In My Other Voice

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It’s been said that better questions lead us naturally to better answers, and that it’s in not knowing that we open the doorway to knowing. I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that truly matter in a complex world.

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Following the seriousness of the last few episodes, this is just the right moment to lighten up and take a few easy breaths.

Join me this week as I speak to you in my other voice, the voice of wonder and mystery and beauty—the voice of poetry. Stay with me as we step away for a while and look at the world through a more relaxed and perhaps elegant lens.

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In previous episodes, I shared that I have long considered poetry to be the more useful and effective language for communicating what is in my heart. I wrote my first poems when I was twelve, and though they were admittedly naïve, I look back on them as the beginning of my attempts to express what I could say in no other way. Over the years, that form of expression has become increasingly important to me and my poetic abilities have continued to deepen and grow.

It’s through poetry that I’m most clearly able to express the things I experience in this life. More fluidly than everyday spoken language, it’s with poetry that I can give a voice to all that life holds, from deep sorrow to ecstatic bliss, from wonder to boredom, and everything in between.

It’s also through poetry that language and music and art flow seamlessly in and out of one another, becoming inseparable.

So, I hope you’ll find a few things you can relate to as I offer six short pieces about the mystery and goodness that is so alive in the world. From the taunting of crows, we’ll move on to the laughter of wise women and then on to the mystery and oneness of all life.

Perhaps something here will inspire you.

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I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t captivated by crows and the secrets they keep. To hear them or see them in flight is to become spellbound. I‘ve drawn and painted them many times, and my journals are filled with poems about them. Here’s a piece that came to me all at once as I walked beside a small village in New Mexico several years ago.



They call to me,
these crows.
They caw and laugh
and share a joke
that only they can tell.
Black as ink
along a nearby adobe wall,
they call to me,
seem to know me.
They call to me
with voices dry as
piñon smoke,
and then,
like that smoke,
disappear on the westerly wind.

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Sitting at a nearby table in a coffee shop one morning, a group of women were caught up in a discussion so lively that I found myself smiling as I overheard bits and pieces of what they were saying. Their ease and self-assured elegance told me that I was witnessing a living ceremony as old as humanity itself.

When they stood up to leave, one of them nodded to me, as if to acknowledge that she knew what had come to my awareness about them and that I was somehow accepted. Her knowing look has stayed with me.


Coffee Shop Crones

Laughter rising,
rippling in raucous incantation,
they join their hearts
in timeless ceremony,

making their plans
to tend the sick,
the children,
the old.

Laughter rising like song
from faces of mahogany
and deep earth,

these women of power and light
are weaving the threads
that hold the world together,
the loving fabric of humanity.

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Isn’t it amazing how something seemingly simple can open a door to something greater? One summer afternoon, I was about to pick a peach from a neighbor’s tree when a deeper urge told me to stop and leave it exactly where it was. As I stood there regarding it, my contemplation gave rise to the following poem.



Peach swells on the branch
until it surrenders,
skin and flesh and seed,
to the waiting earth,
in irrefusable cycle.
What deep and unseen force
drives us to cling,
desperate to go on,
until no choice or act or prayer
can cause us to remain?

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Even more intensely than my experience with crows, I’ve been held captive by the beauty and power and mystery of the moon for longer than I can tell you. Once again, my journals are filled with poems about it. Stand with me at the western edge of a vast pasture in the late evening as the moon rises and everything around us responds to it.


Birds hushed a while
as the eastern horizon
began to glow.
A dog, or was it that
trickster, coyote,
barked once and then was silent.
It could perhaps have been
only my imagination,
but even the crickets
seemed to become still
as moon began to
show herself as
liquid yellow gold.
As she lifted above the
distant trees
and into the blackened sky,
the chorus rose again,
mockingbird and that
loud wren,
coyotes and small things
hiding in the grass.
And moon, full faced,
leaned closer,
listening, smiling.

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photo: Scott Lennox


Late on a spring day at the far end of that same Texas pasture, I had an encounter that made me stop and consider how the cycle of life repeats itself. Life can be so fragile and yet so powerfully enduring. Be mindful of where you step as you walk with me. Tender things are hiding all around us.


Fragile Cycle

Walking along the southern ridge,
where the pastures fall away
and the creek is all but dry,
the hard-packed earth offers
mysteries of its own.
As I approached, a quail rushed off,
keeping low and traveling not too far,
where it hid, perhaps watching,
from the branches of a scrub cedar.
The sudden thrum of its wings
caused my heart to race
and made me laugh out loud.
It always does.
Looking down at where the bird had been,
and no more than a step away,
two mottled eggs lay undisturbed
on a tuft of prairie grass.
It was not what you could call a nest,
just a few curled wisps,
tender blades barely strong enough
to hold those new-laid charges
which sat in open sight
for what might feed on them.
I backed away, not wanting to intrude,
and did not wait to watch the bird return,
but pondered as I ambled down the draw.
The chances are as good as not
that new life will emerge,
and in its own season,
the fragile cycle will begin again.

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When we have the eyes and the willingness to see them, the mystery and the interconnectedness of life will reveal itself to us. The following poem begins with a murmuration of starlings and then out into the stars.


As One

As one, the great flock wheels
and thickens into a single winged body,
a feathered web that winds tight,
then spreads wide again,
then flows into itself again.
As one, they turn and rise,
writhing, twisting over and over,
then plummet sharply, heading west,
lost in their dance with the sky.

As one, the prairie grass bows and stands,
bows and stands, bows and stands,
an undulating wave rippling beneath an unseen breeze.

As one, the school of fish surges and pulses,
this way, then suddenly that,
a slick body shimmering in the relentless current.

As one, two lovers lose themselves in tight embrace,
each receiving and giving away to the other,
an ecstatic answer “Yes” to the insistence of life.

As one, the Milky Way whirls in ageless flight,
moving without movement,
a God-breathed cloud of stars beyond our counting.

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When I allow myself to mentally soften my grip on some of the concerns that are pressing in on me, the poetic voice reminds me that beauty and wonder and mystery are still very much in the world, and that you and I are still very much connected to everything.

By sharing this collection of short pieces with you, I hope to have offered you a chance to “step away” for a few moments—a chance to come home to yourself and to the world. During the past few months, I’ve learned even more than before how important, if not necessary, it is to create intentional pauses as a way of restoring ourselves from the inside out. Each time we do, something in us freshens and heals.

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This week’s Beautiful Questions are about exactly that kind of self-restoring and re-energizing. Here they are.

One: Whether it’s poetry or something entirely different, what things inspire you and speak to your heart?

Two: What might you do to allow yourself time in the day to pause and engage in those things?

Three: As you make that kind of “stepping away” a regular practice, what changes do you notice in how you think and feel?

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As always, I would enjoy hearing what you discover as you sit with these questions and the contemplation that naturally arises because of them. Write and tell me about it.

As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light

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Thank you for joining me in these podcasts as we do what we can to respond to life in increasingly effective ways. As always, I’m open to your comments and feedback.

If you find these podcasts useful, don’t hesitate to share them or tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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