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Only One Voice March 26, 2010

Filed under: Arts,Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 5:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes the life of a changemaker, even when dealing in gentle aspects like education and consciousness shift, gets rough. Bucking dominant norms can sometimes make a person feel quite alone. So we seek out kindred spirits for bolstering and comfort and inspiration to continue going. But what if they’re hard to find?

The following poem was written by the Carmelite nun Jessica Powers.

I carry it around in my wallet for emergency purposes.

/ l \

Only One Voice

Only one voice

but it was singing

and the words danced and as they danced held high

oh with what grace their lustrous bowls of joy.

Even in dark we knew they danced but we

none of us touched the hem of what would happen.

Somewhere around a whirl, a swirl, a pirouette

the bowls flew and spilled

and we were drenched, drenched to the dry bone

in our miserable night.

Only one voice

but morning lay awake in her bed and listened

and then was out and racing over the hills

to hear and see,

and water and light and air and the tall trees

and people young and old began to hum

the catchy, catchy tune

and everyone danced and everyone everything

even the last roots of the doddering oak

believed in life.

/ l \

This poem came to me 15 years ago in a chapbook published by other elderly Carmelite nuns with whom I became friends. The illustrator of the chapbook, Sister Marie Celeste, had been cloistered for most of her 70-odd years but in the last few, she and her comrades realized that the increasingly difficult world situation meant that God really needed them to work in it now, instead of contemplating its troubles from behind the walls. They risked excommunication over this struggle but ultimately won out.

Thus I had the incredible privilege of studying alongside them while completing my BA at Old College in Reno, Nevada, a short-lived experiment begun by Father Jack Leary, the Jesuit priest and intellectual who had previously founded New College of California.

In an interesting twist of fate, in later years I came to teach at the North Bay branch of New College. And I read this poem for my students at every graduation ceremony. So the wheel comes around, and the bardic gift goes on.

Do you have a favorite first-aid poem for the soul?

/ l \

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2 Responses to “Only One Voice”

  1. Carol King (facebook link) Says:

    Wow, I went and read the story. That is so inspirational.

    • Kai Says:

      Pocket-Poem:

      Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
      there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
      When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language – even the phrase “each other” – doesn’t make any sense.
      – Rumi


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