That Which Claims Us All

Brewer’s Poetic Asides Prompt today is to write a prediction poem:

Who could have predicted that flame?
On the same day water took the Titanic,
who could guess that fire would claim
the cathedral of Our Lady?

Or that the mosque on thrice-holy Temple Mount
would on the same day see its courtyard catching fire?
We want our works to last forever, our ships unsinkable,
our mosques and temples and cathedrals
proof against the ages, against the ravages of time.

We weep for beauty and reverence lost,
tossed by water, by flame, into the void.
And we stand, unified in our common horror,
to gasp at the falling spire, to sing in the face
of that which claims us all in the end.

Shifts

Gratitude List:
1. How time shifts grief to a different space. This is the week, thirteen years ago, when my first child would have been due. I lost the pregnancy early, at thirteen weeks, but I was new to the horror of loss in those days, and it hit me like a truck. Today, it sits differently in me. Still, it wants to be noticed, to be remembered.
2. The light is coming back. We still have a long way to walk until Sunreturn, but it will come again. This year is harder than some, the claustrophobia more intense and grinding, and it’s hit me earlier. I am grateful for whatever lessons it has to teach me.
3. Coffee and chocolate
4. Getting it done, slowly but surely
5. Innovation and change

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking a Homeland

Posing
Handsome Sachs in a sunbeam. He has recently acquired the nickname Gunther.

“We are all of us seeking a homeland, even though we have only seen and embraced it from afar. We are all of us strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” —Frederick Buechner
*
Love is not something you do; love is Someone you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can attain. It’s not something you can work up to, as much as something you allow yourself to fall into! It is the living presence of God within you, often called the Holy Spirit, or what some theologians name uncreated grace. You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now.” —Richard Rohr
*
Danielle LaPorte: “You might have to face your own sadness and empty places as you wish for an other’s sadness and emptiness to be lifted. You will have to acknowledge your interconnectedness, which is particularly difficult when you are moving on. You will have to face your disappointment head on — and what you see might burn your eyes.”
*
“Love is where you come from and love is where you’re going.” —Richard Rohr
*
“I have two daughters.
Their names are Memory and Loss.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (after Eavan Boland)
*
Rob Brezsny:
“You and I and everyone else in the world talk to ourselves constantly. The conversation is mostly silent and covert, however.
As a result, we get away with abusing ourselves; we assail ourselves with mean thoughts that we’d be far less likely to fling if we actually spoke them aloud.
Now might be a good time for you to break this bad habit. In fact, I’m going to officially declare that it’s Speak More Kindly to Yourself Season.
For best results, shun the usual telepathic communion with yourself. Instead, say every word aloud as you carry on your dialogues.”
*
Terry Tempest Williams. from Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert:
“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness….

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine….

I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love..”


Gratitude List:
1. Dreams full of cats. Tortoiseshells: fluffy ones, really short-haired ones, ones that are mostly white, with tortie spots, ones that have streaks of white here and there. Third night of animal dreams, each time remembering the dream because I am awakened by a small furry person licking my face or purring in my ear, or walking on my head. I think Thor is something of a Dream Companion for me. The first night he came to us, he awakened me from a nightmare.
2. A gloriously cool fall day
3. Going to the book sale and Steam-O-Rama with the family
4. Wise and compassionate friends who model thoughtful and respectful discussion
5. Layers. A glosa of a glosa. Harmonies with deeper harmonies. Fractalization.

May we walk in Beauty!

Colors of March

Planting

Here is a photo from last year when we first began to plant.  It’s that time again!

Gratitude List:
1. Bluebirds and the Bluebird Whisperer.  The bluebirds know my dad.  They “knock” on the window to get his attention.  They fly up to the window perch to thank him after they’ve had their share of mealie worms.  The watch for him through the windows of the house.
2. The stunning scarlet amaryllis of Amaryllis Drive.  They’ve had at least one indoor amaryllis bulb for years and years, so it is only appropriate that their house is now on Amaryllis Drive.  And this year’s crop of blooms is out of this world.  Sun shining through the red petals.
3. Naming the loss.  Often when there are disagreements or differences of opinions in a community, I think we don’t openly name the losses of those who choose to leave, because we don’t want to gossip or pass around misleading information.  But then we never really grieve the loss together.
4. First Responders.  We passed an accident on the way home yesterday on those slippery roads.  People stood out in the freezing rain to help and direct traffic.
5. The way the gulls flew up off the River like snowflakes whirling upward.
6. Bonus, because.  The sap is rising.  I can see it in the shift of color in the willow up on Pisgah, and in the forsythia.

May we walk in Beauty!

All Souls Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Aunt Lizzie (Elizabeth Weaver) and
Grandma (Marian Weaver) quilting
.
Is that Aunt Gladys or Aunt Sharon in the front?

Today is the third day of All Hallows, the day of All Souls, remembering particularly the ancestors, and those we love who have died.   My experience of grief has so often been grieving with people I love who have lost someone.  So today I am thinking of Eli and of Peter, of Julie and Raymond, of Joyce and Elaine and Gerald, of Cory, of Lee, of Harold.  And I am thinking of my grandparents, of Aunt Lois and Uncle Victor and Uncle Irvin, of Uncle John and Aunt Anna Lou, of Uncle Paul.

Today, for All Souls,
A Gratitude List for Ancestors and Loved Ones:
1.  for Ellis Kreider, Jon’s father, gentle and twinkly, earnest and thoughtful
2.  for Grandma, Marian Weaver–I still miss her
3.  for Aunt Lizzie, who could tell you stories all day without a pause
4.  for my blood ancestors and those of my children, for that marvelous branching and intertwining, like feathering tree roots going back and back
5.  for the ancestors of this place, the people who walked these woods and hills, hunting and foraging, traveling, centuries ago

May your memories hold you.

(Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mockingbird!  I missed it.  Yesterday was the birthday of this blog.  I began it last year as a place to put the poems that I write in response to Robert Brewer’s Poem-a-Day Challenge.  I got caught up in the whole experience of the days of All Hallows this year, and missed yesterday’s poem.  Tomorrow I will begin that process again.  I may have to double up my poems for a couple days to catch up.)

The Way You Walk Toward Healing

Gratitude List:
1.  Brown thrashers on the lawn in the gloaming
2.  The hope of the hummingbird (soon, soon!)
3.  Such pleasant temperatures and cool breezes
4.  Wise friends
5.  The way you walk toward healing.
And I mean you.
So many people I know have lived
through such losses.
Lived, and then chosen
somehow, to put a foot forward
then another, to take the next breath
when your chest has been crushed by grief.
Perhaps you cannot understand this
or perhaps you can:
you have unleashed into the world
such bigness of grace
in those moments of choosing
just the next step, the next breath.
It may have felt like a slog
or like nothing, or hell
but you walked on, you breathed.
Take it for what it is worth:
some learning soul somewhere
has noticed and seen it
for the grace that it is.

May we walk in beauty.

Soft

for Leigh Phillips

Tell me something soft, you said,
and all I can think is the soft bellies of my hens,
the place on the inside of the elbow,
or the tender skin on the head
of the woman of Goose Creek
who has shaved her hair
and walked into her story.

Soft, like the ashes that have cooled
when the burning is done,
when you sift the remnants of the past
between your open fingers.

Even the word loss has a softness to it,
the rounded vowel, the soft hiss at the end.

Are there breezes in your Brooklyn,
soft whispers in the air?
Can you hear how a tree in Pennsylvania
murmurs with your voice
into the soft and tender wind?

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Noticing.  Today I have been thinking about the spiritual practice of noticing, and of all the ways
2.  My parents have taught me to notice.  How noticing keeps me conscious of
3.  The present moment.  How the present moment is
4.  The Exquisite Doorway between past and future.  How that transition from past to future is always taking place, as naturally as
5.  Breathing out and breathing in.

May we walk in Beauty.  Namaste.

Gratitude for the Open Bowl

I have written this poem before.  The one about the Open Bowl.  How I will hold the circle of my heart to encompass it all.

Not just the little birds singing the dawn into being or the silent toad under her litter of leaves, not just the achingly beautiful green of the fields in spring or the blue eye of the speedwell, not just the snugglesome child or the soft feathers of a hen.

Not just that.  Not only that.

But also the brooding ache of estrangement, and the dull thud of the impossible choice, the anxiety over an ill child, the grieving of a friend.  Also the deaths of the bees, the scarcity of monarchs, the oil-covered ducks.  The deep sadness of all that we are losing so wantonly.  The rage, the helpless and blinding white fury at the destroyers, the greed-mongers, the war-profiteers, the glibly malicious purveyors of illness and oppression.

This is why I write gratitude lists.  I will hold all of these stones in the Open Bowl of my heart.  Some moments, the bowl is so brimming with the rages and the despairs that I don’t know if I can bear it.  And then comes a moment of pure numinous wonder and delight, not to erase the other things, but to ease them.  To make the bearing of them bearable.

These difficult ones, they are there for a reason.  I hold them, too, because they demand my soul’s attention.  They call me to my work here in the world.  I refuse to walk the world with blinders on.   But there is also so much joy to be found in the midst of it all.  So much joy.  So much love.

I have written this poem before, and I will write it again.  Perhaps every day I will write it, until I understand what I am writing.

Here are six shiny stones for your consideration:

Gratitude List:
1.  Green, green, oh the green!  Green says, “Have you been watching?  Have you been paying attention?  Surprise!”  Oh, yes, yes, and. . .
2.  Hello, Little Daffodil, whose name is full of goofy whimsy and whose cup overfloweth with sunshine.
3.  The spaces between.  I will gaze into them, breathe into them.
4.  Doubt.  And the places where faith and trust and safety rest even within doubt.
5.  An afternoon with my parents and uncles and aunts.  Putting puzzle together with Mom and Uncle Henry.  My father and Aunt Ruth and Uncle Harold playing harmonica trios to old hymns while the rest of us sang and hummed.  (“When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the birds and feel the gentle breeze. . .”)
6.  The Navajo People, whose sacred phrase I have borrowed for my little daily prayer:
May we walk in Beauty.  So much Beauty.

2013 April 016