Thursday, October 23, 2014

To the Letter

 

23 October, 2014

I have spent some time this morning with the letters of women who intrigue me...Janet Erskine Stuart, Georgia O'Keefe, Willa Cather...And as I read I find myself talking to them as I might if I had the chance to sit across from them in a book-ish ambiance, or upon a hillside blanket, washed over with a new day's becoming and the generous pauses of contentment and keen observation that are markers of the rare experiences at the tail end of the earth that are here--you can't help getting them. (G. O'Keefe)

As I read, I keep thanking them with a slight blush...A window they (for the most part) never intended to be hewn into the side of the lives they fashioned has been un-shuttered and opened to the elements by the publication of their letters...and I have stood in the wind and peeked through, reading the correspondence that was intended for another.

I thank them for the fluidity of their pens and the intimacy they are able to convey in the coming together of ink and paper... Intimacy of thought and feeling, intimacy of relationship to the world, to others, to God, to Nature and Art...

I thank them for their lives, fully lived, fully engaged, fully given...to Beauty, to others, to God, to creating, to interpreting what they experienced in a way that can speak seriously to others over time and invite the pursuit of such expression by others.

I thank them for the way they have me reflect on the letters I have written in my lifetime and the letters I have received. As to the former, some I have written are meanderings of thought, some describe a particular moment, some are purposeful and to the point, some are quietly expressive of a truth that begs to bloom. Some of the latter have cut me to the quick, others have made me consider situations or actions in a different light, others are of the sort to keep apart and read again and again, gently and thoroughly...letting the heart rest in the warmth and rise on the nearness of the one who writes....who shares their word and their hand, their thoughts, feelings, and wishes...in a one to one conversation with a reader...

...who might be someone else one day... ???

And I find myself asking... What will the landscape reveal through the hewn window of the words I write?

 

 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Job and the Angels

It is the feast of the Guardian Angels today... And I was thinking about that while I sat in the Public Gardens this morning. I have a hard time with conventional representations of angels...wings, saccharine, pink and cherubic.... But, LIGHT...yes. Warmth. Depth. Presence. Balm, Strength, Steadiness, Accompaniament. Even Guardian, protector...

And as I closed my eyes and opened my arms alone on the bench and steeped my being in this Glory, I thought of Job... Job who proclaimed that in spite of what surrounded him, in spite of his doubts and questions and insecurities...I know that my Redeemer lives , and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's, shall behold him, and from my flesh, I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.

And I thought... Oh, Job...I get that. Those moments when I have had to dig down and stand up and say I Will Walk Through This. Bring it on...because why? Because I know my Redeemer lives and my own eyes will see...Because Light walks with me to remind me and I am not alone.

2 October, 2014

On the same bench in the Gardens. This could well be a part of my vision of heaven. The light alone--the way it moves through the trees, soaking and saturating them like morning dew and the way it slip-tugs around each branch like a ribbon wending its way. The light that knows both tag and peek-a-boo as well as her asanas of grace, blessing, and harmony. The way this light makes each color its own fullness. It is ALL within the gold of the black-eyed susan stand and every ray finds home in the deep fuchsia that softens the lamp post's angularity. The way it smooths the surface of the water and the sky so that the geese and the sparrows, the woodpeckers and gulls, all have a clear path before them. Even the clouds look shaken out and snapped awake by the strength and depth of this radiance after a night shot through with the half-light threads of dreams.

 

 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

The Gift of Love

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians, Chapter 13)

It is a funny thing the act of hearing. I have heard these words a multitude of times...so many times that they simply skated across my mind as though being churned out on the front covers of a floridly cursive Hallmark card.

Until I read them the other day.

And each word, phrase, image walked with slow weighty confidence into my heart and stayed there...present, real, and stark with truth and experience.

These lines come afresh in the midst of a recurring challenge in my life...how to love someone for whom I can do nothing that changes the circumstances of his life, how to love someone who has made choices informed by illness and seems to be living with less than the dignity I would wish for him.

There was no glittery penmanship this time...I heard it as a chapter of freedom...my own and the freedom of those who occupy my heart and surround me.

Love is big...large...encompassing...and filled with truth...whatever that truth might be. Love is not surprised at any aspect of truth but blooms most fully in its honest company, enduring all things, bearing all things, and hoping...

And there is no one all-inclusive connection between Love and its manifestation...It does not insist on its own way except insofar as it meets the other descriptors Paul uses and Jesus lived...patient, kind, humble... The loving act might be letting someone go their own way...it might be posing a challenge...it might be asking a question or sitting in silence...making dessert or washing dishes...

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face... I too am wounded and yet, I believe I am loved...that God bears with me and hopes, that God celebrates and challenges...that nothing can separate me from this encompassing love because I am known, I am accepted, and love never ends.

May this greatest gift be what inspires my words, my thoughts, my actions, my being...

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.