Poetry Post: Prayer on a Full Moon

Over the past two years, I have been developing classes in contemplative writing. One of those classes focuses on prayerful writing according to the rhythm of the moon. Experiencing the cycle of life with the phases of the moon is something all ancient cultures did. And it is an art we have lost in the modern world. We have lost our connection to the God’s expression in the natural world. Living and creating with this rhythm has been a powerful process for me in my own inner work. And it’s something I look forward to sharing soon with my students. 

Here is one of my recent full moon prayer-poems. 


Prayer on a Full Moon

On this moon of completion

help us to release old things,

heavy things which have outlasted

their purpose,

attachments and expectations

that are burdensome,


and senseless to keep carrying.

Lift the weight of chain mail,

and unbind the shackles

that keep us from love.


Bless us with courage

to shed old ways,

and with faith

to believe we are enough,

and don’t need to drag

outdated furnishings

into a new home,

a home where you have plans for us.


Give us the conviction

to walk into a new room

in a new way.


Copyright 2017

Maria Grace Mandarino



Poetry: Security Lights

The following poem is one of the “luxation poems” mentioned in my earlier blog post

Security Lights

I saw an old friend the other day

who said I was looking brighter.

I told her that was a good word for it.

“My electrician rewired me,” I told her.

She raised an eyebrow.

I know she thought I was sleeping with him.

“It’s not what you think,” I said.

It’s better, I thought.

But how do you explain something like that?

That you were healed by an electrician,

a man who runs energy through conduction wires?

It’s not far-fetched though

when you think about Chinese medicine

and how the acupuncturist sets needles into points

to allow energy to flow through channels.

That’s what he did.

Not with needles.  Not even with wires and plyers.

He did it with his eyes, his smile, his quiet but strong voice

saying, “I want to do the right thing by you,”

giving me five sets of lights

for the price of four,

then shaving even more off in the end.

I had told him the whole story that morning as

we stood on the soft sod

in the uncertain warmth of an April sun.

The dissolving marriage,

my husband’s bitterness and rage,

the heavy-set bearded man he has following me.

Tears glazed my eyes

when I told him I felt like a prisoner

in my own home.

The electrician didn’t look away

as most men do when I tell the story.

Instead, his dark eyes penetrated mine

and seemed willing to travel miles

to uncover pain buried deeper than my words.

I had to look away.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said.

When I looked back at him, his glance remained bold.

“I don’t get why men do this,” he said.

He talked about a neighbor who discredited himself

by leaving poorly.

“Just end it the right way.  Do the right thing.

In two years men can rebuild.  It’s harder for the women.”

He looked away for a moment.  “No disrespect meant,” he said.

Yes, I told my friend, he was beautiful.

The gods knew they’d have to make him that way

for me to notice.

But it wasn’t about his burning eyes,

the Pat Riley smile,

or even the way he seemed to flirt a bit

when the job was done and he said goodbye.

It was about faith.

Faith that good and principled men existed.

That there were soulful men

who wanted to do the right thing by you,

who weren’t made uncomfortable

by a woman’s tears.

Who knew how to rewire the circuits

and open the channels.

© Maria Mandarino 2003

Poetry Post: On the Road to Dharmasala

This poem grew from a different kind of space… a space that opened up during an acupuncture treatment as I drifted off and had a brief lucid dream.  Many years later, I am now an acupuncturist myself.  We call these moments “Acu Naps” and they often provide moments of great insight, clarity, and peace.

On The Road to Dharmasala


At the open air market

in the small Indian village –

I was there but briefly –

I stopped to buy some incense.

I was only passing through,

but the hypnotic spiral

from the long stick burning

in the glass holder

made me linger.

I watched it dance, studied it,

and was certain it danced

in celebration

of my new life.

I had little time to waste

on the road to Dharmasala,

but the spiral drew me in.

I breathed in the heady perfumes

of wise men and kings

and recalled things that once captured me,

trappings so far from this simple place:

trinkets from Tiffany

Donna Karan suits,

acrylic nails,

and of course, you.

I chose three sticks to take on my journey

and handed my rupees to the man with the leathery skin

and the scattered smile.

I love you for what you taught me.

And I forgive you for what you could not be.

© M.G. Mandarino 2003

Poetry: Rising

The open spaces of nature offer the opportunity for stillness and healing.  This poem unfolded from a dream I had about a friend who is a gifted healer and a great lover of nature and God’s creation.


There is a hollow ache in me

at never having slept

under a starlit sky

as you have –

in the woods, among all

that God intended

to roam wild

and free.

There is a hollow ache too

for the grace that lives

behind eyes that burn

with wisdom and faith;

eyes like the river that sustained you,

mysterious but undeniable life

bubbling beneath a crystal surface.

You told me you camped alone once

in the mountains of Taos,

drifting to sleep to the calls of coyotes

while lightning fractured the distant night sky

and you waited to hear God’s voice.

I dreamed I saw you there, saw your feet putting roots

into red clay

that trembled and swallowed you whole.

But you were smart enough to yield to it

and then rise like the phoenix at dawn,



with powerful wings,

ready to save us all.

–Maria Mandarino

November 7, 2001

Poetry: “Opening Space”

The concept of the healing nature of “space” has clearly been in my consciousness for many years.  I wrote this poem over ten years ago.  I hope you enjoy it.

© 2003 M.G. Mandarino

Opening Space

What have you done

but create new spaces?

Dark corners

where the demons once lived,

turned into sacred dwellings

where the sweet spirits

may now reside.

Finally, it is time to burn

the white sage and smoke

the dark ones out,

then light the sweet grass,

long and braided

like the hair of the warrior

who once taught me

how to invoke spirits of light.

What have you done

but lift earthbound bones

so the fire of Creation

might burn through

and light the way?

Yes, great spirit, teacher, healer,

what have you done?

-Maria Mandarino  9/30/03

Poetry: Labyrinth Walk

I wrote this poem over ten years ago, after attending a moonlit labyrinth walk at a convent on the East End of Long Island. Recently, while talking with a friend about my plans to begin training in Spiritual Direction next year, the topic of that labyrinth walk came up, inspiring me to dig up this poem. It seemed appropriate to share here, especially since we have just seen a full moon this past week and we are deep into autumn.  I hope you enjoy it.



Labyrinth Walk

The nun, who was no Ingrid Bergman,

warned us:

“Our labyrinth walk is not perfect.

The gravel path has weeds

and goose poop.  But then,

so does the journey

of life.”

She winked and waved us on.

We followed, lemmings

into the cold November night,

flashlights in hand, coat collars turned up,

socks double thickness,

as the full moon rose

over Hampton Bay.

Forming a circle first and setting

our intentions as the nun instructed,

we called upon the ancients

who roamed the land (they were never more

than a foot and a half away from us,

she promised).

We walked in silence

and finally reached the aluminum wash tub

in the center, filled with a network of dried twigs.

The nun bent to light them.

Flames caught slowly at first,

then rose high,

thin ribbons cutting the night;

eager spirits spiraling

toward Heaven.

–Maria Grace Mandarino

   November 2003

Poetry: Untitled

This poem was written in 2003, when I was an adjunct instructor and clinic supervisor in the Massage Therapy program at the New York College of Health Professions on Long Island. The program was heavily based on Taoist principles and students were strongly encouraged to work on their personal development in order to be present and centered in every treatment they delivered. But these ideas sometimes met resistance. This poem speaks to such a moment.  


© MG Mandarino 2003



(for Neva)

How many stars can you count?

How many lives can you touch –

not with your hands, eagerly circling and diving

into points –

but with the stillness of your heart?

And how many lives might those lives touch?


Close your eyes.  Know who you are.

Sink deep into the earth.

Become the void, clear as pipe.

Be the vessel between heaven and earth.

“But I am not spiritual,” you lament.

My friend, leave such worries to bishops and popes.



Be present.

Let your hands melt

as you offer the fullness

of who you are,

of who you have become,

of who you are still becoming.


It is in the deepest moments

of stillness,

without even knowing,

that we touch

the face of God.


-Maria Grace Mandarino