Poem for a Sunday Morning

In early 2016, as I was putting the finishing touches on a collection of blog posts and essays that I would publish as A More Daring Life, I knew that I would begin the book with the poem, A Course in Creative Writing by William Stafford.

Accompanied by Mary Oliver and David Whyte, Stafford is the third leg of the poetry stool on which I have most often rested and restored myself upon my entry into personhood some years ago.

Where David Whyte beckons us to a new conversational and imaginative frontier and Mary Oliver invites us to walk with her in the everyday presence of the natural world, Stafford pulls us into the here and now with the unvarnished language of his Western sensibility.

I come back to this poem when I feel myself too eager for clear instruction about what’s next. I come back to it when I feel myself searching for the road that is already paved and marked and brightly lit, instead of the one that is here, just beneath my feet.


A Course in Creative Writing

They want a wilderness with a map—
but how about errors that give a new start?—
or leaves that are edging into the light?—
or the many places a road can’t find?

Maybe there’s a land where you have to sing
to explain anything: you blow a little whistle
just right and the next tree you meet is itself.
(And many a tree is not there yet.)

Things come toward you when you walk.
You go along singing a song that says
where you are going becomes its own
because you start. You blow a little whistle—

And a world begins under the map.

—William Stafford


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

Mary and David Say

Mary and David Say

Who are you to be curious
about your future self?

Who are you to peek through your fingers
as you hold them against your face?

David Whyte says that “the world is meant to be free in.”

Mary Oliver invites us to “announce our place in the family of things.”

Do you hear their call?

Do you hear your own?

What is your reply?


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

On My Walk Today

I took the dog for a nice long walk today. Sometimes when we walk I wear headphones and listen to a podcast. Not as much lately and not today.

As I walked my mind kept circling to a problem that I am facing, a difficult conversation in the near future. Circling, circling, circling.

As I do, I obsessively constructed and reconstructed the perfect dialogue in my mind. I will say this, and then this…no, this and then that. Again, again, again. Rehearsing, obsessing, obsessing, rehearsing.

All the time more anxious, more uncertain, and more unsettled by the unknown outcome.

After a long uphill climb I remembered something important: I don’t have to do this. I get to focus on whatever I want.

I chose to focus on the walk instead.

My mind cleared, my lungs expanded.

And the day said to me, “Welcome. We’re glad to have you back.”


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

 

Poem for a Sunday Morning

TWICE BLESSED

So that I stopped
there
and looked
into the waters
seeing not only
my reflected face
but the great sky
that framed
my lonely figure
and after a moment
I lifted my hands
and then my eyes
and I allowed myself
to be astonished
by the great
everywhere
calling to me
like an old
and unspoken
invitation,
made new
by the sun
and the spring,
and the cloud
and the light,
like something
both
calling to me
and radiating
from where I stood,
as if I could
understand
everything
I had been given
and everything ever
taken from me,
as if I could be
everything I have ever
learned
and everything
I could ever know,
as if I knew
both the way I had come
and, secretly,
the way
underneath
I was still
promised to go,
brought together,
like this, with the
unyielding ground
and the symmetry
of the moving sky,
caught in still waters.

Someone I have been,
and someone
I am just,
about to become,
something I am
and will be forever,
the sheer generosity
of being loved
through loving:
the miracle reflection
of a twice blessed life.

© David Whyte: from
CROSSING THE FLOOD 2014

Sunday, in Silence

A cup of coffee.

A long walk on a warm morning with an excited pup.

Breakfast, the dishes.

Patio clean-up, getting ready for winter in the middle of our October summer.

A trip to the grocery store. It’s easy to be quiet there until you get to the register. Then, a friendly cashier is confused about why I don’t respond to her “hello.” So I smile, point to my throat and mouth, “I’m sorry” and she says “hello” again. I look down at the pin pad and encourage it to tell me to “remove my card.”

Feed the puppy.

Chop vegetables. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting.

I’m on dinner. The girls are out for a couple of hours.

Start the coals for the trout.

Wait. Quietly.

Respond to timers.

Welcome them home.

Eat.

Listen as my daughters describe their afternoon and then remember that I haven’t written a blog post for Monday.

Excuse myself to do so and realize upon leaving the table that I have long correlated silence and slowness. It’s just not so. Certainly not today.

A day like this is a wrinkle in the fitted sheet of normal life. I want to pull the corner tight but realize it just won’t come.

Silence isn’t slowness. Silence is space for listening.

I speak again on Monday. I hope I remember.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Poem for a Sunday Morning

I didn’t paint the fence today.
The rain ruined my plans.

A pile of exams instead;
Rake-less man among fallen leaves.

From my window, dark skies
Give way to a ribbon of blue.

I may paint the fence tomorrow,
Or I may invoke the Sabbath.

Some decisions are best made in the light of morning.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Can it wait?

If you send an email to a team member this weekend – someone who works for you, reports directly to you – what do you expect them to do?

A} respond and take action immediately

B} respond and delay action until Monday

C} don’t respond, just read it and be aware

D} don’t read or respond…until Monday

Most leaders I talk to say that they send emails on the weekend to simply clear their mind of pressing things. The email serves as a handoff that the team member will receive on Monday morning.

Most leader I talk to do not intend for their team members to read, respond and act on the substance of the email during the weekend. And yet most employees I talk to feel obligated to do exactly that.

Leaders, if you are a weekend emailer – or a late night one, for that matter – will you please make it clear to your team if you expect A, B, C or D above?

Also, before you hit send, pause for a moment and ask, “Can it wait?”

They deserve a weekend. And you do, too.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.