saw.
An introduction and some small talk became,
“By the way, your trees over there
Are really in need of some trimming.”
Standing side by side in the lounge, they
Took in the view, in an individual way.
“Did you at least give it a hug, to apologise?”
But she had to admit, the 3-dimensional opening up
That let in the evening sun, made the wood release
More light in the grain.
“It gives you a whole new perspective hey?” he said.
You can’t do anything about the trees in your
Neighbour’s yard, but you can do something
About the trees in your own.
See the happy ones
Dance frenzies of purple joy
Into the table.
Room to Breathe
Wings are habitually present in all of her paintings.
The twitch of gnarled fingers brushes over flamingos,
Green tea and Japanese roof tops in the rain.
She watches the cherry blossoms come into their own.
The air is unlike any she has taken into her lungs,
There is more room to breathe, where the blossoms
Open into the sun without holding so much back.
Her brush hesitates over a swallow,
Then there is the dropping, the falling
And the mile upon mile of snow.
The path winds up the mountain
A staircase graven
Into the clouds.
The pilgrim craves rest
He bellows an echo
Into the gorge.
Sound waves of heart-raw
Pain, guilty pleasures
One step, and then one more
Towards the monastery,
Thermals with the hawk
As he climbs through the threshold,
A hand reaches out
To lift him home
Into the quiet places of prayer,
The floor is worn into grooves
Of bended knee.
Watch the wrinkles deepen
On his face, with each whispered
Fortunately Grandfather meant for her to have it. Or she wouldn’t have known any better. She made mental calculations, worked out the sums of time. It brought everything together like the periodic table. O2 is O2, he said. Without it? Well, the body cannot survive. But the memories of each member of her family were felt through the mirror on her bare flesh. Bare was how they took it, standing, but not for long. So she will live without a mask, she will let everyone see, she will not let it rest. After all, she said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.” Auction day come Saturday, and the mirror is the only thing left. She makes her way to the Promised Land.
The shipwreck just around the corner
Over twenty years ago, left a slick of oil
On the tortured rocks of Llandudno Beach.
A surfer said, “What a devastation hey?”
As though I’d come there
Only out of interest for the environment.
Even so, the winter waves that ravaged the beach
Into a skeleton of stones, met me again,
Like an old friend.
Every time I go to Llandudno Beach
I try to get the waves to stay.
I breathe, and watch, walk the beach up and down
Then I run until I feel like a seagull, lifted.
I watch the colours in the rollicking half-mad waves
And try to get the Atlantic green into me.
Like I could slice it whole and pour it into my brain
So the waves would wash up and
Over the tides of my mind,
And keep that bracing freeze there.
Until this year. A freakish heat-wave melted us
Into the car park. But we got down to the beach
And there I was, hand in hand with my friend,
We were little girls again, racing over the ocean
Jumping the cross current, laughing all-hilarious
Daring ourselves to do a head first,
Take a breath so deep, plunge, rise into wet light.
In my soul body, body soul
I was a five year old just turned 40
When I got the waves to stay.
Spices in the dark
Her fingers work paprika
Into the lamb for the family feast.
They know how much she eagerly feeds her clan
By the meditative way she kneads spices into the meat,
Cumin, coriander, additional secret spice
And great dashes of purgative garlic, lemon and olive oil.
All of this is remembered as they sit in the dark,
Final embers of the fire glow and figuratively burn.
It’s all bringing back the spices, incense on the mantelpiece
And her singing bowl,
(Strike it gently Dear)
Undulates with prayers spoken, thought, spoken
Held in reverence by these listening walls.
The box I picked up in India,
A street vendor convinced me before ever he said a word
Common place maybe, many on the table exactly alike
Costing not much, but carved,
Carved by hand.
A smell of tools pressing forth flowers, leaves, releasing
Deeply the redness of the wood.
This box is now a treasure chest
At rest in the humidity of the bathroom.
It quietly reminds me, of the passing of life.
My family are in the box with the history
Of a name badge, the last note from my brother
Left beside the telephone,
Lace bobbins shimmering with beads and
A black and white photo of a little girl
I love her so.