Poems and other careful words

It is so hard to put what we mean into words, that sometimes there is no other way but to write a poem. Offering spoken ministry in Meeting for Worship is also a time to try to put only the right words into what you say.

For Love of Trees

If you sit long enough you can smell
The almond orchard's heady scent of honey,
You can hear oaks mourning the lost babies,
The pines talk of terror in the storm.
You can taste the joy of eighteen inch growth
After a very wet winter.
You can feel the redwood power going straight down.
You can see the patterns of light and dark
In the weaving of the life web.


Go sit with the trees.
Talk to the rocks.
Lose your mind to a sunset.
Hone in on the rhythm of honey bees.

Be what you cannot
Turn inside out what you expect.
Find yourself in the meanders
Of a stream's eddies.

Follow the endless wave
Of a perfect note
to the ends of the universe.

Breathe in the universe
And out yourself
Until you cannot remember
Which is which.

It is not a soul mate you yearn for
But union with the Divine.
It is not the Divine you will find
But yourself.

- Rolene Otero,Orange Grove Monthly Meeting,10/8/1999

Sheep in Meeting

I hear the distant baa-ing of sheep, a rustic sound unexpected in our suburban Meeting House.

For a long while I cannot understand what it is I am hearing, so unlike the noise of airplanes, cars, radios, power saws, lawnmowers, children playing that normally surrounds us.

Sheep's bleating is so out of context that I nearly cannot hear it; it passes through without my consciousness being able to grasp it and give it the proper label.

So it is with the Word that rises from the Spirit within: a Sound like none other in the neighborhood.

Each of us grasps that small part of the Word that is familiar; one may rise to speak of airplanes, another on the subject of children.

There must be long syllables of the Word that no one rises to speak upon, just as no one rose before to speak of sheep.

Is there no one who hears the burrowing of earthworms, the curl of the wind around the eaves of the Meeting House, the sounds of sunlight falling and leaves growing?

If you hear them, be not always silent; we would all benefit by hearing what you have to say.

-Eric E. Sabelman, 9/6/1992


This is the season when you may see mushrooms pushing up through the grass in your lawn.

If you look closely, you will see that there are many mushrooms growing in a circle - a fairy ring.

But you will not see the rootlike mycelia underground, that join all the mushrooms together.

The fairy ring is one organism; the mushrooms you see are its fruiting bodies, the means by which it spreads its lineage outside the circle.


If you hike through an aspen forest, you will walk past thousands of trees, old and young, see their leaves by the million trembling in the wind.

You will not see the root underground, joining tree to tree, again a single organism.

The trees you see carry sun and air and the count of days to the root; their function is essential to its life.


From the coast, you may see a single whale spout, and think how small it is in the vast open ocean.

You will not see the reflecting layers under the waves, that carry the whale's sound across the Pacific.

Each whale can hear the others sing, as if they were in the same room, like you and me.

Part of their song is to say "We are together;" this verse they do not sing when alone in an aquarium tank.


If we are so mistaken about the isolation of the mushroom, and the aspen tree, and the whale, could we also be mistaken about the isolation of our own selves?

-Eric E. Sabelman 1/9/1997

Thoughts on the beach at Pacific Grove

The dunes are covered with iceplant, slowly and laboriously being removed, to be replanted with native vegetation.

If God is in all things, then God is in iceplant, and water hyacinth, zebra mussels and mitten crabs - all invasive species that we would have die out, except where they are native.

Does God value declining species more than expanding, opportunistic ones?

Was the last passenger pigeon more precious in His eyes than any other?

Is the 6 billionth mitten crab, or the 6 billionth human being, less precious?

What is God's will for His Creation?

All we can say is that it is not static - even species that seem unchanged, like isopods and horseshoe crabs, since the beginning of time, now live in a different world, from which their companions the trilobites and ammonites are long gone.

On the beach this year are more chitons and cockleshells, and fewer pelicans, than last time. Were the cockles there unseen, but now have died to leave their shells on the beach? Will the pelicans be back?

How does God judge the success of a species: by age, by number, by impact on others? Does God judge?

-Eric E. Sabelman 12/9/99

Return to home page