Shanghai By The Moonlight

 

 

This is a poem I wrote in 2000, inspired by both Enya and a postcard of a Shanghai Buddhist Temple. Though it is in poetry form, it is also a good example of how to write vividly by using descriptive details that are concrete and specific. Doing so can help our readers use their imagination to see, or hear, or feel what we as writers present in our composition. (my note to students)


Like folded hands steepled in prayer

The Longhua Pagoda solemnly beckons –

Where are the stars that paint the sky;

Only the gentle moon silently casts its light

On the mysterious city of Shanghai…

What a cold, lonely night

As I walk through its snow-laden grounds

And I behold the haunting sight

Of winter trees and stones;

And hues of blue and gray and white

Dance to the eerie sounds of silence…

Upon its lace-mantled bosom

A golden light glows

A solitary glimpse of warmth

For a distant soul in hope

Of Memories and a China Rose…


Poetry Prompt #17 – Dreamflights

My Reflection on “The Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 I cannot fully describe my total experience while going through each of the pages of this extraordinary book “The Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello. When I set out to read, I tried to put myself into a proper frame of mind, and created a mood in order to get a feel for what the author says: “the mystical.”

I knew being mystical was more than just feelings, so I seriously followed the third suggestion of how to read the stories – in a prayerful manner. Most of all, I tried to open my mind, heart and spirit for the grace of wisdom I would hopefully gain.

Story after story I went and slowly some things would strike me now and then, but only superficially, I felt. Later I discovered I must not predispose myself in a way too expectant nor too presumptuous, for what I found most enlightening were those that I read in a humble way.

Like what most of the stories have to say, we must not be too engrossed with the future, nor should we be buried in the past, for we must live in the present and be aware of what the present has for us. If we do so, sooner or later the beauty of the moment unfolds before us to savor, to experience, to have. Then we cannot just analyze nor rationalize; we just have to let each moment be, and let us be still in the moment, be in the silence of the present.

Like the fish who keeps looking for the big ocean, I learned I must keep still, and listen to the silence of my self, to the lessons that were being imparted to me here, little by little. I should only let my heart be open and let my mind be still and stop walking ahead, wandering around because I cannot just force wisdom into my heart just because that was what I intended to find.

I also learned that this is how we usually go through life. We race ahead to the directions or goals we have set for ourselves as if the future is all there is to life.

What also strikes me about the book is the varied sources of inspiration drawn from different religions and they all speak of searching for the Truth, being one with Creation, and most of all, finding God in our everyday lives.

And though we are of different faiths, of different races, we all have the same stories to share, the same longings for our same God, the same aspirations and ideals. We all can learn from one another.

I was most struck by one story here, “Change the world by changing me.” I believe that this is one powerful prayer that could really ‘move mountains’ if only we were humble enough to first transform ourselves and ask God to help us.

Because I was definitely changed somehow by most of the stories, I decided to share the book with my second son and asked him to write his reflection. May I then take the liberty to share with you what he wrote verbatim:

Reading this book has made me strengthen my faith in God. I am grateful that as I was reading, a lot of questions stirred inside my heart, meaning I am not contented with my spiritual life because being contented means that I already know everything there is to know about God which I think is an impossible feat.

My questions led me to the fact that I was created in His image, a little lower than the heavenly beings which makes me greater than all things here on Earth but that God is infinitely higher so there is a vast difference between us. He knows all the answers to my questions but He may not reveal those to me since He said that there are things that are hidden and are for Him alone. And it is a good thing because His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. So seeking answers that are not meant for me may be dangerous to do.

And to those questions that are answered, I will keep always in my heart knowing that those will help me experience God better. Also, it will help me lead more souls to Him. I am always looking forward to questions to pop in my mind because each question answered will help me become a more mature Christian.

 

I intend to read this book again and again, for each time, new insights are revealed.