Friday, April 4, 2014

Someone else's words explain it all....

Final Notations
Adrienne Rich
it will not be simple, it will not be long
 it will take little time, it will take all your thought
it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath 
it will be short, it will not be simple
it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
 it will not be long, it will occupy your thought
 as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied 
it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple
You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
 you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
 you are taking parts of us into places never planned
 you are going far away with pieces of our lives

it will be short, it will take all your breath 
it will not be simple, it will become your will

Reading poetry has always been a pleasure for me and has become a profound source of comfort during a time of great distress. It has taught me something of the universal nature of sorrow and grief. I know God lives and loves me ; I find great strength in my faith but life is hard and difficult things happen that will break your heart and reshape it into a wholly different organ. While I work on my relationship to my Father and my Savior, who always watch over us, and whose presence I feel in my life, my soul acknowledges and responds to the depth of human emotions found in studying the artistic expressions birthed from the struggle of another on life's journey.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

“Those who cannot conceive of Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Henri J Nouwen wrote: When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
I have been blessed to spend time  over the past few months with  some of those whom God has bestowed  upon me   as friends. It has been the best gift a loving Father could give for it has offered me love,laughter, and a reminder that it is necessary to make happy memories when we can and that kindness and generosity are not unique to one system of belief

They have sacrificed time and money to be with me and catch up on the good ol' days and reminded me of how over the course of my life God has surrounded me with the people who would help me  be a better person.

They remind me of my roots and why I miss NY so dearly, but when I get homesick for them they also help me focus on my goals. And most importantly they love and accept me for who I am and where I am at and I know that because I have such wonderful people in my life that I am supported and lifted up during life's roughest moments.
I Love being "just friends" with so many loving, caring, generous, open-hearted, and , frankly ,darn funny people.  And although I don't have photos of all the friends who have saved my life in so many ways you are all  embedded in my  life.
Thanks friends!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Loser's Day, Sis.....

Jason Shinder

And now I know what most deeply
     connects us
after that summer so many years ago,
and it isn't poetry, although it is poetry,

and it isn't illness, although we have that in common,

and it isn't gratitude for every moment, 
even the terrifying ones, even the physical 
though we are grateful, and it isn't even death,

though we are halfway through
it, or even the way you describe the magnificence

of being alive, catching a glimpse,
in the store window, of your blowing hair
     and chapped lips,
though it is beautiful, it is; but it is

that you're my friend out here on the far reaches

of what humans can find out about each other

Today I celebrate my family: my parents who have devoted their lives to taking care of us and have the crucible like task of helping their daughter die, my brother who is there for every crisis and keeping us all connected, my sisters who are  not likely to be all together again in this life, and especially my sister Danielle who has taught me how precious life is and that love is what matters most. Happy VD sis!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Doubt not, but be believing: a poetic introduction to a series of posts on faith and becoming...

The Doubter's Prayer 

by Anne Bronte

Eternal Power, of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound.
If e'er thine ear in mercy bent,
When wretched mortals cried to Thee,
And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent,
To save lost sinners such as me:

Then hear me now, while, kneeling here,
I lift to thee my heart and eye,
And all my soul ascends in prayer,
Oh, give me -­ give me Faith! I cry.

Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But, oh! a stronger light impart,
And in Thy mercy fix it there.

While Faith is with me, I am blest;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But while I clasp it to my breast,
I often feel it slide away.

Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks,
To see my light of life depart;
And every fiend of Hell, methinks,
Enjoys the anguish of my heart.

What shall I do, if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away,
And if there be no God above,
To hear and bless me when I pray?

If this be vain delusion all,
If death be an eternal sleep,
And none can hear my secret call,
Or see the silent tears I weep!

Oh, help me, God! For thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not: it is thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe.

Oh, drive these cruel doubts away;
And make me know, that Thou art God!
A faith, that shines by night and day,
Will lighten every earthly load.

If I believe that Jesus died,
And, waking, rose to reign above;
Then surely Sorrow, Sin, and Pride,
Must yield to Peace, and Hope, and Love.

And all the blessed words He said
Will strength and holy joy impart:
A shield of safety o'er my head,
A spring of comfort in my heart

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Last night I had this dream and it went something like this....

COME live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.
There will we sit upon the rocks         5
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,  10
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle.
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,  15
With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my Love.  20
Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing  25
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.

There is something  alluring about the imagery provoked by Kit Marlowe in this verdant verse, a bucolic sweetness touching on a deeply felt passion. The gift of poetry lies in its capacity to extract from our innermost chambers  those things which we most long to protect from the eyes of the world. For many years I have believed myself to be too sensible for passion and romance, that a keen mind and fine sense of humor are all that matter, but beautiful poetry has convinced my hard head that I have been hiding that which is most sensitive, protecting it from the mockery of the world because that is so often what the world has offered when I have worn my heart on my sleeve. But the truth I guard so indefatigably  is nothing to be ashamed of, despite what my more practical sarcastic self tries to tell me, I am a romantic.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

If I needed you would you come to me, would you come to me and ease my pain? If you needed me I would come to you, I would swim the seas for to ease your pain . ~ Townes Van Zandt

This is the conclusion to the previous post....

When dinner was finished I remained quiet as we moved on to discussing other things and opted to pick up dessert from a nearby bakery. My emotional state at this time was very much like the finch who slammed itself into a window and lay helpless on the cement walkway. My friends were kind enough to notice and accept this. At one point an arm was placed on my shoulder to reinforce  support and awareness of my intensely vulnerable state. I am not one who tends to become quiet during debate and heated discussion, but the dinner conversation had touched on my  innermost heartache, as ee cummings  eloquently described, "the root of the root and the bud of the bud". I attempted to recover my spirits and when we had gotten dessert and decided to watch a dvd I decide I needed to stay and be a part of the world instead of fleeing and retreating into my own.

When we returned to our point of origin, being my friend's house where we would watch any of a number of movies on a regular basis, I split off from our group and went to place my delicious Italian leftovers in my car. It was dark out but for the undependable streetlight and from the corner of my eye I could see something fluttering and struggling in the gutter. All I could muster was a sort of wailing gasp because it was clear that this mysterious object  was not a leaf or really an object at all, but a tiny bird that was unable to properly use its wings to lift off. There was no barrier that could have prevented the flood of grief that burst forth from my lips."Oh, it's dying" I whispered and one of my friends stopped in his tracks. As I watched this little life struggle and feebly attempt to coordinate it's wings in order to take flight my friend  approached me with a look of concern on his face. When he asked me what was wrong,as I was clearly trembling and overwrought, I explained there was a tiny bird flapping around and dying in the street. And when he turned to discover where this helpless creature was the little bird was nowhere to be found. All I could think of was this poor bird, desperate and unable to get off the ground would shortly be devoured by either cat or the tires of an oncoming vehicle and I wept. What happened next I will never forget and will forever love this friend for. Sensing my need for comfort I was blessed with a friend who was able to provide a tender moment when comfort was given and received. Moving closer he embraced me  warmly placing  his hand on my head and gave me the sweet gift of letting me cry on his shoulder. As he spoke words of comfort to me I was able to quickly regain my sensibilities and we moved together towards the house. In that moment I was the bird standing defenseless in the street caught in a maelstrom of sorrows and uncertainties and I was rescued by a brief but pure moment of  affection and solicitous care.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Two birds on a wire /One tries to fly away and the other /Watches him close from that wire/ He says he wants to as well but he is a liar/ I'll believe it all /There's nothing I won't understand /I'll believe it all I won't let go of your hand ~Regina Spektor

The building that I work in has reflective windows on the facade which means when, on  stunningly gorgeous fall days like we have been having in Illinois recently, walking in and out of the building you are captured by the illusion that the azure sky continues on forever. While this is most assuredly an aesthetically enticing  architectural technique it has an unsettling result by one of the main entrances into the facility. Every day for the last week when leaving work I have been stunned by the same phenomenon: the lifeless yet intact frames of  several tiny birds lying  on the cement walkway adjacent to the building. This circumstance was a result of these tiny creatures seeing the reflected sky in the windows of the building and flying head on into their own destruction. While this does bring to mind the significance of illusions and not being deceived by the ephemera and surface reflections the world has to offer, for me the first thing that came to mind each day I walked from the building and saw these poor frail lifeless birds strewn on the pavement was an emotional night  several years ago where I was very much that poor frail bird butting its head against  hard glass.

It was the fall of 2010 and I was basically a hot mess. I was in school full-time, working, and constantly worried about my sister who had recently been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. My soul was decidedly  beset by heightened emotions and uncertainty of what I could and should be doing to help my sister. This was a constant spiritual undercurrent  for me back then and it was often present in my interactions with others. Such was the case one fall evening when after classes I went to dinner with friends. We decided on Italian (my comfort food of choice) and opted for a local place (because in NY there are many many local Italian restaurants) that I had never been to. I was myself and yet I was not myself.  As we sat discussing this and that the topic of my sister came up and I felt my nerves pop and my heart quake. I was explaining how I was determined to help my sister raise money to pay for treatment and so I had decided to basically beg and cajole for help through social media. There was a slight pause in the conversation and one of my friends commented on how they had seen my postings and had discussed it with another Facebook friend who had been struck by the vehemence of my recent postings/pleadings. This began a most excruciating philosophical discussion over the "proper" way to get results in such a scenario. It was all very surgical, my heart being cut out quite efficiently in the process of a few general observations made over 3 or 4 minutes by the other member of our party. As the seconds progressed  and the food arrived, my head leaned ever further downward as I played with my food and lost my voice. My eyes fogged up with hurt and uncertainty. In those minutes I felt like a trapped bird whose wings were unable to fulfill their purpose leaving me to look wildly for any means of escape. I could not speak much above a whisper in response to the questions being posed. It became obvious to those I was with that our companionable dinner had evolved into a painful autopsy of all of my recent actions regarding my sister  and they thoughtfully changed conversational courses to ease my discomfort, and I was grateful.....

stay tuned for what happened next and what I learned about tenderness....posting  to follow later this week