One evening not long ago, when I was sunk in suffering over something beyond my control, I remembered James Baraz’s 91-year-old mother Selma.
In the you tube video “Confessions of a Jewish Mother,” she tells how her Buddhist son ruined her life. He got so sick of her complaints that he asked her to do something new. Every time she complained, she should just add these words: “but I am blessed.”

She did it, and to her horror – “It kills me to say this,” she lamented – she got happier.

Floundering in my doldrums, I thought maybe that’s a good antidote. Negativity is really just complaining internally, so maybe I’ll just try repeating those words to myself whenever I have a negative thought…

She was right. It works! The problems are still there, of course, but the words let the light in, and the darkness is never quite so dark after that.

 

Song of Light

For Selma Baraz and her son James, who brought light into the darkness by reminding me that I am truly blessed

Blessed is the Light

Flower of life

that opens my heart with joy

from deep within

Generous is the Light

that does not scorn the shadows

though they scuttle before it

like discombobulated dreams

Friendly is the Light, and tranquil

holding me like a child

and filling me with peace

Do not ask me to explain

Words are themselves

made of Light

and so cannot define their substance

but can only sing.

 

 

 

An Antidote to Darkness
Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards, a poetic and musical member of the Universal Human Nation, is the author of On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo; Soft Brushes with Death, a Jorge Espinet Primer; Confessions of Olivia, a fictional autobiography; and Fish Scribbles. She has also co-authored two books: Experiences on the Threshold and Ambrosia - Poetic Recipes/Recetas poeticas. Exactly two of her poems have been published by anyone other than her less-than-modest self: “The Great 21st Century Poemic" appeared in the April 2021 edition of Global Poemic (globalpoemic.wordpress.com); and "Fairies of the Forest" appeared in the Palo Alto Times "Youth Said It" column in 1957. In the '90s she also wrote for, edited and published an independent San Francisco newspaper, Human Future; and in the '70s she co-founded the San Francisco arts publication La Mamelle, which morphed into Art Com before it died, and whose remnants are now housed in the Stanford Archives. A graduate of Stanford University, she helped raise several humans from infancy, and is now enjoying their friendship. Currently she tends to wander between Oregon and California, enjoying the company of her beloved community of friends and family. She can more or less reliably be found at the west coast Park of Study and Reflection, outside Red Bluff in Northern California, on the third Saturday of every month.