Guilderton Meditation


by Elizabeth Walmsley


I stood on the shores and looked out at the waves,

turned back to the river and the peace it gave

I chose the river, with its quiet strength

I knew it could renew me through its pure depths


I remembered the teaching of how to do it

Relaxed, closed my eyes, as my mind walked through it.

Took my first step and the water touched my toes—

I stopped and waited—kept my eyes closed


Slowly take a deep breath in

The river showed me where to begin

Breathe out and feel the water as it slept

sink into the healing peace of the depths


I slowly moved my feet further in

Every inch another pause, then move further in

The meditation is designed to slow you down

and close your eyes, acclimatize without moving around


Don’t move until you can’t feel the cold.

“Inch in slowly,” is what I was told.

Gradually you will get halfway—

but don’t open your eyes, just relax and say:


“Slowly take a deep breath in.

The river showed me where to begin.

Breathe out and feel the water as it slept

Sink into the healing peace of the depths.”


Stand in the water, relax and smile,

keeping your eyes closed all the while.

I chose the river over the sea,

but perhaps, in its wisdom, it chose me.

The Rhythm of my Heart


by Elizabeth Walmsley


I never saw them go past—

heart palpitations and they were gone in a flash

I’m looking at the street upside down

I still don’t know what happened or who was around.


I close my eyes and just wait for a minute

This feeling will go away if I can just will it.

The doctor pressing the stethoscope to my chest,

stepping back and instructing me that I need to rest


When did my beat start to go off track?

Off-kilter, feeling ill—I wish I had that beat back

That good, solid, heavy foundation

the beat that keeps me grounded—the rocking of creation


I breathe in slowly, and then exhale

the beat is ringing in my ears like a hammer to a nail—

my unsteady, out-of-control existence

holds all of the power despite my resistance.


My beat calls the shots even when I try to leave it

when I walked the other way, it followed me! I couldn’t believe it

I’m not ready for this blessing! Don’t want to receive it

my heart is trapped inside my body even when I try to leave it.


…Breathe. Just stop and breathe.

Let the beats fall like rain and just breathe.

Every time I feel like I just ran a mile

I try to stop and take my time to make the time worth my while.


This all-or-nothing beat of my life has me trapped.

Now I’m lying down again—it’s so hard to adapt.

This life-giving beat is the key to everything

Why can’t I stand up, walk out, and let my heart sing?


In my dreams last night, I heard the rhythm of my heart.

The rhythm of my truth—where I really start.

With my eyes closed I followed the sound,

and it felt like maybe I had been found.

Elizabeth Walmsley was awarded the Master of Social Service degree in May 2015 from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. She has worked for 5 years in in-patient palliative care social work, mostly at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and briefly at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood, Kentucky. Prior to social work, Elizabeth also worked as a high school English teacher in Esperance, Western Australia after obtaining her first master’s degree in European Literature and Education from the University of Western Australia. Elizabeth is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), has spent significant time over the past ten years amongst the Bhutanese-Nepali refugee population, and has lived in Perth, Australia; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Philadelphia, USA. In her free time she loves to write poetry and watch Netflix.

Instagram: @couragesagesse1