Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank You For

the night at the end of the burning world,

the red bones where my flesh still hangs,

the woods beyond the reach of human voices,

the gulfs that engulf and bind,

and the light that blinds.

And thank You also for procession,

for reach

and gravity,

for the literal tree on the literal green hill,

for the transparency of upraised arms

and for the world caught in convex water.

I thank You most of all for You
and for Your signs:

for dappled yellow waving against blue,

for the path that spiky lanterns light

and for the for the bower of stars, that, sunk in self
I, forgive me, often fail to see.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What I Had Forgotten

Warm, wet night. I come home to a dozen moths flattened out in porchlight on the vinyl siding by the back door. Small, dull things with frayed wings, pitiful, dignified. Damp bits of feathery protoplasm nearing the end of their days. Empathy collapses at the starting line. Compassion surges.

What's that line from Neruda ? A veces me canso de ser hombre -- sometimes I am tired of being human.

What can be added to or subtracted from moths in the porchlight of a damp November night ?

Earlier tonight I was in an unaccustomed grocery buying gift cards for church Thanksgiving baskets. It's on a crowded bit of the town's main drag. The rainy night and the traffic were grating on my nerves. It had been an awful week at work and I came into the weekend unrested and jangled, dreading Saturday call and already dreading Monday. I'd been running a rat race on a treadmill with my nose and shoulder simultaneously wheeling and grindstoning and there was no end in sight.

Sunk in a foggy reverie, I watched the pleasant, helpful young woman at the service desk neatly label each card and set them in envelopes.

"Thanksgiving ?" she asked, casually, as she worked.

"Yes," I answered, startled, briefly awake,


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Labora et Labora

Advent is coming, and, if you ask me, not a moment too soon.

I am sick of the Jolly Green Giant of ordinary time. So what is this, already, proper 67 ? Deo gratias for today's All Saints' flash of white, and the white of Christ The King three weeks hence.

I may squint at it, deer-in-the-headlights, and cower; I may choke up, improbably, inexplicably but predictably, singing Lesbia Scott's rollicking I Sing a Song of the Saints of God with its doctors and wild beasts and tea shops; I am, after all, a theological hysteric, given to hand-wringing and invocations of the outer darkness, to adulterous pinings after Zendos and the Vatican. But I know what I like, and its the two grand penitential seasons of the Church Year.

Bring on the bolts of ecchymotic, early-twilight purple, I say. Bring them on !

Advent is lack. Emptiness. The time before. It is a compound of dark and cold, mourning and desire. It is bereavement, yearning, bafflement. It is interrogation, silence; it is a hand pressed to the chest.

It is a whistle in the dark in the saddest key.

What better place to celebrate the advent of Advent than in an empty autumnal community garden, reveling in the decay that follows the harvest, ecstatic in a screeching, oddly warm wind ?

Oh, the affinities I feel with the bedraggled and overlooked ears of corn !

and with the bittersweet pods that have refused to open !

And with the pod-like sleigh bells, patiently awaiting what lies beyond the furious combustion of these last autumnal days,

when the ruddy season plummets over the edge and and freezes white.

In the meantime, I am all thorn and dead air. Not much is getting through the labora et labora of my recent days. Little flashes of white, someone's cold hand, an inkling of what lies beyond Advent; of what, of course, is already and always present,

but that I flinch from and flee, preferring the shell and the shadowy leaf-cradle

to that hard light.