Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This poem by Mary Oliver is so sweet and so true. It reminded me so much of Smokey that I read it aloud to him.
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I'm awake, or awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.
Tell me you love me, he says.
Tell me again.
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
A Blessing of Solitude
May you recognise in your life the presence, power and light of your soul. May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe. May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realise that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here.
That behind the façade of your life there is something beautiful, good and eternal happening.
May you learn to see your self with the same delight, pride and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.
Friday, April 10, 2009
The Sunday before the outing, I was lying on the living room floor looking at a page that showed blossoming fruit trees on Cherry Tree Lane. Mom came in and asked me to do some minor chore, and I said, “Can’t I do it later? I don’t want to do it now”
The eruption was instantaneous. In a towering fury, she began to enumerate all the many things she did for me that she didn’t want to do, and she called me a terrible, ungrateful daughter. I stared at her silently with tears running down my face. It was the first time I could ever remember her treating me that way, although I had seen her fury towards my father and older brothers often and been horrified by it. I didn’t know the story of Medusa at that young age, but when I learned it later, I realized how apt the legend was. In a horrifying instant, the face of the mother I loved had turned into a vicious monster who hated me. In the face of such a terrifying transformation, I was paralyzed with fear.
Then she paused in the midst of her tirade as though struck by a thought, and a look of satisfaction crossed her face. “I’ll teach you a lesson. I won’t let you go to the movie.”
At that moment in my six-year-old life, there was nothing she could have taken from me that would hurt half so much. Her announcement shocked me into words at last. I pleaded, I said I was sorry, and I promised to do what she had asked of me. She refused to relent. In fact, the more I begged, the less she looked at me. (As as aside, my mother always hated how easily I cried and did her best to shame me into not crying. I wouldn't let her take that from me.)
The only thing I could think of was to turn to my father. I ran downstairs and found him in the basement, sorting various sized screws into old baby food jars, an activity he did when he was hiding from my mother. Through my sobs, I told him what had happened, and he immediately went upstairs. I never heard what he said to Mom or she to him, but the following day I went to the movie with my classmates. Yet even though I was able to partake of the long-awaited treat, the joy of it was spoiled for me.
After that, an undercurrent of fear always colored our relationship. And yet I loved my mother too and desired desperately to make her happy. I bought her chocolates at Christmas and made her tissue flowers whenever she went to the hospital. When I was 9, I single-handedly cooked Mother's Day dinner for ten people, and at about the same age I started making surprise Easter baskets for everyone in the family. And I worked harder than ever in school. Rarely did I feel that any of my efforts made a difference.
For some reason that I still don’t understand, after the Mary Poppins incident, I never again asked Dad to intervene with Mom, even though similar episodes occurred several times during my childhood. As I grew older and tested my independence, my mother’s attacks on me became at least an annual occurrence.
Even leaving home wasn’t enough to break the pattern. My freshman year of college, my parents drove the 80 miles to visit me one Sunday. Usually, they left for home again not long after we’d had supper because they got up early on workdays. During that particular visit, I casually asked if they knew how long they were going to stay because friends had invited me out for pizza at seven, and I wanted to give them an answer. My mom got quiet, but she said nothing except that she guessed they’d go home about six.
Two days later, the letter arrived. “Obviously, your friends mean more to you than I do,” she had written. “Now I realized where I stand with you. I will always love you, but don’t bother to consider yourself my daughter anymore. You just go ahead and live your own life. Maybe someday you will understand everything we’ve sacrificed for you.”
By then, my role in responding to such an assault was well learned. I called her immediately, and over the phone, I apologized, explained, pleaded, and sobbed. She listened stonily and would not reconcile. I called again the next night and the night after that. I don’t remember exactly how many days she made me grovel, but I do know that she never once said, “I forgive you,” the words I so desperately needed to hear. Instead, one night she answered the phone and just began to talk as though nothing had happened.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Crumbling soil, this stuff of which I’m made,
sweetly scented like well-decayed compost,
richer than Oreos crushed for the crust of a cheesecake,
and wet with spring dew so that my jeans grow muddy
and cling to my knees with clammy kisses.
The ancients saw Earth as a goddess,
and I’ve come to impregnate her
with seeds for a later harvest
but before that act of love,
I thrust my hands into the soil,
abandoning myself to joyful foreplay,
rejoicing in the coolness of an earthworm
gliding between my fingers
and the solid connection of earth beneath my nails.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, I think
and for a tiny instant, that prospect seems glorious.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
So I've finished my reading deprivation week. I didn't do it perfectly. For my freelance job, I had to do research and also a lot of reading of a book in pages so that I could make editorial corrections. In my daily life, I read instructions when I needed to. And I slipped and caught myself reading articles a couple of times, although I stopped by the second or third paragraph.