Come with Me On this year’s journey Mindful of My love Pausing often As we meet in silence Self to self Soul to soul Invest in others Open your heart Never fear
I imagine a young girl Who today might be excited To start high school. I imagine a young girl Who back then was excited To be betrothed. She was a good girl Far from perfect But plenty good enough A pretty girl Far from stunning But plenty pretty enough A devout girl Far from saintly But plenty devout enough A happy girl Far from trouble-free But plenty happy enough A loved girl Far from worshipped But plenty loved enough A simple girl Far from stupid But just a simple girl Who looked forward to marriage And, please God, making babies With her young husband Until she became a surprised girl “Full of grace” God’s messenger said What could that mean? Then Gabriel explained And Mary of Nazareth Became Theotokos. But Gabriel left Returning to God’s glory Leaving her to explain The unexplainable Unimaginable miracle That would look like sin And the pregnant virgin Fled to her cousin Elizabeth the barren Who was also with child.
For years I taught facts And brought bright light of knowledge To many students The mistake we made I made Through most of those years Was simply this: I assumed knowledge was a collection of facts And truth was a sufficiently large collection of knowledge I completely forgot Santayana’s insight: “Knowledge is a torch of smokey pine That lights the path but one dim step ahead It is by faith alone that we are led Unto the thinking of the thought divine” (I should look that up because I am certain to have made mistakes in the exact wording but instead I shall carry on, beyond facts to insight.) I did shine a bright light A surgical light On needed knowledge Valued knowledge (And I am comforted now to remember that some of my students will have used that knowledge in their oeuvre saving others.) But oh how I wish I had remembered To also teach them to squint Beyond the bright light Into the whole dark delightful universe Of unknowing.
A sunny December day Blue sky Trees showing their bones Brown leaves Hug the ground But also Yesterday Misty cold rain A miserable day To many But to me A sign Nature loves nature Speaks to itself Nurtures itself With rain no less than sun With cold no less than warmth With dying no less than borning How fortunate we are How blessed To have nature’s sure signs Of the infinity and variety of love
Let us move beyond The harsh light of theology Let us live beyond The eternal devastation of sin Let us rest beyond The ceaseless demands of religion Let us believe beyond The certainty of knowledge Let us love beyond The ugliness of indifference Let us see beyond The darkness of now Queen of the Underworld Dark mother of my soul Protect me from the hard glare Of the overlord of this world Grant me night vision To see your soft blessings
I fear heaven “We shall not all die But we shall all be changed” We are promised Happy always…No sin Blissful always…No troubles Joyous always…No disappointments Peaceful always…No vexations Wait…no vexations? You mean to tell me I won’t worry any more? No more strategizing how To help my husband maneuver stairs With his bad knee No more holding Carol, helpless As she cries for her dying ex-husband No more catching the doctor’s eye To shake my head as her patient My mom Exaggerates a minor problem Then catch myself and wonder Why do I think I have to correct When she has been my mother’s doctor For more than 20 years No more of my daily concerns No more grocery shopping And coming home to realize I went out for 3 things Came home with 12 And forgot one of the 3 things I went for Just happiness and bliss Joy and peace I am sure some entity Divine no doubt Will be eternally happy there I am also sure it will not be Anything resembling this me That I hold on to Perhaps too closely
If eternity were but endless time how frightening how unattractive how pointless it would be If eternity were always now how boring how stagnant how wretched it would be How how how can mind grasp or spirit crave Time that does not move Now that does not stagnate When I have no more tomorrows Will I remember all my yesterdays?
Marijuana can help But is by no means a sure thing Alcohol is useless At least for this purpose Prayer is performative And muddies the waters Friends are sometimes But often better for laughter Or tears Love-making is brilliant Too brilliant perhaps for clarity Poetry is helpful And sometimes lights the path Oh how I wish I could write Of meditation Contemplation Reading the mystics Even walking through a woods Or a field Wading a stream Watching deer or birds Or even our dog Oh how I wish my world would come clear In grand and glorious style The wonder of many The envy of all But I just sit quietly on the sofa Beside my husband Usually, he works a jigsaw puzzle On his i-pad Sometimes he draws Or listens to a podcast About woodworking Landscaping Trees Or the environmental crisis He always sits on my right So that his good left ear Is between him and me But we don’t talk much I read, or listen to a podcast Or dabble in acrylics With children’s paints On my lap Deliberately resisting the impulse To buy proper artist tools I let myself play with colors On small canvases With brushes and knives Steel wool and cotton balls Toothbrush and cotton swap The canvas may get confused But the world comes clear
My knees bend Almost as much as ever And ache very little My bedroom becomes a poetry hide-out Muting Mom’s Ever louder TV And then there is that small gummy With its even smaller quantity of THC I don’t like intercessory prayer But I have at times asked God for favors Please let my husband live Please let my daughter’s twins live Please ease Betty’s dementia Please let marijuana be legal by the time I retire Wouldn’t you know It was that last one The Sovereign God of All Eternity Chose to answer OK.
((h/t Amy Schumer’s Gratitude sketch https://youtu.be/l5dTdaKdGG8) Thank You God for Most This Amazing poem by e. e. cummings I don’t want to write, inspired by it, But rather to read it again and again Until I sink, completely, irretrievably, into The quicksand of thanksgiving I want to smother in thanksgiving Forcing the air of trite, culturally now gratitude Out of my reluctant lungs Smother until I am forced to breathe in The gritty moist sand of thanksgiving The sand that drowns my lungs Forcing out the last molecules Of easy gratitude I almost kill myself Reaching reaching For the unattainable Illusory total gratitude Even as I sink further into This quicksand reality Leaving above facile gratitude Drowning in thankfulness Though there be no bottom No slide down into a starlit Infinity of universes To then whoosh through With all the skill of current CGI I will live I will learn to breathe in Tearingly gritty, tearfully moist Thanksgiving