Friday, August 31, 2012

How joyful to be together...37 years now

“How joyful to be when we first were joined in our little house by the river long ago, except that now we know each other, as we did not then; and now instead of two stories fumbling to meet, we belong to one story that the two, joining, made. And now we touch each other with the tenderness of mortals, who know themselves...”
― Wendell Berry, The Selected Poems

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting our eyes fixed

Today my daughter-in-law is having lasik surgery, getting her eyes fixed.  My son had this done last year to his great delight.  And my husband too, back when the technology was brand new!
When I first met my husband in high school he wore thick glasses, and had done so since childhood. Those thick glasses would steam up when he played tennis or lingered too long in a kiss.  I thought that adorable.  For our Jr Prom he took me to the Bali Hai and after dinner we sat on the harbor looking at the city lights across the water.  He took off his glasses, staring at that horizon, and told me he wished I could see how beautifully the light blended together. 
Decades later, he no longer needs those glasses, his vision perfected.  I, on the other hand, can no longer hold the book far enough away to read it, and have eye glasses scattered everywhere.  I think of this as God's mercy, that as I age I cannot see clearly my own reflection, but rather see myself in a softened glow.  Ignorance is bliss!  But it is an ironic twist that my husband saw me in soft-focus all those years in my youthfulness and now, in my old age, he sees me clearly! 
They have encouraged me to get my eyes fixed too, but I do not go willingly 'under the knife'.  The rarest consequences always seem to find me there.  My vision will have to be fixed in other ways. 

Monet Refuses the Operation

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers...
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.  The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water,
lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
...Doctor, if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

~ Lisel Mueller ~

When Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?",  the blind man looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:24-25

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Remember to Forget

My mother-in-law is forgetting things.  Yet her memory is also amazing.  She can recount the smallest detail of life when she was a youngster in Chicago, a war bride, a mom gone back to college, a secretary at the Pentagon.  Catch her on a good day and she can easily quote Merton or toss out a gaelic endearment/insult.  Last time we chatted she had me in stitches.  Today she was recalling truckloads of misery.  Wallowing in it.  Lord knows we all have our days. 
I commiserate with my husband and tell him I have been newly inspired.  Since it seems inevitable that we all begin to forget things, I am choosing now what I will forget.  I am throwing out all the small and mean and miserable things.  Too many words!  Why let them take up space!  I want to remember the avalanche of grace and goodness I've known.  I'll keep enough of the tears to remind me of how much love I've known, but no crying over spilled milk.  Yes, I am going to remember to forget.  Dodge the arrows that weren't meant for me, sweep up the broken bits from that fall.  I'll put up snapshots of my sweetest memories.  My tongue will remember ice cream on a summers day and how to say I am sorry.  My hands will hold tenderly to affection and let slip away what must on any given day. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Forgetting to Remember

Forget: To treat with thoughtless inattention. To fail to become aware. To leave behind unintentionally. To not recollect. Disregard. To lose oneself.

Sometimes I can go for hours forgetting to remember.  Wilson barks outside the front porch. Kyla laughs at Papa’s silly joke, rubs his nose with hers.  I lose track of time and then it’s a mad dash of a mad woman and the scrambled mess I leave behind tells the tale straight.

We pile out to dance class and when Kyla climbs in after, I can see that she is barely holding herself together, and when I ask her what's wrong, she chokes out, "They forgot what I know.  It was like I had to start all over again." Oh I know, daughter of mine, I know.   I am newly amazed at how God knit us together from such circumstance.  We hold hands.   Back home, we cuddle cozy on the couch and share some clementines.  She smiles. Roger smiles too at the sight while she begs him to join us, pleeeease.  This girl simply loves to sit tight together.

As the afternoon shadows lengthen Kyla sings songs, sorting what she might do for the talent show that is months away.  I only have to ask twice for the colored pencils to be picked up off the living room floor.   The phone rings, "Can Kyla play?" and she's bouncing out the door, arms full of dolls, heading down the street to the neighbors house.

My husband comes in like Atlas, but smiling.  He is a man whose smile comes easy.  I have been loved by him for as long as I can remember and my throat catches at the sight of him.  I show him the iris that bloomed today.  I remember.  Fix his dinner plate and he thanks me.  There’s that smile.  We share a glass of wine, talk about our day, continue the long conversation we've been having; discerning decisions that lay before us, discover peace under it all.   
When did I begin to forget again?  Ephphetha, Jesus said to the one who could not hear, Be opened!

I remember Kyla saying after breakfast, her head cocked near the window, "Shhhh.... if you listen, you can hear the birds......"   I remember the sight of them, conspiring over their cereal bowls.  And later, the two of us girls singing out “I want to be a saint so bad…I want to see my face on a holy card” and our glad laughing at the good of it!  And why not. 

Remember: To become aware of something forgotten again. To be mindful. To keep in mind as worthy of consideration or recognition. To show gratitude, as with a gift. To use the power of memory. To mention favorably, as in a prayer or friendship.

In the morning, I leave my heart open on the windowsill by the sink.   Shhhh…if you listen…

The very real presence of God is right here.    

I hear Him in the running water as I rinse the dishes from last night, my ears anointed in the quick explosion of flame as I light the stove, in the thunder of heartbeat held good morning close, and the quiet quake of creaking floorboards as I breeze by to put in a load of laundry. 

I quiet.  Mary Oliver’s good question becomes the whisper of God

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Ephphetha, I whisper…be opened.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cada Cabesa es un Mundo

what does she think as she walks along the sea?
I watch her wander off and wonder what she’ll be.
does she search for seashells
-we’d collected quite a few-
is she content in this moment
or wishing for something to do.

to be alone together, the grace of solitude
to have ones world held in love
and room for it to bloom
cada cabesa es un mundo
(in each head, a whole world)

 what does she think as she walks along the sea?
sun in her face, walking on water.
Lord if I know, I think to myself
as she turns, smiles at me,
beautiful daughter.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summertime...and the Living is Easy




Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness. ~ Mary Oliver

Friday, August 10, 2012

Everything in its time

Glimpse by Hilary Painter

'Cause maybe there's another plan, One I still can't see
A little surprise, like your love in my life
Funny how time changes how we see...
Corrine May Lyric


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remembering To Be Kind Because We Are Living

We were at home, just the two of us, mother and child.
She is speaking to me from the other room,
(yelling actually) rudely, snappy
and I know this calls for parenting
but instead what I give her is tit for tat,
taking my turn at speaking
(yelling actually) rudely to her, snappy right back at ya.
And then, suddenly I see myself, looking back at me!
Parenting has so much to teach me and it is relentless in its lessons!
Thank the Lord, my change of heart is swift as I recognize
the error of my ways and with tears and hugs we console one another
and make amends, see where we went wrong and love wins out again.

The next morning we are in the car heading for surf camp and she starts
telling me about a friends surf camp
that was just for kids who’d lost a parent to cancer.
She thought that wasn’t as good as regular camp that’s just fun,
because her friend is always having to remember her mom dying,
and then she said “Her mom was a lot more than just a person who died…
She was a clown!  Isn’t that better to remember?!”
Later in the conversation she tells me about an assignment they had at school.
She can’t recall if it was for reconciliation or the stations of the cross
but each of them had to write a reflection statement
and she remembers exactly what a boy in her class wrote to Jesus,
“When you were living, we treated you badly,
but when you died we laid you down kindly.”
“It’s true, isn’t it,’ she added,
‘we should be kindly to the living, and not just when they die!”
“That’s what we did yesterday, huh?
Remembered to be kind because we are living.”

And she reached over then and took my hand.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Repairer of Fences - Isaiah 58:12

I am alone in the dark, and I am thinking
what darkness would be mine if I could see
the ruin I wrought in every place I wandered
and if I could not be
aware of One who follows after me.

Whom do I love, O God, when I love Thee?
The great Undoer who has torn apart
the walls I built against a human heart,
the Mender who has sewn together the hedges
through which I broke when I went seeking ill,
the Love who follows and forgives me still.

Fumbler and fool that I am, with things around me
of fragile make like souls, how I am blessed
and to hear behind me footsteps of a Savior!
I sing to the east; I sing to the west:
God is my repairer of fences, turning my paths into rest.

Jessica Powers (Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit) 1905-1988