In a world with so much conflict, let there be small rays of hope we can each feel and share.
Monthly Archives: July 2014
I enjoy indigenous myths and legends. They connect humans in the world they live in and attempt to make sense of the natural phenomena occurring around us. Science is not able to provide full explanations and good scientists acknowledge this. Sedna was a story I shared with students when I taught. It provided considerable food for thought, particularly for those students who held science as being absolute. Stories are the human way of making sense of the world and its natural phenomena.
We live in a world of strictly held ideologies. I know some might argue the ideologies are theologies, but I wonder about theologies allowing and promoting killing each other. Several years ago in a conversation, my mother questioned a point I made about a conflict. I responded I was not on anyone’s side, but I am opposed to war in general.
I oppose war and killing, but it does not mean life is easy. It is not an unreal ideal. It suggests I come to terms with a world fraught with failure and difference holding promises of alliances of hope and love. I think it is not so much coming to terms with, but coming to terms in the world. Coming to terms with proposes I live outside humane relationships. Living in the world is alliances and relationships forming beginning in me.
Maya Stein’s poem suggests these alliances require courage and used brave. Brave comes from a word meaning valiant, courageous, untamed. Courage comes from the same word as heart. In this heart and in this world, I search and research attempting beauty and hope. I wend my way in the moment-to-moment journey seeking answers to Mary Oliver’s question: “what is it you plan to do [in] your one wild and precious life?” This suggests a quality in life and alliances which is not tameable, but perhaps I do not want to tame it. It is in wildness it offers more,
“You have to make an alliance with your anguish,” he said,
“not wage war against it.” And I thought of all the fists
I had shaken at misfortune: games lost
because the shot clock ran out,
a good meal scorched in a forgotten oven,
money dropped on a dress worn only once,
the bully in 6th grade, the math test in 9th,
the wrong outfit at Halloween.
But of course, this isn’t what he meant.
If I were brave enough, I’d tell you how my heart
has raged for love, stretched thin as a high wire.
If I were brave enough, I’d tell you
how my body has been fighting to stay upright
on every precipitous downhill the city
throws at it. If I were brave enough,
I’d climb into your lap and weep with longing.
All I can say is that any attempt at beauty and hope
is land-mined with failure.
And so the perilous track-making begins.
Wending our way through,
there are possible clutches at sunlight, at windows, at yes.
We are each of us inches from death.
We are each of us inches from life.
We are each of us inches from one another.
I listened to the Blues early in life and developed a love for the blues in its many forms. I saw Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker in concert very early and they were thrilling experiences. Willie Dixon was supposed to have said that the Blues is the roots and the rest is the fruits. I find the Blues embedded in much of the music I listen to today.
“Blues is not a dream. Blues is truth.”
Soul Down and Mashed
My daddy used
to do it,
my uncle too.
Sing the blues
in that way:
slow beat to throat
moving like a ghost,
a woman riding night,
a man right beside;
soul down and mashed,
touching more than
is a face to tell. A light
touch sparks that
an ear awakens, hears –
a jackdaw’s screech,
clear and crisp: stops
and listens to this old
man on the bayou
sing and play the delta blues.
Knowing and Doing
We lived down
back in the big green,
where there ain’t
but a few ole coons,
or two; but let
me tell you, there’s something
like no other place:
with a certain
and heavy, a living
from knowing and doing,
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The Camus quote pointed out the paradox we live with without always being aware of it. Is the world indifferent? Or is it different? Perhaps, it is our indifference to the world that causes the world’s indifference? There are usually more question than answers.
I am not sure which Mary Gray wrote this poem. I found it, enjoyed it, and wanted to share it with others.
The poem has a Mary Oliver quality to it. Something speaks to us when we give it time and space. When we listen carefully, the wind blows through the grass giving its a voice we hear when we slow down resting our head on the ground. Humbling ourselves, we are closer to the voices of small things, the dankness of humus (the root word for human and humility), and the friendliness of weeds in our life.
As children, we often forgot our names losing ourselves in precious moments in a world larger than we were. It enveloped us and everything it revealed was wondrous. We recall running with outreached hands into the world, its silence, its disarray, and the inviting of small things in the grass which were more at our level. I remember the ladybugs, spiders, ants, etc. which were smaller than I was, entranced by them and by all that was immense. It was in those moments I was wise as I listened in ways that sometimes escape me as an adult.
When I am wise in the speech of the grass,
I forget the sound of words
and walk into the bottomland
and lie with my head on the ground
and listen to what grass tells me
and small places for wind to sing,
about the labor of insects,
about shadows dank with spice,
and the friendliness of weeds.
When I am wise in the dance of grass,
I forget my name and run
into the rippling bottomland
and lean against the silence which flows
out of the crumpled mountains
and rises through slick blades, pods,
wheat stems, and curly shoots,
and is carried by wind for miles
from my outstretched hands.
We each have our own path and need to work on what that means in each present moment. A journey is without actual destination. It is a graceful dance where we move forward and arrive in each particular moment.
Yesterday my car was parked out front and it was run into. The damage is to one door and the car still runs. What was impressive was the fellow who ran into came to the door and told me about it. He took responsibility for what had happened. I thanked him and today, when I spoke to his boss, I shared my appreciation for his gesture. It is in the simple daily acts that we meet each other face-to-face. Ideologies and theologies are set aside. The word journey comes from the French journée meaning the events and activities during the day (jour). These are spaces we see and greet the other as human, being responsible for them. There is no government, no media, no agenda. It is just us in each other’s presence.
Have you noticed of late, the reaching out by others to spread the love? Perhaps it is the chaotic tempo of world affairs. It could be we realize part of us, as a culture, as an individual, is going numb with the overload of depressing events. Couple that with an inner sense that we are being played on many levels and we are reverting toward, digging back down toward basic truths and values.
One of those is reaching out to help those around you. I see a sincere sharing of positive energy. Not the flower child, glassy eyed mantras of the 60’s (yes I was alive then) but rather mature, seasoned, real love. Shared for the betterment of those we touch…for no other purpose than we know, now, at our core that we must do this at a one on one level to stay human, to stay at inner peace…
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I mentioned in The Wild Rose I am reading Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry. I read this poem several times over the last few months trying to make sense of it. At first, I thought it was a personal and it begins that way. Gary Snyder describes his work teaching his son to throw an axe and shaping the axe handle to fit the work.
As I reflected on the poem, I realized it is about important traditions passed from parents to children. We hone and polish what we wish to retain forming the axe handle. It is a handle for us and our children which provides security as we polish and remove the unwanted.
Most of the time, we are unaware of the work we do without taking time and reflecting. In those moments, we realize what changes, what remains, and what is added knowing each generation makes its own adjustments.
To do it well, we mindfully and attentively approach the work remaining fully present.
One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
“When making an axe handle
the pattern is not far off.”
And I say this to Kai
“Look: We’ll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with-”
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It’s in Lu Ji’s Wen Fu, fourth century
A.D. “Essay on Literature”-in the
Preface: “In making the handle Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand.-
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.
When I did my undergrad degree, I took a special education course. The major take away from the class was humans have more that binds them together, more in common than what makes us different. We lose track of this in our rush to hold onto ideologies and belief systems that deny our similarities. When we see the other as a neighbour, we can sustain breaths in an atmosphere without borders.
I wrote these words some time ago (http://luggagelady.net/2012/12/16/we-are-one/) but reposted the piece on my facebook page after last week’s heartbreaking airline tragedy. What happened from there was magical. A dear high school friend contacted me, asking to embed my poem onto her exquisite jewelry website. I replied with a resounding “YES!” and promptly added her lovely creation to a flight attendant networking site: https://www.facebook.com/aflyguyslounge under “Love Letters to Malaysia Airlines.” (Please take a peek if you’re able as I believe the gracious sentiments from airlines worldwide will put a smile in your heart.)
Whether united by wings, artistic endeavors, or sheer compassion — we traverse this globe together — hearts overlapping… 💞