Sophy means wisdom (as in Philosophy, the “love of wisdom,”) and wisdom is “experience coupled with thoughtfulness of what was learnt.”

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I’ve chosen that double-dip name for my blog (Sophy-wisdom), first because Sophy is my Christened name, spelt like that, with a “y,” and then because all my life I’ve been straining and struggling to find wisdom.

In these troubled times

COVER FALLING

Don’t you love to get unexpected letters? They come to me mostly by email now, and always  still spreading Hope and Love, and always with a little Mystery. And now, I give you two stories, one from Sweden and the other from Germany of long ago, for in these troubled times it is wise to remember that we are surrounded by angels. Two angels accompany you from the moment you are born, your special companions, and in times of peril they can call a cavalry of angels to your aid. The question is — Who will see them in disguise? Who will hear them when they speak? Here is the first story:

Dear Sophy Burnham,

Being a refuge war baby in Germany, I know of angels from very early on.  At age 4 or 5,  I fell out of my crib. My left arm swelled up so my mother took me to the hospital.  I stayed in the hospital for 18 weeks before they sent me home, saying I am going to die of bone cancer.  This was in 1948/49. Continue reading

Advice for Writers

I’m passing on the link to an article I wrote, for the publishing addict.com site. It’s called “Grim Commonsense” but I assure you there is nothing grim about it — but rather delight and joy. Here’s the link, if anyone is struggling to write.

http://publishingaddict.com/grim-commonsense-advice-from-for-writers-only/.

 

OK, you all: What is Wisdom?

Not long ago a Dutch woman wrote me about a book she is writing, in which she interviews women named Sophie (Greek for wisdom), asking, What is Wisdom? And, Given your name, Have you thought about Wisdom?
I won’t tell you my answer to her question. I gave one. But I’m interested in what others  think.

Tell me, What is Wisdom? I’ll collect the answers from all you non-sophies and post them here. And maybe I’ll divulge my answer as well.

 

On the election of Trump

On the election of Trump. (11/09/16)

 

 

Oh, in the darkest of days,

When weeping is the only action known to eyes,

And inside your chest the twisted rag of your heart wrings itself

In agony, when Hope is lost and Faith’s gone roaming

In the deserts of Imagination,

 

How is it that You find a way

Dear God, to touch the lyre of my soul?

I glance up, eyes blurred by tears,

Toward the picture hanging on the wall above my desk,

“The Hand of God,” I call it – this ocean depth,

deep, black and billowing beneath

A sky with outspread fingers formed of clouds

Shredding—it is the blessing

Of God’s palm outstretched. I see it every day

But now it hits as if I’d never noticed it before:

“I’m Here,” it says, “All’s well. Be still.”

 

I open the computer then to find a stranger’s letter

Thanking me for words in books I’d written

So long ago I don’t remember what they said.

He gifts me with his angel tale of hope and energy–

This when my heart is breaking, rainbows needed now.

 

In the deepest Valleys of the Dark

You are with me, angel,

Singing in small silent sounds and only heard by

The one to whom you Sing. O Mother!

O Goddess! O Daddy! Care for me. For us.

I am afraid.

 

I am afraid for my beautiful country,

For Democracy, afraid of the rise of Ignorance

And hate, oblivion of Wisdom. O Help us, Dearest Love,

To remember kindness. Is that too much to ask?

Help us to be kind

To one another.

OK?

 

 

 

FALLING: LOVE-STRUCK, The God Poems

FALLING: LOVE-STRUCK

 

LOOK!  My poems are published!

Available on Amazon, through Finishing Line Press, FLPbookstore@aol.com at bookstores, or from Me, autographed!

I’m so happy, I’m  wagging my tail. For me, Poetry comes right after music on the stairwell of ART, with music is at the TOP.  Imagine!  A publisher wanted my poems!

Would you like to read on or two? Scroll down. I’ll give you 3 (just after these flattering blurbs). They are all vastly different, but all about Love-struck. Even if you don’t buy, please write a review for Amazon. If I get 50 reviews, Amazon kicks the book up in its advertising.

COVER FALLING

PRAISE FOR FALLING: LOVE-STRUCK

 Sophy Burnham has given us a collection of poems to read under the eyes of God.

Her words teach us to breathe and how to catch our breath. Her poetry tells us to stop and enjoy the miraculous. Burnham makes us think of Bly and all those writers who love nature.  Come listen to the ringing of her soul.  There are beautiful dreams giving birth in these poems.

  1. Ethelbert Miller    Board Chair, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)

www.eethelbertmiller.com

The voice in this poem speaks out of the wisdom of a life lived passionately and consciously in the body, a voice in love with the world, attuned to loss and woundedness, open to relationships – from lovers to granddaughters  – and animated by the childlike wonder of a true mystic.  To read these poems is to fall in love again – with the earth, with our fragile and beautiful humanness, with words and yes, with the lively mystery that some of us call “God.”

Kathleen Henderson Staudt, author of Waving Back: Poems of Mothering Life and Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture.

 

It’s so hard to choose only TWO POEMS out of almost 40, but if you like them, please buy my book. And review it on Amazon (because it really makes a difference. If I can get 50 reviews, Amazon starts advertising the book).

 

 

The basement stair

There was a day when I, a little child,

Was dancing in the sunbeam’s shaft that filed

Or streamed across the chambered hallways of my mind

(I was all joy; no worlds were left to find)

And, laughing, whirled in rhythm with the luminous floats—

The spirit lights like golden notes

Singing in the high air.

“What are you doing on the basement stair?”

It was my mother’s voice. “How dare you? Just in underpants

And playing in the dust! You feel enhanced,

I s’pose, to be here smeared in dirt!”

She muttered more. I rose protesting pride against my hurt,

And still she would not stop. “I’ve never seen the like!”

I felt tears back against the dike

Of my control, then overflow, broken on her reproof.

I dressed. She stood aloof.

And then I saw the lights were only motes

Gray dirt or grime against the cellar door, the kind of grit that floats

In any moldy air. The sun was gone.

So, too, the siren song.

It happened long ago, but oh! What I would give

To hear that song again and like a child sieve

Dancing sunlight out of golden beams,

In dirt stand dazzled at God’s dreams.

 

One breath

Be still and

breathe. Is anything more important

than this (one breath)? You’d think

we’d think about it

more,

The way we do when

pushed under

water,

held down by your

bullying older brother in rough-

house joy, except

you’re thrashing flailing

gasping—oh god! For

air

clear lovely and invisible sustenance

sucked greedy into collapsing lungs, the way

the asthmatic hauls in

breath,

each one a shuddering

terror, a

prophecy of when you won’t be able,

the dark descending

spirit ascending,

as it floats from the skin of your shell

to that moment when breath no longer matters

anymore.

 

Words, words 

  1. I’m losing my words

Or my mind, one or the other,

Groping for a name, a noun.

The adjective that used to

Leap like a young goat

Off

The cliffs of joy

Onto the page is

Now a stuttered shadow

Of a memory.

They come back, the words return

Drunk and reeling after a night at the bars.

They lurch into the empty streets

bottle-swinging, shout: Adjacent

Tapas! Ecru!

Daisy Miller!

Awake in bed I grind my teeth

Helpless against the green glass

Shattering on the dawn curbs

Curfew! Origami!

When what I needed was now hours gone.

They slink off laughing like felons

On the prowl.

 

2. I dream how when I die the words will all come back

Falling in apple blossom blessings

Paper whirligigs

Floating, falling through the silence

Majestically

White cranes curving

To my tongue

Taut and tangy to the touch.

They’ll flap one indolent wing

To keep aloft

Swoop, settle on my scorched skin

Like burning kisses:

. . .

3. In my dream the words snow

Silently from gunmetal skies, drift in piles

light wind-whipped powder-soft,

These carriers of the fierce music

Of my life.

Buckled and booted for war

The huntsman’s horn, the screech of wheel,

Laments of loneliness and love.

They are choral bells pealing forth their

Hope faith fears.

They are canticles to

The times

We’ve known before

This one around.

In my dream

I wonder if it’s words I’ll miss

The most,

Or whether words will wing

In whatever heaven I’m assigned.

I’d even want another incarnation

Here if I could hear

Words tumbling from your

Beautiful sweet mouth, pouring

From the bellows of your throat.

 

 

On Happiness

On Happiness

Here is a quote from Shantideva, writing that our motivation, whether good or bad, determines the fruit of our actions:

Whatever joy there is in this world

All comes from desiring others to be happy

And whatever suffering there is in this world,

All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

And this, from the Dalai Lama,: “There is no need for temples; no need for complicate philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple.  My philosophy is kindness.”

10,000 blessings,

Sophy

A miracle

Just this week, I received a wonderful story to share: a car, an 18-wheeler, an accident–and then what? I remember getting two letters once from  two different people who each recounted the same story–of a car that against all the laws of physics  passed through another so that  though they saw the faces in the other car as it shifted through their front seat, averting a crash.

For days this letter from Victoria (a stranger to me) has made me happy, and I’m glad she says I can post it. I can’t do better than quote from her letter to me.

At 17, I was diagnosed with a severe panic disorder. I had my first panic attack while driving a car, and I began to fear driving so much that having a panic attack when behind the wheel became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I went through years of therapy before learning how to deal with it. I am 41 now, and always have a small fear in the back of my mind when driving, though I know to reverse the symptoms of a panic attack if needed.

On May 20, 2016 I drove my son an hour and a half on the Interstate to meet his biological father for his weekend visitation.  The highway is very congested on Friday evenings, and that evening was no different. As I headed home, I was traveling in the left lane. The speed limit is 75, and I was going about 80.  The truck in front of me changed to the right lane, which seemed to be opening up, so I followed.  Suddenly he swerved back into the left lane, and there I was, twenty or thirty feet from a car-carrying 18-wheeler that lay sideways across the road. The left lane was jammed.

I screamed “Oh my God, oh my God!” and closed my eyes.

Continue reading

Entertaining Angels Unaware

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13.2

Don’t you love the stories where a stranger knocks on the door to tell you just what you need to do to save a situation–or a life?   I tell of several in A Book of Angels, one, around 1906, concerned a little girl dying of scarlet fever. She was so sick that her little coffin and white shroud was ready. One day a knock came at the door. The maid answered. “You can’t come in. The house is quarantined.”

“I’m a doctor,” said the stranger, giving his name and the township where he lived. “Go to the backyard and pluck a tail-feather from the rooster.” (In those days everyone kept chickens in their yards.) “Wrap the child’s throat in hot, wet flannel, and when she coughs, pull out the phlegm in her throat with the feather. She will live.” He went away, and the little girl’s father did as directed. She recovered. But that’s not all.

A few weeks later her father hitched up the horse and drove to the nearby town to thank the good doctor, only to be told that the man had died several  years before. As for the little girl, to the end of her days, and she lived into her nineties, she kept the tiny shroud in which she should have been buried. And who was the doctor, an angel? A spirit? A guide?

Now a new story has come my way, about a war-refugee in Germany during the War.

Continue reading

Another angel

A few days ago I received an email from Davila (a stranger) writing in response to a story in A BOOK OF ANGELS of the Jamaican char who came into my dying mother’s hospital room and with a few words healed our relationship. I can’t do better than to print the whole email, and not only because the writer is so grateful. Here is her story of another healing angel: (Sorry I can’t find the tag on the new wordpress thingey that lets you choose to read on. Darn!)

Dear Sophy,

I have just begun reading A Book of Angels, and after a particular passage, I feel compelled to share this story:

My mother died this March 2, 2016. She and I were very close. On February 25 she was admitted to the ICU in the hospital with pancreatic cancer. She died seven days later in a beautiful hospice room. Even as I write this now I realize that today is March 25, exactly one month from that night she went in the ambulance.

The day we moved her from the hospital to a hospice a few miles away, my older brother and sister stood with my father discussing some details with the doctor.  I stood by my mother’s hospital bed, crying,  she opened her eyes, though she was heavily sedated, and I called my family back in to see. Her eyes rested  on each of us, and she tried to speak to us but was unable to, because of the breathing tube. It was the last moment she was awake and looking at all of us together before she died, and it felt like a small miracle.

My family went on ahead in the car. I stayed with my mom. Just before the ambulance guys arrived to move her, a priest came in to give her a blessing. I am not Catholic, but I took some comfort in the prayers. But what soothed me more was the sturdy nun with deep chocolate brown skin and a smooth round face who walked in behind him. She came directly to me and stood quietly beside me. As the priest finished his blessing, the ambulance drivers arrived. I felt her beside me, and I wanted her there.

There was a flurry of straps and tubes and hospital machine noises as the nurse and paramedics moved my mother and her life support from one bed to another. I stood back, feeling helpless and lost without my mother. Then, at the same moment, the nun turned to me and I to her ,and she wrapped her broad arms around me, and rocked me like a little girl. It felt natural, like I had known her a long time. I started to sob.

“You’re the baby” she said.  She had a thick Islander accent. “I lost my mother too” she said to me. “Its hard and you love her so.” As they began wheeling my mother out of the room, the nun let me go. She said more things quietly to me as we let go hands, but I don’t remember what they were. Only that I had a strong feeling that mother love is all around me. I remember thinking that phrase specifically, mother love.

She kept her gaze on me until I was out of sight. I remember noticing how no one in the hospital room had paid her any attention. Not even the priest. Her name was Zita.

How The Treasure of Montsegur came to me is another angelic story in itself.  That story has resonated with me like no other I’ve read, and reading it led me to A Book of Angels. I am so thankful to you Sophy, for your beautiful writing.  It has touched me with truths I will hold for the rest of my life.

With love,

Davila

FALLING: Love-struck

Dear Friends:  LOOK! My book of poetry is being published in May. Here is the draft cover (with a few too many colons). I am so pleased, BUT…..

Finishing Line Press wants 100 pre-publication sales, and I am asking you out of friendship, curiosity, generosity, courtesy, and love of Words, to buy a copy – or two – or some to give away to friends.

If they don’t get enough pre-publication sales, they don’t publish. And then you get your money back. Here is the link to order FALLING: LOVE-STRUCK, The God Poems by Sophy Burnham. https://finishinglinepress.com/index.php?cPath=2&sort=2a&filter_id=2147

Will you help?

This is only a draft cover and needs adjustment. And below is a review… and also one poem from this collection.

COVER FALLING

Here’s one of the reviews: Continue reading