Sunday, July 22, 2012

The liturgy this hidden
country breathes
is a dance of living
emptiness. Its smoky desert
heart brings secrets home:
crows flying in peace
with eagles, a
transformation shining
like a bonfire's
The nearest temple is your own
barefooted truth. The God
you are learning to love
might bring you anything,
now, if you listen, if
you see, if you
let his wild
and claiming silence

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Thursday, July 19, 2012

rediscovered the night before visiting Gethsemani

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton

I was already familiar with this prayer but rediscovered it quite by accident tonight in one of my late mother's old computer folders. 


It’s haphazard and I don’t like it, this way I have, when I’m living alone, of collapsing into self-neglect when it comes to how and what I eat. I know better. Rice cakes broken in half like sacramental wafers and nibbled as I sweep or read. Peanut butter slathered loosely on heels of whole wheat loaf bread. I’m not down to Sunbeam yet but maybe getting there. Lots of coffee. The French press is working overtime. I unwittingly bought a pound of decaf Sumatra the other day and buzzed around organizing my shelves and folding clothes until I happened to notice there was nothing behind the imagined push I felt from the beans. Diet soda, once my sworn enemy, crowds my refrigerator shelves in half-full bottles that I’ll empty and recycle soon. Some days I don’t eat till evening, eschewing the corn dogs and cardboard pizza triangles the school cafeteria offers. Other days I go ahead and dance with the devil and I always regret it: flavorless chicken sandwiches that would make Thich Naht Hanh shudder and throw up his patient hands, wilted huddles of what passes for salad, and the inevitable applesauce. Nowadays I don’t even boil water for oatmeal, much less sit down at my dining room table to eat it slow with raisins and honey like I used to. I deserve some homemade guacamole, an organic spinach salad nurtured with the sweetest flakes of carrot you can think of, and fresh crusty French bread dipped in EVOO. I need some green tea, the kind flavored with rose petals, or maybe some pomegranate juice, pure and expensive. Bring me something clean and wild, something delicate, something strong. Hurry it onto the plate, into my glass, and sit me down in front of it. light me a candle and tell me something about the sky. Hold my hand and break bread with me, and slow me down when I chew too fast. Remind me to hear the way I taste my food and to smell the colors as if they were newborn: fragile, wet, and hooked by the miracle of how to swallow.

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved


Torn down by longing,
I pass through a state of fitful meanness
and come out
on the other side,
transparent and content with the citrus fizz
of the cold medicine
you pour into a cup for me,
the light of your heart
in the middle of the day
like no bright sun
I’ve seen, a soft beam
that doesn’t burn
but nurtures,
a shine with no sharp edges.
You often play with metaphors
about light
(and other things),
your thoughts returning
to syllables
in strangeness,
telling new stories
inside the hoops
and wriggles of words,
each one a narrative of brightness
delivered with the particulars
of each moment’s unexpectant love
for its hues and angles,
for its curves and disparities.
Not a reconsideration,
but some kind
of birth.

©Laura Sorrells 2007
all rights reserved

I wrote this in 2007 for someone I loved very much.


Thin wings catch
light and move against
hot glass
and rust:
tiny feet an intrusion of
even smaller movement,
a tickle,
a hand cupped
around an ear,
a node hummed
and spun,

©Laura Sorrells 2007
all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Watching the light in
a summer garden, I notice
how a cathedral of unexpected
geometry reflects its
living heart.
Without everything here,
(and elsewhere)
the improvisation of reverence
would be lost.
What other weather
is there?

©Laura Sorrells 2012
some rights reserved

I wrote this found poem using Nicholas Harberd's book Seed to Seed: the Secret Life of Plants.

Monday, July 16, 2012

softer than

The language of slipstream and bridal veil
slides across some holy threshold,
a breath softer than the Spanish
songs that punctuate my dreams.
The patience of God shivers
in the ordinary shapes of grotto
and fern, dusky and wild
like the mystery
of rain summoned by prayer.
Everything is willing to be itself.
Whose forever can hold
such sweet chaos,
such grace?

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Friday, July 13, 2012


Almost everything tells
me news of the demolished
we craved.
When the speechless hinge
of loss
sings to my invisible
I surrender and become
its tender plaything.
At home in the story
you left me, I
hide inside the noise
of silence
and slowly start to
hear the praise
breathing in its
ancient room.

©Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

dreams from the desert

I had a dream this afternoon while a soft, quick summer rain fell on the forest outside. In the dream I had moved to northern Arizona and was living in the desert, teaching on the Hopi reservation, something I dreamt of and considered doing for years. The dream prompted me to reread something I wrote many years ago about my time in Hopiland in 2001. Here it is.

In my dreams I revisit the sunbaked plaza often. The slant of the wooden ladder, the calm eyes of my traveling companion, the corncob-littered rooftop, and the faint gauzy drift of cattail fuzz through the desert air dance in a kaleidoscopic swirl of dizzying remembrance. What am I supposed to have taken away from Hotevilla? The slow, rhythmic chanting of the katsinas in their sacred masks and the fierce continuity of the desert itself gave me the strength to leave behind so many things. As Charlotte Joko Beck has written, "Practice has to be a process of endless disappointment. We have to see that everything we demand (and even get) eventually disappoints us. This discovery is our teacher."
My traveling companion was my teacher for those five days in the desert last summer, as were the Hopi, the dove that accompanied us down a bad dirt road to an abandoned village we were not supposed to visit, the ancient petroglyphs of Betatakin, and the solemn trickster jackrabbit at Wupatki. I had been reading Edward Abbey's sternly loving memoir of his time in the Utah canyonlands, Desert Solitaire; in the book Abbey tells of hurling a stone at the head of a lone jackrabbit just to prove to himself that he can take the rabbit out. To his surprise, the rock lays the rabbit right out and kills it instantaneously. A little befuddled but ultimately unrepentant, Abbey examines his work and moves on. He ponders what he did and searches his conscience for any sign of grief or remorse; there is none. Instead, he feels like he has moved more deeply into the landscape, has become for a time just another skillful predator in the wild. I thought about that passage as I recalled the jackrabbit at Wupatki. I had sat in the desert sand amid juniper, sage, and tamarack and let the auburn air surround the hunched gray form of rabbit as the moon lifted her brash and womanly visage up in that immense and lovely arc of Arizona sky above us. Though I was not offended by Abbey's act, and it even made a kind of quixotic sense to me, I felt a visitation of a different sort settle in there beside the ancient rocks and ruins. I imagined the rabbit with its wide eyes and tall ears to be a beneficent commentary upon the quality of stillness possible in the world. The rabbit seemed to embody the paradoxical laughter of a kindly animal spirit in the night, a passage into unity with something huge and varied and singular, a flicker of connection with everyone I ever knew and loved. I saw in the rabbit and its undaunted and continuous presence beside me the living ghosts of all my old lovers, friends, heroes, and teachers. As the evening deepened and my traveling companion approached me from his place by the ballground, the moments shared  with the jackrabbit shifted from an almost palpable lambent stillness into a distinct movement back into the world of road maps, airplanes, pickup trucks, and raspberry granola bars. I smiled at my friend and we walked up out of that place of haunted ceremony back into our teachers' worlds.
Away from the desert now, I like to think I can see the ghost of Edward Abbey in the deep crook of a tall tree by a steep mountain path, or moving fast in water down the side of Tallulah Gorge. This spirit is my watchdog against complacency, my trickster playmate who keeps me from taking the world of strip malls, teacher meetings, curriculum realignments, and cafeteria food too seriously. He reminds me to move back into the kaleidoscope of wildness and grace I witnessed at the dance at Hotevilla, to recall that the sacred is real and that the real is everywhere. He lets me laugh at myself and he recently gave me a vivid dream of Georgia O'Keeffe gathering bones from a dumpster in the night. Even the most savage and unpromising of landscapes hold forth beauty, that dream reminded me, and when I woke my cat was curled close against me, his yellow eyes and silver fur weirdly reminiscent of other eyes and fur in the morning grayness. I tried for a moment to move back into the dream, wanting to know what O'Keeffe would do with those bones---would she paint them?---but the sun was coming up behind Sharptop and I decided instead to go outside and see it rise. The shapes of birds and conifers moved into slow distinctness in the gradual orange light and the dawn chorus replaced the silence of my sleep as the day began. I didn't have to look hard to see the ghosts of Abbey and O'Keeffe there, too.

©Laura Sorrells 2001
all rights reserved

the history of light

Your hungry blessing
whispers my spirit's wilderness
into strength. I hear
the radiant silence unfold
into the patient, easy breath
of my beloved. All
the words you bring
reveal the history
of light, and I rest
in the rising wander
of your grace.

© Laura Sorrells 2012
all rights reserved

Search This Blog


About Me

My photo
Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or