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Round Trip: poem by Ernie Tamminga

mountain landscape, Image by Free-Photos, on Pixabay

Round Trip

And when I see

what the Hubble has seen:

   the ultra-deep field,

I fall in love.

I fall in love.

And all the green

in the valley and the mountains

we’re passing through too fast

   on our 300-mile way home from grandchildren,

all the green says:

We love you, too.

All the green says:

   Do you know that?

   Can you feel that?

And the light

from eight minutes ago,

the light from our nearest star,

warms us as we travel.

And the smiles of our children

and their children, say:

we love being with you,

we love you being with us.

And as I hold the little jumping spider

in my hand, having rescued her

from a filling bathtub,

it feels like she knows what I’ve done

and is letting me know that she knows.

She rides on my hand

until I take her outside into the garden.

And when I watch, livestream,

the self-unfolding

of the James Webb Space Telescope,

deploying from its astounding origami cocoon,

I fall in love,

I fall in love.


Ernie Tamminga has a Ph.D. in Cross-Cultural Religious Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara, where he studied for five years with the teacher (now the late) Raimon Panikkar. For twenty years, he served on the board and the teaching faculty of Stillpoint: The Center for Christian Spirituality. Ernie grew up Catholic, went on to do intensive study of several world religious traditions, and has been practicing meditation for a “whole lot” of decades.

He calls himself a "planet empath" whose heart has long been broken by the violence and degradation we have been inflicting on our home planet and all of her living beings. But he holds to a positive stance spiritually, believing,

as the late poet Barry Spacks put it, "What breathes us likely means us well."

He is happily and committedly married. Between his wife, Alison, and him, they have twelve beautiful and inspiring grandchildren.

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