What happiness can we find today? The tulip tree, a colleague’s smile, an idea that inspires, a glass of melodious tea, a steaming song…or maybe a poem.
All ways to enter in…into this connection with something bigger then ourselves.
Entering into the mystery of peace.
Sunrise by Mary Oliver
die for it–
or the world. People
have done so,
their small bodies be bound
to the stake,
fury of light. But
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun
for everyone just
as it rises
under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?
What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it
whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
It’s a rainy inside day. Doesn’t mean we still won’t go to the barn and have a rainy inside day there too.
Rainy inside days involve waking up at 9:30 AM and staying in ones Pajamas until 10:30, drinking coffee, reading, then writing, enjoying the fragrance of honeysuckle candles, opening up a window and listening the rain tap tap on the pavement.
Rainy inside days are like the gentle pause in a musical sentence, the breath before the words someone speaks.
A quick nip of writing before bed…
Some days I am simply…well….happy. Happy that the warmth of spring has finally awoken us all from the winter woes, happy with smell of fresh cut grass, happy with Schumann the marmalade fluff cat on my lap as I lounge on the deck, sunshine on my face, warm wind on my cheeks, happy that after two 14 hour days at work, and pushing through, I somehow…am still alive, happy that I found the enneagram, happy that I got rid of my cable box, happy for books, happy for good music, happy that I have a neighbor I can sit with on the porch and enjoy the spring with.
“Dan O’Grady, a psychologist and Living School student, told me recently that our negative and critical thoughts are like Velcro, they stick and hold; whereas our positive and joyful thoughts are like Teflon, they slide away. We have to deliberately choose to hold onto positive thoughts so that they can “imprint.” Observing my own habits of thought and in counseling others I see this to be profoundly true. The implications are enormous for individuals and for society.
Neuroscience can now demonstrate the brain indeed has a negative bias; the brain prefers to constellate around fearful, negative, or problematic situations. In fact, when a loving, positive, or unproblematic thing comes your way, you have to savor it consciously for at least fifteen seconds before it can harbor and store itself in your “implicit memory;” otherwise it doesn’t stick. We must indeed savor the good in order to significantly change our regular attitudes and moods. And we need to strictly monitor all the “Velcro” negative thoughts.”-Richard Rohr
These happy moments I savor. I hope to store them up in my mason jar of happy thoughts…15 seconds at a time.
Store them up for next winter or a rainy day, or a day where an ill wind blows my way, a day where blue seems the hue that shadows everything.
Let the canning season of happiness begin.
Good Friday mass is two hours long. We kneel for what I think is half the service. I like to kneel. I like how my knees start to go numb after about 10 minutes, eyes closed, and I have to focus on the colors of the backs of my eyelids, morphing purple and blue and gold. I like humbling myself in this way.
This day…is difficult.
My mystic self spends much of it focusing on the deep pain of the sacrificial love of Christ. I am filled with a deep grief as I walk into church and see the candles removed, the statues covered, the holy water dried up, everything…gone. The light of the world gone, I descend into darkness as I kneel with my head in my hands in prayer, covering my tears as the passion is sung in golden resonance by the priest.
I am in silent meditation, time ceases, the homily…I remember little, but I remember this…we show love with a kiss.
The crucifix in brought forth by the priest. I stay kneeling then rise, with head bowed I approach to kiss the cross in veneration.
“Mommy, where should I kiss Christ?” my daughter softly whispers to me.
“Wherever you feel called to.” I respond.
I approach the crucifix and bow low, lean forward and kiss the nail and the wound which it created…gently. I could not kiss any place but his feet. I wanted to stay there at his feet on my knees. My lips are greeted with the same gentle response, the light of the world on my lips. It was the lightest kiss I have given and the lightest kiss I have ever received. The light of the world in the wound. The gentleness of my Lord’s suffering on my lips. A gentle suffering, a wound I wanted to place myself in. All my transgressions in the nail, all my heartbreak in his wounds, all my healing lay in the giving…of a kiss.
The wound is where the light gets in.
“Words matter. Words that shimmer. Poetry is the language of which we have no defense for. The canvas of truth that facts cannot convey.”-Krista Tippet
Krista Tippet and Neil Gaiman in the same week, I am awe struck, inspired, reminded of my own beauty…and transformed by shimmering words. Krista was a writer and speaker who, like Neil, embodies presence.
Words do matter, what you say, matters, and we take words for granted, we speak without thinking, we write without thinking how what we say will make the other person feel.
“You know prophets by their disarming language. They are poets, poetry is the human voice.”-Walter Bruggerman
She continued with her own words, “Listening is not about being quiet it is about being present. It is powered by genuine curiosity.”
Her voice was kind and soft of the ears, her words were everything I believed in:
“Hope is not frivolous, it is reality based, it takes in the darkness and the light. It is a virtue, like patience, compassion, courage and love. Hope is a choice, a muscle that we flex. When we choose to live with these qualities we are called to surround ourselves with others like us. We should have companions who can carry hope for us on days that we can’t.”
I was fortunate to listen to Neil Gaiman read his short work about a single woman who finds a genie. The Genie grants her three wishes, to which she responds, “No…I’m good.”
The genie, shocked continues to give her options, a handsome man, or maybe a beautiful woman, all the riches in the world?
“No…I’m good.” She responds. “Would you like some tea?”
This may be one of my favorite short stories I have come across. You see, it is a parable for a strong love and whole relationship that starts with being whole in oneself. There is nothing to be given, demanded, some gaping hole to be filled…there is only life to be shared.
This is a peaceful love, but it starts with the greatest wish…which is wishing for nothing at all; nor desperately searching to give someone something (the Genie).
It is an invitation.
“Flowers, dinner at Bocca, a trip abroad?”
“No…that’s okay, I’m good.. But if you would like to sit and drink tea with me, or go for a walk with me, or eat soup with me, or read with me, or snuggle with me while watching 1940’s movies, then yes, but that’s not a wish…because…it’s just what I do…
….And I am good.”
Maybe I’ll get my own genie someday, maybe I won’t…either way…I’m good”
The lights dimmed, and Neil Gaiman walked to the podium.
His presence was that of an old friend you would have a cup of tea with. Everything about him reminded me of everything… everything that I held dear. He began with a speech he gave about the importance of books, and libraries, and why we should dream, and his childhood, and how books were saviors and libraries safe places, and I sat in timeless rapture as I felt my own childhood run back to me like a clumsy kid and wrap me up in it’s unconditionally loving arms. He spoke to my soul, he was a part of that same fabric of stars that I came from. Tears ran down my face. I know ….weird right? I’m crying at a perfectly non-sad fireside chat with a distinguished author. But it was such happiness to hear someone speak like I speak and think like I think and dream like I dream. And be writing…writing ….the joy of writing.
In the dark, I took off my heels and placed my bare feet on the floor.
“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different”-Neil Gaiman
Books created my discontent at an early age. My summers, like Neil’s, were spent at the local library, I would sit for hours, reading, and exploring other worlds and lives. I learned how to live in books, they taught me what my parents wouldn’t or couldn’t. They allowed me to travel and think without fear or shame or retribution. Books were escape back into reality for me. My love of books is something bordering on the sacred.
Neil understands this. Maybe all of us writers do. We understand the revolutionary power of the word.
Books create discontent for me now, I write to show often how discontented we ought to be sometimes. This “real” world is a bit mad. Look at the news, see how we treat each other, see how utterly disconnected we are from other human souls. Look at our own lives, how we hurt each other, how we say unkind things, or think unkind things, or shut down and tune out and blame.
I refuse! Done with those days.
“In the beginning…there was the word”….And I would add…”And the word is sound” Stories are live things. They are real things, they bring us into the most intimate places within the human spirit