Monday, October 30, 2017

And I am its monk

Rain Travelling

A couple of light-happy plants;
a wingback chair with a library’s worth
of history and character;
Books and paper and ink
and windows, yes, 
windows onto the sea.
A bed in a corner and blankets
brought in from a clothesline.
A prowly cat who comes home
with stories and seedpods
caught in her fur.
The imagination is my monastery
and I am its monk. (John Keats)

Kimberly M. King, RSCJ

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Touching the World

A friend of mine posted this quotation on Facebook yesterday...

~We never know when we will blossom
into what we’re supposed to be. It might
be early. It might be late. It might be after
thirty years of failing at a misguided way.
Or the very first time we dare to shed
our mental skin and touch the world.~ 

—Mark Nepo—

 The line about daring to shed our mental skin and touching the world opened wide and welcomed me in.  Story after story after story came to the memory of my heart...of times both when I chose to touch the world and times when circumstances chose for me.  Times when flight seemed possible and times when the ground gave way beneath me... and the Love that was there, always there.

Touching the World

When we dare
to shed our mental skin
and touch the world,
All is open and all is 
such a nearness...

And it looks like daffodils given to a first crush,
like a love letter written with tumbling haste;
And it feels like a knock on the door,
like a thousand sighs in flight;
And it tastes of shame and honesty,
of an herb that heals from the inside out;
And it smells of sun dried sheets,
of soup kitchens and church. 
And it sounds like a man unafraid to die,
like the inward arcing contours of  poetry .

When we shed our mental skin and dare
to touch the world, we get a sense,
enough to sustain us,
of what, oh glory,  it will be,
at Home, at last, all embracing.

—Kimberly M. King, RSCJ

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Feel Profoundly, Live Poetically

I was asked earlier this week to offer a reflection for the general meeting of the alumnae/alumni association for the Sacred Heart School of Halifax that took place last night.  The idea was to lead into Saturday when there would be a talk on each of the calls of General Chapter 2016 and do this with a sense of past, present, future.

I thought the result would work for a blogpost too so I offer it here.

NOTE: ~ ~ denotes a quotation from the article I was reading.


Someone once asked me about my creative process.  I believe the actual question was the honest, if blunt, “How do you DO that?” I answered—I appeal to the Muse, the Spirit, for inspiration and trust in her kindness and generosity.  I try to remain open, to listen, and not to take advantage.

Such was the process this past Tuesday afternoon when a certain PPIINNG broke through a serendipitous bit of reading on-line.  There was the Facebook message inviting me to offer a thought or three today.  Once we’d worked through my initial “Um.  Sure?  Some context would be helpful…” and I’d clicked close, I looked afresh at the article I had been reading about ee cummings.

Thank you, Muse; Thank you Holy Spirit; for always having my back.

In this article from the online journal Brain Pickings, Maria Popova includes several excerpts from a collection of cummings’ essays. 

~Almost anybody can learn to think, or believe, or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel.  Why?  Because whenever you think or you believe, or you know, you’re a lot of other people:  but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.~

~The moment you feel…you’re nobody-but-yourself.~  The moment we feel…we begin to flesh-out the call we each have to be who we were created to be.  The moment we allow ourselves to interact in a heart-centered, bone-deep, intimately, inextricably, organic way with our world and are affected by that, made vulnerable, by that…then we begin to become Ourselves, uniquely and divinely, with a measure of glory and sometimes a measure of mess. 

Considering this had me look at the relationship between feeling—this Becoming—and emotion-the expression of feeling.  Turns out, the word emotion comes from the middle French—to set in motion. So, when we feel and lay claim to the call of who we are—heart-bone-mind-spirit-intimate-vulnerable-in relationship-in the midst of This World of ours—we set ourselves in motion, that is, we act. We participate.  We influence and affect. One way or another.

What we…or the world…thinks, believes, or knows, changes over the course of time.  And sometimes over just a short time, in the grand scheme.  New discoveries are made, new truths are revealed, new beliefs develop based on new experience…but the process of interacting honorably with the new, the process of contemplation, feeling, being uniquely in motion, open, vulnerable, willing to change…the process of learning to Love… within the context of whatever is most real in the world wherever each one is…that is as old as creation itself.

ee cummings’ way of looking at this was a new and refreshingly startling way for me to consider that when we feel, we are engaged in an expression of the unique relationship we each have with God.  How incredible to allow myself to feel—not only think, know, and believe— the idea that being made in the image and likeness of God is something that goes so far beyond the physicality of my humanity that I see in the mirror and reflected all around me, in you, in the trees, in the textures and colors … 

He goes on to write, ~to be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle a human being can fight; and never stop fighting…. If at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.~

It is hard work to offer our line to the world…to allow ourselves to feel and to use what we know, believe, and think in ways that are good for the world. It is hard… and perhaps like some of you here, sometimes…sometimes I don’t feel. The motions are there. But the contemplation, the vulnerability, the realizing of implication and responsibility and going forward anyway…sometimes that is not there. And what I put forth is not out of my fullness, the plenitude of God’s unique inspiration for me to offer to the world for good, for Love…an offering that helps make it okay for others to live out of their fullness too.

If I am not feeling…is it because I am overwhelmed? There is too much of a muchness happening in our world?  Perhaps that is a call to create silence, a space of respite, a welcome spaciousness…

If I am not feeling…is it because I believe myself to be unaffected by plaguing realities in our world—realities like hunger, poverty, climate change, war, violence, massive displacement of people… Well, maybe that is a call to be and act increasingly as One Body…to be in solidarity and allow ourselves to feel the weight of someone’s truth and be affected by it…to work for justice and reconciliation…and to feel the commonness of our humanity which does nothing to diminish its greatness.

Am I afraid to feel?  Perhaps my boundaries need expanding… a call to new frontiers that challenge me to grow in freedom, grow in relationship…

Is it that I have grown numb with all that bombards my senses and sensibilities? What a call to live more humanly…to live into the vulnerable glory, confusion, and wonder of what that could mean.  To live open to Love.

~(love’s a universe beyond obey/or command, reality or un-)~

~love is a place / & through this place of/love move / (with brightness of peace) / all places.~


~A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses [her] feelings through words.~

Perhaps it could be said, then, by extension, that a member of the Sacred Heart family is one who feels and who expresses their nobody-but-yourself-ness through making a positive difference in this terrifically needy world.

What is taught, known, thought, believed, might have changed…might be changing…but the call to be fully, obviously, who we are created to be by God in order to make a positive difference, has not. 

Small scale or large…limerick, sonnet, or haiku…

Let us feel profoundly; let us live poetically…

Cummings said… ~This may sound easy.  It isn’t….Does that sound dismal?  It isn’t.~

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Longing, the Universe, Cinnamon, and You

Photo used with permission  of Denise Pyles
When I was in undergrad, I had not yet joined the Catholic church. I was in the midst of learning a whole new vocabulary for my relationship with God and a friend  told me that the church just off of campus was open late into the evening and perhaps I would enjoy going over there to sit and pray in the quiet stillness.
I remember well exploring different aspects of St. Thomas'.  I would trace the smooth spirals in the ends of the pews and marvel at the worn wooden statue of Mary that had such a kind, human face to her.  I remember the slightly spicy, waxy smell and the feeling of nearness.  And, I remember finding the book.  There was a place to write to God!  I thought this was fantastic.  

I wrote pages and pages in this book over the course of my evening visits.  Only later did I realize that the book was actually the community book of petitions... 

Truth be told, though...even today, sometimes the only thing I know to do with how I feel is to write to God…

Longing, the Universe, Cinnamon, and You.

There are times I ache

when beauty presents herself…

When she surprises me

with her seasonal finery

stitched of colors and textures

too astounding for store-bought.

When she sighs and loosens and fills

acts of simple human kindness,

the touch of another that grounds,

that reminds, that knows and that sees.

And sometimes,

sometimes the ache spills over

into syllables on a page, into a tear

on a salt path home to the ocean,

into a feeling woven gently

of longing and the universe and

cinnamon and you.

Kimberly M. King, RSCJ

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fully Alive

On December 4th, 2015 I wrote a piece in response to a mass shooting in San Bernadino. 

Sadly, I can't even cry out "UNBELIEVABLE." Because it isn't at all unbelievable.

And yet we wonder.  We consistently wonder and act surprised.  Or worse, accept these shootings as a part of our reality, as part of the price we pay for the right to own a gun. 

It was this entry that I referenced about six months later when writing about the shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. 

Before this, there was Sandy Hook and Columbine and Charley Hebdo and many others.
And between then and now, there have been I don’t even know how many other instances all around the world of people deciding that a gun…or a car…or a knife…or a bomb… will make for a bigger voice than they will ever have on their own, a voice that yells down, that strikes fear, that suffocates the life, out of others.

It’s easier, somehow, to believe that this sort of behavior happens when someone is ‘radicalized’ by a cause or movement.  That left to his or her own devices, this behavior wouldn’t happen.

Nearly 60 people were killed in Las Vegas last evening by a single man whose family said there was no reason to believe he’d ever do something like that.
And yet, he did. 

How many of us would say of our children, our relatives, our students, who will grow up to be lawyers, judges, police officers… there’s no reason to believe that they are racist.  That they are prejudiced. That they will shoot to kill someone who is unarmed, that they will acquit against proof to the contrary, that they will run their car into counter-protestors at a white supremacy rally?  

And yet, it happens.  With frightening regularity.

Prayers were offered to the families of victims who died in Las Vegas by governmental leadership who can’t see fit to change gun-control laws.  

NFL players who bend a knee at the National Anthem in protest of the prejudicial actions of law enforcement are scorned.  One is even publically referred to as a son of a b****. by the highest elected official in the United States.

And we try to make sense of it all.

Sadly, I think there’s none to be made.

For me, the salvation is that it doesn’t need to make sense now for me to believe that something better is possible.  If I give up wrestling with sense making, I can put that energy into the only thing I know for sure. 


And love makes no sense either, really.  Not the way we are called to live it.

But that’s just it.

According to my faith tradition, the glory of God is the human being fully alive. (Saint Irenaeus)

Love is something we are called to live.  We need to be alive to do it.  Alive together. Alive in diversity of perspective.  Alive in hope. Alive in faith.  Alive in moving forward. Alive in fullness and freedom. Alive.

I help you live and you help our neighbor and the neighbor knows someone in the next village over, the apartment building down the street, and is in touch with the guy on the corner.

Together we hold the tension.  Together we make space for us all…Which is making space for the Glory of God.  Through Love.