Dark Beauty
Tunes for a Monday Morning

Breathing our way to courage

Nattadon sunrise 1

From an interview with Terry Tempest Williams in Guernica magazine:

"Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find. For me, we find this beauty through relationships, with people in place with other species. Integrity is the word that comes to mind. Integrity and presence.

"A friend of mine said to me not long ago, 'Terry you are married to sorrow.' I looked at him and said, 'No, I am not married to sorrow, I just choose not to look away.' To not avert our eyes to suffering is to trust the power of presence. Joy emerges through suffering. Suffering is a component of joy. Whether we are sitting with a loved one dying or witnessing dolphins side-by-side watching the oil burning in the Gulf of Mexico, to be present with the world is to be alive. I think of Rilke once again, 'Beauty is the beginning of terror.' We can breathe our way toward courage.

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"When we were working in the village of Rugerero with Rwandan women who had lost everything from war, I saw a light in their eyes return when their children began picking up paintbrushes and painting the walls of their homes. Joy entered in. Creativity ignited a spark. In that moment, I saw that art is not peripheral, beauty is not optional, but a strategy for survival.

"In Rwanda, USAID was saying, 'How can you dare to paint a village when people are hungry?' But beauty feeds a different kind of hunger. And when there’s so much ugliness in the world that we’ve created, I think it’s essential, that whether it’s pausing in a garden with a trowel in hand, or walking up to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, or picking up a paintbrush with children, our soul seizes beauty and is sustained.

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"Finding beauty in a broken world is acknowledging that beauty leads us to our deepest and highest selves. It inspires us. We have an innate desire for grace. It’s not that all our definitions of beauty are the same, but when you see a particular heron in the bend in the river, day after day, something in your soul stirs. We remember what it means to be human."

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This post first appeared on Myth & Moor in November, 2016, not long after the American presidential election. This week, as the results of that election spin out, putting the judicial integrity of the Supreme Court at risk, it seems a good time to re-visit it. The quote above comes from a TTW interview by Devon Fredericksen in Guernica magazine (August, 2013). The quotes in the picture captions are from the same interview, as well as an interview by Lorraine Berry on the Talking Writing blog (June, 2013). All rights reserved by the authors.


thank you for raising awareness to subvert the dominant paradigm from corporate greed to gathering kindness, caring & love for our beautiful broken world

yes. i am clinging to beauty now asi have before. my daughter is, too.

I carry your posts with me for a long time after reading; thinking, pricing apart lines. This one is no exception. Thank you, Terri.


"Invoking the woman who once fell to earth
and ascended as the mother of humankind."

Tonight, the sky lowers its roof
and we dream you fall
through the eaves of heaven
once again...

Oh! Woman, come into the fields
and gather your people.

Fill the jars with water,
the baskets with grain
and lend the tree
a shawl of blossoms.

Oh! Woman, come into the house
and light all rooms.

Burn the reeds bundled
in the corner,

strike the river stones
piled on the shelf,

and ignite the strength
of your family.

Oh! Woman, come and look
into the mirror.
Change what you see --

The man without a boat
to catch his fish,

the bride without a loom
to weave her cloth

and children holding sticks
to rile dust or ants
as they play in the sun.

Oh! Woman,come and cast your song
into the valley.

Your words fly and land,
feed and echo,

a wild flock of birds
scattered along the spine of earth.

How beautiful to watch and listen
as we step back
praying in the shadows.

Ekao is the Virgin female in East African belief; part myth, part religion, who fell from the sky and bore a son who married another woman. They in return, founded human society. Yet, Ekao is seen as the "mother divinity", the one who inspired and helped to perpetuate the creation of life. Associated with her being, are the elements of stone, water and clay. They represent the softness, endurance and growth of life and womanhood. This invocation or prayer, is a calling for her spirit to return, heal the village both spiritually and ecologically, and revitalize the human heart with the ability to believe and dream.

Lovely invocation Wendy. Thank you for this. Oh, woman.

Thank you Mokihanna!!

I deeply appreciate your lovely comment and glad you could relate!

Take care,

That is exquisite, especially the opening lines and the final stanza. Astonishing. Thanks.


No Period

There is no period in the sentence
of beauty.

Only a long clause.

The misery we feel
for our own sins
ends in elipses.

But for the world's woes,
the children falling
into slip-streams,
drowning because of neglect,
we have only parenthesis.

It helps us look away.

©2018 Jane Yolen all right reserved

Thank you so much Jane,

I deeply appreciate your wonderful comments and am so glad you liked the poem! That personally means a great deal to me!!

Take care
my best always

Dear Jane

This poem is beautifully voiced and so significant. You speak the truth here with power and intensity --

There is no period in the sentence
of beauty.

Only a long clause.

Those opening lines are stunning and drew me right in! Beauty is an on -going existence haunted too often by darkness and terror; and as you so aptly and beautifully said -

But for the world's woes,
the children falling
into slip-streams,
drowning because of neglect,
we have only parenthesis.

It helps us look away.

Indeed, those "parenthesis" helps us to cope and "look away" for a little while but the sentence continues and we use mechanisms to cope. Again, this poem penetrates deeply and is so skillfully done!

Thank you for this,
Take care

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