Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Stations

I went to the Stations of the Cross on Friday night and found that meaningful participation in this ritualized journey was a near impossibility for me. My mind and heart were not able to look at art and listen to readings at the same time while also immersing myself spiritually in the progression of a story that begins in torture and ends in triumph. Too much was coming at the same time and I was left feeling like a box of jigsaw remnants whose pieces instinctively wanted to fit together yet found around them only the lost parts of other puzzles. In thinking about this on the bus ride home, I thought—if I was overwhelmed by this, how much more so must Jesus have been when actually walking the journey.

The Stations are our fixed markers along the way…fourteen points in time, artistically rendered, that help us remember. What, I began wondering, would Jesus have noticed amidst what I imagine was a chaotic certainty of death? What aspects of that day unlike any other day--when history changed at the convergence of humanity, divinity, and eternity—would leave a mark on a condemned prophet, man, son, Jew, God’s beloved with whom he is was well pleased? I can not but think that the response might offer a different take than the tradition…if only because of a change in the “person” of the perspective—from omniscient third to crucified first. I mentioned these questions to a wise and generous friend. She replied simply—“Have you asked him?”

I hadn’t then but have since.

I remember the weight. Yes, the splintering oppression of the cross, but also from the garden the night before…the crush inside my own chest as the cold density of fear gathered to itself any loneliness I had ever felt. It was a terrible feeling.

I remember the extremes. The chanting, yelling, writhing crowd—and the moment when all was silent to me.

Silent…except for one sound, one vibration. That I could isolate and identify it under those circumstances on that day is a wonder to me even now. It was a honeybee, a loyal worker, consecrator of nectar, able to fly only in the absence of reason and the application of either folly or greater purpose.

I remember the field of purple flowers beyond where the crowd stopped. I remember losing the bee among the petals after I fell.

I remember a clarity washing over the heat that was accumulating. It came cleanly in the silence and freely in the eyes of those in the crowd who had also known the cost of Love.

I remember knowing as intimately as my parents' love that pain or death could not, would not, bind me.

I remember the sun on my face.



drape me loose and
dance me slow
and sing me deep.

beckon me
I will respond
fill me
I will overflow
seduce me
I will succumb.

tempt me soft
promise me kiss
be with me still.


Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm talking Hope here

From RevGals, a Friday 5 on Hope

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Share with us five signs of hope that you can see today or have experienced in the past.

1. At a crowded hour on a rainy yesterday...sharing my single seater coffee shop table with a kind, grateful, considerate, stranger. We spoke only minimally but both parted smiling.

2. Watching a mother use mini post-it notes and a cookie sheet on a bus ride to teach her child letters and numbers.

3. The daffodils in buckets on bodega tiers, wating to offer someone a tantara of smiling-- and the warm thoughtful memories I have of giving daffodils to my first crush.

4. No matter what devastation is in the NYT in the morning, I get up every day and try to make a difference and so do a heck of a lot of others.

5. My 148 goofballs, students, clowns of God, who are making their way in this world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Discovering Kinship

I have had a day of actual Spring Cleaning. For the last two days, the City has been flush with a blooming, singing, tantara of glory at the coming of the newest season. I have taken the chance, being on break, to make use of the energy such life brings and begin to go through belongings. Stacking books for donations, doing laundry to clean clothing that will hopefully help someone who has greater need than I do... I made two trips to a local rectory to drop off those and one trip with the books...two blocks over, one down, to the basement of a nearby branch of New York Public Library where the Friends group of the library began a bookshop to help raise money.

Happy as I was to drop off two sacks of material that had been taking up space in my small room, I also couldn't help thumbing through several volumes that caught my eye on the shelves. "What would it hurt to bring one home?? The ratio of donations to take-home would be heavily in favor of donations...hmm, let's keep looking." I decided to allow myself one book.

I picked up one called Chasing Matisse. Having fallen in love with his colors, textures, and patterns after an exhibit at the Met pairing his paintings with the fabrics he used for inspiration, this one was a distinct possibility. Then, looking at the spine, I noticed two breaks in the pages. Flipping to the first, I found Miss Antonia G.'s boarding pass from her trip to Paris. There was no year that I could find, but based on the copyright of the book, 2005, it wasn't that long ago. Did she enjoy the book? Was Antonia's trip business or pleasure? What is her work? How was the trip? Did she find whatever she was seeking--or discover something she was not seeking at all? I wanted to sit with her, another woman who seems to pick her companion books particularly, and have coffee. Maybe talk books, maybe not.

Then, I found an old dear friend. Someone I had already met but not seen in a while. Instantly, I broke out into a smile of recognition and relationship and allowed my hands to embrace her words for a moment before reading the first paragraph and reminding myself why I so enjoy her company.

September 15th

Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and to the rain ticking gentle against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my "real" life again at last. That is what is strange--that freinds, even passionate love, are not my reali life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet, I taste it fully only when I am alone here and "the house and I resume old conversations."

-May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude-

I read these words differently now that I have years of writing under my own pen, paper, and steam. I see her influence in my entries and recognize a kinship of need for space and time and relationship in order to "discover what is happening or has happened."

Her words came home with me today--in more ways than one. I am grateful.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

From the journal

10:35 AM At Xavier

I can hear the choir practicing behind closed doors. For the writing moment, I have stepped out of my usual seat and found a perch along the old altar rail, using two soup-can diameter columns to support my back. The glow from the spot and candles in front of the large crucifix throws shadows on the page for me to enjoy. The one I like most is watching where the shadow of the pen tip meets the page. In an abstract sort of way, it is as though there is writing coming forth from the page itself. I find myself watching the movement of the "tinta sombreada" and wondering what it might say...even though I know that I am the one actually moving it along. Kind of a cool thing. What will be revealed? There is a certain relationship implied in revelation, isn't there? One discovers on one's own...but the revelation takes another. Hmm.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Early Morning Phone Call

Divining over their maps and charts yesterday, the climatic prestidigitators predicted a storm. Hope invited me to entertain a day of freedom; pragmatism called me to business as usual.

So it was that I arose at the quotidian 4:45 this morning...bleary eyed, but already in composition mode, or so I discovered when clear enough to realize what was running through my mind. I was writing a letter about my hopes and goals for this Fall, the prayers of the faithful for Mass on Wednesday, and a letter to a friend. Perhaps a shower would help wash and smooth these slumberous sentences into some sort of order that an awake mind would find linear enough to grapple with and perfect.

Freshly steamed and scrubbed, I returned to my bedroom. Then the phone rang.

Indeed, the masters of meteorology got it right.

My pyjamas were still laid out on my bed, themselves one sleep clean and wrinkly soft. Within in moments, they were again hugging my now warmly soap smelling body, the coffee was brewing and I was in my regular chair with a mug of dark roasted goodness and glory, indulging in the gift of time and snow hush quiet before the rest of the house awoke.

I saved the nap for later.