inside the house
all of the screens
stream by with
fear-filled news
emboldened kkk in charlottesville
leave behind the injured and deceased
and here it is august 2017
such sadness and suffering
information can bring

a step or two
from beneath the sheltering roof
is the entire infinite sky and
a delicious lingering touch
of sweet cool air
this bright summer morning in independence
honey locust, towering catalpa, black locust
and kentucky coffee tree hang heavy
swollen by recent unusual rains
laden with full brown seed pods

my brothers and sisters
the perfect place to fall in love
is already offering its bounty
the fragrance of life
wafts from the ground
with a scent of harvest time
the dead are made fertile
in the luscious earth
i tell you plainly
there is only birth to be seen
in any direction i look

there comes a time when we too
must stand in the way and when we do
we look to the strong ancestral trees
for our example patiently reverent
in the black ground bowing in a surging sky

matter transformed to light cascades
to us through the quivering leaves
and back within receiving minds

wind that has swept across
vast oceans of water and grass
slows and sighs along our limbs
eddies at our fingertips

wind chimes beneath our porch
bump lovingly against one another
a low mellow reverberating contralto

earlier on the lake trail
some humans pressed by gaze averted
absorbed in the screen
they come and they go
voiceless and lost in the depths
of the endless scroll

do not fear my dear
for we will remain
rooted here forever
and a day as long
as it takes
the fear carried
in those furtive eyes
of separation and despair
yet wherever we are together
we invoke peace and love invite all
to participate in this flowering field
where life still flows unimpeded
straight from the center transmuted
into earth wind fire and water

nothing is the matter
and the ground of all being
is in every locale
accepting all that is
without label or illusion

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 8/17/17


i wheel my bicycle
from the dark garage
and am struck by it again
stretching infinitely above the roof
we so carefully maintain
is a planet sized sphere
of soft blue atmosphere
then space and stars and stuff
not visible beyond busy refracted light
bouncing around in azure bliss up there

we spend so much time
cooped up with our thoughts.
one emerging physics theory
posits everything is made of photons
wave and particle cascading
somehow into things we see
measure touch and assess

is it not already apparent
when we pedal into a widening sky
or fall within it to where you and i
shine with a shared remembrance
that without self all life is this?

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 8/2/17


an old looking dude with a long white beard
waits in line at the drugstore check-out
crows feet around his dark brown eyes
that are lost in some interior distance
of remembrance or forgetfulness i have to
wonder if he knows his whereabouts

and then it comes back to me
that i have seen this body before
in fact have worn it all my life
or so the one believes
who patiently waits

looks about and smiles then again departs
into spaciousness where commerce transpires
and fluorescent light, bright advertising, aisles of gleaming goods are holy accolades
everything arranged not as it should be,
but as it is, simply this

he seems rather blissfully mystified,
the old guy waiting for his turn,
like he woke up today to a whole new world
full of glittering brand new and spontaneous
like he is shopping in the very same store also another somewhat like it somewhere else

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 7/25/17


Beyond being loving to our separate selves, beyond all sense of self, is the eternal loving One that sustains us: life living through us, arising in this moment. Life will always be OK without us. We, our cherished identities, are not necessary, nor will they endure. They are dreams. When we rest in divine will we feel the fullness of all life. It the source of all love. It is home. 

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 7/21/17


i’m grateful for what propels this bicycle
along the stark white scratch of trail
that snakes alongside Little Blue Trace
heavy with sweat this body is thankful
for the morning prairie air that is rushing
into the breathing wide blue opening sky

more of me is wicked away streaming behind
a bluish mist i can see concentrating
into distance a steaming upward of the earth
and here in the heat-hazed midst of time
the delicious shadowy flow of all is given birth

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 7/20/17

Art & Spirituality

In one of his talks, Adyashanti says that all spirituality shares in common the practice of stillness and attention. Good writing really stems from exactly the same thing: having enough inner stillness to be an observer, and being attentive to what is arising in the moment. It is always about allowing life rather than resisting it.

In a YouTube video my beloved and I watched recently, a French reporter asked Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, what link she thought existed between artistic expression and spirituality. Julia answered that they are inseparable. If you increase your spirituality, your creativity will increase. If you increase your creativity, your spirituality will increase.

What do we even mean by creativity? It is our unique expression of who we truly are, expressions that can be manifested in a thousand different ways, many of which have nothing to do with formal art per se. In thinking about my writing and digital art in relation to my own journey, I agree completely with Julia because I think both routes, if taken seriously, require one to be in touch with one’s authentic self, the part that is in alignment with our divine nature even if it is never referred to as such.

Here is the funny/super great thing I have noticed as my spiritual practice has deepened. I’ve stopped worrying about the product, and am greatly enjoying immersion in the creative process. As Julia encourages, I am willing to write bad first drafts, lots of them, so that I capture the essence of an experience, and then come back to tinker with it later. I am finally writing every day, both the 3 pages Julia recommends and my poetry, by staying open to what I’m experiencing and noticing the details without getting distracted or overwhelmed by various forces trying to pull me into some kind of unnecessary drama or story. This is not to say that I never follow bad energy now, knowing full well I should just leave it alone but then doing it anyway, but it does happen far less frequently than in the past, and if I go into a spiral after getting emotionally triggered, writing is my way of allowing whatever emotion is being felt to be expressed in a nice, quiet, safe, peaceful environment where I can regain clarity. In any case, the beautiful as well as tragic experiences of life are less resisted, I find, within the spaciousness that a blank sheet of paper provides, and there I am able to discover “what's really going on for me.”

And then there are those times when something so profoundly moving and transformative occurs that it pushes me right up against the limits of language, as though all of the words must dissolve into light in order for the experience to be conveyed to the reader, yet words are the tools we must use. It is in the formless magical process of pulling elements together into a metaphor to attempt to convey such feelings that I often feel an almost overwhelming appreciative awe at the relatedness of everything, yet also this yearning to more fully allow that which I can sense just on the other side of my words. In this deep reflection and listening, I am sometimes then given a gift of understanding which I never really expected.

For me, writing is kind of like meditation. It isn’t always easy to completely relax, random competing thoughts or worries arise and seek attention, but when I am centered, moments of pure bliss sometimes show up as well. It’s not something I can go running after by developing a “method of relaxation blissing out to metaphor.” I do know, however, that the more open I am to what is, the more often these periods of deep peace and real joy with writing tend to occur. It’s like a quote I heard listening to a recent Jack Kornfield podcast. “Enlightenment,” wrote one master, “is an accident. But certain efforts can make one accident prone.” Creative writing is definitely on the list of “certain efforts.”

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 7/18/17