Is What We (Who are Not Pumpkins) Need Here?

early novThis is the sunrise in Ripley Ohio today.

My stomach has been in knots for several days now – in no small part to the terrorist events in our world – far and near.

For me, my sadness is only in part about the bombings in Africa, and Beirut, and Paris – it’s about noise. Our world is so full of superficial noise. I don’t want that for my grandchildren.

That is not what I want for them. I want more than for them to know that Granny’s new favorite phrase in ASL is “my hear is your heart.” I want more than to teach them to say that to me in silence. I want more than to sing them to sleep. I want far more than to hear their squeaky little voices. I want them to trust the world beyond the front door…beyond the village borders.

I want them to trust the feeling of joy – but if I don’t – how can they? And I don’t.

As I get older I question joy, all….of….the….time.

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Every year at this time I have the same dilemma, one that is shared with the couple of weeks that come before Lent: how will I celebrate Advent this year?

“What do you need this year?” I ask myself – “Where are you hurting? What do you need to deepen? Question? Celebrate? Learn? Strategize?”

Don’t know about you, (you who do the Advent thing that is….) but it’s a matter of setting up routines. Likely, most people fall into the comfort of old routine – pull out or make the wreath, gather a prayer book, set aside a few extra minutes.

But of all church seasons….Advent means the most to me because it is about quiet. I love quiet as a way of life more, and more, and more….every day.

Neurotic am I though….part and parcel of not coming into the world as a pumpkin in a patch or a set of shoes on a store shelf – I worry.

So, every year at this time ruminations are about what routine will be set forth in a week or so for the next month of preparations for……drumroll…

the

                                                          holidays.

This year I’m going to try and write.

My prayers, unless they go in a different direction…will be about abandon. The process of finding work, making friends, committing to a bit of a career shift, and enjoying the luxury and privilege of yet another educational gig – it has softened me. I hadn’t realized how lonely and bitter I’d become because…well,

because I’m not a pumpkin or a shoe.

So, that’s that….here are the flagship words that sit by my desk and tempt me to walk out the door as I do these days….

“What We Need is Here” ~ Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith; what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

Lord have mercy.

Litany: Billy Collins

Litany by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,

The crystal goblet and the wine…

~Jacues Crickillon

 

You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine,

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker,

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

 

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the houses of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

 

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,

but you are not even close

to being a field of cornflowers at dusk.

 

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

 

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

 

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman’s tea cup.

But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and – somehow – the wine.

Wendell Berry: Everything is Here

Everything is Here

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith: what we we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry

Found a quote about Fortitude

asl love hands

(artist and source on the internet unknown. Please leave a comment with information if you know who did this awesome work.)

I just came back from breakfast with a new friend.

I am so thankful to be settling in even further into our new community.

We mostly talked about trying to get into shape so that we can enjoy our respective jobs for as long as possible. Somehow the topic of forgiveness came up though, and I just now found this quote that I had jotted in my “get healthy” journal:

“You will always be
the bread
and

the knife,

not to mention the crystal

and-

somehow-

the wine.”

(by poet Billy Collins.

I made the line breaks up myself – something that is a big no, no in the world of poetry…but in the interest of time…there you go.

p.s. I think when I did research on the poem a while ago I found out that he wrote it either because of a painful divorce, or to make fun of sappy break up poetry that is not good literature. I can’t remember which and my son is currently banging a basketball against the wall, so I’d better not dilly dally at the keyboard.

Why Mr. Collins wrote it and what it meant to him at the time does matter… but I like it today because it reminds me of communion and Catholic prayers about the Communion of the Saints.

And I like cheese, and I like wine.)

A Post from Last Summer about Tired Hands

What a lucky couple of finds amongst a shoulder full of Monday confusions.

1: A photo from last fall that I took in the morning, but to me, looks like a setting sun:

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2: A couple of minutes to re-read a poem I found last summer. This summer I am reading the poem from the perspective of an American Sign Language (ASL) student. I hope to reboot my skills in a month or so, and for one reason and another, I re-read this poem from a Jesuit point of view. This time, the speaker in the poem became Jesus, and the hands became those of an ASL interpreter WannaBe.

Here is a link to the poem by Erin Bertram. It’s an encouraging poem. Hope the same is true for you.

A Poem Saying: Slow Down and Remember You are Royal

I have a poem that I want to share in this post.

It is by a professor and writer who I met last week named Erin Bertram.

In fourteen lines, this poem, to me, says pretty much I’d like this blog to be all about.

I know that poetry isn’t for everyone. It’s usually pretty obtuse. Yet, I’m glad to be reminded that I like really, really good poetry because it slows me down. Most writing spells out the authors message and doesn’t make the reader work hard to understand what the writer hopes to impress on the reader. 

The bold and italic marks are mine, not hers. They highlight what I first heard when Erin read it at a gathering. When I asked if what she was saying was – “life’s in the here in now, so grab it if you can,” and she smiled and said “yes!”

Lucky me, she gave me a whole booklet of her poems the next day. Thanks Erin! And thanks family for nudging me down the sidewalk and saying “go make some friends!”

[We Are All Of Us Adorned With Crowns]

~ Erin M. Bertram

There are five forms of lightning:heat,ball,ribbon,forked,

Sheet. We are all of us adorned with crowns. Take my hand

& consider it tender, consider it, slack-jawed & open palmed,

Most days entirely capable.When you leave for work mornings,

Leave your necessaries strewn across the dresser as leaves

Mid-November & wanting. Sundry nights disrobe wildly & call me

By my given name, the one everyone knows but few harness

Into use. Make my parents proud. This life in all it’s tattered glare

Offers up more than I can chew, a fact I’ve come slowly,

& not without fight or requisite scar, to accept. Scattershot,

Lift your head to the sutures of exhaust in the sky & recite

All the things your hands have moved gently over. The fault lines

Of our all but sullied hands. To body the many shifts of an afternoon.

To be the thing which in the distance does the vanishing.

 

On Grandpa Telling me to Get to Work

Well now.

That was unexpected.

Despite my efforts to plot out today’s first few hours by way of learning the magic of Google Calendar, this photo and post was not what I had in mind.

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be working on a plan to get paid to write?

For many reasons, I am actually smart to be feeling afraid. (self patting shoulder)

But, fear and creativity is a whole list of other blog postings. Maybe a book, definitely some articles.

Anyhoo, before I pushed them out the door, both my husband and teen were teasing me with some shock at my perky approach to the day.

“Look guys! I’m dressed, ready for work.” (Self mumble: “Get along little doggies.”)

Newspaper comes in, back pack gets found, lost and refound, explanation of what a turnabout dance is gets explained, puppy eats Nerf bullet, argument about if we are having puffy coat weather or fleece ensues, garbage day is remembered, waffles devoured…

how am I doing with painting you into this picture?

Other distractions as I looked forward having quiet and computer access to finish several posts for this week included:

  • opening the poetry magnets I got for Christmas and searching out metal to play on
  • cracking open the two books that I’ve wanted for a long while that came in the same package
  • noticing that I can’t see
  • making notes to find a few more local doc’s
  • taking out said garbage to curb

and..sweetness of sweetness, meeting my neighbor’s new mini dachshund puppy named Daisy.

The unexpected? When things are well, I have a prayer routine that I stick to which is to listen to a twenty-minute music playlist that I’ve made fairly randomly. These short playlists turn out to be what I need to hear, every day, for at least a couple of months.

Yesterday I was so wound up that I had to replay some of the songs a few times because I was up and down from the chair, stretching, sorting dog toys, and web searching interesting medical definitions.

All of which is fine, but today I managed to sit still, cuddle puppy Paul, and replace my computer screen image from Gonzo the Muppet to, randomly, the photo above.

That’s my grandpa Overmyer. He was a writer by profession, and among hobbies he wrote limericks for friends and family.

I’m not sure how old I am in that photo…very new born to be sure. Don’t I look so warm and curious?

The unexpected part? I’d not listened closely to this new song I’d been enjoying. No need to because the melody was nice for cold winter days and the first words are

“Let my love light, shine on…”

something, something.

Guess what? It’s a song about a dad, (or Uncle, or grandpa, or…) who is on the moon with pride on the way to the hospital to see a newborn.

At least that’s what I heard.

Ouch!

Now I’m hearing my grandfather encouraging me to get to work.

Yes sir!

(P.S. Here is a link to the lyrics of I was listening to by Tony Lucca, click on what is highlighted blue , if you want, and have a good day. )

(P.P.S. And, a random link that came up in the search box, but don’t dare buck the ‘ole German work ethic much further: http://www.nbc.com/parenthood/music/ )

(P.P.P.S.) I tested the link to the lyrics and it is some other song. So. Much. Cool. Stuff.