Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The allure of a pencil named Minerva

One of the things I have come to know over eleven years in religious life is that I am a better person because I live in community. The company, the accountability, the sharing of resources, the communal concerns shared and shouldered, the prayer, the polishing of my own edges. It all makes me more able to understand others and I take that understanding with me wherever I go...allowing it to inform whatever work I undertake.

That said, it is human nature to also need and want time alone. That has been my gift these last days. I talked to a friend on Skype last night and he pointed out, "It is a chance to live without self-censoring." Before this experience of being fuera de la casa--outside the house--for an extended time, I have never before been so aware of the reality of that and the energy it takes when the "casa" is country, culture, and language. But, he is absolutely right.

It is the nature of community living to think about the impact of one´s own behaviors on the group as a whole. Here, that means not speaking in English when others are around who will not understand. It means not speaking one´s mind with fluidity because my way and nature of expression is culturally influenced and does not translate into castellano. There is the need to rethink, to express differently, to find other words for... To speak the truth, yes. But, the point of speaking truth is having it understood, I think, and in order for that to happen, adjustments must be made.

These last days, when others in the house are on retreat or visiting family, I have been listening to NPR news broadcasts and other shows on the computer speakers. I have been working at the table instead of my desk, have prayed there with a candle lit in the open-heart holder, have headed out on wanders without destination and returned to cook when my body tells me it is hungry.

One of those wanders took me to a stationers. Before leaving, two in the house asked me to prepare the community´s "corner" for the upcoming provincial assembly. That required the trip, which, I confess was not a suffering of any sort for me. I love office supply stores!

It was there, in a eraser-crumblies covered bin in a back row, that I found Minerva. There was only one. She was covered in a blop of ink at the tip and dinged up on the back end. But what was perfectly clear was her name. This pencil was Minerva.

I have to say, my writing soul did the dance that surfaces unsummoned at things "right in the world." To me, a pencil named Minerva seems just about perfect.

What other name could a pencil have that would suit so admirably? Practical, serviceable, loyal, a little retro, classic... Minerva.

Sadly, this Minerva, that someone used as a would be dip-pen, was the only one in the store. Would they be getting more? They did not know. Might they be in another branch of your store? Maybe.

One day, on a wander unpredictable, perhaps our paths will cross again...

Until then, I shall enjoy my alone time, I shall enjoy my community time, and I will continue to write.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Along for the Ride

During my ride to Antofagasta, I made a list of things that caught my attention...

1. A business called Frenos Daytona 500 (A brake repair shop)

2. Not one but several mattress repair shops. Who knew it was an industry?

3. Women´s pick-up soccer played in a field along the highway

4. The trees with branches and leaves all headed in one direction because of the wind. An arboreal comb over!

5. The need to report name, ID number, and emergency phone contact to the assistent on the bus...just in case.

6. The positively mauve colored sunset the first night on the bus. No other word for the color...I have a theory about that, but don´t know anyone to ask...and my first attempt at explaining the idea in Spanish tanked...no wonder, really, because it has to do with the curvature of the earth and topography and latitude. Will work on that.

7. The periodic roadside shrines--not all of which are for people who died in accidents. Some are just little shrines. None bigger than a doghouse, most decorated with shiny things and lots of what I will call religious articles. Beads, bitty statues, medals, etc. CDs are a popular choice for decorating, too. Reflective.

8. Periodic expanses of white salt deposits

9. Periodic small hills of oxidized copper dust

10. Wind farms with huge turbines in the middle of lots of nothing else. What a perfect place! I wonder,though, how they tap into the energy produced? And where-how is it stored?

11. Why is there the need for a curve in the middle of the desert? It is nothing more than a bump out on a straight line.

12. I saw one enclosure...in the middle of seemingly nothing else. No structure, no people, no worn path or road, no vehicles...just a cement walled square.

13. There is nothing boring about this ride. It is long and it is fascinating. God is so creative! And so vast and, well, powerful, but not in a wielding sort of way. More in a grand, sweeping, awesome, sort of way...

Between the desert and Haiti, it was a week of seeing forces of nature loosed and active, the whim and caprice and devastation.

Friday, January 15, 2010


RevGal Friday Five composed in Antofagasta, Chile. A 21 hour bus ride north of Santiago....through hours of the Atacama desert...fascinating, really.

1. If you were a color, what would you be?

My dream job as a child was to be the one who thought up names for paint colors... So, I´m going to go with Ruminative Oceanic Blue-Green.

2. If you were a flower (or plant), what would you be?

Cactus. Sturdy, hardy, colorful, though not obviously so at first, can take in a lot and can live through a lot.

3. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?

Definitely an elephant. Contemplative, compassionate, loving, loyal, seemingly slow but of long memory and far reaching vision.

4. If you were a shoe, what type would you be?

Gotta go with the Birks here. Simple, free, comfy.

5. If you were a typeface, which font would you be?

Oh, I can´t remember the name...something like SchoolBook. Clear, clean, not overly girly or curly, easy to read, practical.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Y las estrellas bailarán And the Stars will Dance

Desde Antofagasta, Chile... From Antofagasta, Chile.

Primero en castellano, luego en inglés...

Hoy fui con A a la casa de retiros de los Jesuitas para caminar, sentar, rezar, mientras ella acompañó O quien está haciendo su retiro acá. Allí tenía un momento de oración diferente de todos los demás que he tenido aquí en Chile...profundo y necesario. Estaba escribiendo y lo siguiente pasó...

Me di cuenta de algo interesante aquí, sentando entre mar, montañas, y desierto. Me di cuenta que hay veces en que la cosa mejor es no preguntar. O, mejor sería decir que hay momentos en que sería mejor si las preguntas esperan...

Momentos en que Dios dice-- Buena pregunta, buena observación, pensamiento... guárdelo y te aseguro que llegaremos al momento de descutirlo. Confiá en mi. Ahora hay mas que vivir, experimentar. Te prometo que llegaremos al momento. Y sí, sé que a ti no te gusta sentir puesto al viento sin orientación. No estoy diciendo que no puedes sentir--claro--como si fuera posible-- ni que no puedes expresar tus sentimientos o pensamientos o gritos o lágrimas. Por favor, sigue compartiéndlos.

Lo que sí, estoy diciendo, es confía en mi. Vamos a tener una conversación que en ese momento tu no puedes imaginar. Una conversación en que van a bailar para ti las estrellas, van a conversar contigo las olas poderosas que a ti te gustan tanto. Y tú y yo seramos Creador, creación, pregunta y comprensión, inseperable.

Estoy diciendo también que no hay tanta necesidad de buscar con prisa, escuchar con fuerza. Estoy aquí. Estoy contigo. Siempre estoy. No soy capaz de dejarte ni lo haría si fuera capaz. Tú sabes eso. Si lo has olvidado, aquí estoy para que recuerdes. A mi no me gusta mirar tu frustración, tu tristeza. Sé que hay estas dos, y sí, entiendo por que.. Pero, te digo, confía en mi. Llegaremos juntos al momento de entender.

Te quiero, pero además a mi me gusta estar contigo, conversando, escuchando, y compartiendo silencio.Tú eres buena compañía para mi. Recuérdete eso y confía en mi.


Today I went with A to the Jesuit retreat house to walk, sit, pray, while she accompanied O on her retreat. During that hour or so, I had a moment of prayer unlike any other moment I have had so far in Chile. What happened follows...

I realized something interesting sitting here, between mountains, sea, and desert. I realized that there are times when it is best to not ask questions. Or, better said, there are times when it is best if the questions wait.

Moments when God says-- Good question, interesting observation, thought... save it and I assure you we will come to the right moment to discuss it. Trust me. For now, there is more to live, more to experience. I promise you, we will come to the moment. And yes, I know that you do not like being set to the wind without direction. I am not saying do not feel...naturally, as if that were even possible... nor that you should not express your thoughts or feelings or shouts or tears. Please, continue sharing those.

What I am saying is trust in me. We are going to have a conversation, you and I, that you can not right now even imagine. A conversation in which the stars will dance for you, in which the powerful waves you love so much will speak to you. And you and I will be Creator-creation, question-understanding, inseparable.

I am saying too that there is no need to search in a hurry, to listen so hard. I am here. I am with you. I am always. I am not capable of leaving you, nor would I even if I could. You know this. If you have forgotten, here I am to remind you! I do not enjoy watchng your frustration, your sadness. I know that they exist and I know why. But, I say to you, trust me. We will come to the moment of understanding.

I love you, but even more than that, I like being with you, talking to you, listening to you, sharing silence with you. You are good company for me. Remember that and trust in me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

After Reading Neruda

En castellano primero...luego inglés...

Para que todos vivan / en ella / hago mi casa / con odas / transparentes.
--Pablo Neruda en La Casa de las Odas

Deseos Después de Leer Neruda

Que mis odas sean escritos de piedras y aire-
hechos de muros y sílabas permeables.

Que su cocina sea con el sol en las mañanas--sol
y una mermelada de palabras para endulzar el pan cotidiano.

Que la tinta corriendo de sus llaves sea fresco-
con el gusto de ser nacidos en las montañas y la sabiduría.

Que haya en sus rincones un pequeño destello de polvo-
oraciones ofrecidas desde mis lágrimas, mis gritos y asombras.

Que los que lean mi casa se sienten acogida
abajo de su techo tejido del canto de pajaros y verso.

c. MperiodPress


That all might live in her, I made my house of transparent odes.
--Pablo Neruda, from The House of Odes.

Desires after Reading Neruda

That my odes be written with stones and air-
made of permeable syllables and walls.

That their kitchen have sunlight in the mornings--
sunlight and a sweet marmalade of words for the daily bread.

That the ink running in the taps be fresh--
flavored from a wise and mountainous birth.

That in the corners there be a glistening hint of dust--
prayers offered on my tears, shouts, and surprises.

That those who read my houe find welcome
beneath her roof woven of birdsong and verse.

c. MperiodPress