Thursday, February 26, 2009

What homage

Found in a poem in a book in a stack in a corner in my room:

"What homage will be paid to a beauty built to last/from inside out, executing the blueprints of resistance and mercy/drawn up in childhood, in that little girl, round-faced with/clenched fists, already acquainted with mourning/in the creased snapshot you gave me? What homage will be/paid to beauty/that insists on speaking truth, knows the two are not always the/same,/beauty that won't deny, is itself an eye, will not rest under/contemplation?"

--From XII, Adrienne Rich, in An Atlas of the Difficult World

It's a good question, that. What am I doing as my homage to the beauty that feeds me?

The beauty that is women and men, students and strangers, flowers in tiers on street-side storefronts, sunrise, and God? What homage this Lent, what homage?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day's End

I am here typing and can still taste the lingering tingle of cinnamon on the back of my tongue from lapping up the bit that spilled into my hand when I dosed and prepped the dark roasted coffee in the hopper of the machine that brews my caffeinated morning elixir of goodness and glory.

In the air remain hints of Wednesday's dinner to be...sweet onion and basil doing a duet, tomato and sugar making eyes at each other, a cymbal splash of the open white wine moving fingers along green pepper contours, laughing with the garlic and minding where the pepper stands, all toughed out. The mayo negotiates and the jalapeño protests, the cayanne whistles at the celery stalking while a little olive oil keeps everyone talking and the parmesean blankets in love.

One in the house came by while I was preparing the Ash Wednesday tomato soup and said "Augh--just the way to spend your evening, eh?"

Actually, I can think of worse...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I believe in the pureness of grapefruit’s clean burst and the drip of a just ripe plum. I believe in the churn of ocean tides, the aerodynamism of a pelican flock, and the flaunting shimmy of a peacock’s tail. I believe in the goodness of watching dawn’s coming in the company of coffee and silence, in acknowledging the beauty of someone’s garden, and in the map of constellations that grace the heavens. I am for the power of the Word well proclaimed, the restorative calm of familiar ritual, and the joy of Spring’s arrival.

I believe in and I place my trust in a God of love that knows no limit and says “Come unto me.”; in a God who knows me for who I am and knows that there is more for me to discover; in a God whose measure is whether we have loved our neighbor as ourselves. I place my trust in a God who saw fit to create jellyfish, electrons, and the Aurora Borealis; a God who inspired Joan of Arc, John of the Cross, and Jessica Power.

I believe in simple joy, generous love, and soothing mercy. I believe in justice, that everyone should have enough, everyone should be safe, and that the dignity of creation should be honored. I believe in snapping my gum now and then because sometimes the sound says it better than any word I could conjure. I believe mashed potatoes and applesauce should both be a little bit lumpy and that people should get to pick their birthday dinner. I believe in tight eggs, loose oatmeal, and peanut butter and honey sandwiches, in picnics, in walking without aim, in thinking great rambling thoughts, and applying the principles of logic.

I believe in and I place my trust in the Christ who can bring together what is most completely divine and what is most fully human and proclaim of the two, joined, “This is what is real and where I choose to put my heart and make my dwelling.” I place my trust in the light that no darkness can ever overcome, the bread for the world, the salt of the earth, the Word made flesh, my friend.

I believe in saying “thank you,” in taking responsibility, in teaching, in sharing wonder. I believe in friendship, in the occasional comfort of holding hands, in raucous laughter, in long meals at table with those I love, in tears, in knowing what makes me scared, and in holding a lantern in the nighttime of a friend’s fear.

I believe in and I place my trust in the movement of the Spirit that kicks up leaves in a Midwestern fall, wears a gown of grace, a crown of cherry blossoms, and sensible shoes on the journey, and who reminds me to take a nap every now and then to regain perspective. I place my trust in the Spirit who was in the wind at Babel, in the boat on the sea, in the anguish of the Crucifixion, and who shines in the eyes of those most vulnerable.

I believe in the resurrection, in Eucharist, in community, in discovery and revelation, and in Mystery. I believe in wonder and in awe and in contemplative curiosity.

Dear Lord, help my unbelief.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Day's End

There was a real joker around this evening.

Actually, there were four of them...on the living room floor. I just spent the last two hours playing cards with a twenty month old baby. Her grandmother, who died just about two weeks ago, was a good friend of someone in the house. Mother, father, and baby came to dinner tonight.

I ended up on the floor of the living room with one kid and two decks of cards. According to her parents, this was her first encounter. We tested physics--how far can a card fly? We performed magic--now you see a card, now you don't! And we learned some origami--one or two of the cards will never be quite the same.

I was both astonished and gratified at the fun to be had handing 104 cards back and forth...swirling them into patterns on the floor...putting them back in the case...and then starting all over.

There is something so simple and straightforward about interacting with a child. Basic toys, a clean floor, open and easy demeanor... and it helps to know the basic gist of the itsy-bitsy spider--a timeless tune never out of style, no matter how sophisticated society has become.

There is something reassuring about that.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Domus Mea Domus Orationis

About two months ago I had an opportunity to indulge a desire I had to lie flat on my back in the middle of the aisle at church and look at the ceiling. (click on December 6th )

Today, I was given the chance for yet another perspective. This time from the balcony. For a while I was wandering inside the old organ, trying to imagine what it would have been like to be up here when it was in its prime. It made me think of fireworks and how the really big ones can be felt in the chest. Seems to me that the prayers issued forth from those pipes might have once had that same effect. Now, though, I was exploring while listening to the choir director play on the piano below. More than lovely, in its own way...a gentle fullness that somehow enhanced the goodness of being up there alone.

From my journal.."Now at the left of the organ and looking out over the transept--so neat and tidy from up here! Looking up just a couple of feet from where I am now, I am overtaken by the wonder of the sunbeams. Their precision, their intensity! Shafts of light with a beginning and no end, shaped by the windows, diffused into space. Such an amazing thing...that these walls, statues, pews, floors, paintings, have not only absorbed a century and a quarter's worth of singing, petitioning, and proclaiming, but also the light of all those years. It is here, it is a part of my life here. When I take my usual place, I am surrounded by it, without doing anything. When I run a hand over the smoothness of a pillar, I feel it. When I look at the stained glass, I see it. When the congregation sings, I hear it.

When I receive Eucharist, there's a part of me that can taste it. The taste of light that no darkness shall ever overcome."

The two part phrase I used as a title is carved over two doors. Today was the first I'd ever noticed it. At first I thought the Domus was an abbreviated version of Dominus, Lord. A check with the presider of the day, however, corrected that notion. Domus is house. My house, a house of prayer. I find it rather pleasing to know that there are only two letters between House and Lord. And those letters are "in." A word of dwelling, of presence.

Let there be no doubt. There wasn't for me today.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Watching an Amaryllis Bloom

On Watching an Amaryllis Bloom
A wild patience has taken me this far… Adrienne Rich

A patience expectant,
that is learning
by fingering shapes imagined
an artful piecing
of what has been
since the beginning,
and thought that is now,
and wonder at what could be;
while, oh glory,
intently, purposefully,
on the real:

the progressive
trumpeting of
blooming amaryllis jazz
that deepens daily
my hope in beauty.


(image from

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Simply Gift

I awoke at 12:30 pm yesterday. My afternoon held several pages in Julia Child's biography, one or two podcasts from the BBC on the anniversary of Cuba's revolution, and several multi-hour naps.

I was feeling less than fully myself, let me say. Coughing, mildly dizzy, definitely not up to complete par.

Today when I awoke I thought to head to my beloved 11:30 Mass. Getting there evidently took close to my every reserve. When I arrived, I was dizzy, and feeling a bit weak, and needed to sit quietly for a bit before anything else. Fortunately, there was no one in one of the side rooms so I sat on the couch for a bit, eyes closed, happily in a sun-beam...willing an even keel to return.

The Director of Religious Ed. came through to set up a little altar for the children's liturgy of the word. "Are you okay?" "Actually, I'm not feeling so great..." "Would you like some tea?" I nodded. "Come." She led me to the kitchenette, got me a mug of hot water, showed me the teabags, and said "If you'd like my office, you can use that. I won't be in the other room for another half hour if you'd like to stay there. Just leave the mug when you are done!" She went on about her busy morning.

I and my green chai went back into the West Room where I'd stashed my belongings. While I sipped, a mother and daughter came in to practice a song they were going to teach the other kids.

The DRE saw me again in about an hour. "You are better?" "Yes...thank you! I feel better." "You have color now! You were white-white-white before." And she went on about her busy morning.

This simple, efficient, attentive, act of noticing touched me deeply, for some reason. There was no fuss, there was no big deal made. It was someone noticing and reaching out in kindness on her own with something she thought might make me feel better. I was left on my own, kindness bestowed, but I was not forgotten.

There's a song we sing fairly often that includes the line "Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?"

I did this morning. And it felt pretty wonderful.

There's a lesson there, I think. The question I ponder is what it might be.

Is it how to recognize the authentic? How to let someone help? How to trust that they can? How to believe that yes, there are moments when you can let go and not worry? That it really is okay to leave your tea mug on the table and not return it to the kitchenette to wash it and put it away in the cupboard?

Whatever the lesson might be, it is worthy of time and contemplation. Perhaps over peppermint this time...with a little honey and a shot of milk. Turns out like a Pep-o-mint lifesaver... Hm, lifesaver. Funny, that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Five Favorites

The streets are alive with the sound of Friiiidayyyy...dee-deeeedle-deeeeee...

From pals at's the Friday Five!

Five of My Favorite Things

1.The morning's first sip of glorious, life-reviving, perfectly-dosed-with-milk, coffee.

2.The feeling of having a poem that I’m writing come together.

3.Being wrapped in the hug of a friend.

4.Sitting in my parish and being quiet for the hour or so before Mass begins

5.The joy in feeling what happens to me when I speak Spanish for extended periods of time—the shift of thinking, the attentiveness to language, the spectrum of expression that opens.

Monday, February 2, 2009


2 February, 6:30 AM, Bus Stop

Turning east I notice the tiers of light stretching over the river. Sunrise closest to the water, pushing open the covers of night; above that, the soft haze of hovering warm gray from the moments when neither completely awake nor fully asleep; next, the vast swath of dreams rolling their star-filled stories threaded with the light that lives just beyond, and tucking them carefully into their satchels.

Transient though this moment is, and alone as it might seem I am, I'm certain that in some way I am also sharing this with those in my life who would also appreciate this moment of a morning's becoming.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Of Many Things

I am in the mood to write. Sometimes the urge just arrives and presents itself to be dealt with respectfully and kindly, regardless of what else I was doing at the time. That might mean picking up a pen and doing a quick line or two about the context of my writing at the time. Where am I? What am I doing? Who is there? What are they doing? What time is it? Where am I headed?-- so often it comes when I am out making haste on the pavement enroute to or from somewhere specific or no where in particular. Sometimes I simply stop and record the thought that I am pursuing at the moment.

No matter what comes out, I have learned over time that it is a good thing to honor that urge. The urge to write, the urge to pray, the urge to nap, the urge to be silent...somehow, all instinctive interior calls to 'center-down' in whatever ways situations allow.

Here are some lines from the last week's entries...

"John, choir director, told me the other day that notes are made up of harmonic waves. What if the note of the voice of God is also made up of those waves? Those waves being bits of the wind, bits of laughter, wailing, loving, soothing, shouting, mourning, foghorns, ram's horns, car horns... elements of the noise of life's fullness harmonizing into the note that is the voice of God."

"I just hit 'send' for my Discernment of Call for final profession. That's all I can say right seems contemplating the direction I'd like to go for the rest of my life has overshadowed the formation of words. Oh, let me add-- Amen."

"Having just seen Inkheart...have to say that the plot is a grand and glorious one for me to consider-- The whole idea that reading aloud, giving voice, brings Word to life! Augh. The idea thrills me-the mystical power of the Word well proclaimed. Too, the idea of not living quite so bound to the here and now...the idea that I could be read into Robin Hood or The Swiss Family Robinson or send myself into the drawing room with Miss Marple or be climbing out of a hansom cab, swirling through gaslight taunting fog to knock on the door of 221B... Absolutely a dream."