Saturday, October 27, 2018

Simple, Extraordinary

My day began with extraordinary moments this morning.  Moments all the more wonderful for their simplicity.

Bundled into a bright red wool coat that I found at a second hand shop my first year living here, I cleaned the frost from the windshield and was driving to the farmer’s market around 7 AM.  As I crested the hill at Morris and Queen, I could see the lava-coloured band of light that was blooming against night-blue on the horizon and all I could think was …Ohhhh…please wait for me!  I want to be on the water and in front of the windows when you go full glory!

I found a spot, the first along the curb, and scooted in, heading straight for the back.  

And I was not alone.

As soon as I’d left the car, I had called someone dear to me that I knew would be awake and would appreciate the wonder of the moment.  I described it to her as I stood there and we shared in its breathtaking display.

And I was not alone.

Many of the vendors who were still setting up and some of the early shoppers were also  against the glass in an agreement of hushed awe.  People were drawn to watch this sunrise and people were drawn together because of it.  Gentle conversations were happening.  “The best I’ve seen this year…”. “Look!  There’s the loon!  She’s back!”  “Do you see that cloud? Look how full of light…”

I actually had a conversation about favourite sunrise moments with a woman I’ve come to greet almost every week because she works at the booth next to my favourite viewing/sitting spot.  One of the guys at the bakery stand against the harbour pulled out his phone while I was picking out an apple turnover and he showed me the photo he’d managed to get without the reflection of interior lights.  There was an older couple holding hands and staring quietly.  

I told the woman at the booth next to my favourite spot— It just seems wrong to turn my back on this…I want to face it full-on.  

As I stood there…with others beside me, with others in heart…People who didn’t necessarily know each other…drawn together by beauty, held together by a marvel of nature, captivated and quiet and there together in palpable harmony… I thought about the world.

The world, rife with violence, injustice, assassinations, bombastic political rhetoric…

I thought about the world and wondered what would happen if just for a moment in our days, we were caught up together in simple extraordinary beauty and not bombs of one sort or another.  What if we could behold something of astounding grace and wish that our neighbour had that same chance because we know what it feels like inside us and believe that the feeling of fullness and awe is not diminished in the sharing but multiplied yet again instead?

Not long ago I read a quotation that resonated with me— “Do the good that is in front of you, even if it feels very small.”  —Sharon Salzberg

I’d tried writing a blog post about that but what came out felt too trite, even for what could feel like a greeting card quotation, that I’d read on Social Media.

This morning, though… Those few very small moments of shared marvel…a slim fraction of time…sharing them…listening to others in the midst of such beauty…conversing with both strangers and those known and dear, about it… 

It feels like good was done.  


And glory, for the sake of our world, I desire that good to spread like the swirling intensely-toned colours that danced on the dawning sky over Halifax harbour this morning…

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Word Made Flesh

Word Made Flesh

What is my account of how
and where and when and to what end
I have embodied Word?

We all need saving now and again.
I don’t mean saving because my soul is in danger
of wilting or wasting or slipping away because of 
boxes ticked or those left unmarked. I mean
saving that feels like reminding, remembering—
in a desperate fragile moment, or in the shimmy of surprise,
that this is what a hand feels like in your hand.
This is what it is to hold fast and to hold on;
This is You are not alone; this is 
the ground will not give way. This
is sunset begets stars and morning will follow.
This is the Word that holds atoms and galaxies
in swirling orbits of stunning grace;
This is the Word that looks like a no longer stranger
and tastes like the perfection of a just ripe plum.
This Word is the single note that hangs at the peak of a cathedral
and tumbles out rumbling thick when there’s fog upon the waters.

I have born witness to the Word; been saved
by this Word. Not because my soul was in danger.

But because Word seeks itself.
And it found me. It reminded me.
Of who I am and
and who we are.

And where we belong,
and to whom we pertain.

And, wonder and glory, 
and awe, and tears,
I believed. 

In freedom because of it, 
in Love for the passion of it,
I live with the broad and startling truth of Word.

So, my account of how
and where and when and to what end,
will be to answer the asking 
of the One who sends us forth—

Where are all the others?—

I want to be able to answer the Where with

Because of your Word in me, Here. And more than here, there.
And not yet. And within humanity and moving upon the Earth.
And I do not know, but oh, I look forward…

We all need saving now and again.
Not saving as though souls are in danger;
Saving that is Word seeking itself, 
reminding, re-membering.

Reminding each other by how we reveal it,
that Word is in its intimacy,
the form, the substance and beauty,
the Love, challenge, and mercy,
the constancy, the fidelity,
the creativity and wild diversity,
of God.

And it is of all, for all, with all,
as light is.  

Light that no darkness, forgetfulness,
aching, wandering, shall overcome.



-Kimberly M. King, RSCJ-

Monday, October 8, 2018

Face to the Sun on Thanksgiving



My morning has left me more than a bit astounded.  Even before heading to the Public Gardens for a good while, I had been given the gift of light in different ways…the Light blooming early and brilliant against the blue outside; the light of warmth that spreads after the first sip of coffee; the gentle light that sometimes comes into the heart and spirit that has been woven through a message from a friend…

And then…As it is Thanksgiving and we had our celebration yesterday, I had the freedom to go the gardens for several hours.  To read, to write, to wander, see, notice, observe, feel… Each of those actions bringing their own worth and wonder.


Face to the Sun in the Public Gardens on Thanksgiving
(With thanks to Mary Oliver who is the first person I’ve ever read who used ‘everlasting’ as a noun…)


When I turn into, toward,
the deep and cradling everlasting,
there is the sensation of being
both taken up by it and 
being blessed by it 
that I might walk this Earth 
knowing, remembering,
what you feel like…
Knowing and remembering
not in selfish exclusivity
but rather to offer 
a place where it can 
bloom, grow, twine, reach
in an unreserved tumble 
of color and texture—
Wildgrace sown and set free.

Kimberly M. King, RSCJ


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Recognition in Three Parts

Three separate things…

I was invited recently to consider anew the Emmaus story… it is a favourite of mine anyway and has been good company these recent days.  In part…”Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them.  And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; but he had vanished from their sight.”

I went to a poetry reading again after several months had passed since last attending the gathering.  Several of the same people were among the 25 or so in attendance, including someone who had taken the time to walk by my chair and said “I’m really glad you came.” at the first meeting.  This time, we had a brief but longer exchange and will have tea and a walk on Thursday.

I remembered a quotation from a favourite book—The Elegance of the Hedgehog… 
They didn’t recognize me,” I repeat.  He stops in turn, my hand still on his arm.  “It is because they have never seen you,” he says.  “I would recognize you anywhere.”



Recognition

Once,
there was a studious art
to remaining indifferent
when mistaken by people and therefore
left on my own.
It was easier,
I thought I was happier,
and on spun the universe
with her elliptical fascinations. 
Now, 
however, the awe, the art, 
is in remembering to breathe
when the universe stops
ever so briefly 
and we notice each other
and recognize our stardust
and say wow…
if we need
to say anything
at all.

Kimberly M. King, RSCJ


Monday, September 24, 2018

Fall’s First Sunday

Yesterday morning, I put away dishes and finished making beds after a large group had been in to use the Spirituality Centre on Friday and Saturday.  This was followed by Mass and friendly banter with the regulars who come.

Next, a visit with a friend who is in rehab after a fall where she broke both hip and elbow. Both of us seem to enjoy the “shoes and ships” conversations we have each time I come.  (The time has come, said the Walrus, to speak of many things...of shoes and ships and ceiling wax and cabbages and kings...and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings...Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland).  We might talk of literacy, books, politics, the environment, the Church, science and religion... and no matter the topic, it is a delight.  We each tell stories and speak our minds, enjoying each other’s easy company.  I leave the visits we have with a smile and a chuckle at the feeling that I might well be seeing something of a version of my older self when I stop by.

I was making my way to the library after that and discovered a street festival happening on Spring Garden Road.  What a simple joy to stroll down the centre of the closed off principle shopping street of downtown!  Kids were playing games, artists were covering the sidewalk in chalk masterpieces, and there was ‘fair food’ for the having if you needed a bite or wanted a quick snack.  

Live at the library, I watched a woman dance Flamenco as though she was made of both liquid and steel.  Her look opened doors into the possibility of other dimensions here on Earth.  Smokey dimensions that vibrated with a complex lacing of guitar music and rang with the dense authoritative pound of feet that knew the magnetic glory of gravity’s force.   

My entire mid-section was set aglow when walking home and chancing upon a pipe and drum performance at the Robert Burns statue in Victoria Park.  Had I stayed longer, I’m certain that I’d have acquired the ability to both levitate and walk extraordinary distances without much need for sustenance beyond fresh water and poetry—and with time, I think perhaps I could have accomplished the both simultaneously.

In the evening, I went to Evensong at the Anglican Cathedral and sat before stained glass back-lit by the close of the day and the design of which was created anew by birds that ignored its known lines in favour of free-winging and letting their shadows solder patterns freshly imagined.   The choir illuminated the sanctuary through the coming together of their lofted notes and reaching wavelengths whereby a clearer vision within could be had by those who prayed in its company.


At the end of the day, I couldn’t help but feel an extraordinary gratitude for the mix of all things that allowed for such a Sunday.  Sabbath indeed...

Monday, September 17, 2018

~As Defined by our Faults as by our Substance~

Limestone cliff on the east coast of Osmussar, by Axiraa

~Of all the stones of the archipelago, limestone has always been the best accomplice to metaphysics.  W.H. Auden , who so loved the karst shires of the northern Pennines, adored limestone.  What most moved him about it was the way it eroded.  Limestone’s solubility in water means that any fault-lines in the original rock get slowly deepened by a process of soft liquid wear.  In this way, the form into which limestone grows over time is determined by its first flaws.  For Auden, this was a human as well as a geological quality—an acknowledgement that we are as defined by our faults as by our substance.~ —Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places p. 173-4

I read this and found myself thinking about the Roman Catholic Church these days…Through scandal after scandal, illegality after illegality, poor judgements accumulating one after another… we are learning that the Church too is soluble; that which was seen as solid by many, is eroding according to our fault-lines.  

The fault-line of misplaced pride and the devastating idea that some within the Church are above reproach or even criminal prosecution in order to save face, save money, or save the security of righteousness.  

The fault-line of our humanity.  Errors are made because we are human.  Serious errors in judgment; errors in behaviour that civil law labels as illegal; Errors in the practice of our faith. 

The fault-line of fear…fear of losing control, fear of humility, fear of pain, fear of truth…

And I ask myself…

For those who choose to stay, what will the shape of the land, this soluble rock we call the Roman Catholic Church, be that is left after this Erosion Age?  

Where do my own fault-lines fit in with those of the Church?  

Do I contribute to the fissuring by my apathy, my absence, my scorn—by some of my own poor judgments—and sever relationships either intentionally or as a result of my own choices?  

Or, do I bring all that is jarring, moving in great sweeping tides, within me—sadness, anger, upset, commitment, faith, compassion, justice, reconciliation, humanity, Love…and say, How can I let this serve?  How can I direct these waters so that something new is carved from the land that remains?  Something new that is useful, beautiful, humble, human, real…that facilitates for Today, this centuries old way of worshiping God and believing in the fully human, completely divine, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus?  

I have read about a gate at the Trappist Monastery of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky…Arched over the iron door are two words— GOD ALONE.  I find it helpful to remember that.  Should this land we are on erode beyond current recognition—and it might—perhaps must…we are not without foundation. 


NB… I write this as someone who has not been the victim of clergy sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church and I make no judgements about those for whom staying is too high a cost.  



Saturday, September 15, 2018

Let Me Behold You...

I regularly hear people preach about how We only turn to God when there is tragedy or we are in need of something…   I don’t know how true that really is.  I wonder if it isn’t a matter of vocabulary…helping people expand their ideas about God language and those moments that can be acknowledged as directly connected to God’s self-revelation.  Marvel, fascination, curiosity, wonder, awe, appreciation, beauty, stamina, strength, courage, passion…All capacities to encounter God in the midst of the daily whatnot of our lives.  Sure, sometimes they are more tuned in than others…we are more “present” sometimes than others… The key for me, though, when that happens, is to realize that even when I am not entirely present, God is.  “Let me behold you…” What a beautiful reflexive prayer that is…

Here are three Behelds from this past week… three encounters of different sorts…

From Way Back, there was family lore about me, spiders, and Kleenex.  It didn’t matter how many layers were used to contain the corpus aranea, I KNEW I could feel the lump.  And that bothered me.  With years came enlightenment about the goodness of spiders and their place in the universe (which, thank you, is STILL NOT MY BEDROOM—but when I find them I move them instead of squish them, at least when living places where the chances are high that they are non-venomous) and I can appreciate their vocation, their artistry, and their resilience.  

For weeks now, there has been a spider living between the screen and the window pane of our casement kitchen window.  It is an agreeable place for her or him…protected and yet open for supper.  I have to say, I have grown rather fond of the octoped and check on him or her every morning as I stand at the sink to fill the coffeepot.  A familiar presence who clearly desires to stay.

I think half of us thought there was something familiar in this next encounter.  Toward the end of the week last week, I was walking up Summer from the Halifax infirmary and while I usually tuck into the Public Gardens and wander home that way, I stayed on the sidewalk.  Somewhere after the second crosswalk, this young (maybe 1 or 2 years old) child came buzzing up to the fence line from within the gardens as soon as she saw me. She had  BIG smile, all kinds of waving and Hi-ing were going on… Who knows who she thought I was or what she saw in me, but the simple honest joy of that greeting absolutely made my day.  She wouldn’t leave the fence until I did.  Her parents were laughing, I was laughing… She continued to look at me with such a blue intensity…all I could think of was “Here’s an old soul in fresh clothes…”

Last evening I had the good fortune to go hear Measha Brueggergosman as part of the Cecilia concert series here in Halifax.  And I think her voice must come from that place where the old souls wander… The musicians she had playing with her —three violinists, a cellist, and a pianist, were each extremely talented and played with a theatrical mix of flair and technical prowess that demonstrated the degree to which each one of them finds union with their instrument so that together they produce such incredible emotion, scenery, sound-paintings, Story.  Measha too cuts quite the theatrical figure on stage…I’d dare say she could tell a whole story with a lift of the brow and a look in the eye.  And her singing…oh, glory.  She sings from within the space just beyond the arrangement of notes…As though she is within what is described by the notes and is telling that story—And as her telling passes through the lacework of the notes in their coming together, music is produced.  The Story becomes music…enchanting music that is big, wide, deep, and Right There…yet somehow, just enough beyond that you know you can’t stay.  It was a glorious visit, though…glorious.


Thank you, God…for this and for all.