Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rain, Rain, No Need to Go Away

Why it doesn’t bother me that it is pouring rain at 7:00 AM on a workday…

The last two days have been a pair of the most incredible days I have had in a long, long time. I spent at least ten hours outside each day, walking the city and Central Park, sitting in public plazas writing, people watching to my heart’s fill, and talking to a friend for hours.

The exercise (over 150 blocks) was most welcome and left my body stretched, happy, and a warm, contented receptor of sleep at day’s end.

The people-watching was food for much contemplation—I inadvertently became a spectator to a deal for buying black market sunglasses where someone was willing to sell herself to get the brand she sought. I also passed by a series of seven or eight street vendors all of whom were feather-dusting their wares at the same time. Intriguing.

The writing was rich and textured according to where I was when picking up pen and paper. I wrote a homily for Friday, I wrote of my surroundings, I mused about the way the trees cradle pockets of set-aside space in the midst of the concrete tonnage…

The talking…well, it has been an experience unlike anything I have known. I could talk for hours—we have talked for hours—at a time and still there is more to say, more to wonder together, more to discuss and consider…there is no tiring of listening… It is such a gift.

So, if the outpouring of rain now is the expense for the two days of glory, bring it on, I say. It’s rather soothing, actually…to be here with my coffee, hearing the solid, though gentle, whapping against the window…wondering what God has in store next.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

long live

long live

women trees dancing
with akimbo limbs
on branched out hips
finding their sway in the winds

women stones being
calm steadying warmth,
old wisdom that smooths
and flames within

women drums teaching
the primordial flow
of passionate energy
from one to another to the universe

women saints living,
discovering, becoming.
the glory of God
for the world

women friends loving,
holding, and listening.
Needing and sharing
and walking together


long live.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frustrated writer at the keyboard...

Over the last several months a friend and I have established a ritual of exchanging an evening email most nights.
The length varies, but always includes wishes for a good night and good dreams. It is a simple, peaceful, care-full ritual I have come to enjoy very much. Last night, though, I wrote that there was a need to watch out because it was a frustrated writer writing that evening...

I have a piece of writing I must get done within the next two days. I have written sonnets, stories, and talks. I have written choral poems performed by grade levels and articles for international publication. Can I manage to write up a telephone conversation I had with someone? No. And that frustrates me. I took notes during the call, I listened, I spoke, I was careful. But, now that I need to write it up, nothing I try seems to convey what I need it to convey.

I find myself asking, "Where have all the definitions gone?" I thought I knew what the words meant, yet when I put them together, instead of believing they express the necessary idea, I see nothing but inadequacy... So I try again, this time writing to anticipate the questions those reading it might have. But that means writing in a way that speaks to someone else, and not to my own experience of the conversation!

It's all terribly circular thinking, I realize.

I wish I could circle around to something that would serve the need. I recognize that simple and direct is best--but not all topics lend themselves to simple expression. Or, if they do, they also beg questions by virtue of it.

The next person that tells me how easily words seem to come to me is going to get an earful--or pageful, I fear.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Branch

The Branch

Is a strong one, an old one.
Accustomed to the weight
of the people who choose her.
She believes in the simple joy
of offering them what beauty she can

She makes the wind
whisper in their presence,
shaping the sounds
with the perfumed scoop
of petals by the thousands.

Beyond the whisper,
there is a song in each wind.
The branch knows this
and sometimes
with a simple nod

she lets it in between
her nesting finery
to weave
soft ribbons

of arms that hold
those she chooses,
the people who find
their welcome in
her holy place.

She likes to hear
them sigh
in peace.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend Words

This came after the pleasant surprise of opening a book at The Strand to "Parable of the 6th Night of Creation" by Muriel Rukeyser, having earlier in the day had a conversation with a friend about us wanting to go find a tree suitable for sitting and talking and looking.

Here's the Rukeyser bit--

The Sixth Night: Waking

That first green night of their dreaming, asleep beneath the tree,
God said, "Let meanings move," and there was poetry.

For A Friend

There's a branch on a tree
in a garden who is
waiting and bowing
to the goodness
of the wind in her leaves.

She has smoothed the bark
for leaning and sitting
and eased the view
of what is above and below
by parting her clapping greens

to reveal the mysteries
in stars and stars
and flowers and flowers
and subtly too
in the friends

swinging their legs
beside each other,
noting as they tell their stories
the nearly magical
evening change in the light.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's Like This

It’s Like This

It’s like this, young one.

It’s hard to describe, young one.

It’s got no set shape,
though I’ve seen it look
like a smiling cat, a
rinse water wet plum,
and a pair of hands
pulling weeds.

It’s got no special sound,
though I’ve known it to
sing forth from a cello string,
and heard it said that
she can pray best
in silence fully alive.

There is no one feeling for her.
Sometimes it’s like a river stone,
shaped by cool refreshment.
Other times he takes on the contours
of sad mountains weeping
in loss and searching for hope.

It’s like this, young one.

It’s hard to describe, young one.

Peace is hard to describe
in words on a page.
Better to look inside
next time she whispers her name
between the beats of your
strong and noble heart.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Good Sleep

There is talk sometimes of the "sleep of the innocent" and I do not profess to have had that any time recently. What I have had, though, for the past several nights is the sleep of one who has done much, worked much, shared much, and experienced much. It has been the immobile sleep of good exhaustion, healthy emotional and physical exertion, and being free.

On Friday I went to a farm with 49 students. I was on the bus for a total of 6 1/2 hours. Toward the end, the kids and adults, at least this adult, alike began to degrade into basic component parts... crankiness, fidgetiness, and tiredness. Following this, I went to my parish to participate in a special Anniversary Mass. After it, a woman approached me to speak for a moment. She explained that she and her husband are Jewish but attended the Mass in solidarity with their friend. It was the second anniversary of her mother's death that day and ritual obligation compelled her to light a memorial candle that would last 24 days. She hadn't had the chance to do that on Friday but wanted me to know that the manner in which I read the reading I proclaimed had fulfilled the obligation for her.

I could do nothing but take her hand with tears free rolling down my face and a heart that was flowing thanksgiving to God like a waterfall. Thanksgiving for the courage to be there, for the grace that allowed my voice to bring comfort and serve, for the opportunity to simply act as God created me and have it mean something so significant to another. One person I told of this said, "Wow, that's really a heavy thing for her to lay on you." No! No! This was not a burden, but an exchange of grace. One of the purest experiences of gift I have ever known.

The next morning I went on a walk for women's cancers with a friend. The gathering of tens of thousands in Times Square was potent for me. So many people were walking in support or in memory of people they loved. I had my number and my own sign for way too many people I have known... My friend and I began to talk and I found myself telling her about my own major surgery in 2001 that was to take care of a serious pre-cancerous condition. All was removed and there has been nothing to worry about since. She looked at me, wiped a tear from my cheek, took my hand, and said simply "I'm glad you are still here." I don't often think of that surgery in terms of what it might have become or how close I came to something far worse. The walk was another opportunity to give thanks and commit fresh to doing something for those women and men who can not for whatever reason navigate the health care system of our country.

The walk was followed by an invitation to go with her to Long Island for several events happening that day. I agreed and we went, listening to music in the car the whole while. Windows down, music loud, both of us singing. It was a glorious time.

This morning was Mass followed by an art show where a friend had a gorgeous colored pencil drawing of flowers done in a multitude of shades of purple. I left from there and actually got lost for a mile or more while wandering in a part of Manhattan that I did not know. I finally found a subway line that would work for me and hied homeward.

My heart is so very, very happy right now. Happy and full...and grateful...and feeling free. Makes for good living as well as good sleeping.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Straightforward and Obvious

6:50 AM

At the bus stop, coffee resting at my feet so that I can write, the sun still shaking aside the clouds Moon tucked around her edges last night. There’s nothing to keep her from the process and nothing to demand it, save the rustling movement of a planet in the throes of revolution.

I walked out of the house and down three steps this morning to reach the sidewalk. That was as far as I got in my initial foray to fresh encounter the world. I hit the sidewalk and became the sole object of love and adoration on the part of an intensely flurfy (think fluffy meets smiling meets kind meets tongue hanging out the side and panting for joy nearly all of the time) senior golden retriever named Savannah.

For reasons only discernable to the canine community, Savannah made like a magnet for the better part of my right leg, leaning, shoving, digging her pinfeather soft forehead into my thigh. Then she sat on my feet.

“Um, good morning. I think your dog likes me.”


The dog was in “Scratch-me-pet-me-oh my goodness does life get better?” ecstasy while the owner was in a caffeine craving morning stupor.

After a moment of worshipful ear rubs and neck smoothing, I thanked the owner and moved away.

You could almost hear the “Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy…what’s next, what’s next?” as Savannah gathered her fur and led the way toward coffee.

Somehow I think there is value to approaching the world in a way that is so straightforward and obvious.

Old dogs can teach new tricks.