strike a pose

Look around everywhere you turn it’s heartache.  It’s everywhere that you go.

When you’re a reader it’s not just books that fascinate you.  You read everything, and I mean everything.  The Chinese ladies outside the vegetable markets in San Francisco who push each other out of the way to board the bus, holding those pink plastic bags full of offerings they’ll leave on their front steps with a stick of incense.  The way your daughters lit the candles during Mass, one struggling to reach each wick and the other looking down at her when it was all through as she blew out the taper.  Everything is a story to the reader.

I recently spent the evening with a friend who told me she never reads much into anything, that she was blessed with a bad memory and just let’s it all go.  I wish I was like that!  If you’re an artistic contemplative over-thinking-type reader like me, you just can’t do that.  No, you’ve got to enter into every story, get behind the characters, and feel what they feel, wonder at what they’re doing, go where they go.  It’s exhausting.  And while it’s easy to put down a novel whose characters you don’t like or whose plot repels you for whatever reason, we don’t have this luxury with life.  That’s a story we simply can’t put down.  And I don’t know about you but it’s been a pretty dismal read lately.  A barrage of bad news in the world, in my community and family, in my own heart.  I tell myself all things are passing, but underneath it all it just sounds like Dorothy clicking her heels. [Read more…]

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the true love, the deepest, the only joy

Children are our crop, our fields, our earth. They are birds let loose into darkness. They are errors renewed.

~ James Salter, Light Years

The other evening I could not sleep.  It wasn’t typical of other sleepless nights where I lie awake for an hour and eventually fall back to sleep.  I had this sense of alertness like I was meant to be doing something, like I was meant to rise and start the day.  Only it was pitch dark and completely still.  Three o’clock and then four o’clock turning into five and I tossed about as the rest of the house settled in slumber.  On nights like these, I often imagine God is trying to talk to me only it’s so aggravating because I don’t know what to do or whether what I’m hearing is real or just a confused projection of some subconscious will working its way to the surface.  Suddenly I hear a stirring downstairs and then footsteps on the floorboards coming toward my room.  My oldest daughter has had a nightmare and wants to crawl into my bed.  Still clutching her blanket, she squeezes in next to me and we spoon like best friends, her body as long as mine, heavy with fatigue.  She smells my hair and wraps her arms around me, and even though I am turned towards the wall with knees half out of the bed, I reach around to rest my fingertips against her cheek.  We cling to each other despite the discomfort, and I know then I was meant to be awake for the rest of the night so I could remember this love forever.

 

She was forty-seven. Her hair was rich and beautiful, her hands strong. It seemed that all she had known and read, her children, her friends, things which had at one time been disparate, were quiet at last and had found their place within her. A sense of harvest, of abundance, filled her. She had nothing to do and she waited.

They lay in the holy sun which clothed them, the birds floating over their heads, the sand warm on their ankles, the backs of their legs.  She, too, like Marcel-Maas had arrived. She had arrived at last. A voice of stillness had spoken to her. Like the voice of God, she did not know its source, she only knew she was bidden, which was to taste everything, to see everything with one long, final glance. A calm had come over her, the calm of a great journey ended.

Read to me, she would ask.

In the tall brown grass of the dunes, a pagan couch that overlooked the sea, she sat clasping her knees and listening while Franca read . . .  It was Troyat’s life of Tolstoy, a book like the Bible, so rich in events, in sorrow, in partings, so filled with struggle that strength welled up on every page. The chapters became one’s flesh, one’s own being: the trials washed one clean.  Warm, sheltered from the wind, she listened as Franca’s clear voice described the landscape of Russia, on and on, grew weary at last and stopped. They lay in silence, like lionesses in the dry grass, powerful, sated.

Of them all, it was the true love. Of them all, it was the best. That other, that sumptuous love which made one drunk, which one longed for, envied, believed in, that was not life. It was what life was seeking; it was a suspension of life. But to be close to a child, for whom one spent everything, whose life was protected and nourished by ones own, to have that child beside one, at peace, was the real, the deepest, the only joy. ~ James Salter, Light Years

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desired things

beach,cool,happiness,photography-8fd419a1ed0e99f92530ba9018554ad6_h

Be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by your serenity, make others more tranquil.  Serenity is contagious. ~Satchidananda

This is a simple little poem for sharing.  The Latin word in its title translated means desired things.  It starts out a little rough, gets heavy with didactic advice about midway through, but trust me.  It’s a little bit of lovely in the end.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

MAX EHRMANN, 1927

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories [and poetry] are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman

 

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