Beneath the Surface

 In Reflections

“Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.”

–Marcus Aurelius


“Remember, all is well,” I kept telling myself this morning, as another part of my move over this past week did not go as planned. Reminding myself of this and the idea of the calm beneath the chaos has helped me maintain my sanity (most of the time).

In this time of such turmoil in our world, it feels important to find whatever ways we can to come back to peace, even for such mundane challenges as a move. Our theme for the Eremos Fall Gala this year is “Silver Linings”. Since choosing that theme, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it in print in articles on everything from sports to politics. Whether we look to the clouds for silver linings or beneath the surface of the ocean for calm, these metaphors for hidden gifts can help us navigate these days.

Poetry also often offers a glimpse beneath the surface of things to a deeper meaning or appreciation. Today we have two poems to share from friends in our community. I hope they support you in finding more peace and hope.

May you find the calm center and the “all is well” place beneath the surface of things in your life.

When the world goes mad

by Jean Lopez
(written during the Poetry of the Present workshop with Julie Bowman, using the writing prompt “When the world goes mad…”)

When the world goes mad, I start collections
Sunsets golden orange mixed with bird songs
Growing life through my cooking pots and plants that feed me
The night sky with a clear view of my moon in her changing face
Inflections of beloved voices
Moving to the rhythm of fast or slow songs and my voice keeping up
but not in rhythm
Carefully storing my own heartbreak, bringing it out
One chaotic or manageable fragment at a time
Depending on my wisdom fluctuations
The soft glow of candlelight never leaving me bereft in the heart of the
Giving and receiving connections, all kinds
Warm and mellow to rough awakenings
Stretching boundaries and confines as if tomorrow may end the chance
Tapping into so much love it spills over the whole world
Seen or unseen
And for a moment it briefly halts the world’s madness


Torn Away

by Julie Bowman, Cedarbrake Women’s Retreat, 2021-9-25

Spirals I understand
Descent into darkness
Rising into light
Circling back into sorrow
Lifting up into joy

Cycles I understand
Seasons arrive and depart with some degree of reliability
Humans and other animals are born, live, and die
Trees sprout new leaves, let go, and rest before beginning again

Even the butterfly follows an orderly progression:

But now the spirals feel askew.
The cycles no longer reliable.
Our world endangered.

Where is the order?
I need time to adjust!
The choreography of this dance feels all wrong.

I watch the yellow swallowtail flitting about in a field of wildflowers
Its flight is loopy, more erratic than usual
Its urgency is palpable:
more nectar more nectar next flower more nectar more nectar
I follow, willing it to pause its frenzy.

Then notice.
Half its left wing is torn away. Or bitten off.

The butterfly was unperturbed by what “should” have been.
It adapted.
It allowed.
It moved forward.
Perhaps I too could simply allow this world, this life to be what it is.
And move forward in a ragged butterfly dance.

–Photo courtesy of Julie Bowman.

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