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Y2K "Juice" Poems

JourneyPeople by Tom Atlee
Sweet Darkness by David Whyte
Ultimately, Y2K is about Life by Tom Atlee
Stay together, Friends by Rumi
Three poems from Meg Wheatley
Y2K Minutes by Nadine MacDonald
Losing Balance Gaining by Gretel Ehrlich
From "The Cure at Troy" by Seamus Heaney
from "To Those Born Later" by Bertolt Brecht
The Same Boat by G.K. Chesterton and Betsy Rose
When we reach our limits by Joeh Shea


by Tom Atlee

We don't know where we have come from
anymore, do we?
Over the hills,
so many hills,
so long

so long.

It's been hard, I know.
But it was necessary...
...even the tears.

Such a long time coming.
So hard...

And all this to be ready, it seems, only
for the next hill.

It is futile
(or beautiful) depending
on how the light hits the
this morning,

not always better,
not always worse.

The journey is still there.
That is the main thing.

That is the only thing.

And there is nothing we can do about it.
Except be with it:
because we are it:

the journey:
the pain:
the mirror of Self.
We have no choice.

So we choose to go on.

As careless as the hills are
of us,
they are there only
because we are climbing,
because climbing
is what is given to us to do.

We are, at our core, journeypeople:
We can stop and rest,
but the hills do not go away.
We can stop,
but we

(have you noticed?)

never stop for long.

It is almost as if the journey
itself is alive, has a need
to go on, and lifts us
to the road again

One more time.

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Sweet Darkness

by David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

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Ultimately, Y2K is about Life

by Tom Atlee

and life is about
what is possible for Life,
to which the answer is
over and over.
So let us party for possibility
and fill the streets with our passion,
going straight for the hearts
of a culture that is about to learn
to live again.

Yes: real joy needs to be freed,
but not because it is smiling.
Real joy needs to be freed,
because the sun pulls buds into being.
The real tears need to be sobbed.
Not because they are tears,
but because they are real.
The real gifts have to be given,
not because they will make someone happy,
but because giving is the river of life
along which all things become possible.

So it is time to leave the stale anxieties
of deadend cultures
and join the belly laugh of possibility
on behalf of Life
and dance the night away
with our tears
because they are real.

For the night is with us always,
above even the bluest sky,
yet it is criss-crossed with light
from as far away as the beginning,
booming and radiant.

And we will find that our dancing with Y2K
(even our running away from it)
takes us into the
hungry, unemployed, disabled
parts of ourselves
where we get to choose
to become more whole
or fall apart.

Life is only asking us
to bring our full selves
to the party
every moment,
with our souls planted solidly
in laughter, dinner, each other and the Earth.
And if we leave behind
our tears, our pain, our confusion
and our urge to touch each other
the party is dead,
the party is of the dead.
Not that death doesn't belong at the party;
It does.
Death knows the difference
between what is real and what is not.

There is nothing to be afraid of.
There really is.
And yet nothing
will make us whole
over and over and over,
if we come to it
as determined students.
Nothing is coming fast,
teaching us even now
from just around the corner.

I want to find you now.
It is not too late.
It is never too late.
We can find each other.
Opening welcomes itself into wholeness
and the broken, healed hearts
break and heal and flow
with everything life has to offer
to us and through us, for life,
until suddenly we know
everything is holding
everything else
and the constraints of Y2K
are a vast hug
letting us know we are not alone
and that there is nowhere else to go
but Home.

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Stay together, Friends.

by Rumi

Stay together, Friends.
Don't scatter and sleep.
Our Friendship is made of being awake.
The waterwheel accepts water
and turns and gives it away,
That way it stays in the garden,
whereas another roundness rolls
through a dry riverbed looking
for what it thinks it wants.
Stay here, quivering with each moment
like a drop of mercury.

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Three poems sent to me by Meg Wheatley:


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry



When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don't know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper.

D.H. Lawrence




Naomi Shihab Nye, Palestinian poet

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

y2k Minutes

A few who heard the message of the death of the machine
gathered by a common table in a public place

There were stories from the mainstream about water,
while deeply in each was the wonder: "Where then and how
shall I drink?"

As the minutes turn the hours into days
accelerating our compliant heart

"Why must it take the wires coming down

for us to walk together to the rivers..
for us to become gatherers of water; worshippers of water?"

Nadine MacDonald

Losing Balance Gaining

To walk is to unbalance oneself. Between
one step and the next we become lost. Balance
is regained as the foot touches earth, then it goes
as the foot lifts.

A path is made of dirt and rock;
it is also a swath of light cut through
all that appears to be solid and unchanging.
It is a flesh wound that opens deep in the foot
of the walker, so that
what we are, and where we are going, and the way we've chosen to get there,
remains directionless;

the traveler is forever wounded and lost.
Pain, discomfort and groundlessness are the seeker's friends.
Being lost turns into a state of awakeness;
it is the same as being found.

Gretel Ehrlich, a prose poem from "On the Road with God's Fool: How St. Francis lost everything and found his way," The New York Times Magazine, June 6, 1999, p 92.

from "The Cure at Troy"


History says, "Don't hope
On this side of the grave."
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells....

If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term

Seamus Heaney, quoted in each issue of "DoubleTake"

from "To Those Born Later"


Truly, I live in dark times!
The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead
suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs
Has simply not yet had
The terrible news....

In the old books it says what wisdom is:
To shun the strife of the world and to live out
Your brief time without fear
Also to get along without violence
To return good for evil
Not to fulfill your desires but to forget them
Is accounted wise.
All this I cannot do:
Truly I live in dark times.

I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger reigned there.
I came among men in a time of revolt
And I rebelled with them.
So passed my time
Which had been given to me on earth...

Our forces were slight. Our goal
Lay far in the distance.
It was clearly visible, though I myself
Was unlikely to reach it.
So passed my time
Which had been given to me on earth....

You who will emerge from the flood
In which we have gone under
When you speak of our failings
The dark time too
Which you have escaped....

...we know:
Hatred, even of meanness,
Contorts the features.
Anger, even against injustice
Makes the voice hoarse. Oh, we
Who wanted to prepare the ground for friendliness
Could not ourselves be friendly.

But you, when the time comes at last
And man is a helper to man
Think of us
With forebearance.

Bertolt Brecht

The Same Boat

We are all in the same boat,
in a stormy sea,
and we owe each other
a terrible loyalty.

G.K. Chesterton


"We may have come here on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." -- Betsy Rose

When we reach our limits

When we reach our limits,
when our ordered worlds collapse,
when we cannot enact our moral ideals,
when we are disenchanted,

we often enter into the
awareness of mystery. . .
Our dwelling within mystery is both menacing
and promising,
a relationship with exceeding darkness and undeserved light.

In this situation
with this awareness
we do a distinctively human thing.
We gather together and tell stories of God
to calm our terror and hold our hope
on high.

Joeh Shea, Stories of God: An Unauthorized Biography (Chicago: Thomas More Press, 1978)