Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rahner and Remainders

"When the totals of your plans and of your life’s experiences do not balance out evenly, I am the unsolved remainder. And I know that this remainder, which makes you so frantic, is in reality my love, that you do not yet understand. " (from a Christmas meditation by Karl Rahner)

I have been thinking about this snippet of Rahner's ever since reading it anew this year at a prayer during a Christmas Day gathering. I am the unsolved complete enticing to me...the idea that there is always more...there is between God and God's people an "again," there is hope, there is mystery...there is the difficult honor of love... and oddly, I find that lack of precise clarity somewhat reassuring...rather freeing...accommodating. It accommodates me and my curves and my questions and dreams and faults, my glory, my greatness, and my weakness. It accommodates humanity...embraces humanity...inhabits humanity.

So often it is that my life experiences have outstripped my own plans by miles, pages, spoons (thank you, T.S. Eliot, for that useful unit of measure...)...and it is a gift to know that unsolved, unexpected, extra, as love...whether it comes as a challenge or as ease of heart. It makes all the difference...and I fear little would otherwise make sense.

I was also thinking about Rahner this afternoon while in the kitchen...these last days of feasting have meant the kitchen. A fit of hungry creativity led to satisfied delight as I mused my way through shelves and containers.

2 slices of leftover bacon...fine dice in a bowl

Some leftover potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch the bowl.

1/2 an onion...thin thin the bowl

a bundle of skinny green the bowl...

A dribble of olive oil over all

A little hit of chili flakes

Stir...dump on a jelly roll pan...400 degrees until the beans start to get brown



The Glory of what Remains

If I was writing

with an oil inked spatula,

gathering into verse

the syllables mingling in the bowl,

slick with the whispering spice

of adventures past,


I'd like to think that those stanzas would sound--

after 400 fresh degrees of small talk--

like my kitchen now smells--


Of bacon and garlic,

beans, and potatoes,

who leave in their steamy wake

an unspoken shimmy

of well comported joy,

a feast about to be read.


Kimberly M. King rscj


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent IV, 2013

Advent IV, 2013

Your nearness crackles,

Love, and I sing for want

of a way to contain

certain joy

swishing her cape

at the awe of it all.


Kimberly M. King, rscj



Decorations of a different sort

I am sitting at a heavy wooden table as I write this...

Two cookbooks are open; a recently emptied coffee canister with a label I found pleasing is sitting by the cookbooks and it is also open...just in case there is any more scent it would care to offer up. I am sipping on a mug of lightly honeyed peppermint tea that I made with water that had been poured over an orange rind and left steeping. Directly in front of me are two spice of chili flakes--some few of which will be sprinkled over roasted green beans and garlic with a light squirt of lime and sprinkle of salt for a Christmas dinner pot-luck...and the other is of turmeric. I don't know yet what I will do with it, but it was too beautiful to pass by in its clear glass jar. It is $1.67 worth of pleasing and possibility at the moment and I look forward to learning how it best likes to dance.

Christmas music plays in the background, I have a stocking hung at my door, and I just heard Canada geese fly by...

This open, aching, fullness of my senses makes me think about the poetics of important it is to me to take the time now and then to create this sort of find beauty in acts of creativity and give myself the time to savor and steep...And in so doing, to Encounter.

To savor and steep myself in the place where all converges...all senses, all Word, all Story, all flavors, all experience, all glory and humanity...

To savor and steep myself in Love, rising and wailing, kneading and needy...Chaotic, like the pleasing mess around me, bright as the bowl of a spoon.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent III, 2013

(Image is courtesy of ESA and NASA. Acknowledgment: E. Olszewski, U. Arizona)

Advent III, 2013


Birth and life...

neither is a muted affair.


The effort to quiet

or contain them

would snatch at starlight

and whisper away the edge

of awe's flame,

leaving mystery to sputter.


Kimberly M. King, RSCJ



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent II, 2013

Advent II, 2013


It is within me to seek you,

alive and encompassing.


It is in my soul to ache with beauty,

to sigh while believing

that nothing can come

between the flame and the wick.


It is within me to be radiant

with you.


It is in my soul to yes

to you, to love.


Kimberly M. King, rscj


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent I, 2013

Solar eclipse over SanFrancisco bay, 2012

Advent I, 2013

Wrap me in the now of Love

for it is a touching time

when nearness is felt

absolutely, entirely—

and my yes echoes

from star to star:

I will touch, I will open,

I will receive, I will share.

Your life fills the heavens,

spins the planets,

and sings my dreams home

to sunrise and more!

Augh, live in me, find hearth in me,

though I am hopeless to contain you!

You, the largeness of my love,

and depth of my breathing.


Kimberly M. King, rscj

c. MperiodPress


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Real time

I came across this quotation the other day and I have not been able to shake it from my mind. Some of its power comes from timing. I read it on the anniversary of a sad and difficult event in my life. Just about a year ago now, I was with a family member I love at the end of a driveway and I said goodbye. Though imminent death was not a part of it, It was in many ways a final goodbye, a letting go, a wrenching sigh.

Some of why I nod in silent agreement while reading this is my own experience of covenant with God...My own lived assurance that "Nothing can separate you from my love." Nothing. walk on. walk with your head up. Live. speak what truth there is to speak. Love beautifully and let yourself be loved. Love even though the honor to do so is sometimes difficult and tragic and renders each breath an ache, at least for a while.

And some of why I like this so much is the pure simplicity of it. It is Real. Real like hurt is real...but real too like friends are real. Friends that welcome my company and who offer me theirs. Friends who hug and hold and bless and send. Friends who teach me by the truth they speak and who allow me the privilege of sharing truth with them as well.

Real like the heart is the heart is real and sacred. Real like the Heart where what is most gloriously divine and most completely human meet.

Do not be afraid... There is tragedy and there is beauty... I have known both...and learned over time to allow myself to walk with both... Because it is the walk that I don't want to miss...the journey...ever deeper, ever onward, never alone.

And I have learned that sometimes it's just fine to stop for coffee along the way.




Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Long Way Round

Longest way round is the shortest way home.
~~James Joyce in Ulysses~~

I read this quotation somewhere a number of days ago and it has stayed with me...I played around with it while thinking too of the mathematical principle of the shortest distance between two objects being a straight line.  They seem to be saying contradictory things, but I am not sure that is the case.

To take the long way around is to allow for freedom.  It is to allow for freedom and a good wander, mistakes and the startle of beauty, mystery and faith and adventure and love.  The long way around allows time to stop and "see into the life of things," as Wordsworth puts it.

I think the long way around also provides for grace.

Within the last month or so, I have been given multiple opportunities to accept different kinds of grace.  I heard from the mother of a former student that "she reads like she does because of you."  The father of another student spoke to me about how I had been the face of God for his family.  I unexpectedly received a book of poetry in the mail from a friend.  I also can say that a moment of tears and frustration became a moment of grace in sharing story and conversation with a friend because of realizing where I still need to grow.  Another former student re-initiated conversation after a stretch of being out of touch and we had a talk that spoke of essential things...the things of Life and well-being, hope and strength.

I also saw her...

None of this would happen, I don't think, by taking the path of least resistance or the way of shortest distance.  These are things, events, graces, brought about by a lifetime of accumulated experiences. And happen by being in particular places at particular the invitation and call of God.

I'm pretty sure grace is the long way round and I know that home is God.  It's a direct connect.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Divine Poetic

Non coerceri a maximo, sed contineri a minimo divinum est.

Not to be limited by the greatest, yet to be contained in the tiniest-- this is the divine.

Ignatius of Loyola


Conversations about poetry continued in the classroom this week. We re-enacted a 125 year old ball game while reciting the stanzas of Casey at the Bat; we were awake and a'wander one mist-slippery night/down by the moors and the bay; and some students read Sing it Out with obvious delight, gusto, and amusing mishaps. All of this was leading up to them making a book out of a single sheet of paper and creating their own collection of words they enjoy and an original poem.

As a way to talk together about the actual process of writing poetry, we took up the theme of zucchini. (I thought it likely that they wouldn't choose that subject for their own verse). The kids counted syllables in lines, remembering that Casey was built of lines between the small window of 13-16 syllables. We spoke of coherence--Zucchini is better than the queen...hmm...Does it make sense to compare zucchini to people?How can you keep the imagery of the queen and change that? "Zucchini is eaten by the queen!!" We spoke about needing a coat hanger to give structure to the clothing of our ideas...and syllables, theme, line breaks...these are all part of the hanger...

I had no idea heading in whether it was going to fly or not, this idea...this idea of bit by bit bringing them inside a poem's structure...of bringing them inside the work that they are also creating at the same time...of introducing them to the idea of listening to language and structure and responding to what you hear...

But wondrously o wondrously, they seemed to get it!

And it was absolutely glorious... Kids were auto-correcting their own lines when they read them out loud and the syllables didn't work for the sound they wanted, they were offering each other words to use...they were reading to one another and to me...

They were hearing the music, the notes, contained in the tiniest syllable! They were hearing the sound of words coming together and using that to compose their own music!! They are learning how to use tools that are the same tools used to create much larger works that also ring with harmonies...speeches, essays, longer poems, love letters, eulogies, a letter of condolence, a book...

There is no greatest limit nor a minimum requirement...the music, the rhythm, the pulsing life and Ah! and delight and creativity and simply IS.

And it brings me deep, humble, joy to share that with my students... To have them discover with and within their own being, this aspect of the Divine.




Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sing it out!

I gave my students a test last week...which meant that the first book we read as a literature class is now over...which means I need to know what comes next.

I didn't.

Until last night.

And now, egad, I am thrilled.

We're doing poetry...long poetry.  Story-telling poetry.  Salty-sweet-tang-for-the-tongue-deeply-musical-visual poetry.  Interestingly enough, the idea for this came while listening to Krista Tippet's On Being interview with Keith Devlin about mathematical thinking and sonnets, and the interpretation of patterns. Fascinating stuff... that led me to think about how this math, these patterns--which can be interpreted in color, forces (magnetic, kinetic, etc)  language, numbers, sound...are so essential to being-ness.  These harmonies are holding me together, grounding me and at the same time, allowing me to experience their mystical essence.

I am not able to explain exactly why I come close to weeping when I read the perfection of Shakespeare's sonnets or why this morning I found myself alone in my room proclaiming aloud, afoot, and with certain passion Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey .  I can't explain it...except to say that what I hear when the syllables come together to make word and image has me Become a bit more.  It has me ache and YES and AH...and even more than that, it inspires in me a desire to take up the tools and create something that sings of me...of my become a part of the conversation...conversation, relationship, that is at the humming warm center of covenant...

Purple Robe by Henri Matisse
Purple Robe
Matisse is an artist that inspires this same feeling in me. When I see what he did with color and pattern, I can hardly contain myself...  His are paintings I hear just as some poems are music and some music is a frame for walking through into living art.

I am not sure how I am going to explain this to my students...who are eleven.  But, I will try.

Sing it out!

Lullaby, hullabaloo,
fandango, frisbee, and kazoo!
Rumplestilkskin, razzmatazz,
flibbertigibbet and all that jazz!
Spigot, junket, trinket, jalopy,
fastidious, meticulous, chaotic, sloppy.
Wishy-washy dragonfly,
gorgonzola, infinite pi!
Quotidian tango twosomes
spied through a transom tilting
after passing by the fern fronds
looking lax and wither-wilting.
Knolls, nooks, a shekere!
For my linguistic pleasure, I like an array
of crunchy, silvery, syllabic fun
to belt in the rain and proclaim in the sun!
So hear me sing of pulchritude!
Of oblong oolong tea leaves steeping,
of davenports and aptitude,
of words I read that are worth keeping.

c. MperiodPress

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sacred moment, sacred trust

Yesterday I had a third grader bless me...and I am still left with the sensation of awe, respect, and humility that I experienced in that moment and in the hours that followed.

After her class trip to the library, a student approached me, telling me that her grandmother had died and that the funeral is today, Saturday. She then asked me, "Would you write me a poem I could read at her funeral?"

My world went silent and noisy all at the same time...which sounds contradictory, but really, that's what it felt like. It was such a sudden and transparently divine moment... I said simply, "Of course." And she nodded her head and went off with her class.

I thought of her being in third grade, about my not knowing her grandmother, about the sacred trust she had expressed, and then I wrote. I printed it on card stock, glued it to construction paper, and then took it to her classroom so she could read it and see if it worked for her.

When she saw it, she read it, she got a bit pink, nodded again, and then looked hard at me, saying nothing but "Thanks."

I can't help but recognize her simple request as one of the most sacred requests ever asked of me.

About this experience, I wrote the following this morning, while tucked into a corner of my Saturday thought-spot, Picasso's, a local coffee shop:

I was so very moved on so many different levels. One, Wow, what sacred stust, what a sacred honor to do this for her. Two, how beautiful that she, in third grade!, wanted to honor her grandmother via poetry and had the courage and creativity to make that be possible...Her parents had no idea and were incredibly grateful in their response to the emails that I sent. Three, whoa, it is humbling in such an amazing way to be seen as, recognized as, a writer/poet by an eight year know that a child has paid that close of attention or thought that writing is a skill for which she has respect. AUGH, this is such a moment of gratefulness to God and a moment of awe...and I honestly had the sense of Jesus saying See? And beyond "See?" also "Feel?" Feel what that is like? Feel that invitation to recognize the internals and externals of that moment of transparency...where you come to know not figuratively but actually, the love of an exchange of respect, of love, of trust.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

An Act of Creation a day...

"In the time that I have been sitting and looking at the screen or staring off into the seemingly greener grass distance, I could be making scones."

This is the salvific thought I had this afternoon.

Words are no more at the ready than they were before and my thoughts are no more ordered, but an act of creation has been accomplished and there is something to be said about that.

There is something to be said that something new has been brought into being at my hand and shared with others...something which will bring joy, something which offers interesting flavor for the spirit (cardamon-lime), and something which is even better when accompanied... In this case, by French roast.

Simply said, I feel better, more even, less wrinkly, having created something...having stuck my hands into the essential ingredients, having spooned and folded and zested, having been messy and having cleaned, having learned and having touched the process all the way through.

I am hoping words come again soon... But for now, yes, scones will do...and do nicely.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Mystical Immediate

Late afternoon this past Tuesday, I returned from a month of helping out with an RSCJ project in Cuba. Over the course of three weeks, we put on 11 different day-camps at different sites for over 360 children. It was a phenomenal experience and I offer below some reflections from my journal....

14 July, 2013.

I am hotter than Hades, I am certain that I stink, and I ache almost everywhere possible. I have seen a waterfall, watched red ants congregate, seen termites in trees, burros roaming, a spider with a cylindrical back side, and a peacock who looked almost embarrassed to be molting. And I walked through breezes of dozens and dozens of butterflies.

19 July, 2013

Amazing as it is to say it, I am looking at the Caribbean while surrounded by children for whom this view is common and yet who do not have enough to eat and barely enough to survive. I am seeing blues and greens as God created them and not simply as painters have interpreted them. It makes a difference. I just spent a good long while throwing a ball for a huge lot of kids in the water (Tira, profe! Tira! Yo, yo!). Never has one tennis ball made so many people so happy at the same time. And I include myself in that absolute joy.

23 July, 2013

Thank you for the sleep. My eyes closed last night before finishing my first impressions of Natividad. When we were about to make superhéroes, I asked the group, ¿y si tu fueras un superhéroe, que sería tu poder? (If you were a superhero, what would your power be?) y sin pensar por quince segundos, El niño Artúr dijo, "Salvar a la gente." Ni modo si para mucha gente estos niños son los olvidados, tú estás aquí. Tú estás tan presente aquí. Tú siempre vas a recordarles. (And without thinking for fifteen seconds, the child Artúr said Save the people. Whether or not these children are the forgotten ones for many, you are here. You are so very present here. You will always remember them.)

July, 24, 2013

Note to self: Looking down is sometimes vital. Looking up also has its merits. Completely cracked my head on a cast iron pump handle today in Camino de Santa Cruz and did so with such oomph that I had to sit rest while several of the women offered consolation, including taking turns holding a frozen water bottle on my head and fanning me with their hands. The men thought it was hilarious in the best good natured way...which it was, really. One of them stripped off his tee shirt and tied it onto the handle so I would see it. It was such honest care and laughter, both. A deep appreciation for the humor of a situation and an extraordinary attentiveness to caring...what a wonderful combination.

Then after returning to the house, I took a nap and for the third day in a row dreamed of the whole process of my death...

I am curious about the meaning of dreaming my death three days running. Part of me hopes that it has to do with dying to old ways and opening up to something new...and part of me hopes that it is not anticipatory, though I have to say that there was no fear in my dream and the experience nearly beautiful...nearly because as yet, I find it hard to imagine my own death as a beautiful thing.

29 July, 2013

The other night at evening prayer I had said that people would ask me what I had done in Cuba during this past month and that I had been thinking about what I would say. My first instinct, and what I shared that night, is that I have seen the Cuban face of God and received God's gaze in return. This morning while washing a passel of breakfast dishes (pan y café y tanta vajilla...nunca voy a entender-- bread and coffee and yet so many dishes...I will never understand) another considerable learning came to me--> I have experienced here that many things are far more precious and far more precarious than I knew them to be before. That is to say, what I have known about this internally--whether in heart or head or both--has been grounded in a mystical immediacy...In a lived reality where every moment is lived fully in its time, where I feel like I am touching the ground and touching humanity within myself and in others, and where (from Wisdom...) the pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty is witnessed in acts of extraordinary welcome and generosity by those who have few material goods, in relationship, in laughter, in witnessing to the possibility of hope, in sitting together and listening to one the solidarity of the Heart.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

An Adventure

It isn't as though I don't know that an adventure is coming. I have been making piles for a while now and going over lists. I have purchased what new is needed and found what has been tucked away since the last time. I have washed, folded, selected, bagged, and packed. I have copied documents, checked on a map, read articles, and called or messaged with people who are important to me.

Yet, it is when I removed my keys from my bag and placed them carefully in the center of my dresser this evening that I felt it most deeply in my heart. The thrill of freedom and the wonder of whether the next branch will hold me when I fold my wings for the night. The genuine curiosity to go and see and learn and offer what help I can and the awareness that the keys to some of what I find comforting are not with me in the same way. The feeling of being loose around the edges without the the concrete grounding of keys to a known home and yet believing that there is nothing, nothing. that can separate me from the love of God so shoulder up the satchel of necessaries and head on into discovery and revelation.

Oddly, I am glad for this combination of feelings because it speaks to me of God and of love. I'm not sure I'd be so keen on it if leaving were too easy or if I believed that it didn't matter that I returned...
I am a firm believer in the reality that I am not indispensable... But I also find grace filled consolation in believing that it matters that I return as much as it matters that I leave. Love has taught me that. It is the blending of Remain in me and I will remain in you and go out to all the world and tell the good news.

And so I go this Friday...away for a month...without much if any access to the help an rscj project in another country...and I will be back in August...holding the keys again, but I suspect, entering my home in a different way. And that is part of the adventure.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kindred Company

Of late I have been reading Paul Elie's book, The Life You Save may be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. Hmm...reading, that is not entirely accurate. Savoring it. Sipping it slowly. Feeling it bloom within me, warming me, teasing my senses with hints of something familiar and yet a distinct combination of flavors all its own...

It brings together Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, and Thomas Merton and weaves their stories of faith and the role of writing, conversion and seeking, desire and determination to listen to God within their own experience and beyond.

I was telling my friend last night about this book and how much I was enjoying good it is for my heart to read of them. She added, and to touch a world you understand.

Yes! Yes, exactly. In certain respects, they are each people with whom I can identify...people who could not leave the company of God...people who made conscious choices about God, about their lives of faith, people who moved through life as seekers, not settlers, people for whom the pen is a sacramental and the written word a testament and invitation, a call, a way to help them mediate the fullness of life surrounding.

Two excerpts from my notebook about what I have read so far...

Dorothy Day's motivating desire behind her writing--"to give reason for the faith that is in us..." I LOVE that...and will find a way to use, wall quotation, something. To what end the witness of our lives? To give reason for the faith that is in us, Therefore, live with a fullness and be not afraid. Express, share, own the truth as it is experienced. Discover, reveal, make manifest, the stunning constancy of God in sadness and challenge as well as in joy and easier times. To give reason is not to defend, but to seek to live and to write with such openness, aperture, divine permeability, that it is God's love and the humanity of Jesus in the daily lived reality that is seen, heard, read...

And on Merton and his keeping of a journal...

"The balcony was his outpost, his observation deck, his open-air hermitage. There, his journal, a series of exercises in observing and recalling, thinking and writing, became a religious devotion." AUGH, I love that and I GET that. To so intimately link God and the daily whatnot of living that can be seen for a balcony...and not even ISN'T making the link, it is revealing it...noticing it, allowing it to pierce, pass through, to be, to bloom, to challenge, to change the self... YES!!

In so many ways and for so many reasons, is good to be together with these four for a while... to listen to them and learn from them and know them as kindred souls... The sort of souls for whom Jessica Powers wrote the following, I think...

The Second Giving

The second giving of God is the great giving

out of the portions of the seraphim,

abundances with which the soul is laden

once it has given up all things for Him.

The second growth of God is the rich growing,
with fruits no constant gathering can remove,

the flourishing of those who by God’s mercy

have cut themselves down to the roots of love.

God seeks a heart with bold and boundless hungers
that sees itself and earth as paltry stuff;

God loves a soul that cast down all He gave it

and stands and cries that it was not enough.

Jessica Powers


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Here and There: Cartography.

I recently began reading a book about maps and the influence of cartography on society throughout history. It sounds weighty, but honestly, it is a fascinating and humorously engaging read.

One of the things it has made me think about is the fact that far from the fixed and firm directional tools many maps are today, original maps were much more about relationships. Where is one landmass in relationship to another, where are the edges, where does the wind begin, and where are the monsters. And the people drawing these maps were not the travelers themselves, but those who heard their stories: those who lived in port cities, those who had the means and the tools to draw, those who had the sort of mind that could envision a world far beyond their own experience...those who wondered and dreamed, who were trying to make sense of things. I'm not sure even that accuracy was an aim, at first. It was more about getting something down that might help frame an adventurous, possibly dangerous, exotic and wondrous, whole.

I can't help but think about the awe of first realizing that there is more. And then being able to see it! At least, on papyrus. All of a sudden here could change and there became a possibility. Was that comforting for people? Scary? Inconceivable, heretical, mystical, preposterous?


What a powerful thing that realization can be, though... Even though there is quite possibly unknown, unfamiliar, and not necessarily better or even all that different. For me, knowing about the existence of there is freeing, curiosity piquing, and even, oddly, confirming of my presence in the here. I know of there and yet my being is not there..therefore I am here. For now. Because there is more.

Some of my awareness of this comes from lots of hands on experience beginning at a young age. I have never lived in any one place for more than four sequential years over the course of my life. In my adult life I have also had different opportunities to travel to lands beyond the borders of my known landmass.

Thinking about Eratosthenes who calculated the circumference of the earth with surprising accuracy and limited movement and the maps that are still in existence dating from the 4th century BC China, makes me think about other ways I have come to know of the cartography of relationships. Stories are certainly one of those ways.

Books are welcome maps to new places, new people, new experience...and they allow me to engage my memories and my dreams, my experience and my hopes, my wonders and my marvels. With a flip of the page, I can be there in the book and over there in my mind and here in body. Stories tell me of others who have walked a similar path or chosen differently or might fill in details from someone else's map and help me understand something in a whole new way...find new connections or relationships or forge ahead choosing the way by which fewer have travelled to make my own observations.

Love is another map that teaches me, informs me, and frees me, by relationships. Those times when I have wondered how on earth I will navigate my way through something, love has been the consistent directional. Love has invited me to turn toward the unknown and walk onward. I have trusted in love when it asked me to leave a here because there needed me too and I have been saved by love when here was not good and the way to there unclear.

Hm...this makes me think about the expression You can't get there from here. As someone with a less than crisp edged sense of direction, I can completely understand that position. It has happened to me many a time. But, I also muse on that and wonder if it doesn't make a big difference what map it is that is being used. And, too, the relationship of there to here.

I remember looking at conventional maps as a child and longing to interpret the lines, numbers, symbols...longing to understand. Now, I find myself saying instead, please, walk with me and show me the way. Help me see with a heart of relationship, help me dream of connections and understanding, help me when I wander too far, help me know more of the whole.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Continuation of a series...

Oh Mary (a continuation of a series...)

Oh Mary could you come and cool my eyes...

could you calm my mind with your ripple water lullaby...

could you settle my spirit with a story of would you believe

could you show my soul how to swing with an if you please

Oh Mary could you come in your confident grace and cool…

cool my wild wandering self into colors of peace. 

c. MperiodPress

Friday, June 7, 2013

Feast of the Sacred Heart 2013
Even though I have read the readings that will be proclaimed at today's liturgy, I confess that my thoughts wander from them when I think about the Sacred Heart this year. Time and again, my mind, my senses, return to a path that is scented and stimulating, piquant and curious, colorful, subtle, and mysterious.

It seems that there are images that remain from these last days of new food experiences, new flavors, new metaphors.But nonetheless, they are images not so far removed, I believe, from the Heart.

My life has included all manner of spice...bitter, pungent, freeing, lively, harmonious, faceted, intriguing and upon rare occasion No thank you, never again. I have tasted them, learned from them, and tried to live them in the complexity of their coming together. Sometimes the fullness of their mingling means teasing apart their distinct elements is difficult...but I know that it takes such a combination to yield a richly nuanced whole.

When any one bit is missing or too emphasized...hmm... Well, it makes me think back to the triangles of several days ago. Instead of connecting, or complementing and strengthening the shape, lines and angles might become over run, or left obtuse, acute, or incomplete. Spending time in the kitchen of experience, learning the equilibrium, incorporating newly discovered tastes and subtleties into the heady swirl...this is the art of a nourishing lifetime.

Today, on this Feast of the Sacred Heart, I realize in these new images the wisdom and generosity of God...because ultimately, these flavors all together absolutely work. And the greatest Whole is where they meet in extraordinary fullness...they meet at the harmony of all that is most completely human and gloriously divine...they meet in the Sacred Heart, they meet in Love.
Trusting in the fidelity of God and in the love of my sisters, it is in the name of that Love, desiring to live and share that Love, thankful for that Love given to each one wholly, completely, and without reservation, that I will renew my vows today alongside each rscj in the international Society.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Shape shifting with flavor

The other day I was waxing on about a flavor combination that was new to me...jicama, a mildly sweet tuber that is crunchy and wet, potato-meets-an-apple textured, served with a squeeze of lime juice, and a sprinkle of paprika.

A friend asked, What does the paprika do for it?

Before responding, my mind replayed the experience of eating it. The snappy feel in my mouth, the percolating dance on my tongue, the refreshing fullness of the waterfall I swallowed. How to describe what was happening?

As I was preparing it, I had sampled sticks along the way...plain cold...plain room temperature...cold and and lime...cold lime lime paprika... precisely because I wanted a sense of that very thing for myself. But how to express what I could sense...

It completes the triangle, was what I said to end the pause of my considerations. One side is the crunch and mildly sweet. One side is the tart wet tang. The two together are perfectly fine but pointing in different is an enjoyable combination but somehow left open. The smoke and spice of the paprika adds a third side. Each flavor continues on in its own direction, but they support one another and create a more whole, enirely other, flavor together...something deeper, richer...

In thinking about this idea of a triangle after the phonecall, other instances of this came to me. Writing, no surprise...Rhythm/flow, contour/sound, and grouping/organization. (whether that be friends, actual living community, family), ministry, time alone. The shape of people dancing...arms out, arms at waist, feet. Playing a bowed musical instrument...deep rooted feet, hand holding instrument, hand directing the bow... Considering prayer, I thought about spaciousness, fullness, and aperture...

When I made my way to relationship with God as I was soaking black beans and splashing rice wine vinegar for my next culinary adventure, I chose humanity, divinity, and covenant...

And then realized pleasingly that it is is not so hard to turn a triangle into a heart...




Sunday, May 26, 2013

A trinitarian confluence

I remember learning the meaning of the word confluence as a young summer vacations growing up meant visting both sets of grandparents and some great grand parents in far eastern Ohio, close to the Ohio river. This was the land of KDKA on the radio, Mail Pouch tobacco signs painted on the sides of barns, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is the confluence of the Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela rivers that forms Three River stadium where the Pirates played.

This morning and afternoon brought back some of those childhood memories for a wholly other type of confluence...this one to do with bees, public radio, God, and poetry...among other things.
This morning as I drove back from spending the night in Saint Louis, i listened to an interview on public radio. The person being interviewed referred to poetry as that place where "reality slips" and room is created for us to step in and name more truly, touch more deeply, the essential of what surrounds us. Poetry as the place where the ineffably divine meets what is most real.
With that already dancing in my spirit, I spent time this afternoon in the backyard of a friend's house...a backyard that includes much life and many things that bloom, including a variety of flowering sage. I was captivated by the extraordinary number of bees that honed in on the purple spikes and found myself wanting to be see more intimately what the bees were doing. So, I rolled down my sleeves...and a while later wrote this...
...just spent some long moments with my head as part of the border in a batch of flowering sage, watching the congregation of bees working their way diligently up and down each bees, bumble bees, drones... Because I was sitting on the brick, my head was just level with the flowers and the fifty-plus bees that were in a buzz. It was a uniquely intimate experience to be in the midst of them and not be afraid of being stung. In fact, the bees seemed to know of my presence but skimmed by me, never landing. Moments like this are the same sorts of moments in poetry when reality slips...when I have the chance to take a step into the Great Ineffable through extraordinary connection with what surrounds me...when it is possible to believe again as I did as a child that if I pay close enough attention, I will be afforded a glimpse of the inner life, the inner working, of whatever bit of Glory is the present captivation.
There is divinity within reality and reality can be poetic and the poetic can reveal the divine.
Where divinity, poetry, and reality meet, oh, what a fertile confluence...
Three in one and one in three.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost, 2013 (or, the Coming of the Muse)

Acts Frontispiece from the St. John's Bible

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit / and spoke of the marvels of God.

(Communion antiphon for Liturgy of Pentecost. Acts 2:4,11)

When I was a child, I used to love being intentional about my reading or writing experience. If I was reading a mystery, perhaps I would put a magnifying glass in the satchel that carried the book. If the main character enjoyed a certain food, I would try to approximate it as I read. (Tomato sandwiches come to mind...if you have read Harriet the Spy...). I would carry pens, a feather, pencils, a bottle of india ink that once belonged to my mother, to write...because certain sorts of writing asked for certain writing instruments and I wanted to be prepared.

In some ways, this habit has continued into my adult life. But, it has become more organic...more intuitive...more an integrated part of me... As to what is this IT of which I write and speak and breathe and welcome...I can only call it relationship with Word.

And so it is that the contexts surrounding and filling me as I write on this Pentecost Sunday make for a pleasing coherence. On my left are the original and drafts of a document I have been translating and a page for vocabulary. There are two pens on top, one clicked open, ready for use. On my right, thesauri in two languages, a dictionary, a flopped open missalette, Teilhard de Chardin's Hymn of the Universe, a laminated and by now much travelled image of Jesus given to me in Rome by the director of my long retreat, poems by Pedro Casaldáliga, and a fresh hot mug of coffee ideally dosed with milk. In my heart, I am in Mexico, Indonesia, and Chile. I am in Cuba and Maine and New York, and my friend's kitchen. I am within the warmth of a friend's embrace and walking on the shoulder of a busy road listening to the clack of sticks against a push cart... I am in stillness, I am grounded, I feel free...

On this day when the Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, the story is told with fire, with Word and language, with breath and gift. And I can feel that Story alive within and around me as I listen and respond, as I receive and shape words, as I touch and wonder and learn the contours of ideas. I am intimately aware of and infinitely grateful for the Spirit that inspires me...for the Holy Muse that, according to the Latin, inflames and blows into my being...For I AM becoming the great diversity of ALL THAT IS.

The other day I was asked to give a toast for someone at a book release party. I had never done that before and had only a moment's notice to prepare. It was carried off with apparent success and the effort prompted several people to approach me afterward to ask...How do you DO that? I responded honestly, if with a hint of trepidation...I appeal to the Muse for inspiration and trust in her kindness and generosity. I try to remain open, to listen, and to not take advantage.

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat said, If we have the Holy Spirit, we have everything. I see the coming of the Spirit...the an act of Love, an act of Generosity, Creativity, and elemental Hope. Indeed, what more? If I am open to receiving, if I am open to letting it pass through me as a whisper, rest upon me like fire...what more??

I know something of what that feels like and looks like and it renders me filled with awe when I experience it and am witness to it.

Like those long ago who were all in one place together, I am brought to a clamorous fullness by the great diversity of gifts made manifest in our world that speak in multitudinous ways of the marvels of God.