Pay Attention Part 3

Pay Attention to Your Friendships
Part 3 of 3


sunrise on the English Channel, Normandy

Pay attention to your
What is going on
in their life?
What needs do you
see arising?
Is sorrow seeping
from their very

Is their heart
weary and does it
long for sweet
Is their body in
need of a gentle
a healing herb?
Listen to the
call they are longing
for someone – for you
to hear

Do you welcome
them at every
in their wholeness and
in their
Sing their song
to them
loud and long
so that they hear
their own
wisdom and beauty.
Laugh with them
at the joy
of new beginnings
of new life
Sit with them
allow their head
to rest upon
your shoulder
when the thunderous
rains are
pouring down upon
all that they
have built and
hold dear.
Be that silent
that cave where
they can
enter and gather
crystals and long
lost feathers.

 Don’t ignore their
struggle to be
whole or turn
your back on
their unwillingness
to see their own
Light a candle
put on some music
sweep out the house
of confusion
make hot chicken soup
and wrap them
in a soft silk
cloak of kindness.
Hold hands and skip
stones together
dance in the street
and whoop with
glee for no reason
at all
except perhaps to
and to remind us all
that fun
changes the energy
to one of
lightness and
oh yes
flow together
allow life’s
river to
keep you within sight
of one another
as you navigate
the swirls and

Invite them to stand
beneath the blessing
tree that grows
and flourishes along
your path
chant the prayers
of the ancestors
for them – with them

 Pay attention to your
allow your heart
to be open
to be broken
Don’t hold your
love tight within
release it on
wings of
blessing and grace.

 ~Joss Burnel

Pay attention, part 2

Pay Attention to Your Friendships.  Part 2 of 3


A kiss from Magdala Tower

“Choose your friends
wisely” we
were taught when
And yet, looking
back on it, that
advice was more
about not hanging
out with those
who smoked, drank
or did drugs,
skipped school
or got pregnant.
Not that those
are behaviours
to ignore but in the
long run, they were
asking us to focus
on surface things,
behaviours that
change, that mature
that go away over

That teenager who
got pregnant
the one who was
smoking pot in the
school washroom?
One ended up being
an awesome
the other became the head of
a volunteer organization
known world wide
for its aid and effectiveness.
And even so
would either of them
be today’s
wise choice for you?

So…choose your
friends wisely.
Pay attention
to who you are
when you’re
with them.
Are you given
opportunity to
speak of what
matters to you
are you being
and honoured for
what you
bring to the table?
Are laughter and
tears shared and
Is the way you
walk your
path of life
accepted and
delighted in?
Do the people you
hang with
know you,
see you for
who you are
even, maybe
especially, in
your vulnerable
ugly moments?
When you wrap
yourself inside the
confines of a
cocoon, do they
truly know you
will emerge a
glorious butterfly
and do they
wait in
while you are
When you are
worn down to
the bone by
life’s tragedies
by heartache
beyond bearing
do they show up
with hugs and
hot chicken soup?

Pay attention to your
hold on to those
whose love is
and release into the void
who are unable or
who choose
not to
know you.

~Joss Burnel

Vincent Van Gogh / Fishing Boats Les -Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer / 1888

Pay attention

Pay Attention to Your Friendships / Part 1 of 3

Pay attention to the
people in your
To those who are
there – who
are present when
your life pleases
and absent when
your decisions
your relationships
your behavior
disagrees with
who they think
you should be
or are.

Opinions are a
dime a dozen
as the saying
and amazingly,
people feel very
entitled to have them.

To those who see
you as weak or
failing when
you are overwhelmed
or when you are
struggling to
get through even
one day.
To those who
determine that
the pain in your
life is the
result of some
overall, cosmic
To those who emotionlessly
that you should
give up or that
your giving up is
a sign of
poor character or
even bad choices.

Bert and Ernie
had it all
wrong. You
can’t ridicule
someone or
poke at them
and it all be okay
at the end of
each day.

Who wanders away
when you are
in need?
Who decides you
would be better off
if you played
by their rules?
Pay attention.

To that one who
is sure you
married the wrong
bought the wrong
accepted the
wrong job – see
them rejoice
when things go
south and they
are confirmed in
their knowing
better than you
how you
should live
who you
should be.

Job had friends like that.
They didn’t offer
food when his
storehouses were
didn’t show up
with hugs and
hot chicken soup
but rather came
with their superiority
their righteousness
their confidence
in their own beliefs
their own
pride in having
made better decisions – well
obviously they did
or their life
would not be as
much a mess
as yours.
No one’s life or
situation is improved by
or put down.

 Pay attention to your
and release into the
void those
who are unable
or who choose not
to celebrate

~Joss Burnel



This moment


window inside Sauniere’s house


Time passes
like a shadow over the land
and what is left
of all your worry and anxiety?
Better to pause in wonder
Better yet to walk in beauty
Ever best to speak of love
Yet time pays no mind
and knows not even the thought
of better or best
What then but this moment
to simply be.

~Joss Burnel

My Grandmother’s Poetry

I didn’t have a grandmother so these words are for the elders who have gone before me.


My grandmother’s poetry
lies faded
on dry leaves
of paper

The ink
like blood
being absorbed
until nothing remains
but a faint impression
of its presence

I trace the letters
with my trembling
longing to hear her voice
once again

She who washed
her laundry in
the river
and gathered sticks
to warm
the house
her life was
all of labour
her heart flowing
onto the page
while the house
was asleep
and cold crept in
wayward cracks

Was it
she danced
naked under the

~Joss Burnel

I remember my mother

Something I’ve been working on, this poem, late at night.  Trigger warning.

I remember my mother
her hatred
her fear
her need to outsmart
you and screw you over
her wild laughter
in the middle of the night
her rages
and tantrums
her drinking
way past the point
of no return

I remember how
she tried to drown
my cat in the toilet
how she attacked me
with a wood file
one sunny Sunday morning
how she said
things too horrible to hear
or ever speak aloud
how she always needed
to be smarter than

She is long gone now
and there is nothing
of beauty that remains
only sorrow
and compassion
for the woman she
could have been
might have chosen
to be despite
the fear
the neurosis
that grew and grew.

I remember my mother
and see how terrible
life was for her
how sorrow and pain
marred her path
how abuse
and terror
ruled her childhood
how anger
filled her heart
way past the point
of no return

I remember my mother
and wish for
moments of grace

Within the tightly held bud, beauty waits to unfold

Within the tightly held bud, beauty waits to unfold