A Holiday Traveler's Prayer

Dearest Savior,
Lord of Laughter,
Soul of Kindness,
Winged and Bright:

Take us to
A small hereafter;
Bring us home
Without a fight.

Grant that we
But wait on waiters,
Let us know
Repose sublime.

Let us not
Find alligators;
Let our airplanes
Leave on time.

May the flight attendant prim
Glow'ring at her podium
Not deliver news that's grim --
(Did i pack the Imodium?)

Be it tropics, be it slopes,
Your mercy and your mirth await.
Please shed it not on angry mopes
Deserving of a harsher fate.

Let we few, the meek and pious,
Praying for Your swift return,
Find Your presence ;) swiftly by us
Ere we for our ending yearn.

Forgive our sin and and grant us unction,
Heal us with Your love Divine;
Rid us of our shrill dysfunction --
Yea, e'en this is only thine.

Help us better servants be
By leading us to healing waters;
Lend strength renewed, build faith in thee --
And keep a close eye on our daughters.

Let holidays dawn clear and calm,
And let each walk in Your straight way.
Drop on us your loving balm --
Let nothing us (and You) dismay.

And coming home, as You've decreed,
Having had more than our fill,
Our souls and not our stomachs feed --
May we know again the thrill:

Our hearts renewed and elevated,
Our souls on fire for love of thee:
Let us not be enervated
By chat and mail and MTV.

Some portion of Your gentle grace
Must follow us as on we move.
Our home is but the borrowed place
From which we strive our love to prove.

Love for You, who sped our flights,
Who filled us full of bubbling spirit,
Who graced our days and blessed our nights,
Hid not Your face, but drew us near it.

Let all who in Your vineyard toil
In every place and every season,
Returning to their native soil,
Know Your love, beyond all reason.

Mr. Gobley wishes you the deepening peace and boundless love that is the essence of each soul -- yes, even yours. We will meet again in the new year.

--Mr. Gobley



Shorn of its medallions,
Honor is
An active verb.
Applied to life,
It means:
Respect, revere,
Rejoice over.

Offer yourself,
Devote yourself
To seeing
And serving
Even an atom of
What is honorable.

Find and fortify
What is holy

Here is
The hard part:
Every soul deserves
Your honor, has
That holy spark within.

Has been
Hammered into shape
On the great anvil,
Forged in
The Divine Fire.

Can you
Honor that?

Can the judge
Within you rest,
So that your spark
And the spark
Of your adversary
May for a moment meet,
In sacred recognition?

Nothing may change.

Everything may change.

It does not matter.

Give honor to the spark
Within even the darkest
Of souls.

At this dark season,
String lights throughout
The world,
From soul to soul.

The light will be seen
And smiled upon,

From on high
And from a depth
Within each of us
Hungry for light.

--Mr. Gobley


The Sacrament

Tonight, it's wine.

But, really, it could be anything.

The taste of your lover's lips.

Anything that you,
Deeply immersed in the
Sanctity of the moment,
Absorb into yourself,
With deep gratitude
To the All:
That is sacrament.

The goal may
(Or may not) be
To make
Life Itself
The Sacrament.

The goal may be
Just to get through the day.

But each day,
Of whatever kind
Must contain one,
At least one,
Perhaps even more,
Of these:

The prismatic shattering
And wholly, holy

--Mr. Gobley


Cats and Dogs

What brilliant soul-sparks,
Clothed in fur,
Looking deeply into
Your eyes and
Silently training you
To love!

Love and obey them,
For they are teachers
Of these high arts.

In time, when you
Find yourself
On all fours,
Looking up
At a giant,
Perhaps you will
Understand in full:

Put love and obedience
Before all:
Place them at the feet
Of your master,
Your student,
Your soulmate,

To share
Like the saved morsels
That bind your four-legged
To you
In eternal vigilance,
Unending compassion,
Silent devotion.

--Mr. Gobley


A Psalm for Monday

Oh, Lord,
Do thou remember me.
My soul weakens
And climbs toward thee
Like the frozen spire of exhaust
From the tailpipe of
The car in front of mine.

And though the Sun,
The bright shield of your love,
May shine down upon me,
Yet the earth is cold,
The radio chatter is shrill and foolish,
My heart is weary.

And the week has only just begun.

Another Psalmist said:

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and
His courts with praise."

On this day,
In which i see
And yet cannot feel
Your love,

Let me pass through
Your gates --
Give me voice,
That i may yet praise
All that You have made:

The near and the far,
The kind and the unkind,
The 5-CD changer
And the seat-warmer,

The morning paper
That heralds
Your coming,
And the cup-holder
That caresses
The thimble-ful of Your compassion
That warms me on my way.

You, Lord, only you
Can give courage
To my timid soul:
As my seat warms,
So does my soul.

Your steadfast love gives me hope,
Your caffeine gives me courage.

i praise all that You have made.

--Mr. Gobley


In Praise of Mediocrity

We all are driven,
But by what we cannot say;
Lashed, burned,
Toward excellence.

All too often, we wake up and
Say to ourselves,
"i am not good enough."

Tomorrow --
Or whenever your Sabbath may be --
Give yourself a different mantra.

Let that mantra be
An absolution,
A Divine
Get Out of Jail Free

Let it be:
"Today, i shall embrace
My mediocrity."

Your shortcomings,
After all,
Are of Divine origin.
The flaws of our world
May be reminders
Of God's own failures.

Wherever we come up short,
Precisely there,
We find fellowship with God,
Feel the painful partings
Of Creation,
Nod to our mortality,
And -- if we are blessed --
Find humor in our
Clumsy climb
Toward Grace.

i proclaim my mediocrity,
i shout in joy to you,
wondrous humans!

Answer me back,
And let us together
Rejoice in
The immanence
Of our

--Mr. Gobley


Open Veins

"Bleed on,
Great rivers of life.

Flow forth.

Stir the silt
And fan out
Into the Delta
Of Becoming.

Though my veins empty,
i will never leave you.
No: i will depart
Only from

i will leave sorrow behind."

When you mourn
A great love,
Say this,
And they will
Say it along with you.

Say this, too:

"i have entered boundlessness.
i have found light at my center.
As i fly free of my
i enter the home
That you and i
Shall know
Beyond Time.

Here, we begin together
An endless beginning."

As you finish:
Breathe in.

And as you do,
Know that you have
Absorbed a drop of timelessness
From life's
Ceaseless river.

--Mr. Gobley


Pride and Rain

The rainy season
Bids us recall
How small we are.

The tiny part we play --
We silent soldiers,
Tittering upstage
With our whittled spears --
Can help proceedings
Only if we remember
Our place.

If we think to
Improve the play
By dancing with our spears,
And trip the King
Upon His entrance,

There will be Hell to pay.

In the Hebrew Bible
We are told
That, as we follow
So rain will fall.

What can this possibly mean?

Only this:

Our self-aggrandizement
Will parch the Earth --
Our wickedness will flood it.

All the world is out of balance
When we are out of balance.

So hold back your pride:
Remember who you are,
And are not.

As you do this,
So will
And Grace
Fall upon you --

Not all at once,
Not with Hallmark timing,
Nor apocalyptic force, but
In small,
Silver drops.

--Mr. Gobley


Thanks. Giving.

Together, the two words conspire
To rob each other of meaning.

We must look more closely:

Individually, they reveal
Themselves to be
No less than
The footprints of God.

In whose name
Our strangely appareled
Left their homes,
Sought new soil,
Formed their feast.

It was toward the
Their thanks
Were directed.

It was
God's own giving
For which they
Gave in return.

And joining them
At the table
Were those whose
Understanding of God,
While vastly different,
Could have been,
With their own,
As grateful,
As giving as their own.
Theirs was a feast of thanks,
A celebration of giving.

Two words.
Every day:

Thanks. Giving.

Gratitude. Generosity.

But of course:
Thanks and Giving,
Scrolled around
Each other,
A Horn of Plenty.

The Source of All
Brings forth Giving
From gratitude --
From Gratitude,
And it begins again.

This virtuous cycle
Is the very
Engine of Life,
The cyclic giving
Of the heart,
The cleansing work
Of the lungs,
The way life begins,
The way we all
Come to be,

The idea in whose service
All that is
Moves beyond
To become,
All That Is:

Be grateful.
And in gratitude,
Give again.

--Mr. Gobley


Rescue from the Unspeakable

What to do in the face
Of the unspeakable?

How to go forward
When a child
Is violated
A girl
Is murdered
An old man,
Stricken with cancer,
Is robbed at gunpoint?

How frivolous
Free verse can seem
On a brittle planet
Riven with hatred --

How precious our prayers
When, somewhere
In an ocean of
Scrub and sand,

A family of seven
Is hunted for sport.

And yet:
Our feet emit photons.
The crowns of our heads
Spout the light of our souls.

Which is to say,
We have power
We cannot begin to imagine,
Even as, each day,
We silently invoke it.

And with each act --
Of prayer,
Perisistence --

We move
A great reunion.

The bitter earth softens.

A killer dreams
Of his mother's embrace,
And is moved
To give a keepsake
To a widow;

And somewhere else,
A despot is enlightened
By the taste
Of a milkshake.


In the great net of being
One soul's small quiver
Can free a being
On the other end.

Never forget it.

--Mr. Gobley


Signing Up

What happens when you
"sign up" for something?

i'll tell you:

you make a determination,
an act of will,
and you "signify" that act:

that is, you "sign",
affixing your name
as a symbol of your act of will,
and that sign extends
to realms that reinforce your
(if beneficence it is).


and what is up?

i'll tell you:

we are moving trees,
rooted in the earth
but reaching always
toward the
higher aspects of
our little sphere,

extended toward new heights,
even while touching,
drawing nourishment from,
the dust of our origins.

so go on.
sign up.
affix your name,
the crest of your will,
to healing endeavors.

just be sure,
when you sign,
that it is
that you are signing.

--Mr. Gobley


Do One Thing Right

Each day, i set this modest goal.

i am,
we are,
so deeply flawed,
that, though modest,

my aim is not an unrealistic one.

i ask simply,
meditate briefly,
on this:

let me do
one thing right."

to do one thing right --
anticipate a need,
salve a wound,
execute a task,
counsel a child,
make someone
feel loved --

is so supremely difficult
that aiming to meet this goal
but once a day
is aiming high.

try it.

the only rule:

if you happen to do something
completely right
early in the day,
you are not off the hook
for the rest of the day.

oh, and one other rule:
if it happens twice in one day,
it is not permissible
to take the next day off.

--Mr. Gobley


When You Think About It

When you think about it,
It snaps into focus:

You are unique as a fingerprint,
Brilliant as Bach.

Your music is
Just yours,
Made to shine
In a particular way.

To argue with you
About God --
God is, or God isn't,
God loves you,
Or doesn't --

Is like arguing about your fingerprints,
Taking Bach to task
About one
Derivative fugue.

Your relationship to all that is
Is just yours,
Just right,
Just as it is.

It cannot be other.

Why should anyone fight it?

Currency can be converted;
Not so with souls.

All that needs happen is this:

Examine each day
The meeting point
Between you
And Everything Else.

In the light that you cast,
Deepen your understanding of it.

All the rest is dogma.

--Mr. Gobley


What People Are Saying

Do you ever watch and listen to someone,
And get struck with the
Clumsy, primitive miracle
Of human speech?

What are people really saying when they talk?

What do these uvular clicks,
These moist plosives
Framed in a vocal-cord shimmy,
And the snakelike workings of the tongue
(Which we take to convey the essence of our meaning
But are only symbols) --
What do they really mean?

We can never say
What we most profoundly want to say.
Our deepest meanings
Never surface.

If we are made
b'tzelem Elohim --
In the Image of God --
Then our words
Are but images of
True meaning.

We live in a mirror.

It is a dimension
From which
Only the
Most Determined

Are you determined
To emerge
Into the realm
Of pure meaning?

--Mr. Gobley


Saving Daylight

i turned my clock back
and yet i was not younger

this was confusing

i could not comprehend
how humankind might
move the fabric of time

even as the Maker
of that fabric
kept stitching

it came to seem
that it is what we always do:

we change our clocks
and believe we master time

we kick the dust of the moon
and believe ourselves
lords of the Universe

we call our deluded cousins
to throw aside religion
because we have Reason

the fabric is fine --
so fine we cannot

its flow so constant
that we cannot

if we turned our
face to this flow
and stilled our minds

we would be face
to face
with the Maker . . .

--Mr. Gobley


Seen On High

i imagine Heaven
As a white room
A pillowed bed
A great window --
A place to rest and
Watch life
As it gathers back up
Like a wave

And prepares to come
Thundering down on you

You rest --
Because you are deeply weary --
And you rejoice --

Because that rolling wave
Prepares to
Plunge you back into pain
And presence --

You will be drowned into it.

How delicious,
The deep bed,
The tall window,
The liquid wall --

The surrender.

--Mr. Gobley


Far-flung Family

There will come a time
When life is revealed
In worlds beyond ours.

Then we must turn to our
Sacred books,
Our cherished ideas,
And revise our entire

Our ill will,
Our greed,
Our sadness,
Our talent for war,
Result from thinking

That we are alone.

We know, in our hearts --
Those very hearts
That dance to signals
From beyond --

That we are not alone.

What will we say?
What will we think,
When we open our books
For the first time
After our far-flung family

--Mr. Gobley


The Pond

The Crown of Autumn:

And skies so bright
You get an ice-cream headache
Just by looking up.

The breeze sends a phalanx
Of determined ripples
Marching toward you.

Beneath, years of leaves
Mulch the bottom.
Some leaves float.
Some are suspended
Between the surface
And the bottom,
Like hopes.

With time,
Unless you reach in,
They will become part of
Something else,
Something decaying
And nourishing,
Even while at rest.

Their wobbly equilibrium,
Their last defiance
Of gravity,
Is our life and death:
An instant of conception
Brought to bloom,
Converted from matter
To energy --

But first,
One last proclamation
Of love
For sunlight,
Peat moss,
Rock-skippers --

All who fed and
All who accompanied
And all who remain.

Still here,
Even while journeying
We, too, are
Brief and blessed;

We, too, see
Our matter descend
As our spirit rises

To become another
Of Bright Being.

--Mr. Gobley


Having a Prayer

What is prayer? Possible examples:

  • 911, 411 and 0 all rolled into one -- no phone required
  • A blind date with the cosmos
  • Asking the Divine to fulfill a need -- only to discover that the need already has not been merely satisfied, but surgically removed
  • A thrill ride that costs nothing, can occur anywhere and anytime -- and that does not move
  • A Christmas list that indicates what you hope to be giving to the entire world
  • A moment of silent gratitude that lasts your entire life
  • A thought, leading to a discovery, leading to an embrace
  • Talking to yourself -- and getting an answer
  • A dialogue between the very center of your deepest essence and its greatest love (and remember: your "self" is not an option)

--Mr. Gobley


We the Shattered

when i bow my head
and fold my hands
around each other
or the book

when i close my eyes
or blur my vision,
seeing beyond what is there

when i slip inside
the envelope
of white light
that descends
from the skylight

when i feel myself
being held
by something greater
than words can fathom

i pour out my heart
open my veins
and all that is within me

empties into all that
is without

and in this way
i make myself
less than dust
but more than whole

and i grab the lowest rung
of Jacob's ladder

i look up at angels
and briefly hear
their song

before letting go
and coming back down
into the fenced fold

in which my soul
is briefly held

today i pray
that we the shattered
will learn to mend ourselves

that we accept our fate,
which is to love that
which is beyond all knowing

and i resolve
to better understand
what cannot be understood

that is to say:
i resolve to be fully human
holding the bottom rung
but looking up

trying to lift myself

toward the angels

--Mr. Gobley


Star Search

The Search is on
For someone
Who can
Deliver the Goods.

Someone who can
Command attention,
Draw crowds
Provide hope
For the hopeless

And copy for the tabloids .

Where is that
Special soul
Who can save us
From ourselves?

The ancient Hebrews said
Ein od milvado --
There is none
but The One.

We are already One.

You are saved
By subsuming yourself
Into Oneness.

You are
The Star:

You are aware.
You are

--Mr. Gobley


Dear Atheist: A Response to Sam Harris

(specifically, to this post -- h/t Ambivablog)

You, dear Atheist,
Are a gift from on high:
Proof of the existence of God,
And the priceless gift of free will.

You are also proof
Of our refusal, as species,
To grow up:
Like many,
You are angry that we
Do not want what you want,
Or see what you see.

This makes us wrong,
In your eyes.
Your anger exalts you.

Unlike you,
i do not assume
That a just God
Would not
Permit suffering.

Nor would i assume
That a flawless car
Would never crash.

We are set in the world
You and i.

i thank God
That you exist.

You are so right
To cry out,
Imploring us
To open our eyes
To reality

But why must we
Be required
To see
What you see?

The world will know peace,
Not when we all see what you see,
But when each of us sees
What we have each
Been created to see.

Then we speak it forth:
Eyes are opened.
Souls drink in
The Truth
From the many streams.

It comes from different sources,
But it all quenches.

To know
What you are called to know:
That is peace.
That is blessing --
Delight without dogma.

May we both know it
In this lifetime.

--Mr. Gobley


i ran
through the woods
to a clearing

and the frosted grass
stopped crunching
under my feet,
and soon

i was aloft
could will myself
through the air
saw my dark green
in the silver grass

i thought forward and up,
went forward and up
felt the sickness of thrill
and rush of fear

the small sadness
of leaving some
bit of self

below: pointillist trees;
above, a milk-misted
and bottomless sky
caressing me

i do not think it was a dream--
sleep, perhaps:

it was
and gravity
taking a nap

while i,
brave fool,
snuck between them
and danced . . .

--Mr. Gobley


Friendly Ghosts

i slept
in my childhood bedroom
and saw
in the shadows
of memory.

i lay in the old bed
and conjured
friendly ghosts
and saw the
dance of the blinds
and heard the
hum of the old
air conditioner --
rheumatic, now,
but still the white noise
of innocence --

i sank into the sleep
of many decades past
and felt them fold around me.

when i awoke,
my joints ached
and my chin sagged
but my brow was smooth:

the past steps forward
like a shy mare
tosses its head
turns the other way
but has nodded

you are all still with me,
friendly ghosts,
you are all still
my friends
and protectors.

We shall dance,
time's fools,
around the maypole
of memory,

til memory
beckon us

--Mr. Gobley


Your Personal Storm

A storm awaits each one of us:

Custom made,
Bowled toward
The center of our being
In wicked, unjust gyration,

A thing made to unmake.

(Forget those who say
Settle reckonings
With sinners:
Such formulas
Are the stuff of soap opera,
With the Divine
In need of a script doctor.)

The combustible
Elixir of opposites
Is the very stuff of life --
And of its soulmate,
Death --
Twins spawned in the
Blast that made,
And will unmake.

The storm
Is made for us
Because it is made
Of us:

The very heat
And moisture
In which
Our minds reside

Brews in the ocean:
Recognition of our frailty
Is forced upon us:
Our mind

Not a lesson,
Not a verdict,
But a harbinger:

We are always
With the
And the

It's what we are.

Light your way
With the "brief candle":
Its twin will consume you,
But with life's arrowed flame
You will be warmed
And allowed to see,
Even to your

--Mr. Gobley


The Beginning of Breath

i have sinned.

Or have i been sinned against?

i settle into myself
And consider deeply:

Where should i start?
Of whom must i
Beg forgiveness?

i will start here:
i will ask my heart
To forgive
My head
For punishing me,
For telling me
i am not
Good enough,
Strong enough,
Wise enough,
Smart enough.

i will ask my head
To forgive my heart
For fainting away
At high walls
And tripping
Over low obstacles.

After these small,
Private acts
Of contrition,
All requests
For forgiveness
Are easy,
All antagonists

i will ask
Of all things
And all beings.

It is not what they
Do unto me,
It is the stories
i tell myself
About what they have done
Unto me
That cause the burrs
To stick in my heart
And choke my breath.

The Creator of Breath,
Who breathed us,
Wants us to keep
To pass the breath
Of forgiveness
Across enemy lines
And down the generations

So that hearts
And minds
Will grow strong,
Filled with quiet

That love
Is forgiveness,
And forgiveness
Is what is

--Mr. Gobley


Recipe for Repentance

First, you admit that you are not Divine.

And yet you embrace your emanation
From Divinity.

Then you examine your desires.

You understand that these, too,
Are of Divine origin,

And then you turn
The deeds that have
Issued from those

Are they born
Of Darkness,
Of need,
Of grabs for power
And lustful longings --
Twistings of the might of angels
Toward hurling
Bolts of anger at God?

The source of our being
Is the source
Of our desires, too,

And repentance begins precisely here:
Begins with embrace
Of doer
And deed,
Of anger
And hatred:

And so,
To repent,
Admit that
You are not
But born
Of the Divine.

You urges and needs,
Emerge here as well:
Acknowledge this.
Know that
You have twisted
What power
The angels have sent you:


Give back
To Origins of Might
That which
You briefly

Forgive yourself
And give thanks.

In this way,
You understand
As the toxic waste
Of free will,

And forgiveness
As the most loving,
Repentance --

For the Soul.

--Mr. Gobley


God is in my lungs

When I say,
"Of course I know how I breathe,"
It is because I am told
I have lungs.

The corpus
Of medical knowledge
Has well documented
How these
Moist bellows
Move oxygen through us.

And "us" includes "me."

But what is my Prime Mover?
What is the ancient incident
That led to my lungs --
That lent them the spark
To move
To translate
To sluice
And induce
And seduce
Life from breath?

When, in a crowd,
One can sense
The crowd moving,
Feeling, as one organism,
What is the conductor
Of this feeling
Along the transom
Of fragile selves?

It is a line
Of energy
That I call

Is "God"
The English major's
For all that cannot be understood?

Or is God
The answer
To this question:

"What is bigger
Than you,
More powerful
Than you,
Part of you,
Tied to you,
As vast as you --
Far beyond
All explanations,
But living in the
Silent spaces
Between the letters of

--Mr. Gobley



You must live

You have no choice

It is what you do

Find rhythm

Make rhyme

The heart's



Is a march

Played to the rush

Of blood

Past vessels

And openings

To the Delta

Of fortune and ruin

That we call


Run to it

Do not fear it

Embrace all,

Inhale all,

Revere all,

Rejoice in all,

Remember all,

Consecrate all:

Leave nothing behind.

Consume yourself

In the heat

Of your own flame

And be remembered

By your atoms

As the

Conquering Creator

Of Oneness

That rededicated




--Mr. Gobley

Mr. Gobley sez:

  • Leave things -- each day, in each realm of your life, and in your life as a whole -- so that they will run even better, grow even stronger, when you're gone. (This may be as close as we get to immortality.)
  • Think of your life as the world's supply of oil: who knows how much there may be? Best to assume it's already peaked, and get much more careful about its expenditure.
  • That first smell of dried leaves, crushed to powder underfoot, is invigorating.
  • It's profoundly gratifying to be befriended by a neighbor's dog.
  • Photos are overrated. Think of all the time you could have spent enjoying the moment. Now, instead, you have a memento of a moment you never really experienced.
  • An office without walls, windows or a door is a cruel, cruel thing.
  • Prescription for those who need a dose of humility: sit them at a potter's wheel and tell them to throw a pot.
  • Prescription for afternoon lassitude: chocolate.
  • Suddenly, those questions about what you would take with you in a (fill in the blank: flood, fire, terrorist attack, apocalypse) dire emergency aren't so academic.
  • Why, when you're walking behind someone who doesn't know you're there, and you try to pass them, do they so often suddenly veer into your path?
  • Best thing you can do for someone you love: don't let them drive if impaired by alcohol, drugs or old age.
  • i don't read the tabloids, but i must confess: it's somehow comforting that people of immeasurable beauty and wealth can still descend into low comedy (or ascend to high melodrama) in their personal lives.
  • i have a recurring image of being held in captivity in a crawl space beneath a building, and not being allowed to stand for a period of months, even years. What would i do? Would my spine crumble?
  • i watch the digital clocks in my home, my office, my car, blink away each second, and i think back at them: "Oh, shutup."

--Mr. Gobley


Can you

Are you able
To forgive
Those responsible

Even as you
The wretched

Can you find
Within you
The strength
To extend

Can you
Labor tirelessly
To fix
To heal
To mend
To soothe --
And to forgive?

Do you
Find time
To work
Without hope
Of reward,
Your own
So that others
May at last
Rest theirs?

What is your cause?
What is your source?

Know that, and pursue it:
There is time for little else.

When moved in the direction
Of Source,
Vast stores of energy are freed
For use --
There is no time for blame,
For there is no hint of blame
In healing work.

Move toward healing:
As you heal others,
You heal yourself.
As you lift up others,
So shall you be lifted.

The rest is

--Mr. Gobley


Friday Afternoon

The leaves turn up their palms
To the powdered heavens.

The geese strut across
The busy fairways
Toward the
Emptying office parks.

The heat rises up
Off the blacktop
Like fervent prayer,

And the school buses
Disgorge children
Delirious with fleeting,
New-found freedom.

The partners in the law firms
And their real estate clients
Are on the back nine, while

The ballparks
And the synagogues
And the high school
Football fields
Fling open their gates,

And everyone
That lives by this calendar
Prepares to put their burdens down
And breathe in
Summer's last.

--Mr. Gobley


That Which Runs Away

That which runs away
As it draws near,
Approaches and vanishes,

A river that bends,
But never floods --
Time --
Will, in the end,
Gently move us
To the
Far shore
Of being.

Each day,
You are carried closer
To that shore.

The view of
Time's vast ocean --
A circle of being --
Is the same,
Until one day,
Perhaps all
In one moment,
The shore appears.

Others remain behind
While you are ferried

You look back,
It is all one,

Except in this sense:
No longer moves you.

You have ridden it
All your fragile life,
To this point.

We, who waste
Begin by wasting

The presence of mind
To love
And be present

Must start
And end
Our days.

--Mr. Gobley


God on Sabbatical

The original
On the First
The goodness
Of it all:

"All," meaning:
And rest,
Existence sublime,
Mere "Being"
A Singing

Inside and out,
And dwelt in,
Both seen
And experienced,
Like fireworks,
Give life
Like our very lungs.

We are wise
To remember
That each moment
Its sabbatical element.

This moment
Is The Creation.
Even now,
As we rejoice,
God is at work.

Even now,
As we pray
For peace,
For rain,
For relief from rain,
God is on Sabbatical.

God has set all in motion:
It is for us to work within the All,
And to cease our work
When it is time
To remember
That we Are.

--Mr. Gobley


Begin with the end in mind

The beginnings of endings are the most poignant reminders that we are alive: the knife edge between Summer and Fall; the first intimation of impending mortality in one's parents; the concluding acts of plays or operas, the final movements of symphonies or stanzas of great songs; the moment when one realize a love is about to be lost -- these moments are full of life at its most keen, as the cycle reveals itself to be both terrible and comforting, regenerative and final.

Remember that you go on and do not go on. Catastrophes are the terrible end for many -- that end we can all too plainly see. But it is just as true that those catastrophes form new beginnings that are impossible for all but a few to detect.

So as you pray for those whose lives, as they know them, have ended, include yourself, and the others who have begun an ending, in your prayers: know that we all have begun to end, and that miraculous new beginnings have taken root.

It is the roots that we should pray for, and water, and nurture: the salt of our tears does not nourish the roots, but our quiet, loving efforts toward recovery and growth, these make all the difference.

--Mr. Gobley



Web of being
That has no "is"

Mighty force
That does not move

Essence of brilliance
Without thought:

I can only serve you
With what you have given.

Planless architect,
Holy believer
Who is faithful
To fools,

For whom
We are
Both brush
And canvas:

Do not let me
Blame you
For blessings.

Teach me
To work
As you work:

Without end,
With abiding joy,
With passion
And purpose,
Even only at journey's end
The company of angels,

And, until then,
Naught but
The thanks of thieves
And the psalms
Of sinners.

When I serve you,
I am whole:
I shoulder my burdens
With great eagerness,

Not stopping to ask why
I must serve,
But only
To offer my hand

To my
Your beloved.

--Mr. Gobley

Compassion a la carte

A colleague at work said:

"I just don't have a lot of compassion for those people in New Orleans. I mean, if you're gonna live in a bowl surrounded by water, in a climate prone to hurricane, what'd you expect?!"

I said:

"Well, just try to have a little. It may help them some. It couldn't hurt you, either."

--Mr. Gobley


Flood of Compassion

We dance on a thin crust
Suspended over a
Spinning, liquid core.

We live in a fragile,
Scaffolded sack
Of tenous,

Fragile source
And ceaseless pump
Feed the
Insomniac molecules
Which together
What we each call

We ride
In hurtling
Cages of metal,
In whose midst
We also walk.

We fly in
Combustible canisters,
Roaring silently
Over the gridded terrain,
Napping as we go.

But with our hearts and minds,
We make universes:
We stand
On a stepstool
In God's own shadow,

Waving our whittled wands,
Wealth to waste
And back again.

Now -- as always --
With prayer,
And other forms
Of hard work,
We must remake
The shattered,
Lift up the fallen,

And lure away
Our own lower natures
From the opportunity
That has howled into their midst.

Water, like our natures,
Will rise and fall.
What remains
After the flood
Will be the
Starkest reflection
Of our resolve,

The clearest
To our weakened wills.

Let us stand forth.

--Mr. Gobley


Driven to High Ground

Like love,
Like war,
Water surges
Where it is pushed,
And runs helplessly
The crevices
That welcome it.

This reminds us
That the Creation
Was an act
Of unfathomable

And that each act
Of destruction
Closes a curtain on this
Tattered stage

When the waters recede,
That curtain parts,
To reveal
New wonders,
Hidden miracles
Wrapped in
Bottomless grief:


May the
Maker of Water
Raise up
Onto the shoals of mercy
Those hearts
That have been submerged,

And soon part
The curtain
To reveal
That all,
Even now,
Is emerging,

--Mr. Gobley


Sabbath's End

To know utter rest
Is to know
The ceaselessness
Of Creation.

To know cessation
Is to know
The inexorable.

To carve solid sanctity
Out of liquid Time
Is to make whole
The mystery

That is never complete.

--Mr. Gobley



Behold your flame:

It is and is not,
It becomes
As it weakens,
Destroys as it creates,
Releases as it contains:

So do unto me.
Turn me to ash.
Let me fertilize
The ground of my being
So that i may return to you.

Stand back:
Let me burn.
Do not rush to save me.

For in that flame
Of becoming
i will return to you,

i will transform into
Something far greater,
More vast,
More potent,
More omnipresent:

More like you:

The seepod of our being,
Bursting with love
For the Making
Of Life.

--Mr. Gobley


Mr. Gobley sez:

  • Mr. Gobley is not a fan of fatwas, no matter what religion they issue from. Be they Christian ministers or Islamic clerics, or any other matter of spiritual leader, spiritual leadership would better serve its flocks by not calling for the executions of political leaders.
  • After all, the tables could be turned.
  • There is no retreat quite so peaceful as a bookstore, on a weekday morning, within a half an hour of its opening.
  • An interesting meditation: contemplate yourself through the eyes of an adversary. What do you see? What do you learn about yourself?
  • Is a hurricane just a physical manifestation of the larger forces to which we're all, always, subject? Do these forces have seasons, as hurricanes do? Are we just living weathervanes?
  • The more information to which we have access, the more we realize the subjectivity, the mercurial and evasive qualities of what we call "the Truth."
  • A daily challenge: help someone with whom you're intimate to confront a fear of theirs -- without their realizing that this is what you're doing.
  • Say a prayer for Richard Cohen, and for his departed mother's soul: may it find the rest it did not find in life.

--Mr. Gobley


Not Two

Remember this when you look
At a tree,
A car,
Your enemy,
Your child:

"Not two."

Contemplate this phrase
When you pray,
When you remonstrate,
Before you sleep,
As you please
Your lover:

"Not two."

We read that God
Moves through Eden,
And asks Adam,
"Where are you?"

How can this be,
When they are
"Not two"?

Then ask yourself:
How can you move
Through this veil
Of miracles,
And say,

"Where is God,"
When you and God

"Not two"?

--Mr. Gobley



Do you remember
The most precious of objects,
Hopelessly lost?

The rush of blood to your face,
The pinpricks of joy on your scalp,
The sprinting of your heart
Toward the oasis of knowing
And the sweetwater well
Of memory?

Or the chance reunion
With the lover
Who opened your soul
And poured in
A tongue of flame
That lit you from within?

We experience
As small openings
Permitting great heat,

So that,
When we catch fire
With the deep recognition
Of our Source,
We are not extinguished
By the flame

But burnished
To brilliance --
Restored to our
Original glow
In the clear burn
Of the Love
From which we came.

--Mr. Gobley


The Point of Departure

The idea that land is holy
That community is communion
Has been sanctified with tears
Shed by victor and vanquished alike.

Call it what you will:
Political posturing,
Just desserts --
But know this:

When the descendants
Of the dispossessed and
The perished
Are forced
Once again
To leave their homes

Then tears reconsecrate
What already is holy,
Just as their salt is absorbed
Into the already salty earth.

May what is left behind
Remain holy
To those who inherit it;

Making way
For the unknown
And giving to one's foe
Are among the greatest
Of spiritual journeys.

May all travelers
Toward this
Uncertain communion
Be blessed.

--Mr. Gobley



Take away my certainty.

Peel away
The swaddling clothes
Of my convictions
And let me learn to walk.

The blindfold of beliefs, too,
Through which a hint of light
May wash my eyes,
Without letting me see:
Relieve me of it.

Only let my eyes see
And my skin feel,
My feet move toward you
As my eyes turn toward
All you have bestowed:

What you have given me
Is more than enough --
Need I imagine more?

These, too, I beg you
To take:
The need to be right
The desire to see change
Without helping make it
The fear of failure --

And the abject terror
Of your blinding love.

--Mr. Gobley


Ending the Fast of Silence

When you have reached the end
Of your silence --

The lungs
Spring open
When the swimmer bursts
To the surface--

The music flows forth
From the prisoner
Reunited with his
Instrument --

From the supplicant
Who feels
The bright light
Of God
On her shoulders,
After decades of
Fasting and
Prayer --
Sing out
To your Maker!

And so I
To you
My lungs ache,
My arms reach,
My voice calls

Back to you,
Who have always sustained me.

The Fast being over,
And the silence carefully weighed,
I return to you
Grateful for the
Absorbed in your light,
Determined to join
With you

In the communion
Of climbing

--Mr. Gobley


Experiment With No End

i will not be posting here for awhile.

i will be doing more reading and less writing, more thinking and less saying out loud, in all its various forms.

i have enjoyed your company, and hope to do so again, around the beginning of September.

--Mr. Gobley


Faith and Certainty

Certainty is the new Black.

We are seeing all color
Drained away
From the shades
Of wonder

And harsh light
And ink-black night
Dividing our world.

When, in such a world,
Something falls out of fashion,
Then soon it will not even be safe.

My faith
Is faithfulness:
To task,
To Maker,
To the made,
To what i know,
To seeking to know
What i do not.

In quiet resolve
i move
Through a world
Of Certainty,
Striving only
To be faithful:

Full of faith,
But also willing
To test
My small,
Shifting self:

i ask
Because i wonder;
i am faithful because
i love.
i seek to know,
Knowing i may never.
Wonder is my very

Wonder exists,
Even in,
Especially in
The arteries
That feed
The heart
Of wisdom.

--Mr. Gobley


This Moment of Anger is Brought to You By:

i am out of poetry today.

My cells are singed.

i am drained and hollow.

Sometimes, the naked animal nature within me lashes out. Am i to accommodate this nature? Subdue it? Embrace it? Overcome it? Out-think it? Meditate on it? Pray for help with it?

The conflict among spiritual traditions over how to approach anger is quite startling, when you look into it. Most Western traditions believe righteous anger has a place, a vital place, in our efforts to protect what is precious to us. Because anger can be cloaked in sacrament, it has been used to perpetrate some of organized religion's most grievous sins.

Pacifist traditions work to completely vanquish anger. Although Buddhism believes anger is based in delusional states, Buddhist teachings sometimes discuss recognizing and battling demons, whatever form they may take. i once asked a Buddhist teacher once if it was permissible for Buddhists to have enemies.

"Of course," she answered. She went on to say that, in the same way we battle the Three Poisons (Greed, Hatred and Delusion is one varation. Another is Attachment, Aversion and Ignorance) in ourselves, we must confront them in others. It was not quite a complete answer to my question; but then, this teacher was usually careful to never give a complete answer.

i am not sure what has aggrieved me more: my control over my anger, or the anger itself.

What about you?

--Mr. Gobley


You and i

We do not know each other,
You and i.
We have not met.

Still, the edges of knowledge
Suggest our intimate connection,
Hint at our deep relationship:
An understanding beyond words.

There is a picture of you in my head
Formed by your name
And your thoughts.

i track the blue underline
Of your visits
To the place where you
Stake your claim
Make yourself known

And the picture becomes
Clearer --
Or does it?

O, Most imperfect
Of intimacies,
Most deceitful
Of truths,


And yet,
We are bound:
Bound to know
And to recognize
One another,
Even as we are
Restrained by the bonds of
Blind language.

(There is no victory
So hollow
Or so brief
As winning an argument,

No triumph so misleading
Nor one that weds
Victor to vanquished
Like victory in war.)

We meet in language
But know each other in silence.
We meet where we cannot touch,
But come from the same flesh,
Bones from the same constellation,
Flesh from one ancestor.

That this miracle goes unheeded
Is all that stands between

--Mr. Gobley


Thought(s) for the Week

One translation of the Buddhist term for compassion is "resonating concern." We say, "You touched a chord in me." A cello is bowed, and a string on an instrument across the room thrums. And not just across the room. The profoundly illogical phenomenon in quantum physics known as nonlocality implies that it could be across the galaxy. It has been shown that when light particles are shot from the same source in opposite directions, each tiny photon is instantaneously affected by what happens to its twin, even if the distance that separates them is light years. This interconnection, called quantum entanglement, has startling implications. Says a recent article in New Scientist: "When two electrons are entangled, it is impossible even in principle to describe one without the other. They have no independent existence."
--Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness, by Marc Ian Barasch

. . . Truth is not the highest value for us, because, in Saint Paul's phrase, "our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect." Which is why the final revelation of Jesus is not about knowing but about loving. This, too, places him firmly in the tradition of Israel, which has always given primacy to right action. "Beloved," the author of the First Epistle of John wrote, "let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love." This statement of a biblical faith in the ultimate meaning of existence as love is a classic affirmation of what one might call the pluralistic principle: Respect for the radically other begins with God's respect for the world, which is radically other from God. In other words, God is the first pluralist.

Religious pluralism begins with this acknowledgement of the univeral impossibility of direct knowledge of God. The immediate consequence of this universal ignorance is that we should regard each other respectfully and lovingly.
--Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, by James Carroll


God and Science


If you are humble
Before all
That you do not know --

If you are still
And quiet your mind
By the brook of Being --

Knowledge --
Knowing --
Will come
Quietly toward you,
Like a deer
On the
Opposite bank.

But if your mind
Holds no room for awe
The forest of knowledge
Remains impenetrable
The brook
Runs dry
And all creatures
All Ideas
All that might
Be revealed
Will flee from your
Heavy tread.

Awe is the source
Of the quest for knowledge
And of knowledge itself
It is the small bolt
Holding the Universe together

Awe is the space
Where the Unexplainable
And is transformed

Awe is
The harbinger
Of Knowledge

And the
And Particle

--Mr. Gobley


Design Me

O Vastness:

You have created.

Breathed your essence
Along the still face of the waters
Cut us from the cloth
Of your raiments
Let us walk
Beneath the angels
Given us dominion
Over the beasts.

But have you designed?

i am composed
of everything
you dreamed

i am made
of everything
you imagined

but now
i must be bold,
and ask you
to go further:

You made me --
But now,
O Architect of All,
Design me:

Work backwards
And, before conceiving me,
Conceive of me:

Commit me to paper
Determine my purpose
Waft like a vapor
Back toward genesis

And give me a
A way.
An elegant

Then bring it forward
To my now
Draft me
On your table of light

Let me be an idea first,
Then an embodiment
Of that noble thought.

Then, truly,
Will i be purpose:

And all that you could have wished.

--Mr. Gobley


Couplets in Blue

Awoke today to find in me
A penitential misery,
A kind of existential funk
Into which my soul had sunk.

i meditated, said a prayer
But felt no helpful presence there;
i did ablutions, went to work,
Where i felt like Beelzebub's filing clerk:

So much paper, so much strife:
Where is the God who made this life?
Why have, in a world He made for us,
So many traps been laid for us?

i took a walk in a nearby park
Hoping to dispel the dark;
With sunshine pouring down like rain
i was but drenched in weekday pain:

No dark dispelled and no curse lifted;
No Providential solace gifted;
i sat beneath a blistered tree
And tried to set my spirit free.

The spirit wouldn't come untied
From me, no matter how i tried.
It hovered by my weakened aura,
There amidst the battered flora.

So i arose and went my way
To finish up this brittle day
Amidst my office's detritus
(For time goes marching on, despite us).

Now at my desk, i've typed these words --
These hieryoglyphics; techno-birds
That fly through wires toward unknown Mind --
Perhaps you will some solace find

In knowing darkness will descend
On bitter foe, on faithful friend,
Who all alike their treasures hoard,
But can't recall where they've been stored.

It matters not: the light returns,
The day begins, the spirit yearns;
The soul begins its quest anew --

And that is why i've written you.
Whom else could I say these things to?
Aspirations pixellized
And sent by signals digitized

Arrive although they don't exist
Like sorrows, which, as vague as mist
Alight first here, then over there,
And pass like starlight through the air.

i send great tidings -- not great sorrow;
the sun will set, and then tomorrow --
With little time but mounting spirit,
And growing joy as i draw near it,

i'll live within each moment, then
i'll write, with love, to you again.

--Mr. Gobley


Same Things

Comet's trail,
Marsupial's tail

Pumice stone
Woolly mammoth bone

Seam of ore
Star's molten core

Shaft of light
Line of sight

Sound of thunder
Spark of wonder

Science mind
Wonder defined

Seeker of God
Lightning Rod

Wave and particle
Genuine article

Two in one
So the knot is done

--Mr. Gobley


Heart Full of Love

Basement has a leak.

Sky is grey with summer heat.

Cicadas blast the dusk with metallic shrieks.

The world is bloody and uncertain.

Tomorrow is Monday.

But this home,

This refuge,

This tiny shard

Of our spinning orb



And inside me

There is a strong glow

That reaches

Into the Heavens,

And tonight,

The Heavens

Reach back

Return the embrace

Close the loop,

Fullfil the promise

Of every sunrise.

--Mr. Gobley


Response to those who say, "Religion is responsible."

Is an accelerant
A propellant
A stimulant

It runs
The engine
Of the soul --
But it does not sit
At the wheel.

Gasoline powers cars--
It also burns
And devours
Do we blame
The gasoline?

A soul must know its course
And keep to it
With a mighty
Sense of purpose.

If that purpose is
The salvation of all beings
Then every act
And every thought
Pulsate outward
Bathing all
Deeds and Doers
In right intention.

If that purpose is
These waves, too,
Fan outward--

But soon enough,
They bounce
Off the walls
Of malformed intention
And return to drown
Doer and deed both.

Is nourishment
Which we sometimes garnish
With poison

Is fuel
Which we too often ignite

Is choreography
For the confined spirit

Spirit is that within us
Which yearns to do great good things.

Dance with this spirit
Pray and work for all that lives
If this helps no one
Other than you
It will still
Have salved,
If not saved,
A soul.

--Mr. Gobley


Creating Each Day

What do you create?

We all create something:

What is your special contribution
to the Matter
of the Universe?

Start here:

What is your thought on arising?

i have two:

one is:

thank you, God, my creator and sustainer,
for restoring my soul to the light of a new day.

another is:

let my straight path
meet your straight path
that we may join hands
and dance.

--Mr. Gobley


Mr. Gobley sez:

  • An entire life probably will be viewable via the Internet before long: a camera implanted in utero, removed at death -- if then. A consummation devoutly not to be wished.
  • The most deadly trait in a leader is the utter lack of a sense of humor.
  • Charisma is a close second.
  • Beware the era in which the extraordinary is commonplace, and vice versa.
  • Time-honored salves for the depressed soul: volunteer work; tending a garden; two days in a place where no engines are heard.
  • Time-honored depression accelerants: television; strip shopping centers; celebrity-hunting magazines; bathroom scales.
  • How about a national service program placing suburban teenagers on family farms for a summer of work?
  • A theory on our current leadership crisis: neckties restrict blood-flow to the brain.
  • Needed invention: antibiotic socks for walking shoeless through airport security.
  • Spiritual nutrition: take a moment, before the first bite, to ponder the food's journey to your table, and the efforts, and the individuals, involved in getting it there.
  • We have free will, all right -- but where did it come from?

--Mr. Gobley


I cannot touch you, therefore
You do not exist.

You do not exist, therefore
I am alone.

I am alone, therefore
All actions,
All consequences,
All choices are mine.

All is mine, therefore
There is nothing else.

There is nothing else, therefore
I extend throughout the Universe.

I extend throughout the Universe, therefore
I am earthbound,
But I am also
Planet, star and comet,
Raging fire,
Burning ice.

Because I am here and also there,
Fire and ice,
I am many in one.

Because I am many in one,
I am human
And yet more than this.

And the part that is
More than human,
Bound up with
My flesh and bones,

Is me,
Touching You.

Therefore, you exist,

We meet at last.


--Mr. Gobley


Scenes from a City

On the train
There is a knapsack
By itself
On the seat at the end of the aisle.

I am alone with it.
What was I doing?
Where was my awareness?
Out the train window
As we went through
The forest preserve.
And now I am alone
With the cause
Of my death?

The conductor marches past me
Eyes the bag,
Pokes it--
And a voice comes
From down the aisle:
"Oh, sorry, that's mine.
I just came down
To talk to my friend."

The conductor is incredulous.

"This is yours?"


"Yeah. I told the other conductor
I was coming back up in a second."

"Come up now," this conductor says.
"Not a second later."

As the man brushes past me
To get his bag, he mutters:
"Fuckin' guy."


Through the window
Of a bistro
I watch an urban pantomime:
Two couples
At a sidewalk table
In the anticipation
Of gustatory delight.

Then there is a man, a thin Black man, holding out his hand, shouting, almost testifying, one hand out, the other beseeching the heedless heavens. Without looking at him, one of the men reaches into his pocket, pulls out a dollar, presses it into the thin man's palm.

The thin man looks,
Where is the kindness
In this ruined world?
Where is the promise of plenty?

Clearly inconvenienced, the man reaches into his pocket, pushing the humid fabric aside with his moist hand, raising his hips, still not looking the thin man in the face. The woman across from him also produces a dollar. The thin man has collected three dollars, although no acknowledgement of his existence, much less his predicament.

The thin man
Walks away from the sidewalk
Shouting thanks
Praising his patrons
They smile
But still do not look
When he is sure of this
He looks at the three dollars
Clenches them in his fist
And pumps that fist
Into the summer sky.

--Mr. Gobley


Today i became marooned, on foot, in the midst of eight lanes of traffic, four zooming in one direction, for zooming and honking in the other. Radios boomed and thumped through window glass; drivers could be seen singing along, cursing the driver in front of them, or doing both at once.

Although it was morning in the city, it was quite hot already. i stood perspiring on the concrete island in this asphalt river, and i was there for some time.

All at once, i became aware that the concrete island had a planter that took up most of its length. The flowers were blooming riotously, and already, at that early hour, in tremendous heat, smog and noise, dozens of bumble bees were working the flowers. They seemed almost cheerful about it. No, better: they were just being bumble bees.

So i thought, "today i am striving to be more like a bumble bee." But that just made me more like a person: wishing, striving to be something other than i was, something approachable to some degree and yet unattainable.

Then i thought: "i shall be like the traffic island: impervious, unshakeable, steady."

You see where this is going, i'm sure. And you're much quicker than i.

God has given me the bumble bee and the concrete island and i have understood that i am both of these things, and more. We are very nearly Divine; all of us, all of this, comes from the hearts of distant stars.

And so i only sat down to write this to you to let you know that i've just now begun to work on being all these things, which is to say, being truly myself.

--Mr. Gobley


"We love death more than you love life": a response

Dear Annihilators:

No, you don't love death more than we love life. You love killing more than we love life. There's a substantial difference.

One finds oneself moved to ask: whose death do you love more?

If you truly loved death more than we love life, you would not seek justification for extinguishing the innocent, and wouldn't be deluded into thinking you'd score points in Heaven for doing so. No: you would simply do yourself in.

An authentic love for death might compel you to a personal relationship with it, but it does not: you conscript and brainwash the vulnerable into wreaking death for you -- apparently you love life more than you love either honesty or death.

Let us remember: one may embrace death, but there is no such thing as loving it: one cannot love what one cannot know. What you love --if anything -- is an idea, a fantasy whose real nature eludes you.

Examine what it is that you love -- this is an issue of the utmost urgency.

Perhaps you love killing more than you love the religion in whose mighty shadow you lurk.

If this is not so, then cease killing and serve the God of your faith. We were, after all, made in His image -- not in the image of the dark lords to whom you have enslaved yourself.

-- Mr. Gobley

Mr. Gobley sez:

  • The attainment of mastery, in the disciplined pursuit of a creative passion, is the most dynamic form of prayer.
  • The greatest danger to an individual, a family, a community, a nation, is always within.
  • Fame is just a means to be misunderstood on a grand scale.
  • It is essential that you reflect, daily, on who you blame for whatever predicaments are yours. Then, work on not-blaming.
  • People always smile at children in elevators.
  • Children that are kind to animals eventually will make good lovers and great parents.
  • The spot where Lewis and Clark emerged from the woods to catch their first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean is called Cape Disappointment. Worth reflecting on.

--Mr. Gobley


To Whom It May Concern:

I should like to get to know you better.

I have thought about you ever since we met.

I have not, in fact, been able to remove from my mind
The image of you,
Waiting for me
At the top of the stairs
Going into the great hall.

The light shone from behind you,
Too cinematic for belief,
Too perfect for verse,
Your silhouette grand,
To my flawed senses

Then I lost track of you. We went our separate ways. I got caught up in the mundane. I needed a job, I needed money. You tried to stay in touch, but I felt so burdened by your communications -- so obligated to repay in kind the generosity of spirit you lavished on me -- that I couldn't bring myself to return the favor. It seemed like any communication of mine would have insulted you with its triteness, its brevity, its lack of depth.

As time went on,
Even as the sound of your voice
Faded from memory,
The vision of you became brighter,
More insistent.
Your eyes looked at me
Full of yearning

Hesitantly, I got back in touch.

I found, to my relief,
My exultation,
That you had been thinking of me, too,
An image of me had fixed in your mind,
You wondered how I was
Longed for contact
For connection
For reunion.

Now we are in touch again.

Weeks, perhaps even months can go by, but there is never any doubt that one of us will reach out again, and the current will jump between us.

How I love you.

If only I could see you.

--Mr. Gobley


Another thought for the week

This state, in which nothing definite is thought, planned, striven for, desired or expected, which aims in no particular direction and yet knows itself capable alike of the possible and the impossible, so unswerving is its power -- this state, which is at bottom purposeless and egoless, was called ... truly "spiritual." It is in fact charged with spiritual awareness and is therefore also called "right presence of mind." This means that the mind or spirit is present everywhere, because it is nowhere attached to any particular place. And it can remain present because, even when related to this or that object, it does not cling to it by reflection and thus lose its original mobility. Like water filling a pond, which is always ready to flow off again, it can work its inexhaustible power because it is free, and be open to everything because it is empty. This state is essentially a primorial state, and its symbol, the empty circle, is not empty of meaning for him who stands within it.

Eugen Herrigel in Zen in the Art of Archery

--Mr. Gobley


Thought for the Week

All that exists, and in particular all persons who exist, participate, by virtue of mere existence, in the existence of God. . . As [Catholic theologian Karl] Rahner explained, 'God does not merely create something other than himself-- he also gives himself to this other. The world receives God, the Infinite and ineffable mystery, to such an extent that he himself becomes its innermost life.' Human beings are the creatures who instinctively respond to that innermost life. 'This mystery,' Rahner writes, 'is the explicit and unexpressed horizon which always encircles and upholds the small area of our everyday experience . . . we call this God . . . However hard and unsatisfactory it may be to interpret the deepest and most fundamental experience at the very bottom of our being, man does experience in his innermost history that this silent, infinitely distant holy mystery, which continually recalls him to the limits of his finitude and lays bare his guilt yet bids him approach; the mystery enfolds him in an ultimate and radical love which commends itself to him as salvation and as the real meaning of his existence.'

-- James Carroll in Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews

--Mr. Gobley


Feng-shui of the soul

Feng-shui is an art
(Or perhaps a science)
Which says
That the placement and texture of objects
Directly affects one's well being
And productivity.

If this is so,
Then this, too,
Must be so:

The placement of practices
Of disciplines and actions
In an ordered pattern
Around one's innermost self
Will elevate one's environment
And benefit those who share it--

Unless, of course, those disciplines
And actions
Have hate at their center.

Feng-shui of the soul
Calls for order and harmony
Even in the face of
Random killing

The pursuit of order
And harmony
In one's environment
Will circle outward
From the still center.

Practice feng-shui of the soul
Get your inner house in order --

No telling others what to do
Until you've tended that
Garden of yours.

--Mr. Gobley


Mr. Gobley sez:

It is impossible to write free verse every day without descending occasionally into platitude.
Nonetheless, it's worth a try.

No nation that is governed by a constitution whose tenets are grounded in a particular religion --nor any nation that is run by clerics -- has avoided utter corruption.

But then: what nation has?

Put another way: what is the minimum number of people a community must contain in order for corruption to be a guaranteed byproduct?

Being "born in sin" may just mean that we are programmed to lust, whether we like it or not.

It is easy to fall in love with bloggers one has never met. Strangers whose souls one can touch are lovers of the highest order.

The only way to minimize clutter and disorganization is through disciplined and regular purging of physical and psychological junk.

Put another way: like all other forms of freedom, spatial freedom requires constant vigilance, ordered ideals, and some small measure of ruthlessness.

Most human interaction is a dance of mutual manipulation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless the same dancer always leads.

There is someone in your life whom you have not forgiven. Begin forgiving that person now.

From faithful reader Ambivablog: Never say, "I know exactly how you feel."

--Mr. Gobley


Soul of a day

Days have souls.

Today's soul
Is reaching,
Like me,
To the heavens.

This day will have namesakes.

This day will be written of.

And forgotten.

This day is no more, no less
Than I:

It is slope,
And precipice.

It is here
And not-here.

It hasn't got
bones or ligaments,
Hair or teeth.

In most respects, though,
It is no different
From what
You Think of
As You.

Thank this day
For being a mirror
To the you
That is grateful,

And the day
Will be grateful
For you.

Will see you through
To Wednesday.

--Mr. Gobley


Soul sibling:

Via Negativa

-- Mr. Gobley

Web of being

We are caught in a web.

This web, whose strands are transparent,
Emerges into the visible realm
When the strands are serrated with dew,
Whose drops are moments.

We run along strands,
Leaving bits of ourselves,
Changing coordinates,
Exchanging air and oxides,
Becoming something
Entirely other
At each step,
Within each

Soon, concentricity
And circumference
Have expanded
Beyond being
Or shrunk
To mere nothingness,

And as we look back
From our last
Visible point,
Only then
Do we learn
That we
And the web
Were one.

--Mr. Gobley


Fireworks on the Beach

They brought all they could,
In coolers and canvas bags.

Children, draped in glow-stick necklaces,
Were dragged by their little wrists

To the beach.

The teenage girls
Wore their short shorts
Their halter tops,
And ran in packs.

The beach was thronged:
At the water's edge
There began
A sea of flesh.

Beyond the shore
A semaphore
Of lights from boats
Dotted the rimless horizon.

And then, silence fell,
As the first rocket thundered skyward
And burst into a circle of light

Applause and ooohs of delight
Heads ringed in halos of all colors
Silhouettes of thousands of heads
Turned toward the sky.

We were all crowded there
To cheer explosions
And to drink in our liberty

As ash rained down on us
We smiled at our lovers
Drank our shiraz
And wondered
About the best route home.
--Mr. Gobley


On the day before a holiday weekend
Like the last day of school
The air empties a little
And lets some of the past in

You can feel a shift in time
Can let the muscles of ambition relax
Can sense the sunset
When the Sun
Is still reigning

Work gets done
But something else
Gets done, too:

We stop and savor
That sensation,
That knowledge
Unique among creatures:

The awareness of
And the gratitude for
The passage of time

Stop and remember:
Each moment is given,

A drop
In a swift river
Conveyed to your cup
By a source
That cannot be seen

We may be
The only ones
Who know

Don't turn and flee
In horror:
The flow of Time
Is the embrace of Light

The dark
Is but the exhalation
In between

The past breathes in
Just a little,
To remind us

That all days
Are holidays,
Because each day
Is given.

--Mr. Gobley


Mix It Up




Rise Up

Rise Up

And then
Get out there
And mix it up

--Mr. Gobley



You are living in a time
Of foment
Of wonder

Will study
The time
And the place
That you lived

Perched as you are
On the precipice of
Exponential change
Over the chasm
Upon a greatly changed

In that future time
Will wonder
At what happened
In your place and time

They will study
What you did
How you reacted
What you thought

Were you thinking?
How did you manage
To accomplish
All that you did?

Where did you find
The means
To be so brave,
So resolute,
In the face
Of such demonic

How did you think
So swiftly
Calculate options
Analyze hazards
Dovetail improvisation
With detailed planning
And come through
So remarkably?

In short --
How did you do it?
How did you make it through?
What Great Force
Was on your side?

Or were you just lucky?

And now the question is:
What is it
That you've managed to do --

What are those
Proud of you for?

--Mr. Gobley

Mr. Gobley sez:

  • Thursday is a good day: full of the promise of repose; providing a promontory from which to look back on the week. (Sadly, today is not Thursday.)
  • Meditate on the word "freedom:" the time has come to reawaken its true meaning, and save it from overuse by politicians (hat tip: faithful reader Ambivablog).
  • In this hemisphere, this is a most wonderful time to walk: in a forest preserve, a garden, a downtown, by the water.

In sum: i recommend a walk, on a Thursday, by water and flora, while meditating on freedom.

--Mr. Gobley


Opportunities for contemplation

A fox, galloping down a suburban sidewalk

Recurring thoughts about a faded celebrity, followed by that celebrity's death

A wadded-up paper, shot at the office wastebasket, that hangs on the rim -- forever

A vanity plate that answers a question that's been rattling around in your mind

Running into a person you've been avoiding

A staring contest with a chipmunk that lives under your stoop

A normally independent pet that suddenly follows you everywhere

A cogent statement, made by someone with whom you profoundly disagree, that -- like it or not -- makes profound sense.

--Mr. Gobley


I was present
At an argument
Between a fundamentalist
And a secularist.
There was name-calling.
The fundamentalist said
The secularist was
A sinner and a God-denier.
The secularist said
The fundamentalist was
A bigot and a simpleton.

I sat facing them
On the train
And realized
My blood was boiling.
I had my own names
For each of them.

Just when I
Could stand it
No more --
When the
Train car crackled
With their anger
And my equanimity had melted --
We bumped over a crossing.
I spilled my coffee.
They both leaned over
To help me.
One offered her handkerchief,
The other his spare napkins.

I thanked them,
And remarked that
The stain on my thigh
Was the shape of Idaho.

We all smiled.

They did not argue after that.

--Mr. Gobley


Rush Hour Prayer

Dear Lord, Maker of Obstacles:

I need to get where I'm going.

I would have liked to get there sooner, but it appears that this is not Your will.

And yet, I cannot help but remember that You split the Red Sea --

How hard would it be to carve a lane between these crusts of metal

And move me toward my Promised Land?


I will take this unexpected bounty of time

To ponder Your creation.

I will peek into other cars

Visit the small universes

Of the other commuters

Send a wave of compassion their way

Hope to avoid the finger

The gun

The expletive

The curse on all my people

To swim up this stream again


--Mr. Gobley


Just waiting

Under a shelter
By the commuter train station
In the middle of town
They stand like gulls at the shore

Newspapers, cell phones,
Cups of coffee
Keeping them company

The journey is full of uncertainty
Even now
But they have memorized its markers
And project calm
To the others who wait

They know the train will be here
They know with some certainty
When it will arrive
Even how many cars it will have
But they still peer anxiously up the tracks
Toward its point of origin

They gather in clusters,
Spaced in precise intervals:
They have memorized where
The doors are
When the train
Cries to a halt

Then they are gone
And their papers
And cups of coffee
And their thought balloons go with them

(Except for a few sheets of newsprint
Sucked down the tracks
Cups that pivot and pirouette
Toward the vortex
Tempted by the departure of energy)

And under the shelter
A new cluster begins to grow
And being uncertain
About when
The next thing happens


What do you care?

What do you care
If I feel the presence of God?
Why is it a problem for you
If I detect something that you don't?

Which would be harder for you:
If I were right, that God exists --
Or you were right,
And we float alone
In spinning vastness,
Deluding ourselves,
Believing in our shadow puppets?

Consider this:

We are both right.

I'm right:
The Divine is so vast and inclusive,
It exists in every thing and moment,
Is so omnipresent
It could not possibly proclaim itself
Any more loudly than it already does.
Its silence is deafening,
Its deafness silencing.

You are right:
No one guides us,
No one plays telephone with our prayers,
No one whacks us with a staff,
Kills us with cancer
For that candy bar we stole
At the drugstore
When we were nine years old.
Our choreography is absurd.
Our dogma is the choreography
Of the delusional.
If God is everywhere,
As you say:
Why do these things?

I rest on this:
We are contained within
The very elements
We contain within us.
The whole Universe
Is built on this model.

It is this I proclaim,
This I thank,
And this I ponder.

Won't you join me, at least in this?

--Mr. Gobley


The Other Keys

can be found in the writings of the 7th century Buddhist monk and scholar Shantideva.

To wit:

First of all I should make an effort
to meditate upon the equality between self and others:
I should protect all beings as I do myself
because we are all equal in (wanting) pleasure and (not wanting) pain.
Hence I should dispel the misery of others

because it is suffering just like my own,
and I should benefit others
because they are sentient beings, just like myself.
When both myself and others

are similar in that we wish to be happy,
What is so special about me?
Why do I strive for my happiness alone?
* * *
All the violence, fear, and suffering
That exist in the world
Come from grasping at "self."
What use is this great evil monster to you?
If you do not let go of the "self,"
There will never be an end to your suffering.
Just as, if you do not let go of a flame with your hand,
You can't stop it from burning your hand.
* * *

The protection of all beings is achieved through the constant examinationof one's own mistakes.

--Mr. Gobley

The Key to Happiness

is to not care about what you want.

This can either be taken to mean, "to be indifferent to your desires," or, "to recognize your desires but not be personally invested in the pursuit of them," or both.

It can mean, 'to be indifferent to, and different from, the cravings that are nothing more than growths on your soul.'

We're not talking about food, water, clothing. Those are necessities. Unless they're lavish dinners out, bottled water, designer clothing. Those are desires. Or maybe just habits.

We're talking about desires. You know: those yearnings that are so everpresent that we begin to mistake them as a part of our very self...

--Mr. Gobley


Prayer for the Moment


I am waving to you.

Every cell is an angel,

Every heartbeat is timbrel and lyre.

You may not leave what is inside of you,

And I may not join with what is already mine.

Forgive me for wanting more,

As I forgive you for revealing less.

In this way, we will go on as silent lovers,

Knowing that, for just a moment,

Our hearts met

When we recognized that our bodies were, and are, and ever will be,


--Mr. Gobley


Why we toil

We toil because we are literally made to do so. Not to toil would be like being a cheetah that refuses to run.

If we try in every moment to cultivate gladness of heart -- completely within our power -- our toil will have purpose and our burdens will lighten. It could hardly be otherwise.

If, on the other hand, we try to manufacture gladness of heart through acquisition and accumulation of possessions -- be they animate or otherwise -- we are trying to make an exquisite cake by throwing the entire kitchen into the pan.

We toil because toil, ironically, is the most fertile ground for gladness, the very seedbed of joy.

--Mr. Gobley


Mr Gobley sez:

  • Procrastination is just Nature's way of telling you that you are engaged in a pursuit that has nothing to do with anything.
  • The number of incidences of stress experienced by the average person are in direct proportion to the number of people who live in that person's community.
  • If you are extremely judgmental and have no sense of humor, you most likely can't even stand yourself. And you probably aren't alone in that.
  • As consumed as we may be with the affairs of the day, we block out the established and unavoidable truth: we are in a race with time to find a way for the human race to exist somewhere other than on this planet.
  • It does not matter whether you believe in God or not.
  • Unless you believe that we and God are co-creators. In which case, the atheists have taken their ball and gone home.
  • We have glands and organs whose function is not fully understood. We also have emotional and psychological states that seem completely unproductive. Discuss.
  • Developing awareness of the Divine is like developing a bond with a pet: a deep connection to a living energy, supported by an empathic but veiled communication. Being aware of God but not having a spiritual life is like never letting your pet in the house.
  • You are a musical instrument: you are curved and molded, you are carefully built to produce a unique experience. You are also slightly out of tune. What do you do?

--Mr. Gobley

Enter His Gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise

That's from Psalm 100.

To me that means: wake up every morning and cultivate gratitude. Consider the nature of gratitude: for what are you grateful? To whom?

Then, carry and proclaim that gratitude into your day. Be sure to acknowledge and thank the source of your blessings, whatever that source may be.

And as you draw nearer to that source of blessing -- in time, in spirit -- do so with a positive and giving frame of mind, and a joyous heart.

--Mr. Gobley

This is not funny.


Thanks to Some Useful Words for showing us once again that, no matter where you go in the world, you will find people who love whimsical celebrations of death and destruction.

--Mr. Gobley


Where's My Bunker?

Does anyone else feel that cold wind? Anyone else notice that shadow that's slipped over everything?

It's a post-9/11 Cold War analogue. A feeling that, at any moment, the rug of reality could be pulled and down we'd all go. We're all dancing on the head of a pin, but angels we ain't.

Mr. Gobley is not big on political rants, but he must say this: someday, historians may trace the line of our decline from Viet Nam, through Watergate, the Clinton excesses, and then through this failed experiment in nation-building which we prosaically call the Iraq War. It's just starting to feel as though we applied old ideas and methods, and a few fantasies, to a radically new and unstable situation beyond our myopic view and limited understanding.

Unequivocal exit is not an option. Slow extrication is the order of the day. And, ironically, if beating a retreat is our only, or even our primary, objective, we will fail. Now that we're in, we're forced, by events, circumstances, and sheer momentum, to try to force the change we have no ability or experience to force: making democracy in one of the great anti-democratic bastions of the world, the Middle East.

We're minting terrorists over there. We are fulfilling their version of doomsday prophecies. We've created their Rapture. Our Shock and Awe has gashed a hole into their heaven, and in they're gonna pour like water over Niagara.

Maybe it's worked out well, in a perverse way: syphon terrorists away from our shores and into a smaller, denser, far-away country where we can find and confront them. Spotlight Guantanamo and get away with all kinds of murder elsewhere.

But from here it looks like we've taken 9/11 -- an ominous but still focused and now a comparatively primitive attack -- and we've helped it mutate into something larger and, Mr. Gobley fears we'll soon find, more deadly. Rather than focusing on Afghanistan, then getting ready to focus on Iran, we've drained a swamp in Iraq and been punished by the monster at the bottom.

Oops: this wasn't going to be political.

Well, ok, it's not, it's karmic. If, in some fashion, we helped create 9/11, either by missing signs, making enemies, bungling attacks, all of the above; then God only knows what we've unleashed in Iraq. But it's casting a long, cold shadow.

--Mr. Gobley
I feel called to spiritual work.

Problem is, I'm an agnostic.

I think.

Maybe I'm just an ambivalent.

But something keeps pulling me toward religious study and spiritual inquiry.

I don't believe in belief. I believe in knowledge. People can blab about their beliefs all the livelong day, but in the end, belief is so subjective and so ephemeral as to be useless to others.

Knowledge is different: you use your spiritual astrolabe to fix your position with respect to the Divine, and you navigate from there. You never have all the answers, but you gain knowledge, and through knowledge you're transformed, and imbued with the power to transform others.

That being said, I suspect in God. Not believe, suspect. God is a theorem whose proof I'll never arrive at. In my work at the chalkboard, though, I'm gonna learn a lot, a whole lot. I think God is as good a description, as succinct a moniker one could ever have for the generating and sustaining force of universal equipoise.

So I'm gonna pursue this, and I'll get back to you along the way.

--Mr. Gobley

The Miracle of the Swab

Did you ever wonder how the cotton stays all rolled up on the end of the Q-tip? Who sits around and thinks this stuff up?

And then invents and builds the machinery that can produce this little miracle in such vast quantities?

--Mr. Gobley