RSS Feed

Tag Archives: May Sarton

An Observation

We live in paradox in the world. Parker Palmer uses May Sarton‘s poetry in his writing to bring this point to life. It is hard to be sensitive and being gentle requires a certain toughness.

Since I arrived home, I have read more than I have written. In part, I am exploring the aesthetic qualities that life shares with us. There are qualities that allow us to live in the world in ways that we do not bruise or wound the hidden fruit. Yet, we are left with scars in that work  forever making us stronger when we are not wearing gloves. The paradox of life is gives us strength and sureness and, at the same, we are tender and vulnerable.

Teaching, and for that matter any pedagogic work, requires that sensitivity. It is always rough as there is no how-to-manual. We learn this work through the tact and sensitivity of the work itself, reflecting more on what goes well as opposed to what goes well in pedagogic forming. We come to be observant, patient, and see the particular of each situation revealed in the universal.

True gardeners cannot bear a glove
Between the sure touch and the tender root,
Must let their hands grow knotted as they move
With a rough sensitivity about
Under the earth, between the rock and shoot,
Never to bruise or wound the hidden fruit.
And so I watched my mother’s hands grow scarred,
She who could heal the wounded plant or friend
With the same vulnerable yet rigorous love;
I minded once to see her beauty gnarled,
But now her truth is given me to live,
As I learn for myself we must be hard
To move among the tender with an open hand,
And to stay sensitive up to the end
Pay with some toughness for a gentle world.

A Glass of Water

When we used to go to the farm, one treat was drinking the well water. It was always cool and sweet in the truck when we hayed. It was better than champagne.

If we traveled on from the farm, we sometimes took well water. It meant we had water if we stopped for lunch or needed it in the car.

May Sarton wrote about water’s beauty. The poem reminded me how I take some things for granted and overlook their extraordinary nature. When I take time and am mindful, the sweetness is revealed.

Here is a glass of water from my well.
It tastes of rock and root and earth and rain;
It is the best I have, my only spell,
And it is cold, and better than champagne.
Perhaps someone will pass this house one day
To drink, and be restored, and go his way,
Someone in dark confusion as I was
When I drank down cold water in a glass,
Drank a transparent health to keep me sane,
After the bitter mood had gone again.

Now I Become Myself

We had a very good day. We are beginning to say good-bye. It has taken many years for me to reach this place. As May Sarton suggested, I ran madly many times seeming to think that busyness was the order of the day. Or I wore the faces of other people. I think these faces were often mine, but that they masked the real me. It was hard to let the guard down and be my self at times. It is easier and easier and I can stand still right here in this moment and now in this moment. Ah, what a feeling.

Now I become myself. It’s taken

Time, many years and places;

I have been dissolved and shaken,

Worn other people’s faces,

Run madly, as if Time were there,

Terribly old, crying a warning,

“Hurry, you will be dead before—”

(What? Before you reach the morning?

Or the end of the poem is clear?

Or love safe in the walled city?)

Now to stand still, to be here,

Feel my own weight and density!

The black shadow on the paper

Is my hand; the shadow of a word

As thought shapes the shaper

Falls heavy on the page, is heard.

All fuses now, falls into place

From wish to action, word to silence,

My work, my love, my time, my face

Gathered into one intense

Gesture of growing like a plant.

As slowly as the ripening fruit

Fertile, detached, and always spent,

Falls but does not exhaust the root,

So all the poem is, can give,

Grows in me to become the song,

Made so and rooted by love.

Now there is time and Time is young.

O, in this single hour I live

All of myself and do not move.

I, the pursued, who madly ran,

Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Beyond Questions

I close my week with this wonderful poem by May Sarton. As I reflect on the week passed, I hope I am left with more questions than answers and the time to luxuriate in the space between the question and answer. I noticed today and yesterday, when I pause and let go, my monkey mind chatter is greatly reduced. It has been helpful.

The phoebe sits on her nest

Hour after hour,

Day after day,

Waiting for life to burst out

From under her warmth.

Can I wave a nest for silence,

Weave it out of listening,

Listening,

Layer upon layer?

But one must first become small,

Nothing but a presence

Attentive as a nesting bird,

Proffering no slightest wish

Toward anything that might happen

Or be given,

Only the warmth, faithful waiting,

Contained in one’s smallness.

Beyond the question, the silence.

Before the answer, the silence.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,728 other followers

%d bloggers like this: