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where wisdom gathers, poetry unfolds and divine light is sparked…

Month: May, 2008

pummeled but still standing…

oh, lord, i wish you could have seen the rains. the kind that come as if a trough, or ten, suddenly is dumped. the kind that come swooshing in at sideways angles. not straight, not down, more like from a firehose. the kind that make you think you’re on the wild seas, and your boat’s capsized, and, gulp, you’re taking water.

i, being defiant to the darkening skies, had all the windows open just last eve. there was a symphony outside, i swear. i was tuned in to station evensong, when, just before their bedtime, all the blessed, breathy birds empty out their lungs. twill. warble. hit notes so high it’s amazing plates don’t break. it’s shocking that no agents book them for the met, i tell you, their song’s so pure, so sure to get on-your-feet ovations.

i didn’t want to miss a stanza, so i dared the looming clouds not to mess with me. (note to self: be no such fool to think that you can stave the rains.)

at once, as i was thwopping garlic-mashed potatoes, the sky went limey green and oddest shade of gray.
that was the wink, i’m pretty sure, from cloud to cloud, to say, “let rip!”

and rip, they did.

crack of thunder marked the start of this decided race, to see which cloud could drop the most, the fastest: in a flash, the world seemed underwater.

pummel. splatter. rain and more rain. doors blew open. a plate blew off a shelf, bounced and, somehow, somehow, didn’t shatter. or even take a ding.

all i could do was stand and hold my open palms across my drop-jawed mouth. oh, no, i cried. this cannot be. my little baby flowers. all the blossoms will be lost. how cruel. i cannot watch.

but then, of course, just like when i try to hide from scary movies, i kept one eye glued on all the gory detail: i witnessed, yes i did, magnolia petals ripped from where they clung to branches, then cascade to puddles pooled where once, not long before, there’d been a plain old garden. i heard, so help me, those falling petals’ final cries for mercy.

i saw daffodils curl their spines and try to shield each other from the unforgiving rains.

i couldn’t even fathom the soggy end of so much hard-won promise.

i had urge to run outside. tie teeny-tiny rain bonnets on every branch and stem. the plastic, see-through sort my grandma wore, when she’d just had her hair done, and didn’t want it sodden.

instead, i stood and prayed.

tried to think just what the lesson this was: hold your breath for blooming. get close to going down. but then, rise with warming winds, and blooms that dare unfurl. only to be shaken, rocked and pummeled. to lose your petals in a fit of angry storm.

some lesson that would be. i might check out and find another school.

but, no, that wasn’t it.

it was dark before the rains stopped. so i could hardly tally all the lost and wounded. instead i went to sleep. tossed and turned. woke up early. tiptoed out to check up on my world.

what you see above is my resilient wonder. oh, she’s been knocked a bit. her hair’s a mess, you’ll see, if you look quite closely. (oh, go ahead, she won’t be embarrassed. she knows she nearly got pureed in the cloud-burst cuisinart.)

but she is wholly there. all seven open throats. just a little sore from all the gulping down of horizontal rain. she is even puff-puff-puffing the early notes of her intoxicating, rare perfume.

and on this dawn, after all that rain and fright, i’d say she’s lovelier than ever. for almost being lost, in the middle of her show.

which, once again, reminds me: hold on. have faith. and never mind a head of tousled locks.

hullo, if you’re just jumping in here. we are in the midst of watching one blessed bloom unfold. of course, this being the cyber-age, most folks would set up fancy-schmancy camera and record it all in one fell swoop, then post it as a vid-e-o. not me. i use this old black box as if it were a simple typewriter with stamps that work at high-speed. i lick the envelope, and click, it lands right in your mailbox. so, of course, we are doing this the slow way. the one-day-at-a-time way. we will watch, until she fades into a memory of this holy sacred spring. (fear not, you who might be yawning, we will interrupt the show to bring you unrelated bulletins as they are filed…..)

what a difference a day makes…

there she is, my lung-filling, nose-tickling, olfactory factory. just gearin’ up, she is. those high notes and low notes and dancin’-in-the-middle notes, just starting to chug out her pink-throated chimneys.

she is the thing i’ve been waiting for, tracking like a kook, or some sort of nosey neighbor who can’t keep my eyeballs from peeking over the fence, keeping tabs on all the kitchen drama i can decipher through the flimsy next-door curtains.

we’ve been watching, you and i, and anyone else who tunes in. to this channel called the spring, a serial that won’t stop, despite the weather insults and assorted curveballs.

have you ever been drunk on a smell? inebriated by a perfume? is there some scent somewhere that takes you back, as mere lick of madeleine carried proust?

all i know is for the days when she’s in bloom, when she puts forth like only maybe marilyn monroe has ever done, well, watch out. steer clear. or else you’ll not get one thing done.

you’ll shimmy up beside her. you’ll pretend you’re doing asthma exercises. you’ll breathe so deep, you might be on the verge of bursting alveoli, those little sacs inside your lungs that sometimes are subjected to nasty chemical equations.

just think: those wee balloons devote their days and nights to taking in your world’s unpleasantries–gas burners leaking, cars with mufflers long past time for cleaning, the broccoli burned night after night by some distracted cook.

have those airy soldiers not earned the right, the privilege, the pure honor to spend these sweet few days aswirl in redolence?

my unfurling spice viburnum is not yet in deep full-throttle, so to tell you what you’re missing, i will have to go here on the dregs of my ol’ memory. let’s see, i’d describe her notes as part bubble-bath, part deep-woods, part lady-in-a-crowd-who-makes-you-turn-your-head-and-sniff.

got that?

oh, hmm. darn.

well, then, i’ll try again: part-strawberry-jam-on-buttered-toast, part lily-of-the-valley, part south-seas-island. with, oh yes, a dash of nutmeg.

oh, dang, perhaps i’ll simply have to airmail a sprig for every one of you.

or, maybe, by the time she’s exuberantly in her glory, i’ll have figured out how to record her smell, and send it out from these here pages. (note to technical committee: get on it.)

till then, breathe deeply. you just might catch a whiff. and stay tuned. this live broadcast of my burnin’ bush will not pause for weekends. we’ll be back to bring the story as it unfolds.

and, by the way, is it not enchanting, edifying, and plain old smashing, the difference that a day makes?

oh, that we could always measure progress with such sweep-me-off-my-feet, stark distinctions day-by-day.

again, it might well be the wisdom of the spring to remind us that even when it can’t be marked, or clocked, or framed in ever-changing pictures, there is always the possibility that one day might be so different from the next.

so wholly resurrecting.

what lessons does the spring bring you? and can you smell my sweet viburnum yet?

this one’s for those who believe….

overnight, really, the pulsing reached a throbbing, and then, with help of fairies yanking on a web of silken cords, that little bud relinquished, dropped its tightly guarded hold.

relax, the fairies must have whispered. it’s time now. you can let go. not hide your face. don’t be shy. be bold. tonight’s the night when, at last, this one time only, you unfold. stick your neck out. inhale the world, while all the world readies to inhale you. drink you. dance with you.

and so, it’s morning now. the night is slipped away. dawn came. the ever-reaching fingers of the light. the whole world went from indigo to washed-out blue to white.

and when i tiptoed down the stairs, there it was. just waiting. coyly there atop the tangled branches that i love, get caught in, every spring and all year round, its unruly tendrils reaching out to trip me, ensnare me in its messy hold.

didn’t say a word, that bud-becoming-blossom. hasn’t yet been joined in company, by all the other tight pink buds that, too, are pulsing. but not yet throbbing. the fairies haven’t yet been called. tonight maybe. perhaps when darkness, the cloak those fairies love, comes again.

i think, perhaps, i might camp out. keep watch. sit just beneath their yanking place, where they set up their net of cords, and one-two-three-pull-gently-now.

might see if i can catch the miracle myself. watch how the little petals do their backbends to the moon. try to be there when the perfume button’s pushed. and all the world’s awash in eau de korean spice viburnum. heady scent if ever there was one. one i wait all year for.

one i could drown in. and be happy till my last glug-glug.

so that, i think, is how the flowers bloom. in dark of night. on fairy strings. a choreography of whispers, and shared participation.

not a single bloom can bloom, i’m sure, without the orchestra of tuggers and pullers who come and do their little magic dance.

and so it is with all of us. us who, sometimes, are curled up in a ball at the end of our lone stem. we can’t budge. can’t figure out how in the world the whole unfurling works. we could sit there for days and weeks. pore over instruction manuals, try to make sense of all the diagrams.

but without a web of fairy whispers–in the form, of course, of gentle unrelenting words of love, of friends who won’t back down, who won’t leave us out there on the dangling distal branch, who coax and tug and squeeze our hand on the days we can’t see straight–wouldn’t all the world be curled-up little balls of beauty never seen?

blessings on the lot of you who rounded ‘round my sorry self. i think, perhaps, the life’s work of spring might be to sniff around and try to find the unfurled knots of hope, and joys not yet tasted.

perhaps we all need be the fairy circles who gently do the work, so ones we love–and ones who know no love–can stretch their petals and drink in the holy sunshine.

amid my yesterday’s wobbling, my blessed friend sosser quoted maira kalman, the brilliant illustrator and seer of the world, who says perseverance is the thing. simply getting back up the next morning. and so, for maira–and sosser and all of you, and most especially for myself–i got back up. here i am this morning.
here’s the marvelous wonderful quote, worth taping to your wall, as it’s taped at sosser’s house….

“i do the best i can which means i try not to do it right but just to do it as i feel and as i see.  getting it right is not a good goal.  the biggest secret is perseverance.  just not stopping no matter what.  i do everything i do because i love to do it, even when i worry or am confused or slightly in despair.  those feelings usually pass.  and then the next day is there.  always a good thing.  the next day.” -maira kalman

one more thing, it’s may day. don’t forget to rub the morning’s dew upon your face. here’s why.

and happy blessed birthdays to julia who turns 15 today, and little angel who turned 5 just yesterday…..blessings to you both…..
oh, xoxo

you do see, up in that snap above, the little bit of difference between yesterday’s and today’s unfurling blossom? you do see that one little baby poking its pink head up, just a little higher, softer, than all the rest? stay tuned. we will all behold the miracle of unfolding here together….