Little Altars Everywhere

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If your heart is not well,
If your spirit is not well,
These words may help you.

Wake in the hour
Just before dawn.
Wake in the hours
Before first light.
Wake when the animals of the night
Have ended their songs,
When the animals of the day
Have not yet begun their songs.

Walk without words.
Follow the path
That leads to the stream.

Then, as the first light
Touches the stream,
Bend to the water,
Speak these words:

“Long Person, I come to ask your help.”

Then hold up
A cup of that water
And drink the dawn.

– Cherokee Tradition

Little Altars Everywhere

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The blessèd stretch and ease of it—

heart’s ease. The hills blue. All the flowering weeds
bursting open. Balm in the air. The birdsong
bouncing back out of the sky. The cattle
lain down in the meadow, forgetting to feed.
The horses swishing their tails.
The yellow flare of furze on the near hill.
And the first cream splatters of blossom
high on the thorns where the day rests longest.

All hardship, hunger, treachery of winter forgotten.
This unfounded conviction: forgiveness, hope.

– Kerry Hardie, “May”

Little Altars Everywhere

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There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world’s heart.
There is no other art.

– Alison Luterman, “Invisible Work” (excerpt)