Spring Poetry Series

The Sufi poet Rumi reminds us that, “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; There are a thousand ways to come home.”

This month, I have been paying greater attention to the things that call me home ~  to myself, my family, my community and the planet. I will share one observation (one poem)  per day for the next week. Perhaps they will help you notice what calls you home.


Stand in awe. A flock

Of cedar waxwings descends.

I am surrounded.

Their delight and mine

Converge here this bright morning.

They have found seed pods.

I have found wonder

Welcomed to their community 

Stunned by their presence.

At the River, At the Equinox

Two short weeks ago, the marsh moaned, groaned and cracked. I stood still and listened, mesmerized by the chorus of deep sounds and scanning to find their origin. But there was no source visible to my eye. The beautiful, mysterious music emanated from below the surface.

When a big splash echoed behind us, I expected to see that a critter had waded into the open water for a springtime bath. But there was nothing there – nothing, that is, except for more ice – and a big chunk of it bobbing in the open channel of water in the middle.

This is spring — slow and lumbering on the one side and fast and raucous on the other.

A week later, the deep laborious sounds of ice are replaced by the rippling, burbling, bubbling of the river flowing through the thin channel to the marsh. The air is full of boisterous birdsong. The deciduous treeline is shifting as buds emerge and swell. The buds of the maple tree have become bright red baubles at the end of barren branches. Within those branches, sap is moving freely with the warmth and sun. Spring’s sweetness bubbles to the surface. 

I wonder what is bubbling in me in the springtime of this particular year. 

What ice of the past season is melting to make way for the movement of the arriving season?

What is that song that wants to be sung?

What is swelling in me, waiting to open until the threat of one last freeze has passed?

And, as I look to the oaks at the edge of the forest, the ones who have stood witness for several human generations, I wonder about the ways in which this springtime is both the same and also different from those that came before. We’ve been in the throes of a global pandemic for a year. We are in the throes of a global climate shift.

For a few summers, we lived in a campsite by a glacial river. It was our only bathing spot. With chunks of ice floating by, our dips were few and fast. Putting your head underwater guaranteed the worst ice cream headache you can imagine. But the reward of feeling clean – or at least cleaner – was worth it. We warmed up on the smooth, gray ice and water washed stones on the side of the bank.

I wonder how springtime is arriving at Exit Glacier this year.

How have the last 20 years of a warming planet re-shaped the landscape?

What will the next 20 years do?

Did this Covid year offer any respite to the delicate ecosystem?

And, considering who I am and how I have come to be here, I wonder,

Will more human hearts be opened and lives changed this year after baptism by the silty, blue-grey, icy river and the bliss of warming on the rocks nearby?

As the seasons change and the cycles persist, I pray that it may be so.

It Has Arrived!

My new book Arriving Here: Reflections from the Hearth and Trail is now available. Order a copy at your local bookstore, at Amazon, or by contacting me!

Arriving Here is a personal story of finding my way, finding my purpose, and living into the responsibility of honoring it. Arriving Here is also a universal story of searching for belonging and meaning, connection and value. In sharing my own journey, I hope to illuminate our collective story, a story that requires each one of us to claim our participation in this broken and beautiful world with attention and intention.

What others are saying:

In the powerful tradition of Annie Dillard, John Muir, and Rachel Carson, yet with her own unique lyricism, Lisa offers us a precious and wise handbook of both companionship and connection….

—Jacob Watson, author of Essence: The Emotional Path to Spirit and Enso Morning: Daily Meditation Gifts

Adopting an ageless pattern as a lens to make sense of her life, Lisa makes the subtle explicit and the mundane sacred….This book will warm hearts, ground us in gratitude, and raise our sense of responsibility.

—Robert Atkinson, Ph.D., author of Mystic Journey and The Story of Our Time

Being human is to live out variations on a theme, or a collection of themes….We seek to craft, from the twinkles of insight along the way, a coherent constellation of purpose. That’s what Lisa Steele-Maley has accomplished in Arriving Here.

—Aram Mitchell, Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness

Writing and publishing this book has been a journey of its own, bringing further clarity, strength, and purpose to my days. And, still, I have more questions than I have answers and more curiosity than decision. May it always be so.

Arriving Here: Reflections from the Hearth and Trail will be a wonderful companion for the nesting, daydreaming winter months ahead and a perfect gift for the seeker in your life. Learn more and order your copy(ies) at your local bookstore, at Amazon, or by contacting me!


Realm of the Pink Rhinoceros

The fog hangs low between me and the distant horizon. The tree line feels further away than usual. The dense opaque white mist hangs between us like a sheet. But I know it is penetrable, simply water molecules suspended in mid-air. This water vapor is not a solid veil, it is permeable and gentle. It lingers over the marsh below, creating a mixing place for the tidal waters and the cool air above. It is a mixing place for my imagination too.

When the boys were little and we woke to foggy mornings that were so dense we could not see the trees across the field, I used to joke that it was the kind of morning when you expected to see a pink rhinoceros emerge. As the boys got older, they rolled their eyes at the “mom-ism” but, still embraced in the wonder of childhood, I knew that they approached their days with open curiosity and a clear sense that everything was possible.

 For me, the mystery and potential in those thick foggy days was an opportunity to remember what I had forgotten in the process of growing up. As I wondered about the pink rhinoceros that was just out of sight, I wondered about what other fantastical beings or events were just beyond my sight. I wondered about the mysteries of creation. I wondered about Mystery and Creation. 

Eventually, out of the dense fog of my wondering, the pink rhinoceros emerged to welcome me back into the chorus of all life, one among many. With possibility penetrating and surrounding us, we walked together, back into the cloud of Love and Light that lingers on the horizon.

In Community with the Oaks

Most of the old and stately oaks in our forest have dropped their leaves. We have had a few good snowstorms this winter, some ice, and lots of wind and rain. It is not a surprise that the tree line is mostly barren deciduous branches. This clear and distinct iteration of our winter tree line is comforting. It offers clear view of the oak’s strength. The stout trunk and wide reaching branches tell of each tree’s decades of steady presence. They bear witness to the changing seasons in both the field and the forest. In the summer, they host all manner of species in their branches and at their roots. In this mid-winter time, there are fewer visitors and less activity from those who are there. While the frozen earth sleeps, the branches seem to reach toward the sky with a sigh. This is the deep winter rest from which buds and leaves will emerge. This is the deep peace that balances midsummer’s busy-ness. I appreciate these trees from a distance. It is the only way that I can take them all in, from the heights of their tops to the depths of the roots.

A few feet into the field from the great grandmother oaks, there is a line of younger oak trees. They are no taller than 10 feet and their trunks are no thicker than my forearm (which is pretty thin, by the way). These trees are still holding onto their leaves, as oaks often do. Maybe they are more protected than the taller, more exposed trees. Or maybe they are a different species with a tighter hold on their leaves than the others. Either way, these young ones have caught my attention.

With my awareness absorbed, I am freed from my human mind and body for a few moments. Invited into the more than human world, the self-reflective chatter in my mind quiets. My senses awaken. Lights and sounds become brighter and louder. I notice the chickadee who has been calling incessantly from the top of one of the trees. It feels as though roots are sprouting from the soles of my feet, penetrating the soles of my boots and the half frozen ground as my arms lift to the sky. I recognize the stature of the tree in my body. I feel its connection to earth and sky. I feel my connection to earth and sky. No, I am not turning into a tree. I am noticing myself in relationship with the trees. In community, the difference between us dissolves and we become one. (More on community another time)

The leaves of the young trees wave on the slightest breeze. When I walk by, I feel like they are greeting me. I have begun to greet them. It began innocently enough, just a growing silent awareness. Now I find myself talking to them and singing to them. The other day, I walked by without noticing, absorbed by some abstract rambling in my head. I raced back to apologize and offer them my heartfelt greeting. The spirits of these trees are joyful and laughing. They feel both young and oh so wise. They hang on to their leaves but waggle them at me playfully, reminding me not to hold on to anything too tightly or take myself so seriously. They invite me into kinship with the wider world. I am delighted to be in relationship with them. Their friendship makes me smile.

I feel grateful to have cultivated these new forest friends. I am also aware of how much relationship there is to be nurtured. The forest surrounding our field has hundreds of trees and I have singled out these 8 to befriend. That can’t possibly be fair. But it is a start and it is joyful. And getting to know the others will be full of joy too. Further, there are thousands, maybe millions of other plants and animals on this little plot of land. Who will I meet next?

I am guessing this all may sound a little silly. And it is — silly and fun and important; It is one of the ways that I can reclaim my right place in the world, one being among many. I am also guessing that I am not the only one who has a relationship with a tree, or a body of water, or a special stone, or a bird that frequents the feeder. What relationships with the more than human world have you cultivated?

Trail Race

Noone in front of me

Noone behind me.

Where did everyone go?


No matter,

there’s good company here.

This breeze,

these trees,

those birds I can hear

but not see.


There is more here

that I cannot see.

It holds me upright

when my foot catches on a root

and waves in colorful greeting

from ferns and flowers,

maples and oaks.


I am running slow enough

that a mosquito catches up

and feasts at my left ankle.

I am running fast enough

that my mundane thoughts are left behind.

I am alone with this forest abundance,

drenched in holy space and time.


Palms up,

I offer gratitude

and good tidings.


Bless this earth

that absorbs my footfall.

Bless this earth

that nourishes my spirit

and holds my dreams,

kindles creativity

and possibility.

Bless this earth

that grieves and struggles.

Bless this earth

that bears the weight

of human indifference and greed,

teetering at the edge

of sustainability.

Bless this earth

that feeds my body.

Bless this earth

that soothes my heart

and ignites my imagination,

both of us cycling endlessly through

birth, death and rebirth.


Palms up,

I offer gratitude

and good tidings.


A crowd of people cheers ahead.

My body is relieved,

my heart is full.

Palms up,

I offer gratitude

and good tidings

as I cross the finish line.