Thursday, May 25, 2017

A friend in disguise

Our disappointment, our emptiness, our loneliness, our grief, our fear — each is a friend in disguise, with infinite patience and confidence in our ability to understand ourselves and be free. Pain isn’t failure, it’s a perfect remedy. And, like the true friend it is, it always arrives at the right time, when it’s most surely needed. The wealth and beauty of life is never hidden. It is we who are in hiding. But hide as we will, our pain knows where we are. Drugs, alcohol, work, and all of the other time-honored forms of distraction might bring temporary relief. They might even kill us. Or we might kill ourselves. Quickly or slowly, it amounts to the same. But to delve into our pain — to embrace it, to love it, to sit with it and ask it what it’s trying to reveal — is an act of courage, grace, and humanity. It is an act far more powerful than the things we run from and rail against. To put it another way, how can we expect our lives to flower if we aren’t willing to accept everything love has to offer? How can we live to our potential and be a positive force in this world if we aren’t willing to examine, each according to our own lights and experiences, that which makes us uncomfortable or miserable? And so I ask, shall we run to our graves, or go singing? Shall we pronounce judgment on what we think are the shortcomings of others, or rejoice that they too are tormented by these divine messengers and angels?

Canvas 907

Canvas 907

May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Three days

Ninety-five, eighty-nine, and sixty-five degrees, along with windswept clouds of yellow pine pollen. When I reached the corner stop sign, a large hairy shirtless man rolled by in his rundown pickup, as casually as if he were crossing the street to get his mail. Three days. What is the name of that tall spiky flower that looks like a hollyhock but has different leaves? I never carry a mobile phone. I don’t have one. I have shovels, rakes, and hoes, and a little claw-shaped cultivator for when a flowerbed wants its back scratched. A pile of sticks. Some cucumber cages. Clippers. Sweet peas. Several worn out brooms. Old jeans. Church bells. The noon whistle. And by have I mean in the lightest possible way. A ghost-having. A floral cloud-spray. A kind of graveside sparrow-singing tree-breathing seed-sprouting now-where-were-we, love? kind of way. All for the nonce, here but once, forever and never kind of way. A work that is play kind of way. And suddenly, your hand is held.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One thing we can learn from flowers

One thing we can learn from flowers
is how to meet one another
with an open, welcoming face . . .

Imagine young parents pushing strollers
filled with flowers . . .

Through gardens of children
blooming in the last May showers . . .

And an earth rejoicing in the human race . . .

Friday, May 19, 2017

Be kind to a child

One hardly needs the “weather people” to tell him there’s a patch of warm, dry weather ahead. The sudden eruption of anthills tells the story. The sidewalk cracks are loaded with them, and their groundbreaking trails run off into the neighboring flowerbeds, as the cry goes up to get back to work after the long layoff brought on by over fifty-five inches of rain. Hard hats, jack hammers, ant railroads, “Tie up the boats,” I hear them cry, “we’re going ashore!” Naturally, I step over them. “Thanks, Bill. How are things up the street?” “Well,” I answer, “the neighbor was awfully hard on her son this morning as he was getting ready to peddle off to school. I felt terrible about it. The morning is so beautiful, you know, especially in this early hour. Her voice sounded like a sad trumpet, and the boy, who is about fourteen, was obviously embarrassed for her and ashamed when I happened by. I tried to make myself invisible. It worked for her, but not for him. The scent-laden hush of the atmosphere was lost to her. But let’s hope it’s temporary. And you? How’s the family?” “Hard to keep track of.” And so on. Now. Where were we? Oh, yes. Tomorrow is my birthday. We’ll be away forever or for a few hours, the computer will be off, the spirits will have full run of the house, and I will be even more out of touch than usual. In the meantime, think good thoughts, or, better yet, don’t think at all. Sing. Dig a hole. Be kind to a child. And remember, that child is yourself.

Canvas 905

Canvas 905

May 19, 2017