Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT July 8th 2020

Today’s session welcomed 31 participants from around the United States and around the world, but most of us were sharing the experience of muggy air and, in Bristol, UK, even heavy rain – with the exception of Palo Alto, California, where sunshine abounded. Lucky Palo Alto! 

After our usual 10-second centering exercise, we read silently the poem “Meeting the Light Completely” by Jane Hirshfield, and then two participants read it aloud. Although only 65 words long, the poem generated a wonderful variety of responses. One person remarked that she tends to rush through her first reading of a poem to try to get a sense of it, but her heart skipped at the line “ruin your heart.” Others noticed the way the phrase “the chipped lip / of a blue-glazed cup” tripped us up even after hearing it several times, especially compared to the smooth sounds of the opening stanza. We thought about how the poem’s form might mirror the journey of a long relationship, with periods of calm and a machine-gun-like choppiness, though we had different instincts about when those periods might come. That choppiness and suspense would be further heightened with a slow reading that emphasized the line breaks, someone said. Another participant heard echoes of the human form in the cup’s lip and the curtain, which could be a gown. The line about “A table painted with roses” made us consider what we imagine in our heads — were they actually painted on the table, or was “painted” a metaphor for how a vase was decorating the space? What do we see? We also were reminded of works outside the text, like a declaration of love in the film Moonstruck where a character asks another to “be a fool with me.” As for the title, we thought about “light” in relation to truth, and noticed how “meeting” added a sense of forward direction, while “completely” led us to being at one with the world.   

Our writing prompt, “Write about what you found,” generated vivid and varied responses that spanned the abstract/metaphorical (“a path not taken”) to the specific and cinematic (a ring lost by its owner and found by its master, a la Lord of the Rings). Echoing the somewhat-staccato Hirshfield poem, writers experimented with narrative form, nuanced details, and “bookending” sensorial imagery with reflective questions (“Can one ever find what one loses?”). Writing in layers helped define particular spaces in new ways: a table was “trapped” under a stack of books and papers; a rag picker discovered a locket in a dump. With an economy and energy of language, each writer/reader added a personal flourish to their 4-minute expression of what was found (or what was lost then found). One participant noted that as a group, we traveled this journey of reading and writing together.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday, July 13th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Meeting the Light Completely  
by Jane Hirshfield

Even the long-beloved
was once
an unrecognized stranger.

Just so,
the chipped lip
of a blue-glazed cup,
blown field
of a yellow curtain,
might also,
flooding and falling,
ruin your heart.

A table painted with roses.
An empty clothesline.

Each time,
the found world surprises—
that is its nature.

And then
what is said by all lovers:
"What fools we were, not to have seen."

Poem copyright ©1994 by Jane Hirshfield, "Meeting the Light Completely,"
from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, 
(Grayson Books, 2017).

14 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT July 8th 2020

  1. Kristin Graziano

    Write about what you found.

    It wasn’t apparent initially ,somewhat covered and hidden. Around the corner, just out of the corner of my eye. And then suddenly, there it was, catching me by surprise. I think I almost gasped, or perhaps squealed in pleasure. A precious thing revealed only to me in this moment, a most brilliant columbine, it’s face to the sun. Thriving and reaching to the sky, almost smiling. Surprising, its soil dry and cracking, but its petals no less brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Your energy, joy, gasps and squeals of pleasure are broadcast to your reader and match the brilliance of the beautiful flower that “presented” itself to you.


  2. Bee martin

    A pile of small plastic multicoloured pieces
    Junk on a Cornish beach amongst the high tide line

    NO- not plastic junk – its lego flippers!
    I found a stricken container ship had lost its cargo in an Atlantic storm
    I found out about ocean currents
    I found hundreds of them after years in the sea- shockingly unchanged
    I found they could make a necklace
    I found my husband on that beach
    I still find flippers when I go there with my adult children

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What I found~~~

    Finding the path not taken,
    a world so full of glorious thoughts and questions.

    Questions, which at times, seem to have no answers
    but does that make them less valid?

    Bends in the road lead to discoveries,
    discoveries that have been hidden for far too long.

    An awakening of sorts,
    refreshed and enliven to search farther
    into the unknown.

    It was lost,
    but now is found.
    A glorious time!

    Liked by 2 people

    • al3793

      Michele, the unanswered questions leave us pondering and more apt to explore the path not taken to find our way to discoveries, to that not seen, not heard – to glorious times. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Renee Daniels

    I found green and white sea glass,
    an empty water bottle
    and boulders guarding the sea with their

    I found a couple performing some kind
    of ritual. She, sitting
    inside a circle he had drawn in the sand.
    He, standing over her speaking a language
    I don’t understand.
    They leave behind a garland
    of patchouli.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. cindy

    I found cracks and missing light, in myself.
    Roses are dead,
    I can never keep anything alive.

    When I’m going back into patient care next week,
    I often wonder,
    What will I find when I get there? More cracks? Leaves fallen through? Petals decayed?

    Or will I find light? Can light live amongst the dead, the ill, and the living?
    I just have to keep looking, for light is easy to miss, when piled on by dead roses.

    Liked by 2 people

    • al3793

      I like how you threaded the roses, petals, leaves, and piles of them through the text from beginning to end. I sensed this action of them falling from their perch and amassing themselves such that they block out the light. Yet at the edges there are spaces where light can find its way through. And the ill and the living will surprise you with what brings them light. Even more surprising can be what the dead leave with us what emerges from the seeming darkness of death. Andre


    • I love the rhythm created by the repetition, “Deep within” aligned with a different verb (look, saw, reach, found)…. and the way the last line has both fragility and strength, but fragility “ends” with the semi-colon, and then becomes “my strength” with the addition of the “my” which makes it feel stronger to me and more lasting and grounding.


  6. al3793

    Look, at what a jewel I have found!
    Each facet different and
    brilliant when I hold it up to the sunlight.
    Some are more refined, polished,
    while others are growing surprises
    each day, the winds dust off rough edges
    with seemingly random, yet deliberate intent,
    and we discover together
    what lies beneath each surface
    finding the beauty that resides there
    and the wonderful foolishness we share.


    Liked by 1 person

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