Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Thursday, August 8, 2019
I woke up singing ‘Galileo’ by the Indigo Girls. This was followed by eating my breakfast alongside our seemingly despairing cat (read: SNOW JOB...) and brushing her into into peace once again. I dressed, cleaned up after a family staying downstairs, and went out to go for a walk through the Public Gardens. Passing the bus stop, I greeted Anna who attends many of the same poetry events I do. I looped an outer block around the fence line of the Gardens first and encountered a man who is also a regular around-town walker. I’ve only ever seen him in the company of a decorated wooden staff and wondered about what he did with it, I wonder no longer. He was using the end and flipping up litter with the grace and practice of a drum major...one who marches to music I suspect not many others may notice. “Thank you!” I called to him... receiving the most beautiful smile in return. While doing a circuit of the dahlia beds, I met a woman from nearby Sackville who was following nearly exactly in my footsteps. She and I ended up in a fairly lengthy rich conversation about the multi-layered joy of the dahlias and the Gardens in general. We spoke of mathematics and colour, of photography and seasons and history, of urban design and the peace found in nature. My mind was clearly on as much of a wander as my feet because I proceeded to leave the Gardens and follow a couple right on into Thumpers...which would have been fine if I too wanted to get my haircut. I didn’t. Down I went a couple of doors and into Humani-T to work for a bit on correspondence that included looking at a document about a podcast I have begun hosting. I ordered my flat white and went to the washroom. When I came out, the barista—one of two that I’d taught to juggle with apples a couple of weeks ago—had brought my drink to what he thought was my table. There were keys on the table...which weren’t mine. The woman at the next table over said—I don’t know...a guy was there, he left, and he hasn’t been back. I brought the keys up to the counter. The man attached to the keys was at a different table. I came back and chatted with the woman at the next table over...she works in a local children’s bookstore and we see one another around the downtown area.
It continues to fill me with gratitude that a day can begin this way... Colourful, peopled, productive, unexpected...Each aspect highlighting or making manifest an aspect of God... God who is never, ever, boring.
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
18 February, 1931-5 August, 2019
We die. That may be the meaning of life.
But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.
Thank you for your language. The measure you shared is an everlasting gift.
There is another star added to the galaxy, or perhaps even more so, another galaxy added to the universe. The Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison has died. The above quotation of hers is a favourite and it sparked this reflection...
And whether that measure be short or long, I pray it may it be dense with language...with languages.
The language of inclusion...sweeping vistas of hope and broad benches of welcome at tables laden with enough...if we share.
The language of freedom that speaks of the right to leave that person, place, or situation which is unsafe and settle in a new place to begin anew; Syllables of freedom that write the poetry of reality’s expression—whether hip hop, slam, or sonnet, novel, short story, or tweet. The language of each being made in the image and likeness of God.
The language of dignity that honours the questions and curiosities, the asymmetrical, the quirky, the different, and the not understood; The language of patience and of peaceable disagreement.
The language of beauty, of art and creativity. The language that knows the value of silence, study, space, and contemplation. The language of the inside and of insight...of science and music, sculpture, dance, archeology, math, the language that knows the saving power of a story well-told.
The language of love. Of love, of love, of love. Love that is a difficult honour and the language that is glazed in strength and fired in the light no darkness can overcome. The language that speaks of the good for those in love; that describes the good for the community because they are in love; The language of love that recognizes joy and can sit the night with unfathomable mystery because it never forgets how to imagine sunrise.
Let my language be dense, let it be rich, and let me share the wealth of my Word while I still have my breath...spending it all with as much elegant simplicity as possible.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
There is a sound...a sound that opens my being and inhabits my bones for a while...and when that sound...meets a mood...and that mood meets a way to write...the lines fall out a certain way...like a picture of what I feel.
|“Nina Simone” by Stanley Chow|
Tea with Nina Simone
Singer woman with a lived-in voice,
how I ache to climb the steps of those piano keys,
bending into the curve of your voice and
riding upside on the slide of your top note wail.
Mm. From there, that view,
oh I’d throw my arms open and
dive in dancing, I would...
Confident that air would catch
beneath the canopy of my soul.
I will sigh when the song
is done, I will. Sigh
and sip my tea steaming
on the coaster beside me.
Me, in a wingback chair,
eyes closed and heart still swaying
inside that waterfall
of sound and liquid soul.
Kimberly M. King, RSCJ
Thursday, July 18, 2019
A couple from Ireland stopped in front of where I was seated on a bench, having lunch in the shade at the Public Gardens.
“That looks absolutely amazing…,” they said to me of my meal.
I looked up at them.
“Honestly, it is…Every single thing about it is divine. The juice, the colour, the taste, the texture, the context…(I laughed) I am so enjoying the pleasure of my lunch…”
“It’s why we felt like we could stop,” said the wife.
“You looked like you were so happy, simply eating a beautiful plum.”
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
I Carry Vacation with Me
My brain needs space to rest and roam; my heart needs room to feel.
A book in hand is a key to a place where ‘away’ becomes the real.
Wizards, mansions, and moors and trains; detectives, urchins and spies,
this and that and now and then and here and there, all fly.
With a turn of the page, the tuck of a chin, a settling into the chair,
I am elsewhere for a while, I am breathing different air.
So should you see me gazing off and not quite where I appear,
I’ve gone inside this elsewhere place…I’ll be back in a bit, right here.
When you find me, wherever you find me, may it seem when you cast a look
that I am refreshed for the journey I’ve taken with the passport of a book.
Kimberly M. King, RSCJ
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Halifax Public Gardens
It’s textures that captivate me, and colours.
And nature’s infinite compassion
for me still having this idea
that not so secretly pleases my spirit:
if I look long enough, could let go
just so, I’d be on the inside and know
the interiority of a stone, the expansiveness
of blue, and the shiny tingle of perfection
when light and shape and Beingness align.
tend to mind if the eye dwells too long
on a line or a curve,
on a sway or on a softness.
Other wild elements invite me to stillness,
to a looseness of mind and grandeur of heart
that sees the tracery holding panes of divinity
in the molecules that call to me
in the raw spectacle of a garden.
Beauty in the simplest; radiant complexity.
Harmonies to make me weep and contrasts
that leave me breathless and believing still
that being caught-up in wonder is
an ache of the senses and accessible glory.
It is good for the soul
to have a place to wander free,
to behold and be permitted
the revelation of awe.
Kimberly M. King, RSCJ
Saturday, July 6, 2019
Over the years, I keep returning to two quotations... One by Walt Whitman--Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large and I contain multitudes. And this one by Frederick Buechner. Both speak of letting fullness dwell within; of letting what is most real dwell within. And that living with fullness, living with the inner multitudes--our own and those of others, is living a life that knows something of the depth, the honor, the difficulty, of what it is to love.
A visit to Lawrencetown Beach
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.
The news and a walk afford
half-assurance of this truth:
Bombs, borders, detentions,
desperation, aching humanity.
The other portion,
that is our work of discovery.
To believe a shell can hold the sea if I hold her to my ear;
that time has birthed geodes and fossils and you and me;
that simple is both elegant and enough.
And don’t be afraid.
Of either. Beautiful or terrible.
And how could I,
here with you, not alone.
With the sky and the tides and open horizon.
With apples and strawberries
and clean cold water for lunch;
with laughter and music and a road with a view;
with the lived truth that weighs in pockets: Beautiful and Terrible;
and with unafraid hearts that have heard the ocean tumble across the stones.
Have heard her tumble and found her sublime.
Have felt the grit and the smooth she leaves
and tasted her on the wind.
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible.
—Kimberly M. King, RSCJ
Friday, June 21, 2019
19 June, 2019...In the heady coffee-cinnamon humidity of No. 9 Coffeeshop. Paul Simon overhead. Your colours were a brief and glorious glimpse of flair this morning. The peach gradient on the horizon, rather spectacular. And the clouds and trees upon the water—as though they needed a reflection to adjust night flattened branches or to fresh fluff their vapor in preparation for the new day. And thank you for the company of the woman to my right who also has a book and seems quietly pleased for the caffeinated, sweet spiced, stillness we share.
20 June, 2019... 7:50 AM Public Gardens on a bench at the Summer Street side point of a triangle using the large gazebo and Horticulture Hall as the other two points. Something I have noticed: People stop to talk to the ducks who search out their breakfast in the dew-cool grasses. And, I am one of them. I am interested in the fact that these wobbly diners choose to walk beneath the benches and not around them. So it was again this morning when two females brushed by my ankle with only a slight rolling crunch of pea gravel beneath their paddlers and the gentle-edged mur-mur-mur-mur of each one offering aloud her private morning commentary without expectation of a response from the other. The first one turned to look at me—She had a curly blade of grass across her beak. Condensation had stuck it there like a handlebar moustache. I thought to mention it to her as she tilted her head in assessment of my presence. Apparently I posed no threat and she was content with her adornment because the two of them waddled out a place for themselves in the grass directly across from me. When I stood to leave, I thanked them for their company.
21 June, 2019...Pouring rain...thought ‘Ugh,´ if I don´t leave the house now, I´ll never go out today... So off I went on a circuit of the Gardens and then into one of my favorite haunts. I walk in to witness two of the baristas teaching themselves how to juggle with sweet potatoes. Me: If you have apples it’s easier... The two of them: You can juggle?? WAIT, Here! And they toss me three apples. The next fifteen minutes or so are filled with laughter and a lesson on the basic principles of juggling. And then I sat down and did some work... The world is full of fresh hells and is unraveling at so many seams...yet, there is still joy to be noted and simple good fun to be had while working to make it better for more.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Several mornings of my recent retreat were spent on a wharf in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I was drawn there for the spacious quiet, for the water, the horizon, the creak of the pilings and cries of the birds, and, honestly, the comfortable chairs close enough to the edge to prop up my short legs and with arms wide enough for a notebook. The sun was warm, the boat traffic local, the peace expansive… It was a satisfying perch. The pleasing “protractor gone mad” angles of the boats, their masts, and their rigging; the angles of the wharf itself, the size and bright colours of the chairs, the warmth in which I was steeping…it all served to both ground and free me. This was helped along by the book I was reading—Saudade by Anik See. So far, each one of these beautifully bound essays has reminded me of the smooth pocket-stones I carry with me. Weighty, present, solid, company. Each one has a story to go with it, each one has its place. Just as my hand is sometimes drawn to hold a particular one of the stones at a given moment, I selected a particular essay to read one of the mornings at the wharf. Little could I have known ahead of time the ache of beauty and aha and YES! that would tumble my heart like ocean water burnishing sea glass.
The essay, “Squeezing a Spiral into a Square Hole,” has to do with proportion, design, what is organically pleasing, and the artistry of that.
The easiest way to picture the golden section in nature is to imagine the cross-section of a nautilus shell, growing outward neatly; beautifully in proportion to the previous later of spiral. It is this relationship that is ever appealing to us, wither in the form of the human body or in musical scales, or in the relationship of text to a page. Bringhurst’s discussion of the golden section is crucial to the understanding of design, and why certain things work and others don’t. In other words, if double-square books (i.e. books whose width-length proportion us 1:2) look good to you, it’s probably because the relationship of proportion is the same relationship as found between the notes of a simple octave: a primary ‘visual chord’ has been created, according to Bringhurst. Anik See, “Squeezing a Spiral into a Square Hole” Saudade, P. 67-8
A ‘primary visual chord!’ How I delight in the mixing of the senses there! And, how easy to translate that into primary flavour chords in cooking; primary rhythmic chords created through sentence structure; primary aural chords in line break choices when writing poetry…. Again and again, the call to pay attention. To be absolutely present and keenly aware of the effect desired, the effect achieved… yet,
In choosing the proportions of type and spacing, as well as the proportions of the page, a harmony should be suggestive, not obvious. Anik See, “Squeezing a Spiral into a Square Hole” Saudade, P. 69
Again, so broadly applicable. I think there’s a reason limericks are only five lines long. They can be wonderful nuggets of humour and yet are also exceedingly obvious in rhythm and rhyme scheme. Milk and mashed potatoes harmonize obviously. Paprika and balsamic vinegar in right relationship—who’d have guessed?? Yet, beautiful flavour emerges from that dance.
The key…the struggle…the fun of the process…is the right relationship piece of artistic creation…
A good design will mix math and spontaneity, exactness and free-hand proportions, because the eye needs to be directed, but it also needs to have room to wander so it doesn’t feel manipulated or stuck. Anik See, “Squeezing a Spiral into a Square Hole,” Saudade, P. 69
So too the ear, the tastebuds…and it occurred to me out there on the wharf…so too the heart, the Spirit…And Glory, doesn’t God provide for that…the golden section that is the spiralling out of life, of gift, of experience, wonder, awe, challenge, Love, pain, suffering, discovery, revelation, giving, receiving, dying, rising…. And sometimes we need to find ourselves somewhere other than where we usually are to notice, to take that in…to again tune our senses to the divine octave at play in creation.
This came to me just before I put the bookmark in, packed my bag, rose from the bright green chair on the wharf and noticed that there was a jellyfish in the water…. I can’t tell you for exactly how long I knelt there, captivated, watching it pulse, scrunch, move…pulse, scrunch, move…rest…rest…rest…pulse, scrunch, move… making music I could see and making it with calculation and grace alike...with no discernible direction and undeniable purpose.
The precision has to slip away so that what matters most is the text or image on the page. It is exactly like jazz. It bops and squeals and roils and you play or listen and beam, but you never, ever, ask how it’s done. That knowledge—that part of the process is long past and you are entirely satisfied just being there to put your fingers on it, to listen, or look, or read: to appreciate it. Anik See, “Squeezing a Spiral into a Square Hole” Saudade, P. 71-2
And I thought about the Psalmist who wrote of the Inescapable God… What I know is that you made me, you are with me, you encircle me, no matter where, no matter what, you Are…the holy and mysterious golden proportion of Love…and that knowledge is beautiful and just a bit overwhelming. And I am grateful.
Monday, June 17, 2019
We come as we are—no hiding, no acting, no fear. We come with our materialism, our pride, our petty grievances against our neighbours, our hypocritical disdain for those judgmental people in the church next door. We come with our fear of death, our desperation to be loved, our troubled marriages, our persistent doubts, our preoccupation with status and image. We come with our addictions—to substances, to work, to affirmation, to control, to food. we come with our differences; be they political, theological, racial, or socioeconomic. We come in search of sanctuary, a safe place to shed the masks and exhale.
Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 71
Sanctuary of place and person-
A refuge of perspective
on infinite You.
A new slant of light,
a peripheral humming
toward which I bend in bright fascination
of always and everywhere You;
of the tousled and wild diversity
that is You;
You who named each one,
who claims each one,
who loves and loves again and loves still.
You who knows each contour, texture,
and elemental specificity of creation
and calls it all good.
You, whose beckon and draw
is the metronome by which
I rest and journey.
You, the moon and sun alike—
You, whose shadow
is both cross and wing.
Sanctuary people, sanctuary spaces:
both respite and threshold
from the journey and between forgetting and remembering
that you named us Beloved;
that all you made is Blessed;
that this is enough, and we are not alone.
Kimberly M. King, RSCJ
Friday, June 7, 2019
Here in Halifax, and elsewhere, it has been a grey stretch of time, these last months. Grey and rain; grey and fog; grey and something between rain and fog; Grey.
Yet still the Public Gardens green and bloom in technicolor because that is what trees, flowers, and plants are called to do. And in fact, the grey watery light helps those colours stand out in greater relief. I believe that an awareness of that, the salvation of that, has been important these weeks, locally and more widely afield. In this world that is such a mess globally…a little grey-light dampness helps highlight even the smallest shoot or bud or action or person that holds the startling promise of contrast, beauty, life, Spirit. Trees, bulbs, seeds, acting out of their fullness of purpose, make that manifest. Humans too…
The difference being that we need to choose it: choose to act out of that fullness of purpose. And it seems to me, as a person of faith, that purpose is Love. Which looks like decency; justice; compassion; solidarity; honesty; respect; openness; and more… toward God, toward Earth, toward one another.
I was thinking about that this morning as I left the house in the droplet thick half-light to walk through the Public Gardens. I thanked the trees for my breath; I thanked them for the shelter they provide; and for their steadfast solidity. I admired the rose vine’s gentle embrace of the light pole and the way that the begonias held onto fine mist, leaving each petal laden with prismatic jewels.
And as I walked I gave thanks for the people I know and those I haven’t yet met who wake up in this world and decide that even a few slogging steps forward toward something other than the current miasma is, in fact, forward, and that making a positive difference is possible…and can look like a world-wide movement or a smile to a stranger…can be radical protest or scratching the ears of a dog who decided to sit on your feet.