Readings & Writings

What if?

You have probably already seen this beautiful video – The Great Realization, by British poet Tom Roberts. I heard about from my brother-in-law James, who lives in Victoria, B.C., during our family’s virtual Sunday evening gathering. Then my cousin, Michele from Biarritz, France, sent it to me this morning. So clearly it is getting around, kind of like a…virus.

I started to imagine- what if? 

What if we all started to imagine that this Great Realization was real. 

What if we all wanted it so badly that we made it become real? 

What if we travelled less, and appreciated and looked after our local communities more? 

What if some of the planes and cruise ships and cars were no longer needed, and we continued to need less oil. 

What if the drilling rigs were repurposed to produce geo-thermal power, and our coal plants could shut down?

What if we realized that we like this slower, more spacious life, and learned that less is more?

What if we continued to use technology to brings us all together, and spread love and hope around the world?

What if we refused to go back?

It was a world of waste and wonder, of poverty and plenty.

Back before we understood that hindsight is 20/20.

You see, the people came up with companies to trade across all lands

But they swelled and got much bigger than we ever could have planned.

We’d always had our wants, but now it got so quick

You could have anything you’d dreamed of, in a day, and with a click.

We noticed families had stopped talking, that’s not to say they never spoke

But the meaning must have melted, and the work-life balance broke.

And the children’s eyes grew square, and every toddler had a phone.

They filtered out the imperfection, but amid the noise, they felt alone.

And every day the skies grew thicker, until you couldn’t see the stars.

So we flew in planes to find them, while down below we filled our cars.

We’d drive all day in circles. We’d forgotten how to run.

We swapped the grass for tarmac, shrunk the parks till they were none.

We filled the sea with plastic because our waste was never capped,

Until each day, when you went fishing, you’d pulled them out, already wrapped.

And while we drank, and smoking, and gambled, our leaders taught us why

It’s best to not upset the lobbies. More convenient, to die.

But then in 2020, a new virus came our way.

The governments reacted and told us all to hide away.

But while we all were hidden, amongst the fear, and all the while

People dusted off their instincts and remembered how to smile.

They started clapping to say thank you, and calling up their mums

And while the car keys gathered dust, they looked forward to their runs.

And with the skies less full of voyagers, the skies began to breathe.

And the beaches bore new wildlife that skuttled off into the seas.

Some people started dancing, some were singing, some were baking.

We’d grown so used to bad news, but some good news was in the making.

So when we found the cure and were allowed to go outside,

We all preferred the world we found, to the world we left behind.

Old habits became extinct, and they made way for the new.

And every simple act of kindness was now given its due.

Why did it take a virus to bring the people back together?

Sometimes you’ve got to get sick, before you start feeling better.

So lie down and dream of tomorrow, and all the things that we can do.

And who knows, if you dream hard enough, maybe some of them will come true.

We now call it, The Great Realization, and yes, since then, there have been many.

But that’s the story of how it started, and how hindsight is 20/20.

Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

When time pulls lives apart
Hold your ownWhen everything is fluid, and when nothing can be known with any certainty
Hold your own

Hold it ’til you feel it there
As dark, and dense, and wet as earth
As vast, and bright, and sweet as air
When all there is
Is knowing that you feel what you are feeling
Hold your own

Ask your hands to know the things they hold
I know the days are reeling past in such squealing blasts
But stop for breath and you will know it’s yours
Swaying like an open door when storms are coming

Time is an onslaught
Love is a mission
We work for vocation until
In remission
We wish we’d had patience and given more time to our childrenFeel each decision that you make
Make it, hold it
Hold your own
Hold your lovers
Hold their hands
Hold their breasts in your hands, like your hands were their bra
Hold their face in your palms like a prayer
Hold them all night, feel them hold back
Don’t hold back
Hold your own

Every pain
Every grievance
Every stab of shame
Every day spent with a demon in your brain giving chase
Hold itKnow the wolves that hunt you
In time, they will be the dogs that bring your slippers
Love them right and you will feel them kiss you when they come to bite
Hot snouts digging out your cuddles with their bloody muzzles

Nothing you can buy will ever make you more whole
This whole thing thrives on us feeling always incomplete
And it is why we will search for happiness in whatever thing it is we crave in the moment
And it is why we can never really find it there
It is why you will sit there with the lover that you fought for
In the car you sweated years to buy
Wearing the ring you dreamed of all your life
And some part of you will still be unsure that this is what you really want
Stop craving
Hold your own

But if you’re satisfied with where you’re at, with who you are
You won’t need to buy new make-up, or new outfits, or new pots and pans
To cook new exciting recipes
For new exciting people
To make yourself feel like the new exciting person, you think you’re supposed to be

Happiness, the brand, is not happiness
We are smarter than they think we are
They take us all for idiots
But that’s their problem
When we behave like idiots
It becomes our problem

So hold your own
Breathe deep on a freezing beach
Taste the salt of friendship
Notice the movement of a stranger
Hold your own
And let it be


Marion’s Poems



Today let me see light

beyond the darkness

hear music in quietness.

Let me be aware of the

the scents of life

the feeling of texture

The shape of all I see.

Let me speak of love

hold it close with

Gratitude and


EMP April 2020



These days are Ember Days

They use the burning breath to

glow in the dusk .

They don’t fit into was or then

they are now days .

never tomorrows

These days are memory days

mourning days.

They can light a life

Take a spark and

flame it into


EMP 11/05



I pounded long on Wisdom’s door

Crying my despair

And when the splintered shards

Fell down

I found

Myself was waiting there.



Pen strokes on paper

Paint strokes on canvas

Hand strokes on skin

Speak silently.

Send messages to

.Our beginnings.



Write Your Own Prayer to Whom or Whatever You Wish:

The following are notes that my friend Gillian assembled after attending a workshop led by poet, theologian and peace activist Pardraig O’Tuama – “Write Your Own Collect”

 A Collect is simply collecting your desire into one request.   

It has five folds:

1.  Name who or what you are addressing the prayer to

2. Say something more about who or what you are praying to

3.  Name your desire

4.  Give a reason for your desire

5.  End with some small song of beauty or praise.

You can start with any of the five folds.  Decide through which of the five doors you prefer to enter.

Ask for only one thing, that you desire now.    If you write it down you can review it for the week, month, year or a few years.  

Pay attention to what you want; to the undercurrent landscape of your desire.   Naming your desire could mean an encounter with the sacred.  

You can address your collect to whomever or whatever you choose –  A tree, a child that you love, a pet that you love….anything at all.  

Here is an example of a collect by Padraig O’Tuaoma

God of watching, 
whose gaze I doubt and rally against both, 
but in which I nonetheless take refuge, despite my limited vision. 
Shelter me today, 
against the flitting nature of my own focus 
and bring me to the calm place 
in which to stand. 
And when I falter, which is likely, 
give me both the courage and the kindness to begin again with hope and coping. 
For you are the one whose watchfulness is steady


Pandemic  by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath-

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

center down

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.


A Prayer to Begin the Day – Anonymous

Spirit of the Universe,who makes us all one,

I surrender to your constant current.

Open my mind, that I might be free of judgment,

And accept the world as it is today.

Open my heart, that I might give and receive love.

Open my hands, that I might give and receive blessings.

Guide my feet along my path today

And open my eyes, to see the miracles along the way.

I ask these things with a humble and grateful heart.

Amen, amen, amen;

Aah woman, aah woman, aah woman.


As Is

The following beautiful story is about “being present” with someone who is suffering. It is from Dawna Markova’s wonderful book – I Will Not Live an Un-lived Life. I originally printed it out for the doctors and nurses on our local palliative care unit. 

As Is

When I was in the hospital being treated for cancer,

The one person whose presence I welcomed was a Jamaican woman

who came to sweep the floors with a large push-broom.

Of the fifty or so people that made contact with me in any given day,

She was the only one who wasn’t trying to change me,

the only one who didn’t stick things in, take things out, or ask stupid questions.

For a few minutes each night, she rested her broom against the wall

and sank her immense body into the turquoise plastic chair in my room.

All I could hear was the sound of her breath going in and out, in and out.

It was comforting in a strange and simple way.

My own breathing settled down, following hers, and became calm.

One night she reached out and put her hand on my foot.

I’m usually not comfortable with casual touch,

But her hand felt so natural being there,

on one of the few places in my body that didn’t hurt.

I could have sworn she was saying two words with each breath,

One the inhale, one on the exhale:

“ As… is… As… is…”

On her next visit, she looked at me.

No evaluation in her buttery brown eyes,

No trying to figure me out.

She just looked and saw me,


Then she said quietly, firmly,

“You’re more that the sickness in that body.”

The words seemed larger and fuller that herself.

I was pretty doped up, so I wasn’t sure I understood her correctly,

But my mind was just too thick to ask questions at that point.

I kept mumbling those words to myself throughout the following day,

“I’m more than the sickness in this body.”

I remembered her voice clearly.

It was rich, full, like maple syrup in the spring.

It carried me breathing deeply into a fog of silence.

(Continued on next page)

When the nurse came with my shot of morphine the next night, I refused it.

I wanted to find out if my nighttime angel was real or a drugged hallucination.

An hour or so later, I heard the sound of her broom brushing against the hall floors.

Her body filled up the whole doorway, and cast a shadow on the floor of my room.

She sank into the chair.

The pain I was feeling was intense.

She breathed loudly, then, after a few minutes, said,

“You’re not the pain in that body.

It’s there, but you’re more than that pain.”

I reach for her hand.

It was cool and dry.

I knew she wouldn’t let go.

She continued,

“You’re not the fear in that body.

You’re more than that fear.

Float on it.

Float above it.

You’re more than that pain.”

I began to breathe a little deeper as I did when I wanted to float in a lake.

I remembered floating in Lake George when I was five,

Floating in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island when I was seven,

Floating in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa when I was twenty-eight.

Without any instructions from me,

This Jamaican angel had led me to a source of comfort that was wider and deeper

than pain or fear.

It’s been almost three decades since I’ve seen this woman with the broom.

I spent months trying to find her when I got out of the hospital, but to no avail.

No one could even remember he name,

But she touched my soul with her compassionate presence

And her fingerprints are still there.

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