We shape clay

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

— tao te ching: A New English Translation, Stephen Mitchell (trans), Harper & Row, 1988.

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with this passage from the Tao Te Ching. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

On November 12, I joined with others in a haiku retreat at Stillpoint at Beckside in Bellingham, Washington. We experienced a quintessential autumn day in a peaceful and beautiful setting, spent contemplative time with these lines from the tao te ching, and wrote poetry together. Some of what we wrote are posted in the comments below.

You can enter into conversation with this text by adding your haiku response below.

About Margaret D. McGee


  1. from Myra, Stillpoint at Beckside

    Gusting grateful leaves
    invite blowing gracefully
    on the unknown path

  2. from Carol, Stillpoint at Beckside

    spirals of stone
    lead me to the center
    I am home.

  3. From Kim, Stillpoint at Beckside

    hood zipped
    a narrow path
    eyes wide

  4. From Denise, Stillpoint at Beckside

    snow in the foothills
    another season approaching
    I am waiting still.

  5. From Linda, Stillpoint at Beckside

    autumn chill here now
    gratitude causing warmth
    “all will be well.”

  6. From Elizabeth, Stillpoint at Beckside

    One more little bit:
    I forgot to say before
    that I love my life.

  7. From Margaret, Stillpoint at Beckside

    neighbors eye the big hole,
    figuring costs

  8. James Irving Mann says:

    seeking Light?
    break the chains of the Past-
    Truth will appear!

    • Hi James,
      I’m speculating about the link between your poem and the passage … playing with the idea that Light & Truth can be found in that emptiness that holds whatever we want.
      Thanks for pointing me down that path.

  9. Brad Offutt says:

    my friend’s warmth and love
    rush into the open place
    fashioned in my soul

  10. Janet Stanwyck says:

    Moving day is near
    Sorting, saving, throwing stuff
    Making room to thrive.

  11. Brad Offutt says:

    nails, noise, wood and glass
    surround a new empty space
    we will fill with love

    • Brad Offutt says:

      To explain, our builder is finishing work on a living room expansion. I love the idea that he is creating a shell to make a space for life and love.

      • margaret@olympus.net says:

        Brad, I love that too. And the image of all that noise and material (sounds like Creation) making space for love’s dwelling.

        On 28.12.2011 10:12,


  1. […] page, including retreat participants from The Priory Spirituality Center in Lacey, Washington and Stillpoint at Beckside in Bellingham, Washington. It’s always a blessing — and so much fun! — to introduce […]