Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let's Take a Walk in the Woods...

Photo credit: renatures.com



SYMPHONY OF THE WOODS
I meander through woods
along a beaten pathway in North Jersey
and the music begins immediately

There’s chittering of crickets
and the cacophony of other insects
that are hanging on to life
until the frost, which will come soon
Leaves rustle in the trees
some whoosh past me
as they fall to the ground
and there’s a crunch
of dry ones beneath my feet

I hear an occasional snap of a twig
and the scamper of squirrels
or chipmunks, a raccoon 
or field mice scurrying unseen
up and down tree trunks
or frolicking in the dense brush

There may be hidden deer or a bear
Some sounds I cannot identify

Birdsong completely fills the air
all kinds of birdsong—
chirps and coos
and warbles and squawks
I even hear the flutter
of wing flaps

Tying everything together
is the faintest whistling in the breeze
that feels something like tinnitus
ringing in my ears
but it’s not unpleasant

All the sounds blend together
into Nature’s symphony—
a serenade to my spirit
as I stroll


Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Mount Arbel in the Moonlight"

Photo credit: pinterest.com


MOUNT ARBEL IN THE MOONLIGHT
Israel Pilgrimage--2006

Traveling in the tour bus from Tel Aviv
we arrive at the base of Mount Arbel
before twilight turns to dusk

The prudent would
postpone this venture
till daybreak, but
the zealous are rarely prudent

so seventy of us
imprudent zealous pilgrims
hastily begin an uphill trek
dodging rocky obstacles
Sprightly pilgrim feet
shuffle, sprint and stumble
up the mount
right to the cliff edge
at the pinnacle

The last vestiges of twilight
reveal the Galilee
flowing below us, darkly
like a great well of ink
Thousands of twinkling pin-lights
emanate from across the lake
…the city of Tiberius

The full moon
makes shadows of us all
as our guide teaches
and our rabbi ministers

We sing
O how we sing—

We are standing
on holy ground and we know
that there are angels all around…

and song after song of praise
unconcerned about hour or nightfall

Our exhilarated spirits mellow
and we lapse into solemn silence
except for muffled adoration
by a few and gentle weeping
by those bearing weighty burdens

then one by one
we make our way
…sure-footedly
down the steep, stony path
as God’s great October orb
casts a holy beacon
upon what otherwise would be
a treacherous, dark descent


Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"The Labyrinth"


THE LABYRINTH

Written at a poetry retreat led by Laura Boss and Maria Mazzioti Gillan

Mendham, New Jersey, October, 2001


It was free time during an intensive
weekend poetry retreat
I strolled the convent grounds
that warmish autumn day
to clear my head
of so many words and phrases
so many raging poems
about the World Trade Center
so many poems sprung from wounds
from love and death

I smiled at the sight of a nun
wearing a black and white habit
that grazed the russet ground
as she gracefully raked leaves
in a wide open field

“Sister,” I called
“you have quite a job there!”

She answered, but
not hearing her reply
I left the path
and approached her
She was Sister Julia, a novice
named for a thirteen-year-old martyr

Sister Julia was clearing leaves
from a circular brick-in-grass labyrinth
She told me what I hadn’t known
that a labyrinth isn’t a maze
but a unicursal
one path that leads to the center
and out again
She called it Chemin de Jerusalem[1]
a substitute for pilgrimage

I continued my journey
to the old cemetery
with its weather-beaten cement crosses
and to a nearly dry, leaf-strewn pond
then returned, because I had to
to the labyrinth

Entering, my spirit revitalized
as I stepped slowly within the bricks
joyfully reciting snippets
from Davidic, “Songs of Ascents”
and offering hymns and hallelujahs
At center, aliyah!

“My feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem”

and recalled, sweet as honey
so many years ago
when they actually were

I could almost hear the sound
of a distant shofar

Maude Carolan






[1] Road of Jerusalem

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It is Good to Praise the Lord!

Image credit: 123rf.com
HALLELUJAH HANDS
“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer,
without anger or disputing.” 1 Timothy 2:8 NIV    

Some lift one
others, both
chest-high, chin high
Some reach upward
ceilingward, skyward
stretching Heavenward
reaching for
His hem

Soft young graceful hands
with squared airbrushed fingertips
Pudgy, fidgety, child hands
copying his daddy hands
Brown hands, pale hands
old bulging vein hands
Just plain hands
hands with bands
hands flashing rings
stones sparkling
Calloused hands, splintered hands
rough, red dishpan hands
Cold hands, warm hands
peanut butter and jelly hands
Salon hands
nails lacquered red
rose pink or pearly

Tambourine shaking
banner waving
clap clapping
Bible clutching
baby holding
tear wiping
clenching, wrenching
God beseeching hands

Hands clasping the hand
of another
hands signing praise
for ears that cannot hear
hands folded
serenely in a lap

All beautiful
all holy
all His children’s
hallelujah hands


Maude Carolan

Sunday, September 17, 2017

As the Fall Holidays Approach...

I am blessed to be a member of a Messianic congregation,
and am looking forward to celebrating the fall holidays...

Here is a brand new poem about that:

Photo credit: youtube.com

AS THE FALL HOLIDAYS APPROACH

I reach for my sweater against the chill
The crickets are chittering
Sunflowers have shed their golden petals
and a few green tomatoes remain
abandoned on the vines
It’s September—
the High Holy Days are approaching

Soon I will gather with mishpoceh[1]
in the parking lot outside Beth Israel
We will observe Rosh Hoshanna
Rabbi Jonathan[2] will sound
his kudu shofar beneath the full moon—
Tekiah—Shevarim—Teruah—Tekiah Gedolah[3]

Sages tell us the first day of the month of Tishri
is the day God created the world
the world He so loved
the world He gave His only Son to save
The trumpeting reminds me
to reflect upon my relationship
with this God of my salvation
reminds me, humbly, to prepare for Yom Kippur

So I ponder the Day of Atonement
ponder the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies
sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice upon the Mercy Seat
ponder the sacrificed goat and the scapegoat
ponder forgiveness
ponder my sins, atoned for by Yeshua[4]
ponder my High Priest, the Perfect Sacrifice
Who offered His Very Own Blood
on my behalf

Next will be Sukkot
the Feast of Tabernacles—
From inside a leafy sukkah
I’ll be reminded of the sojourn of God’s people
to the Promised Land
reminded of my very own sojourn
toward God’s promise—
eternal life with Him
in Heaven

Maude Carolan Pych



[1] Mishpoceh is Hebrew for family.
[2] Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, worship leader of Beth Israel Worship Center, Wayne, NJ.
[3] These are the various sounds of the shofar (ram’s horn) on Rosh Hoshanna.
[4] Yeshua is Hebrew for Jesus.

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has written a new book, published by First Line Publishing
He is the New York Times best-selling author
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It's available now at Beth Israel, online and in bookstores.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Remembering 9/11/01

Image credit: reclaimourrepublic.wordpress.com
WAITING WITH ARMS OUTSTRETCHED
Written in the wake of the September 11, 2001, Attack on America

We’ve been told God doesn’t belong in our schools
He doesn’t belong in public buildings
not in the town square, not at baseball games
We may not pray to Him in our classrooms
His Name has been shushed from graduations
Our witness at work has been silenced
Crèches and menorahs have been removed from government properties
and replaced with roly-poly Santas, tinseled trees and dreidels
Christmas and Hanukkah have been neutered
with wishes of “season’s greetings,” “happy holidays”
We’ve been closeted by the separation of church and state
in this free country founded as a safe haven for religious freedom

but when those 767s flew into those magnificent towers, September 11th
when those great towers imploded, when thousands died tragically
and shockwaves of grief and terror riveted our planet
suddenly our churches filled
God’s name arose boldly on banners all across the land
It was posted, plastered, scrawled and spoken
prayed to by the President, our leaders, newsmen
It appeared on school message boards
bumper stickers, lapel pins, buttons
It was superimposed upon flag decals glued to our windowpanes
It was emblazoned upon our chests on patriotic T-shirts
and it appeared over and over and over on subway prayer walls
along with Scotch taped photos of those who were missing
Thousands proclaimed it loud and clear
at candlelight vigils and a prayer service at Yankee Stadium
and we all sang it with tears
“God Bless America,” our truer anthem

If we’ve been complacent; if we’ve swept Him aside
packed Him away in attic trunks
with things we thought we wouldn’t need anymore
He’s waiting with arms outstretched
love streaming from His eyes
and we need Him to heal our shattered hearts

Oh, let’s keep the “God Bless” in our “America”
and Americans, let us “Bless God”
O let us never let go of Him again


Maude Carolan

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Christian Rock Concert, Ocean Grove, NJ

The Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove, NJ
Photo by Maude


ROCK CONCERT,
GREAT AUDITORIUM, OCEAN GROVE

It was good for us 
to be there
even though 
our silver pates pounded
and our ears 
were so deeply traumatized
by each deafening decibel
our hearing actually dulled, temporarily
The thundering beat bounced off
walls and rafters, ceiling and floor
reverberated in our seats
and sent tremulous vibrations
through our entire beings

It was a rock concert of worship music
with smoke and strobe and spotlights
PowerPoint and praise to Jesus. Hallelujah!
Amplified drums and crashing cymbals
the resounding cymbals the Psalms speak of
It's the very same music we enjoy over the radio
when we have control of the knob
There was no adjusting the volume tonight

The lead singer leaped across the stage
and sang so loudly we couldn't hear words
We attempted to sing along as best we could
we clapped and shouted and raised our hands
along with thousands, mostly young
with wonderful innate enthusiasm
and accustomed, receptive ears
We even did "the wave" with them
until we all were reminded
of the balcony's 100-year-old fragility
We were reminded of our own 60ish fragility

We really wanted to stay. We really wanted to enjoy
We really wanted to span generations with great jubilation
We didn't mean to weenie out, but
looking one to the other
realized our pinched faces weren't reflective
of the fired-up ones one-third our ages
so we ducked out midway through the second performance

Tomorrow we'll go to church
We'll sing, "Come, Thou Almighty King"
Number 392 in the frayed pew hymnal
but we'll treasure aspects of tonight
like the little girl in ribbon-tied pigtails
both hands raised way up high
like the cool guys with their big silver crosses
their earrings and bandanas
black tees emblazoned with The Name
like the twelve-year-old in the row in front of us
who kept spinning his green glow stick
as he danced in the bleachers praising his Jesus
with all the fervor of the shepherd/king of long ago
who led that remarkable gambol of wild abandon
before the Holy Ark


Maude Carolan

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Sunflowers Along Emmaus Road"

Photo by Maude


SUNFLOWERS ALONG EMMAUS ROAD
Israel Pilgrimage—1986

Big, bodacious sunflowers
live up to their name
sun-shining a million
dazzling petal spires at us
along Emmaus Road

It is fitting
because I am ablaze
with Jesus-joy
to be here

as I think about my newly
Resurrected Lord, vanishing
at the very breaking
of the bread

astonishing the disciples
who sat with Him
at table

Those utterly bewildered disciples
whose hearts thumped
and blazed
with glory fire
as He walked with them
as He explained to them
the Holy Scriptures

2000 years ago
somewhere
along this very road


Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, August 20, 2017

It's Sunflower Season!

I never have much luck with sunflowers. This summer, I must have planted 200 seeds in my backyard, and some in my daughter's backyard in Ringwood, and I also gave my sister a handful of seeds. One plant survived the birds, the little creatures, and the elements. Here is a photo of my splendid sole surviving sunflower and a poem about someone I do not know who had much greater success than I, a few years ago.


Photo by Maude
of this year's sole surviving sunflower


FREE GIFTS

For weeks now
I’ve been driving by a house
on Totowa Road
that holds no distinction
except for a vibrant flower garden
in front and around the side

What catches my glance
and causes me to smile
are perhaps thirty or forty
big golden sunflowers
shouting for attention

Today I printed
eight sunflower poems
folded them neatly
and placed them in an envelope
decorated with a scribbled sketch
of a solitary sunflower
and a note saying
“I love them, too!”
and left the envelope
by the front door
of the house on Totowa Road

Sometimes I leave bereavement poems
on a table at a neighborhood mausoleum
or give copies of The Widow’s Song
to newly widowed friends
Sometimes I mail poems
about butterflies
to people who love them
and regularly post poems on my blog
about God’s love and His mercy
with the hope
of reaching those
who need encouragement

When the one who gifted me
with a garden of sunbursts
opens the door today
I hope my simple poems
generate a smile


Maude Carolan Pych