pins and needles and why it matters…
land of the free and the brave. land i want to be home to the kind and the gentle. and the fair and the just. land where truth is the national language, the one we expect to hear and to speak, the one that rings from sea to shining sea. land where we’re blind to the melanin that colors our skin, but not blind to the sins we’ve borne until now. still bear. land where bullies get sent to the principal’s office. and aren’t allowed on the playground, not till they right their ways. land where some big-hearted, big-eared soul sits down to listen, to find out why the bully’s so mean. land of confession. land where we fall to our knees, open our heart, and spill out our sins. where we say we’re sorry, so sorry, and we mean it. where we do right, right our wrongs. make up for the shatters and hurt we’ve left in our wake.
that’s the nation i want to belong to. that’s the world i want to populate, for the short time i get to be here.
it’s all evanescent. we’re not here for long. we’ve one short shot at weaving our one single thread into the tapestry. i aim for my thread to be radiant. too often it’s frayed. falls short. but the thing is, day after day, i clamber out of bed and i set my mind to living the promise: love as you would be loved. reach beyond your own borders. imagine how it feels to live in the other guy’s shoes. to be strapped with the load that he or she was born into, picked up along the way. the stuff that broke and scarred and left scabs that never quite healed.
i reach for the stars, for the heavens. my own personal plot, the one by which i measure my life, is to open the doorway to heaven here on earth. to make it all a little bit kinder, gentler, to love as i would be loved.
the thing is when you grow up knowing hurt, you sometimes decide to dedicate your every blessed hour to doing all you can to not let it happen to anyone else. to be, as blessed st. francis put it, the instrument of peace. to be the consoler. the sower of love. it’s a prayer i pray every day of my life.
i pray for that hope to spread like a rash. once upon a time i believed we could cure the world of the scourge of hunger, fill every last belly. now i’m sinking my hopes into the radical notion that we could all — just for one day, maybe even for longer — stop with the ugliness, put down the guns, dial down the incessant noise. stop seeing the world in us versus them.
for God’s sake: be still. breathe in the deep and calming oxygen of pure unfiltered kindness. imagine forgiveness.
i believe in capital D Decency. i believe in resurrection and redemption. i believe in the hard-rock capital of empathy. i’m willing to hope we can find it again. i’m not certain. but i cast my vote for all the holiness i believe in, the holiness that is the architecture, the underpinning, the spine and the sinew of my every blessed day.
and that’s why i wait, holding my breath, awaking in the night to peek at the numbers, to see if there’s half a chance we might become a more perfect union. one where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is spelled out in three hundred million-plus variations on the theme. but one where justice, and fairness, and truth is the least common denominator. the one we strap on each and every morning, and take it from there. there is so much work to be done….
let us begin.
what are the threads of the world you believe in? the one that deep in your heart waits to be born?
it’s a scary thing to put yourself out there, to lay it all on the line. but this moment demands unfiltered courage in all its iterations. mine lies in saying it aloud, in whispering my heart’s deepest prayers. maybe i’m not alone…
Oh Barb, I have tears in my eyes. This was absolutely beautiful… I am so moved by your depth and kindness and your beautiful capacity to express things soooooo well! I feel so blessed to know you. Thank you so much for this!
Sent from my iPhone
beautiful jacqueline……bless YOU and thank you for reading, for pulling up a chair at this most blessed truth-telling table. it’s a scary thing to say aloud what you believe in, but if we don’t, we let the other voices fill in the void. and our whispers, even when trembling, need to count for what they are…..
Thanks for your message. I needed it today. Be well
oh, dear jane, it is SOOOO good to find you here. i always picture you popping out from behind harvard’s gate. from the first day i laid eyes on you, i saw your gentle yet fierce spirit. i loved it right away…..
You are not alone. ❤️
EXACTLY what I was going to say. xoxoxo
bless you both. what i love most about the chair is that we are all not alone. all of us who sometimes feel certain we are….xoxoxoxox
oh, my! i just found this marvelous wonderful article about barbara cooney the brilliant soul behind our beloved Miss Rumphius, she who worked to leave the world more beautiful, she who cast lupine seeds to do so…..
savor this piece of wonderfulness today, from our friends at The Atlantic:
You are NOT alone.
Thank you for your honest and deeply heartfelt sharing. It is beautiful and expresses my hurting heart, as well. So surprised at the emotional roller coaster I have experienced this week. Lots of tears along the ride. I am so saddened by the division in our country – way deeper than I realized.
Storming the heavens for a return to “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for ALL.”
beautiful. that last line just leapt out at me like never before. i echo every one of your sentences: the hurting hearts, hurting so much we almost got used to not breathing, to feeling crushed. i can’t wait to get tears in my eyes when my heart is uplifted again, when the words that are spoken make me believe in the hard-to-reach.
and the division. the guns. the bombast. it comes from all sides. just the other night my firstborn looked out his windows in portland to see the storming of the city, windows shattered all along street fronts. a church that served the homeless, now shattered and shuttered. restaurants barely limping along, now sweeping up the shards of glass, wondering where they’ll squeeze out the money to get the windows back again.
why oh why all the ugliness? have we run out of words that might bridge the fissures? can we not find room for all of us to live in a peaceable kingdom?
“it’s a scary thing to say aloud what you believe in, but if we don’t, we let the other voices fill in the void. and our whispers, even when trembling, need to count for what they are…..”
I picture the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street….and I say stand strong, and firm, and confident, grounded in what you know is your Truth and your Hope. And so many others’ as well.
This piece ought to have a place in the Perspective/Commentary section of a national newspaper…it deserves a wider audience.
you are so so kind. and i love that picture of “fearless girl” now in my head. i should tuck her statue in the shelf where i keep on my work supplies. or right here on my already-too-small old pine writing table. i will forever miss the days of newspaper bylines, and over the years writing here means everything. i love all you chairs. xoxoxoxo and our virtual, much-scratched, very-coffee-spilled old table….
I, too, long for that peaceable kingdom… Speed the day! This has been an interminable four years… I have felt the weight of this administration every single day of these past four years like a rock upon my chest…
Thank you for this beautiful post, for being a sower of love…. I cherish this garden, your garden of hope and charity and lovingkindness. xoxo
how blessed, though, that we have weathered it together. all of us propping each other up on those days when the rock on our chest hurt soo soo much, and we didn’t know from whence the next breath might come….
hello dear soul-
your book is in my bag, waiting to take a secluded break under the sun- I won’t even peek until sand sifts through my toes.
well, it’s the moon and the stars for me, the sun rising and falling the tide moving in, moving out- the way the leaves fall and do their death dance as i motor through them, seeing them scatter and hoping the colors that don’t last do, in my memory. is there anything more decent than the notice of it- the occurences of deep hurt, deep ravines of confusion and chaos, yet acknowledging the beauty there and in the navigators- such as you,who attempt to quilt all together with the pointed needle of words, all the tatters all the triumphs. many, many folks hurt, made alone by the madness yet shining more bright, more resilient in spite of the dark that can’t pervade, won’t prevail as long as you and i notice, reflect- try to profoundly peace it all together. ahhh, peace- i have found more of that through all of this…i had to, as though my very hope was in neutral, waiting for the time the hill got steeper, the storm got stronger to shift from my heart deep in my chest, now once again- to the dependable heart i wear on my sleeve, necessary as any mask one must wear these days, the least we can do for one another and in wearing those masks, maybe without even meaning to- we’re showing without words, without animation in our faces that decency is there, the act of twining elastic around our ears and breathing through cloth that may or may not protect us but lets all who notice know- i do not wish to harm you, the least i can do. we do not know yet, perhaps what the most one can do- but i think that’s where we’re at, wondering -is this the time to fully throttle and open up our hearts, our scars, our terrors our trembling spirits? what is the most i can do now? i’ve weathered the storm, the tsunamis of desparation…what can i do with that besides give tiny creedance to the hurt of it, and big yelps to the wisdom of it- can that help here, where dreams drown and shorelines blur for so many? i think it’s the only thing that matters after all, taking your heart- putting it out there, showing those near and far- we all tremble, we all worry, we all hurt and ache over life’s fairness and unfairness. maybe the uncivility at the moment is that last thin skin of desparation that begs to be ripped away, the ultimate mask. have we not called the no good doers out? have we not stated in recent days by vote- we cannot align with the lesser of evils, with the least of it…
(longwinded, sorry- but my heart i did stow away for some time- yet again, you knocked and it answered. forever grateful for your lovely intrusions in my life.)
oh, my dear beloved true wonder! is it any wonder i fell in love with you — your mind-blowing wisdom — as we walked the fields of Beau’s Farm (you and joe even share a beau), as we rocked in the porch swing, in and out across the arc, as mama robin kept time from her nest up above? is it any wonder that a soul as glorious as you and yours felt like love falling into my own heart the first time i met you, as i watched you wash off the japanese beetles from your garden, as you walked me to your scarecrow, as you opened up the world of thin places, pointing me toward your slant-lit barn where you told me you went to cry in God’s arms???
oh, true wonder. you only grow more and more true and wonder-filled as the years and the adventures go on?
i cannot tell you the joy in finding you here, in reading your words, in knowing you too are finally pulling the cork out, and letting hope and peace rush in.
oh my true wonder, you make me want to leap in my old red station wagon and drive to your new farm, your farm up in maine. you frame the language of the heart like nobody else can.
your hard-won, hard-chiseled wisdom and love, it is holy salvation to me and my beat-down soul.
i love you. xoxoxoxox
Thank you for saying what was spinning around in my head but couldn’t quite meld into a cohesive thought. You have given me hope.
i think we’ve all been spinning in our heads. and the new-coming calm is going to be sweeter than ever…..oh, glory be!
For a New Beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
~ John O’Donohue ~