Monthly Archives: December 2014

Canyon Winds Tan Renga

On Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the host asks us to complete a Tan Renga. This is a cooperative creative game where two lines of seven syllables by one person complete the 5/7/5 haiku of another.  Today’s offering is by Jen at  She evokes the timeless wonder of the Southwestern desert with this wonderful haiku:

ancient laughter
captured in a canyon wind –
yucca leaves, rustling

The host of Carpe Diem, Chevrefeuille , offers this tan renga:

ancient laughter
captured in a canyon wind –
yucca leaves, rustling
 (© Paloma)

whispering of ghostly voices
telling a wonderful story
(© Chèvrefeuille)

These brought to mind this picture of Carolyn hiking in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona:

organ pipe

and the whisper of wind through the Organ Pipes inspired this tan renga:

ancient laughter
captured in a canyon wind –
yucca leaves, rustling
 (© Paloma)

 anasazi ancestors

murmur aeolian dreams 

Twenty Seven Years

J & C Temple25 years ago

Today, the Feast of Stephen, is also our wedding anniversary.  Old friends of Carolyn happened to be my flight students at Montair Flight Service in Vermont, and they told her that she just HAD to meet their flight instructor.  “Right,” she said, “I remember the other guys you set me up with.”  We had both been alone for many years, and had pretty much given up on relationships.  We had built happy, busy and satisfying lives for ourselves–she in Boston, me in Vermont–as single people.    But that day in January of 1987  when she accompanied her friends to Burlington for a flight lesson, we both felt something akin to an electric shock when we saw each other.   That incredible moment gave the truth to this marvelous poem of Rumi:

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”

And that moment has not only lasted, but expanded into undreamed of dimensions. Each morning my mind fills with wonder and my heart with joy as my eyes rest on the wondrous being with whom I share my life.

twenty seven years

blessings beyond imagining

each day a new joy 

A Christmas Haibun (Prose +Haiku)


The Newborn King is born over and over, as love pours into this vale of tears.  Here is one of those precious moments when I was given the grace to be a mid-wife:

For about ten years, I spent Christmas day visiting a Mental Hospital near my home in Vermont to play Christmas carols for the patients. This was during a difficult time in my life, and I of course received much more than I gave.

In one ward for the severely ill, I was playing a broken down old piano, and decided to play the simplest of carols: Silent Night. After just a couple of measures, an elderly man made his way to my side, and grasped my left hand in both of his with a firm grip. I left my hand in his, and continued playing as best I could with one hand. Slowly, tentatively, he began to sing the words with a dry, eggshell voice. As I played the carol for the second time, his voice got stronger and his timing was impeccable. When we finished, he didn’t smile or say a word.  He just returned to his chair in the corner.

As I was leaving the ward a nurse approached me with tears in her eyes. She gave me a warm embrace and said, “That man who sang with you…?” “Yes?” I prompted. “He has not uttered a word nor even a sound in over thirty years. I have never seen anything like what just happened.”

The sacred power of music has never been so clear to me. It felt as though I had been given the gift of music for just that very moment.  Silent Night became for him and for me a holy night:

for a brief moment

all was calm and all was bright

troubled souls held hands

Straw Haiku


caroling scholars

enliven the Street of Straw


Today’s prompt on the wonderful blog carpe diem haiku kai is “straw.”  My inner eye skittered away to 13th Century Paris, and the birth of its famous University.  The school was first located on the Rue de l’Ecole which quickly came to be known as the Rue de Fouarre, or the Street of Straw. It is even mentioned in Dante’s Paradiso, X.  The name might have alluded to the straw market that was in the neighborhood.  The explanation I have always enjoyed, however, points to the fact that the only person with a chair in a Medieval classroom was the professor.  The students would sit in the unheated room shivering on straw scattered about the floor.  It is no wonder they so enjoyed whooping it up as they are doing in the above manuscript illumination.

Let me take this opportunity to thank Chèvrefeuille, the host of carpe diem haiku kai, for the care and effort he so generously shares with lovers of haiku.  He has been especially kind and encouraging to this beginner, and it is a pleasure to express my gratitude.

Carolyn on Compassion


My wife Carolyn was a Professor of Psychology and Therapist for many years.  I tell people I am her principal client, and this is more true than I care to believe.  This morning she was thinking of the awful things that have happened recently in our world, and she penned the following lines that I think call for reflection.  She wrote:

“Maybe the horrors in our world are instigated and carried out by the very people who most need compassion and love–but they scare us so much that they trigger more fear and even hate, disgust, depression and despair.  These all need compassion, even if we cannot completely understand.  Surely our own acts that stem from fear, or lack, or a sense of scarcity, need compassionate and tender consideration?  If I am to commit fully to love, then I am also fully committed to extend love to all–even those who commit the most horrendous atrocities. This love seems so out of reach.  Yet once in a while I know its healing power.”

Here is a coda by Rumi:

With the Beloved’s water of life, no illness remains.

In the Beloved’s rose garden of union, no thorn remains.

They say there is a window from one heart to another.

How can there be a window where no wall remains?