Gazing at Light

In the days following writing about my granddaughter’s wonder, an image came back to me with some insistence – a memory from over 14 years ago.  It was a moment for me not unlike the moment in the rain for her.

The Venetian Lagoon in Autumn


The island of Burano recedes and melts behind us.

The sun on its way to the horizon becomes a pink smear.

Sounds of others on the boat muffle, and the lagoon

becomes soft, saturated, milky blue luminescence –

barely a distinction between sea and sky.

Time thins and stretches.

A galleon seems to float in the distant haze.

I stand as if stunned – empty of knowing.

What is this light?

Gazing at Rain

Six months into this world, her eyes widen and fix on the sight of heavy rain falling in front of her.  What is this?  No aversion.  No fear.  No wanting.  No romanticising.  Just silent, open-eyed wonder and curiosity.  It lasts for many minutes – until a passing, very jazzy looking umbrella distracts her gaze.  What is that?  Can you remember this way of seeing?  Can I?

Over the years I have spent many hours in a silent meditation hall to maybe find this again.  Sometimes it has almost been there.  Open again to the amazement of this world.  Not the human techno world, but Gaia – the world of earth, air, sunshine, rain – of the fleshy, swirling, squirming, thrusting, pouring nature of it all impressing on my body and senses.

Sometimes, I find myself looking at the eyes of another – at the face of another with its unique marks, wrinkles, shadows, colours, expressions.  Sometimes I look in the mirror at my own.  The eyes – the face – seem full of the unknown.  Can the aging I am experiencing bring back my wonder and curiosity?

I feel full of longing to share my love of Gaia with this little being – and, especially, to experience over and over again her wonder and curiosity at it all.

The Chair

The Chair – a teaching on Emptiness (thank you, Prapto)


The chair is not one.

The chair is many parts.

The parts are made of tree, but

the tree cannot be found in the parts.

The chair was made, but

the maker cannot be found in the chair.

The chair cannot be found in any of the parts.

The parts are not the chair.

No parts, no chair.

No chair, no parts.

What is the chair?


The chair is bodhisattva

offering itself to you

for rest.



Sparrows gather in the roses,

companionable and comfortable

among thorns and perfume petals.


A longhorn beetle sensitively explores

with antenna, legs, and mouth parts,

working its way along a blade of grass.


A buzzard floats, wide open

above purple and golden grasses,

certain in the air passing its wings.


A lone woman looks out at

distant, dark, silver-edged mountains,

sensing both earth and groundlessness.


Each one a snowflake falling –

unique, precious, and free –

gone – gone – gone…


Mary Booker 22.07.2023


Swifts are writing in the sky again,

flinging their strength, agility,

and fragility across the vast page.

I can’t read swift.

I imagine it’s about freedom, life, joy –

but when I listen deeply,

I hear urgency, hunger,

and the need to move on.

Look closely.  Stay awhile.

What can be seen?

A black and silver striped fly

with dark red eyes

delicately walks on its bent legs –

walking and touching –

walk and touch.  Swifts and flies.

What does this say?

What story does it tell about the sacred?

Mary Booker 08.07.2023

Home in the Unknown

It is now a year since I wrote my first post on the theme of At The Edge.  Last month I presented the poems from this exploration.  I felt that I both experienced and communicated what it was I had been exploring: from the sense of separation and being at the edge during Long Covid, to the aliveness of being at the edge of the woods, to the sense of inevitable change that the edge of the sea brings, to the awareness of the edge between life and death – and finally to the challenges that our world faces at the edge of extinction.  I was asked, “What next?”  My immediate internal response was, “I step beyond the edge.”

There was both fear and desire in this response.  It was so inevitable.  If I am to continue, this is what I must do to stretch my creativity and (as someone recently described it) to grow my imaging heart.  So, in my imagination, I have been sensing what stepping beyond the edge means to me.

I am in a dark and desolate landscape.  The ground seems to be bare, coarse sand, very firm underfoot.  There is a flame in my heart that lights up the space nearby, but beyond this is darkness.  I don’t know where I am.  I don’t know how to proceed here.  I don’t know what will be expected of me here.  Basically, it’s all “I don’t know.” 

I decide to devote, for a while, some time each week to being here and seeing what happens and what I feel.

I am deeply aware that this image is a metaphor for what life is actually like.  I have all that my life experience has taught me – and still I don’t know anything really.  What can guide me?  Can I find a way to feel at home in the unknown?




Screaming swifts know the way above.

Dolphins below enjoy connection and freedom.

My porous body breathes air

that is earth, sea, and sky.

When moving beyond the edge

into groundlessness,

angels offer wings.