Posted in Poems/Poetry

Where the Wisteria Grows

Pondering Angel
Pondering Angel

At the flower market this morning
I thought of us and our naked lives
Did you notice the star lilies bowing
and giant calyxes unfurling themselves?

A painter’s pallette of color there
fretting in terra-cotta, feral and windblown
A fabulous fusion of scent and form,
forests of nectar-pots on knobby stems,
the stuff of heaven for the anthophilous
In just a day or two, they’ll be gone

I couldn’t help but think that these
yes! … these are our human days
our days to sow or steal our human joys
Another day will inevitably transform us
The moon will stew us in a soffritto
of tulips and night-blooming jasmine

At dawn on the day I decide to die,
we’ll sip oolong at the Tudor Rose,
but I won’t be there, I promise I won’t
You’ll eat orchids to celebrate our love
and our long walks in kempt gardens

Once you picked forget-me-nots –
meant as the soul of our redemption
When their colors fade and leaves wither,
it will be time to look for me …
Look for me where the wisteria grows
With subtle eupony my blue-violet tendrils will
call you, weaving and binding you in love again

” . . . when we look around ourselves, we can recognize ourselves in the non-self elements, like a father looking at his children can see himself in his children, can see his continuation in his children. So he is not attached to the idea that his body is the only thing that is him. He’s more than his body. He is inside of his body but he is also at the same [time] outside of his body in many elements. And if we have the habit of looking like that, we will not be the victim of our attachment to one form of manifestation, and we will be free. And that freedom makes happiness and peace possible.” Thich Nhat Hanh

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day); Pondering Angel by Barbara Stone of the List of Buddha Lists

Posted in poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

New Mother, Turning to the Kora

20140104-184807When you still fit
my arms
like an instrument
beating rhythms
at my heart, you would, at times,
cry without cease,
without reason–without reason that I
could reason out–and I, almost without
reason myself, would play a music
of Kora and guitar
in which the strings,
sounding of bells,
plucked us from the closed-in walls
and wails,
lifted us
from the hard wood floor we walked, transported us
to some bigger brighter world where sun streamed
vibrationally, where leaves echoed, where
life strolled, where tears caught in scrunched cheeks seemed almost
ripples re-centering a well
on a day when one
craved water, a natural wrinkle
of wells and water.

Whirled shine glinted
upon our faces whether we looked
up or down, and even though, in that apartment,
metal gates shadowed the nearest windows;
we knew–even as an infant you could hear–
that the music held want as well
as tinkle, that knells mourn even as
they proclaim, that the lone also
still you at last would smile, me
too, as if both of us were tuned
by those stringed scales,
so gratefully tethered.

– Karin Gustafson

© 2014, original artwork, poem and portrait (below), Karin Gustafson, All rights reserved

Kora ~ a twenty-one string bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa

photo-46KARIN GUSTAFSON (Manicddaily) ~ a guest contributor to Bardo focuses (sometimes) on the interface between creativity and stress, with a side of little elephant drawings. She is a writer and illustrator, having published a collection of poetry, Going on Somewherea children’s counting book, 1 Mississippi ( for lovers of light, water. and pachyderms) and, most recently,Nose Divea light-hearted mystery novel about teenagers, Broadway musicals, love, noses, New York City.  (More information about the books may be found at and at Amazon.)  Since July 2009, Karin has been engaging visitors to her blog with her observations, poetry and artwork, especially her elephant sketches and cartoons. She is an active participant in d’Verse Poets Pub and a member of its d’Team.

Posted in Christianity, Essay, Terri Stewart

Creating room and transformation at Christmas …

800px-Nativity_tree2011Originally published in Rethink Church. Published here with permission.

IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!! I hear this echoing in my head from years past—from my children’s years, from my own cries, and from my crazy Aunt Nancy (I love you!) who still calls me at zero-dark-thirty to wish me a Merry Christmas.

What I also remember is making lists of what I have bought for the in-laws to make sure everybody got the same quantity and the same monetary value. Making lists for my children so one was not valued in presents more than the other. And stressing out over finding that “perfect gift” for my oldest son who seemed to be unable to express desire for anything. ANYTHING. That is stressful.

But maybe he had the right idea all along! He was unattached to things.

Non-attachment to things of this world is a value greatly revered by the world’s great traditions. What if we slowed down, let non-attachment suffuse the Christmas* season, and began again? What would that mean? What would it look like in our lives?

What if we emptied our lives of the values of materialism, comparison to others, and over-abundance and instead filled it up with the values of spiritualism, self-inventory, and enough? What if we took a journey of emptying rather than filling?

The dichotomy is pretty stark. Empty vs. full. Nobody really wants to run around on empty or having nothing. But there is a trick. By slowing down our lives and refocusing our lives, we can begin again with an attitude pointed towards spiritualism, self-inventory, and being satisfied with enough. Adopting these three counter-cultural traits, creates freedom for new things to happen.

Simplifying creates room for more!

More what? More interior room to listen to that which calls you. More room to see those around you. More room to understand great joy. And more room to feel the world’s great grief. After listening, seeing, understanding, and feeling, there is one more thing—by simplifying, there is more room to offer great love in action to a hurting world.

By emptying, we create room. By making room, the possibility of personal transformation is created. By being transformed, the possibility of action is created. By committing acts of love, mercy, and justice, the possibility of world renovation is created.

And before long, we who were emptied have been filled with love.

Chaplain Terri Stewart

*Christmas season in the secular sense of the word as that time from the day after Thanksgiving to January 1.

©2013, essay, Terry Stewart, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Jeff Weese via Wikipedia and under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is The Bardo Group  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at, and  To reach her for conversation, send a note to