Lenten Poem

We shall be recovered

from the distance of our first breath

from the water womb that soaked our skin, which we left, and so many times, left, hardening

in the dry air, leaving our awakening,

and dying a little, letting our first breath, Divine,

disappear from our minds, letting ourselves believe

we could not breathe.

We shall be recovered

when our skin is soaked with Jordan

wherever that river flows

and above the current, the wind,

Holy, breathing us, breathing memory

that we are from a whole cloth

knit from great intention

named before we understood.

We shall be recovered

when the grief comes, or when,

visited by a comfort,

Presence is a hand on our fevered heads;

when we have lost everything we wanted

and have found everything we love.

When the dark is like light,

when the light leads us into dark

We shall be recovered.

.Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon


Lenten Poem

Let me turn something over

in the heart of God,

let me turn over,

this rock, this stone,

let me turn it over to hear

the language hidden beneath

the words strewn carelessly in the day.


Let me turn over the log

where the bright blue mushrooms

signal the wet evening

to meet its shaded hope;

let me turn over the places

where life hides deep in the ground.


Let me turn over the moment

when the mute swans strung their

wide willowing wings across the

thin ribbons of left over clouds,

the wisps of what had been bundled

into the shapes of afternoon imagination.


Let me turn over the heart

that beat its kindness like a silver drum

dropping coins into a pauper hat.

Let me turn over the moment I knew

this rising shine of light within

burnt the rope that knotted my hands.


Let me turn over something

in the numinous, in the mystery,

and let it be the heart of God.


Ash Wednesday

These ashes belong to some generation

that inherited the fire we lit this morning.

Last Easter’s palms, wrinkled and darkened

light easily with a wooden match,

until we sift the remains into bowls with oil

to rub upon our memories, our losses, our regrets.


You might kneel today and the priest smudge your forehead

while the ash bends into your mind

so you can see again the brevity of your thoughts,

how they come and go, linger and slip away.

This ash upon you welcomes those who stand guard

in spiritual assurance; perhaps, your mother and father,

your grandfather, the first poem by your grandmother,

supporting your intentions, your need to kneel.


There is a time to kneel, whether to give thanks or weep:

close to the earth you can hear water and heat below;

the ground you rest upon is held deep in liquid,

and your body too, rivers held by skin and bone.

Someday the water in us will be free, and our minds, too, will flow

into the great galaxy of love and hope, where we might bless

our children and grandchildren as they kneel, remembering and knowing

they are fire, water and ash. There is a power, a healing, in that:

to know the mind of love is the string of the universe to which we are attached.


Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon


I have listened into nothing

beyond the place of laughter or wound,

the stillness in the pause between gusts of wind,


the small moment – there is quiet,

and in that slight sleeve, everything:

a place between this and that breath,


the way a strand of hair falls across your forehead

when the wind dies down

and before it heaves again.


I have been held, separately and together,

in some close heart that is beating alive the universe:

there, I can say it unashamed, it has silenced


all the noise of this world shouting,

shouting as if by shouting Someone would hear

like the unthinking in the presence of the deaf


who are talking instead with movement

and the gesture of understanding

and who know the beat of the universe is theirs,


the sign language of love hidden in the depth of still silence.

Finally, after so many years, I am growing deaf, welcomed,

into the grand orchestra of God’s singing hands.


Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

October 30, 2017

Summer Hawk

Yesterday a red shouldered hawk sat on my fence

his yellow talons gripping the black rail,

and I wondered why he stopped beside me

beside the window an arm’s breadth away

where we could peer at each other, see ourselves

in each other’s eyes, imagine the wingspan of our flight.


Was it I who visited his morning or he who visited mine

or in this season of rolling warm summer we were accidently met?

I will say this: in his sharp sight I saw the day as possibility

and the night as a ribbon between his beak. I saw flight

and rest as ways of living on the earth, and the space

between us only a matter of where the sun stood

lighting our eyes, recognizing our gaze while the grass

lay wet from the early hour and the trees breathed awake.


Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon


Holy Saturday

His last thought before darkness

a sweep of the mind, empty,

and the pure pleasure of nothing –

before that – a commitment,

fully into holiness,

into the hands of an abundant grace

and forgiveness, a thing complete,

so abiding calm while his mouth

drank in the sweet wine of eternity,

after the terrible thirst, after that.


I think it must have been so quiet

in heaven, when God came home

dragging with him the souls

who had been lost, carrying them

on his shoulder and over his back

one by one, up from all pure lost-ness

into heaven and such still silence,

nobody wailing or weeping but held now

in the abiding, in the coming home.


For three days, he carried the lost

and shut the door on hell, such grace,

given now to a communion, that paradise

of tasting wine with love

and all the bread leavening like a perfume,

everyone gaining strength again,

the ordeal over, suffering maturing, rising,

holding all the worlds in place

with a silence to dissolve fear or separateness.


That was the same silence into which he slipped

after his body became the wooden beams

upon which he was nailed –

the life of the tree ministering to his need

to grow something more than endings,

and leaning out of darkness,

after the human hewed tomb,

after the work of redeeming hell,

he dropped the cloths that cased his limbs

and walked forth to call the world home,

meeting Mary and Peter and Thomas,

and appearing to many, to the thousands,

whose voices became unintelligible to ordinary life

speaking a language of mysterious grace

in which everything comes home

in which everyone comes home

in which the time is fully come.

Mary Fraser


Spring and Good Friday and Potatoes

Spring has a bit of loss too

saying good bye to the hidden things of winter

and the way I remembered to bring a coat.

There’s the rending of Good Friday

and the memory of great betrayals.


My friend told me this is the day to plant potatoes

as though beneath the crosses scattered on any hillside

we could bury into dark earth

a secret that we shall be fed.


I went to Ireland once and a man told me

during the great potato famine

the people gathered still to build churches

as though they were planting a desperate hope

or perhaps a belief to hold them as death approached.

Or perhaps a great faith.


Yes there is a bit of loss in Spring

to understand the bitter, and the sweet

fragile strands of light warming the trees

whose roots notice the shoots

near their wandering fingers

where potatoes are fattening.


Mary L. Fraser