but what does it mean?

Some of you already know of my struggle(s) with religion.

I believe in collective spiritual powers, I believe in searching for a meaning to life beyond meeting my and my family’s basic needs, I believe in the divinity in each of us, and that there is energy and joy and light beyond that which we can always understand. I believe that ritual and ceremony and community help us to remember that we are humble and human and part of whole which is bigger than the sum of each of us.

But I don’t believe in a Divine Creator, and if there is one, and he, that is, He, wanted “permission” to forgive us for our humanity, I can’t figure out how or why he needed someone to die to make it happen. I don’t believe in “one, true God” or that any one religion has the right answer and everyone else is either misguided or doomed.

I was just downstairs folding my laundry, and pondering the nature of the Christian religion — which I, as a music director in a Christian church, “partake” and “participate” in. This is one of the existential things I struggle with daily — the people at this church are good people doing good things in the community, which is really what I think of as religion at its best. But does my music help bring meaning and expression to their lives, or does it contribute to perpetuating a myth in which I don’t believe and which has on more than one occasion done more harm than good?

So, I was downstairs folding my laundry, and thinking about what this

oldruggedcrossmeans to people, and why it’s “necessary,” and wishing I could find a metaphor which would balance the barbarous and unnecessary act which it commemorates with something other than “He lives!”

And I came up and checked my email. One of my sisters had sent a copy of some writings for Easter week by the priest who had officiated at my father’s funeral in February. It reminded me, a little eerily, in fact, of what I had just written about it never being the end, about light being just around the corner.

He is writing about each of what is called “the Three Days.”  Specifically here, about what Saturday means as the day between Good Friday and Easter. I’m paraphrasing, because I think hope, and healing, and finding a new direction in life can happen without being bestowed upon us by God but through our own ingenuity, creativity, and strength.

We’re in a terrible position, but we have a promise that we only half believe. It’s after the doctor tells us we have cancer, but before we’re cured or find a new courage to cope with it. It’s after the marriage breaks up, but before the grief is healed. It’s after we’ve been laid off, but before we have found a new use for our gifts. Most of life is Saturday. No matter how bleak and dark Saturday gets, Sunday is coming, and it may be coming sooner than you think.

So it’s this, then: hope.

finally, a sign!

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The crocii have finally appeared! I had despaired of spring, and here they were this morning, peeking out between the oak leaves in my back yard (notice the light frost on the vinca leaves).  It’s been a long winter.I’ll let Blake say the rest, except for this: no matter how dark, or cold, the world you find yourself in, there may be light, waiting, just around the corner.

To Spring

O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
through the clear windows of the morning, turn
thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn’d
up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
and let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
kiss they perfumèd garments; let us taste
thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
upon our loesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her froth with thy fair fingers; pour
thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

William Blake (from Poetical Sketches, 1783)

too many words

can'tshutupHave pondered going on a silent retreat on some quiet isolated island somewhere. Husband says my head would explode, which just means that I can’t take him with me.

I wonder, often, how much we conform what we are thinking, or think we are feeling, to the words we can find to express it. Like when the world or our mood is colored by a dream we can barely remember, and as soon as we try to tell someone of the dream it all disappears.

Perhaps one of the reasons I like music, or poetry that suggests rather than itemizes.

So only a few words today, and they’re not mine, but Ann Carson’s, on the challenge and evocative nature of translating:

Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light. Human words have no main switch. But all those little kidnaps in the dark. And then the luminous, big, shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of them that hangs in your mind when you turn back to the page. . .

All those little kidnaps in the dark.

The barking web of them.

Just, yes.

where to find it. . .

Part of my thought process, and of conversation with some of my followers, has been regarding where “Happiness” can actually be found.

I think there are things in our lives that we would say “Make” us happy — our life partner, successful children, satisfying work, a good meal, a nice Barolo.

But we also know that this isn’t really what I’m talking about.

I’m trying to find the happiness that lasts, that persists despite an outer circumstance that would not be of my choosing.

I don’t want to be Pollyanna, necessarily; but maybe  B. K. S. Iyengar.

He writes: To feel is a verb; it is something that happens. We all feel.  Emotion is a noun, a thing. To feel is beautiful, belonging to both the animal and the human condition. When we allow feelings to harden and coalesce into emotions, which we transport like overburdened slaves, we deny ourselves life’s freshness, its ever-present potential for renewal and transformation. We waste so much energy through allowing our emotions to govern us. . .In a healthy organism, feelings should pass like clouds over the sun.

So I’ve been thinking about this feeling vs. emotion, happiness vs. “Happiness.”

I think the answer is in gratitude, and in just living. (Just. As if it’s just that easy.)

Even if we have lost something dear to us, we had it. And even if we lose something that matters, we have other things that we were once really grateful for and probably have still, and maybe keeping that in front of us, within us, can balance out the pain of what we’ve lost.

When I fell in love with my husband, I felt myself wake up after what seemed like a really long time spent walking around like a somnambulist. In all those years before I was doing stuff, I was productive, I was meeting my obligations, but it was all like playing a role in a really long play (Synechdoche, NY comes to mind).

I sent him this poem once, and had an acronym of the last line engraved inside his wedding band:

Siehe, ich lebe.
Woraus?
Weder Kindheit noch Zukunft werden weniger. . .
Überzähliges Dasein entspringt mir im Herzen.    (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Look, I am living.
On what?
Neither childhood nor future grows any smaller. . .
Superabundant being wells up in my heart.

I had it, which means I could lose it. But I had it, and because I had it once, I have it all still.

cheating, aka I should probably save this for tomorrow

My brother posted this recently on our family blog — the one we started right after we lost our second parent at the end of January.

I’m not a big fan of the musical style — a bit too much screaming guitars for my taste; but the words are powerful, and the images even more so. If you don’t like the music watch it with the sound off, and then read the poem.

I cry every time I watch it.

Life is short. Too short. Get out there and live it, and keep your eyes fixed on the sun.

Shake Me Down

Shake me down, not a lot of people left around
Who knows now? Softly laying on the ground,
Not a lot people left around.

In my life, I have seen people walk into the sea
Just to find memories, plagued by constant misery
Their eyes cast down, fixed upon the ground
Their eyes cast down
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Shake me down, cut my hair on a silver cloud
Broken sound
Softly laying on the ground,
Not a lot people left around,

In my past, bittersweet, there’s no love between the sheets
Taste the blood, broken dreams, lonely times indeed
With eyes cast down, fixed upon the ground
With eyes cast down
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Turn back, now it’s time for me to let go
Way down, had to find a place to lay low
Lampshade turned around into a light post

Walk around the corner, never saw it coming
Still I try to make a move, it almost stopped me from believin’
I don’t wanna know the future
But I’m like rolling thunder

Even on a cloudy day, even on a cloudy day
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Shake me down
Not a lot of people left around