Friday, September 5, 2014

Snapshots in Word

I have long thought of writing as another way of taking a picture...light and shadow portrayed via word choice...texture reflected in the syllables rubbing together...the invitation to enter offered in both the specificity and the expansiveness... I recently read a stunning example of this--the first section of Dylan Thomas' radio play, Under Milk Wood--and then I found this recent snapshot of thought and wanted to post it--something like a cerebral selfie in the moment?

17 August, 2014

9 East 13th Street at Joe the Art of Coffee for a cappuccino before Xavier. Had a small coffee earlier but that didn't quite cover the need for cobweb cleaning and clarity of thought.

As I rode down here on the M3, I read for a bit and also found myself simply looking out the window and breathing deeply, thinking--This is my City--City of my heart and familiar as the touch of someone who knows me well. There is room here. And, I fit. The ease of conversation with the woman getting her hair colored and set at Franco's, the exchange with the woman at Agata's when she heard me say "ciambella"-- "Oh...does it taste as beautiful as it sounded when you said that??" The side conversation with the woman at the bus stop--weather, temperature, jacket or no jacket?, what will it all mean for winter?

I keep saying 'Thank you' for knowing of a place like this--for an experience of home that IS connected firmly to a place. The Flatiron appeared in the front window of the bus and all I could do was smile and think--'There you are! It is good to see you..."

It does my being good to simply touch certain places here--as though reminding or reassuring myself of their presence, their steadfastness.

 

 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What's in a name?

Vase of Irises against a Yellow Background by V. VanGogh

A blogging sister of mine who writes at All this Life and Heaven Too, posted the story of her blog's origin and posed the question to several of us--What's your story?

I am coming up on seven years worth of entries at Consider the Lilies...and if you would read one of the first couple of entries you'd find my own doubts as to whether I'd have enough to say to make a viable go of it! I guess time and paragraphs have answered that curiosity.

A friend of mine had a blog I admired and he had gently encouraged me to begin using this format as a way to put writing out there...I wrote anyway, I reflected anyway, I shared some of it anyway...and here was a format ready made! But, it made me nervous! Who would find it, let alone read it? Would it feel artificial? Those questions too have been kindly answered.

I chose the title because of my understanding of one word--Consider. It is a call, an invitation, a pause along the way, a thoughtful mulling, a mental and mystical picking up and turning over of a thing, a concept, an image, in order to see it from another angle and therefore come to know it more thoroughly, more intimately. I spend a lot of time doing it at the invitation of the wonder of what surrounds me and find it a fascinating path to meander.

That said, 'Consider' alone seemed stranded...like it was perpetually in search of another word to accompany it on the island at the head of the screen. I do not have a special affinity for lilies...but the reference is already well known. Consider the Irises or Consider the Daffodils just didn't have the same cache, even though, florally speaking, I do favor those two.

Thus, "Consider the Lilies" came to be and has continued for these years of moves, adventures, travels, and changes in the company of God and creation.

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two weeks and an Era


 

14 August, 2014

6:50 AM

On a corner of the dining room table in NYC. However, I feel compelled to say that this sad skeleton is not the place where I came to know the Society for three years, where I also lived for a bit more than four years... Or, on some level, maybe this has always been its skeleton and as things age and diminish, more of the skeleton is exposed--like in humans. Hm...in a way, the community I knew was people...and this time is about place...but in its own way, this building has been a living organism for over forty years...accepting without question and accommodating for untold numbers of residents and guests who stayed for greater or lesser amounts of time--but each leaving a mark of presence...stories that have become both a part of the pattern of its skin and in some cases, stories that have caused a crack or two, testing the limits of what these constructed confines can accept before something has to give.

The laughter that has filled this place, the multitude of languages, the prayer, the mourning, the keening, the death, the blessing, the difficulties, challenges, conversations, verbal sparring, and the Love... It has experienced a life of great meaning, this place, and now its body is tired and sore.

It helps me to believe that what I am doing here is helping anoint this space...helping to prepare it for death, for evolution, for whatever it is that will come...and this anointing happens by the care I take, by attitude and disposition, by my spirit.

I find myself returning to my understanding of Love...and how deeply that spirit, that feeling, can go... and yet, for Love to be as large and expansive as it can be--that is to say, for Me to experience an ever greater fullness of God, for this Love to be the home I know, there must also be within me a spirit of freedom and detachment... I met the Society in this building...among many women who are now gathered to God and keeping watch...In fact, I met death here in the living room...I was welcomed here, found a place here, and was sent forth from here a better person, a kinder person on some levels, wiser, more authentic, because of all of the challenge and all of the grace.

It is this mix of prismatic light that I pray fills me, inspires me, and grounds me, as I work to free this space from what holds it bound and honor the the incredible swirl of spirit that has embraced it for so long.

----

28 August, 2014

I am back in Halifax now, having arrived utterly exhausted last night. I am back from the loving embraces of folks at Xavier; back from a slowly emptying edifice that seemed to close in on itself; back from the morning jokes with the guys at the parking garage across the street; back from washing my hands at least ten times a day; back from the conversations and laughter that can happen with strangers; back from a friend driving down an avenue, seeing me on the sidewalk, and calling my name through her open car window as she crammed into a parking spot; back from clamor and echoes against bare walls; back from dust and the well-settled accumulated whatnot of longevity; back from the memory of my first grand adventure, working for the New York Public Library; back from a City that has always had room for me, for who I am.

And yes, it is a bittersweet mixture that fills me here...listening to the seagulls, doing translations, and unpacking the final two boxes that were sprung at last from their month and a half long purgatory in a warehouse somewhere.

The doors needed to close. I could see that. And fittingly on this feast day, I believe too that "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, Oh God..."

In thee, Oh God. Not in a particular address or a city or a country. In thee....a home so much more expansive, accommodating, liberating, diverse, endless, fascinating, and freeing than any other I can imagine.

 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

For God

by Lyn Mason, 2006

For God, In Gratitude


It would seem

that you

delight in me.

 

Thank you

for that.

 

I too

find joy in you

and love it

 

when you

play hide

and seek

 

just to watch

my face

when you open

 

deep inside outside

wide your love

and sing

 

in the voice of a snapdragon,

in the challenging grace of change,

in the heart of an embrace,

 

Here I am

Here I am

Here I am.

Kimberly M. King, rscj.

Monday, August 4, 2014

So Begins a new Adventure...

 

And so begins a new adventure...with games of Scrabble and laughter and cooking in a new kitchen with someone else who also was unfamiliar with the treasures hidden within drawers and behind cupboards...Have you seen a wooden spoon? Ah...and oil...where do you suppose...?

And it begins with a library card and long wanders and small discoveries that delight--the rose entwined lamp post, the morning sun that streams in my bedroom window, the big purple sign that might actually spell out the name of a store but for me says "If you can see me, you are turned in the right direction to walk to the majority of the places you might want to go."

And it begins with writing...(this from the other day)

2 August, 2014

3:15 pm On a bench in the public garden, having had a day of walking and good adventure. Went with A and M down the the farmer's market--such a delight. M and I sampled our way through on the most delicious bites of things--little tastes, no more, but they were just the thing...they were beautifully enough to be bright gifts for the senses. A bit of cracker with gingered pear jam and a lovely peppered strawberry preserve that begged to be enjoyed with well paced hope and concentration. It is good to be back in a nook and cranny city where you can walk with a purpose and also step aside into a thought, into a twisting bit of greenery, a welcome bench, an interesting statue or bit of architecture, or step back to lean a while against a wall or post and watch what passes while letting the mind and heart 'see into the life of things' ...things that are immediate and things that are further afield.

 

Too, it begins with gratitude...when I was leaving Saint Charles, I made a point of standing in the classroom where I taught last year and giving thanks for the life that filled that space...the life of the mind, the life of the heart and spirit, the lives of each of my beloved students...and I stopped in the library...and gave thanks for the light that fills that space...for the learning and the growing--both for the students and for myself...for the joy and yes, for the magic...because extraordinary things happened there... A boy understood how an author made people fly, a tiny woman engaged the imaginations of class-fulls of students, and countless students found a book to enter and explore...there are so many stories... Stories with pages, stories of friends who love me, stories of students being who God is calling them to be...and they are all worth reading and re-reading...

And it begins with gratitude for the present moment and what is to come...the 'unknown what lies ahead' and the 'lo más allá.'

Yes, thanks for it all...for this life I have been given to live with my being and shape with love given and received...as grace and growth and joy and challenge...thank you.

 

 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Beautiful Reminder

I wrote this in my notebook yesterday afternoon...

...having spent four (when I wrote three on Facebook, the book wasn't done yet and I just couldn't stop...) hours reading this morning...four uninterrupted hours immersed in the world of Delicious...four hours of sensory bliss, four hours of the best sort of fading away--loosening the hold, letting go and rising, entering...four hours of being cared for by Story. Though I know how I feel when a friend reads to me, I had forgotten the feeling of intimacy that also comes with reading myself...the feeling of having the story told to me, as though the story found me, specifically and delightedly. It made me think of what it is like when you tell me stories, and how often you do just that...how you invite me to pay attention, to "see into the life of things" (thank you, Wordsworth)...That thought, that feeling, made me so happy...the simple ache of sensual joy that comes from Story. Thank you for the gift of knowing how this feels...for giving me the chance to feel it again...for reminding me that you are a God of Word and Imagination, sensuality and deep knowing...

On the one hand, it made me twinge inside to realize that I had forgotten the feeling I described, and yet on a wholly other plane, I was so humbly grateful for the gentle gift being given to me... Whether it was new, or a reminder of something forgotten, doesn't really matter.

...four hours of being cared for by story... Being cared for by Story! Yes! In so many ways, that is what reading is for me! When I was a child, books took me elsewhere...transported me...showed me that there was more, there were places that made sense, places where I could fit, places of possibility, and those places welcomed me. As an adult, reading does something of the same thing...serves as a portal, a map, or an island, or a slide, or an interesting path leading down the road less traveled.

As an adult, though, reading has also taken on a deeper aspect of divinity that was certainly present when I was a child, but I was not as able to articulate it. When I read poetry, for example, the sounds made by the words sparking, bumping, nestling, on the page, are God-sounds...the rhythms, the spaces, pauses... And I recognize that as much as I love the hint and suggestion of poetry...just enough kindling language to begin the fire within my spirit, I also willfully revel in bathing my way through pages of sensory description...In the hours I read Delicious I spent months, years, walking beside the main character, tasting Sal's spring Parmigiano, smelling the papery history of wartime correspondence Billie discovers, and steeping in the heady swirl that is walking down a NYC sidewalk. This level of sensory involvement is part of the story God tells, too, I believe.

Some would say "The Devil is in the details," but I seriously wonder...

I think it might take all sorts of Story to reveal God...And that becomes all the clearer to me when I think of the whole variety of ways God tells stories already...aside from the way the people of God tell stories about God...

Flowers. Silent tears. The gift of listening to a friend. A shadow. A stone. A kiss. The inspiration behind a work of art. The crash of a wave, the hand of a loved one, a lifetime.

This diversity is reflected in the recorded collection of holy Story Iturn to time and again... I see it in the exquisite metaphors of Wisdom, the unspoken commentary of the woman caught in adultery, the conversation on the road to Emmaus, the poetry of Isaiah, the detail of the three young men dancing in the furnace, the anguish and ache of the Crucifixion...

And I am invited in...invited to loosen my hold and open the imagination given to me in abundance by a wondrous God who knows every curve and quirk of my mind, spirit, and being...my Story.

I am invited to encounter, to learn, to grow, to be cared for...And use my own life to open the cover for others.

 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Fullness of Light

I was brought to quiet tears today by an image of such beauty, such love...the image of a dear friend sitting in the light of God, letting it flow all around her, through her... I was so deeply happy for her and so moved by the tenderness of God... This prayer filled me as I blessed her for the adventures awaiting her in the months ahead...

Light came to me again as I prepared dinner...the light produced in flavor and texture combinations...Tonight it was the balanced coming together of salt, chile, balsamic vinager, and the natural sweetness of roasted vegetables. Add in the chewy crunch of garlic, the melt of zucchini, the unashamed uniqueness of asparagus, and the meaty heft of quartered mushrooms, and the whole experience was both bonfire and fireworks.

I have been sitting in my more empty than full room this evening, watching the lullaby playing on the horizon...evening gently weaving her fingers into the branches, touching each leaf, soothing away the heat with her cooling half-light song... and yet still filling my room...filling me...

And as I give thanks for the day that has been, I remember how in difficult situations or stretches of time, it has been Light that calls me home.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (Prologue to John, v.4)

Amen, alleluia.