One Tuesday not long ago, the Turtle Haven morning yoga class was about to begin, and I was on my way out of the housephoto-10 when I grabbed a card with a hand scribed poem from our friend and fellow yogi, Bill Baroch. Bill is also, by the way, Turtle Haven’s trails and grounds landscape artist. I read the poem in class, and was asked by a wonderful student and friend to post the poem on this blog! I thought I would add a few more thoughts, and some of the story behind the wheel….

We have  on the land, near the labyrinth, this poetic prayer wheel which was created by Chris Moench in collaboration with me, to honor Jillian’s birthday a year and a half ago, the same year she was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. Aaron Westgate and his friend Andy Phillips created a beautiful pagoda-like, earthy and elegant structure to hold the beautiful vessel. I include a photograph of it in this post (above).

In recent days, we had a very intimate, small gathering to initiate this blessed addition to Turtle Haven, and Bill brought a poem he had written for the occasion. Since the Tuesday class SEES the wheel, and some go out and visit it, I thought to bring the poem into class— and as I recall, it had to do also with the notion I wanted to speak about that morning, that we need places to go with our our prayers, intentions, joys and sorrows, to bring them out from our own hearts and minds, into some outer form. To speak, mutter, write, or sing them and offer them out…. in this way, a different relationship arises with what we were formerly holding within. In the Gospel of Thomas, as Elaine Pagels and others have pointed out, Jesus is said to have brought this teaching: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” These are powerful words that tell us in a larger sense something of the teachings of the Niyama, and Svadyaya, self reflection, and then bringing ourselves forward into the world, in whatever way is healing and contributes.

Part of our “bringing oursleves forward” includes being aware of places where we hold questions, grief, emotional stirrings, desires for inner change, or for shifts on the outer plane, and all the many inner mysteries of existence in human form. I have always loved the ritual in church of lighting candles with prayer and intention, and have let that expand into the same form in a broader array of places. To have specific places to visit and revisit creates a potency and a remembrance that can bring a deepening in our connection with the Innermost Mystery, however we name that in a particular way, according to our own experience and beliefs. Some of the Tuesday morning yoga practitioners have also created a Patanjali yoga shrine area, that started with a beautiful rock engraved with the second yoga Sutra: “And then the Seer Dwells in his own True Splendor,” a sutra that speaks to our ultimate yogic realization of our deep oneness with the Supreme Intelligence. This rock was a gift for another long time student and community member Frances, a few years back. Now the shrine has a Patanjali figure housed in a hand built by Bill sort of small, beautiful “cathedral in the woods” structure which was dreamt up by Maureen, Frances, Bill and me last year. We had a blessing for it as the culmination of last Spring’s retreat with Ravi; Felicity Green was here as well at that time! So there has been a rich flowering here at Turtle Haven for which Jillian and I feel so much gratitude, as we steward a place that reflects our desire to listen deeply and hold this place on the Nooksack as a haven for our community to come and remember what is most important. Here is Bill’s poem:

Watch the Earth turning!
In her lovely round dance—
Witness the turning!
She sets the sun
Fills the sky with stars shimmering
Spins out the night
Returns to light….
Breathes out clouds
Feathering, sun mitten
In rhythm with the turning.
Brown leaves settle into damp Earth.
New green leaves seek the Sun.
Sleepers rise. Risers dream.
Dreamers dance…
In rhythm with the turning.
From the center turning.
All is one turning.

The Earth is a Prayer Wheel.
The Earth is Prayer Wheel.

The Earth is a wheel
Full of Prayers.
Each Being a Benediction.
A veneration. A Holy Communion.

Robin. River. Rain.
Redlegged Frog.
The silent sound of salamander steps.
You and I.
Our thoughts
For each other
Each heart a prayerful page,
An intention of Mystery.
We are seeds sewn in dark soil.
Delicate leaves unfolding.
We are flowers.
Everything is a flower.
No mistakes.
We are pages and pages of prayer,
Folded and unfolding.
Warm sun.
Moonless night.
Turning without. Turning within.
Turning! Turning!
On this beautiful wheel
Nothing but prayers
Apparent in daylight,
Hidden at night.