For hours we watch snowflakes

lifting, turning, playing in stillness.

From across the continent

you hear my torn cry,

rush in to catch me as I fall,

your broad arms,

the sack of me landing in them.

And in this moment we call perfection,

it is our mistakes that God has polished,

our tears of sorrow into jewel.

Now, Dear, I ask you.

Could it ever have been another way?

gwendalyn gilliam, incline village, 11.8.11


Love Poem

I was dangling out there on a string,

dark, slashed by sleet, dashed on stone.

Now I’m rolling in whipped cream,

wrapped in joy.

Watch how fast I knit our skyscraper!

You did that

when you threw your blanket around me,

your delicious angel breath.

Right now all I want to do

is blow bubbles and laugh!

November 1, 2011

Off the Boat

Remember that movie, Sophie’s Choice, where the Nazi makes the woman in the concentration camp played by Meryl Streep choose between her son and her daughter and only one of them gets to live for real? Well that’s like the experience we had in our training in Phoenix.

Leave it to me to find in a roomful of happy successful people full of love and charm, people who will open up to you, affirm your strengths with zest, people who believe in themselves and each other and the collective achievement we are all undertaking: health and wealth in every form for ourselves and the world at large. All that is to say, throw me into a room of warm and fuzzies and I will come up with the one hateful little Christian fundamentalist even if she’s hiding, I’ll find her, and I’ll find a way that she gets to put me down, or in this case, throw me off the boat.

It would be funny if it didn’t happen so often, like the time the entire center of the room flipped their folding chairs running out of my lecture about St. Theresa in Ecstasy—in Bernini’s statue she’s definitely having an orgasm, by the way. And in her biography she describes the event, “and the angel had a spear with a flame at the tip and he pierced my heart so that I moaned.” Well, on the word “moan” that’s when they jumped and ran. And I thought I must have bored them……

Or just two weeks ago when the poetry judges at the slam gave me shockingly low scores for being Sister Gwendalyn of St. Inclinus Rectory (my town is called Incline Village) of the Swollen Staff, a nun sexually obsessed with God, or, as we call him, Big Love Daddy. The crowd loved it, though, “as you work your frenzied love, splashed out across my altar”….

Not to mention losing my son for 12 years to the fundamentalist fury, kidnapped by my parents and shipped to my vicious ex in fundie land because I was a dancer, which had gotten the whole thing started by inflaming my Dad’s whole incest thing with me. But that’s another big story.

And it doesn’t stop in this lifetime, though you can’t talk to most people about that. But I can feel it inside how often it was either burning at the stake or drowning or hanging or something, really boring after a while. There has to be a good reason why I’m Bible phobic–not the sayings–but the object, the big black leather bound kind. One thing I love about my Rev. is that she knows and every week she hides her Bible in the altar.

So here’s the scene, plain as day a letter from God telling me I’m blowing it big. Our group of five is in a life boat that can support only two. We each get to explain to the others why we should live. I basically talked about how much progress I’ve made from escaping the soul squelchers at home to traveling to support revolutions in Nicaragua and Cuba.

After we each make our case we vote for two people not including ourselves. Then we have to go around and tell each one how we voted and why. Boy. Geez. Talk about laying it out there. “This is why I chose to have you die….”

In our group was a sturdy character, the handsome young son of the presidents of our company. So of course we all wanted him to live, plus he had more years of life left. The little christian lady said she didn’t want to live, but would rather give her seat to someone else. On the round where we told our truth to each one she spent her time trying to convince the son of the leaders to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into Isagenix (she called this “spirituality” but after enough Lord Jesus Christs you got the picture). She spent so long that she didn’t get to tell me why she threw me off the boat. I figured that the learning was in that nugget so I gave her some of my time to tell me her reason.

It was interesting because the reason she gave had not been disclosed when we voted, which makes her not exactly truthful. In the dagger round where we said “I let you live because” and “I let you die because”, I had told about my martyr’s upbringing and how it was something I am healing (as in get away from now) and that if she didn’t value her life there was no way anyone else would either. So what she gave as her reason for tossing me over was that I needed to get over my past and get back to a spiritual path. If she only knew.

So this whole phenomenon, this persecution by the supposedly persecuted, is definitely about me, not them. So I asked for help with this and I got that it’s about forgiveness.  I saw myself with a golden glow in my heart that beamed out to the little Christian lady with her own golden glow in her heart and the beams touched and there was no place that I stopped and she began. 

There was this Sufi poet, Rabia al Basri, who was born to very poor people and lost them at the age of four which put her out on the street.  She was sold into slavery in a brothel and lived her life there doing what she was supposed to do until someone rescued her at the age of 50.  It is thought that her rescuer was a wealthy patron.  She wrote that until you can kiss the hand that gave you each one of your scars you are nothing.  So beautiful, coming from her, to kiss the hands that cut her.

So the other person I needed to forgive is me, for being the light that gets reflected in the eyes of vicious Christians.  They’re only reflecting part of me I have yet to love.  So I got off of judging the little judgmental girl inside me, six years old in a frilly dress scrunching her nose at everything. Instead of pushing against her, I started loving her little self and laughing and teasing her by throwing bloody pig doo doo at her pretty dress. Pretty soon she started giggling and throwing the stuff back at me, and then we all ended up in the shower of forgiveness with warm soapy suds of lovingkindness. 

What a rush!  Isn’t that what forgiveness is about?

One Laurel

With this glorious matrix

of all things in love with each other,

everything equaling God

giving Itself a long and tender kiss;

I am entranced.

With all the slaughter, the pain,

misunderstanding, cruelty, poisoning and war,

when the Earth burps and washes us away,

It is still birthing children, growing trees,

sending flowers, food and sunlight

so that everything, eternal and never dying,

can come to a place of loving itself,

of knowing itself as woven into the All.

The delicious sliding of weather past technology

with human emotions stirred in,

the bright wonder of coincidence and miracle,

voices of unseen kindness leading us along,

the melting of this dark age

into the most brilliant of possibilities.

Here we stand on this tormented planet

about to roll it over into a heaven,

each of our light adding to the torch,

fueling the wave that will carry us into magnificence.

All in love, all in harmony,

all of us one laurel of wildflowers

braided together,

exploding with the joy of our connectedness.

Gwendalyn Gilliam, Incline Village, March 16, 2011

Puddle of Contentment

My head is full of happy bees.

You fill me with laughing bubbles

that are rising to a rolling boil of delight.

Every organ sings her part

in my morning symphony.

How is all this possible?

Because I stopped it.

Stopped writing acid burp, smelly fart

self pity letters to God–

“No.  This is not enough.

I’m not ok and it’s your fault”–

the rudest ingratitude.

Today the birds

fly my feet up the mountain.

My heart lifts

as I look to the sky:

an open meadow

for love to pour through,

the sparkling of diamond dew

on new leaves…..

These things melt me,

call me to You,

where I lie,

a puddle of contentment

at your feet.

Gwendalyn Gilliam, Incline Village, March 11, 2011

Isa Poem

I have stepped into a holy universe

that makes my body hum

as every cell is bathed in love.

My mitochondria sing

as they melt the honey goodness into me.

What before would tax my teetering heart

can no longer touch it–

in one day, working full out

became easy as dreamless sleep.

This miracle is here to feed me

so I can nourish my team

to serve a hungry world

with no idea of its treasure

hidden beneath diamond sands

on every secret, whitened beach.

Gwendalyn Gilliam, Incline Village, March 6, 2011


A great gift came to me

wrapped in loss, in grief, in uncertainty.

It was pure and bright;

breathtaking, heroic and true,

yet when all day long

I dared take a peek

I saw the wrapping negate its brilliance,

leave me with a tortured longing

that was larger than my life.

No more.

Today I behold this phenomenal gift,

thunderous of power, yet gentle as a flower,

as mine.

I’ve waited a lifetime

for it to warm and illumine me,

bring me comfort when I’m cold.

Beautiful wonder of life,

this is what I see.

Gwendalyn Gilliam, Incline Village, March 2, 2011