Reflections on Life's Transitions,
Part 2: Poetry by Ted Graves

Milton Woolley, MS, MFT

Worrisome times are upon us. So many issues and concerns to worry about, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy and all its troubles and a presidential election year that has engaged so many of us. Where to find comfort and soothing during such anxious times? It is easy to think that our lives depend on the outcomes of these complex problems. Certainly our physical lives are effected by how these many problems will be solved; however, deep in each of our individual centers is a place that knows calm, wisdom and the ability for our inner spirit to transcend these difficult moments. 

 

In our last news letter I quoted May Sarton's poem, "Now I Become Myself" in which she describes this precious center that is each of us. Now is a good time to become ourselves and to trust some deeper place for our nurturance, soothing and wisdom. 

 

I have turned to the poetry of Ted Graves to carry this conversation about life's transitions further. Ted is a dear friend and makes his home in Dillon Beach, CA. He is living his 75th year to the fullest. He was a professor of Cultural Anthropology and has traveled to many places in the world. I count him as a deep and wise friend. He wrote a little book called, "My Hair Is White; Bilingual Poetry" (CCC Press: Dillon Beach, CA, 2006). In his book he has composed poems in English and Spanish. I chose Ted's poetry because he addresses relationships, love, people and life's spirit. 

 

Here are several of Ted's poems, please enjoy.

 

THE EARTH, PEOPLE, AND LIFE

 

The Earth is my Goddess

The Virgin of Springtime

The Breath of life

Is my gift from her. 

 

People are the angels

Both luminous and dark

Each with their lessons

From which I may learn. 

 

The world is my Temple

Nature is my Sacred Text

And the life Force

Is my Holy Spirit. 

 

I lack for nothing more. 

 

(Holy week, 1999) 

 

 

THE WEB OF LIFE 

 

All are enlaced

In the web of life

Spun by the Sacred Spider

To bind us all together. 

 

When we animals

Let out our breath

The flowers breathe us in.

Each in need of the other. 

 

I love my life, but don't fear death,

The one implies the other.

That I may live some things must die,

And like my parents, so too will I. 

 

As winter follows summer

And night time follows day,

So to the Earth my body

Once more will I convey. 

 

(1999)

EMBRACE THEM

 

Embrace your names,

Dear Olivia Catalina!

They carry the spirits of your grandmothers.

In the memories of the living

The dead are able to live

Hovering like angels

Around our heads. 

 

Embrace your family

A river of the past, present and future.

Bind them to yourself with love

For your security and happiness. 

 

Embrace your lover,

A good man of your dreams.

He comes in the night

to soothe your soul.

and maybe someday,

He will come in the morning

To wake you with a kiss. 

 

Embrace him. 

 

(Antigua, Guatemala -- Christmas, 2005) 

SHE OF THE SPARKLING EYES

(for Maritsa)

 

Girl of my dreams

With such sparkling eyes,

Thanks be to God for your life. 

 

All of your smiles

Brighten the days;

Thanks be to God for your life. 

 

When you are ill

We all feel bad

And we ask the Lord: 

 

Cure the sick one,

The child of the family,

She of the sparkling eyes. 

 

(March, 1999)

You can find calm within if you look deep into a loved one's eyes; past the fear, anxiety, and irritation -- there tucked in behind a very deep breath rests the calm place, the place that originally caused you to say, "I love you." These are good times to embrace those we love, to be proud of our family's name. It is a time to find hope in the sparkle of a child's eyes.