Unforced rhythms of grace

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
– Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Pay attention to the intricate patterns of your existence that you take for granted.
-Doug Dillon

It may feel like a wasteland
some days
nothing like you imagined
it would be

you might be challenged
to see
that anything of value
anything beautiful
lies within

but it does
it does
it always has

it dances, it sings

reveals hidden things

grace has a pulse
and beating wings

it believes

Girl in the Mirror. Gallery wrapped canvas, hanging in a hotel, Asheville, NC.

She reminds me of me, long ago.


with thanks to Ruth Ayres, who posted this unusual version of the Matthew verse on SOS-Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. I suspect I will write again on learning the unforced rhythms of grace.

9 thoughts on “Unforced rhythms of grace

  1. Fran,
    I feel your words. The repetition in the middle stanza gives me pause. The personification of grace makes it seem delicate and resilient. Thank you for taking the time to shape these words into a poem that touches my soul. I, too, cannot stop thinking about the unforced rhythms of grace.
    Shine on,

    PS — That Dillon quote is a new one to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ruth, I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of writing on “unforced rhythms of grace.” To begin with, I’d never have thought of it as a paraphrase or idiom for the words of Christ (Come unto me/learn of me/ I will give you rest/my yoke is easy, my burden light). But yet it is a paraphrase. There is freedom in that line. “Grace” isn’t what stands out to me alone, but the idea of it being unforced and having rhythms. Like music, like poetry, like a living thing. I struggled to write this little bit of poem even as I felt desperately pulled to write. Unforced rhythms of grace. Learn them. A poem was called for and it could not be forced into a specific form. Hence the free verse. I’d seen the artwork way back in the summer, hanging in our hotel lobby, for sale (a bit out of my budget so I didn’t buy it). I love it, though. I wondered if the girl was a dancer (I was once a young theater arts major, once had that same long hair…). I wondered what she is looking for in the mirror, what she is thinking. Is she feeling she doesn’t measure up? Is she wishing for something? I hope she sees grace shining within, despite the drab room, the dirt on her feet… I deliberately started with the ambiguous “it may be a wasteland” without defining “it” so that the reader would. The wasteland might be a life. A relationship. A job. Any emotional wasteland. Or just the wasteland of that particular room where the girl stands looking in the mirror. I am holding onto this curious but lyrical translated verse, for I know more unforced rhythms will flow from it, for the learning. As for the Dillon quote: I’d found it some time ago in a book on listening. He writes of the paranormal so I questioned using it here, but I couldn’t help tying the learning of unforced rhythms of grace to paying attention to the patterns of your existence…

      Your words mean much to me. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Fran,
        I’m happy to hear more of your thoughts behind the poem…thoughts about the unforced rhythms of grace. It is such a joy to know someone else is tugging these threads of scripture. I’ve been mesmerized by Matthew 11:28-30 because it’s about work. You put a yoke on when the oxen are working. The paraphrased version gives me pause because it reminds me that I shouldn’t have to force grace, nor should I force the work that is mine to do.

        Then I think about these ideas of work and unforced rhythms of grace layered with the photo and I find my mind spinning. Yes, there is so much that begins, I think, with paying attention to the ordinary patterns in our world. I supposed, it all ties back to “awe,” right?


        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Grace has a pulse and beating wings.” I love these words. Grace was my one little word one of these years. It’s important to me to notice grace every day, a root word for gratitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was the combination of “unforced rhythms” with grace that caught at my soul, Margaret. Grace felt like music, poetry, a living thing… then, the directive: Learn them, these unforced rhythms. I feel a big window has opened – we will see what pours through!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, this is lovely, Fran. The Dillon quote makes me think of Mary Oliver’s instructions for living a life (pay attention, be astonished, tell about it). The poem has a shape pulse, too, and it also looks much like a vase with something to flower from it. Your picture of choice is simply an amazing fit for this poem. The need for grace does not discriminate – – we all need it a lot more often than we think we do, and more importantly – – we need to extend it a lot more often, too. Great words of peace today!


    • I love Oliver and often hear her lines echoing in my mind, too. Hadn’t thought about the poem having a shape-pulse but I love that term and the possibility of it being a vase, waiting to hold a flower. A vessel of grace… I am delighted that you find the picture an amazing fit! I had nearly forgotten photographing it for future reference and writing. It came to mind as I wrote to that line of learning unforced rhythms of grace. I don’t know why but I feel the girl is a dancer, or wants to be, so connected to rhythm and grace as well as embodying a seeking and a need – as you beautifully put it, “the need for grace does not discriminate.” How I treasure your insights and perceptiveness, Kim! Thank you-


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