Thursday, January 5, 2012

I read this, this, and this tonight. I used to search these stories out so that I could frame my life, know what to want, what to expect.

I read these kinds of things differently than I used to. I don't seek out these stories anymore to quench my former thirst for love stories or to dictate what my life might (assumed would) be like. But I do allow my heart to host the profound happiness of my friends and, when I come across it, the from-afar happiness of thoughtful writers who share the delights and difficulties of their lives.

It feels like the first time I read T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. A loveliness I can absorb, somehow understanding and not understanding all at the same time. It's a good feeling.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

thoughts from someone I'd love to know

Her name is Megan, she owns a bakery in San Francisco, she used to be an English teacher, and she does yoga. We have half of those things in common! More like one and a half, since I'm still teaching English. I found her blog through Smitten Kitchen and after reading her lovely thoughts tonight, I've decided that I should frequent her blog more often.

Also, I made cookies tonight (these), so the title of her post was quite fitting. Even though I ate way too many and feel a bit regretful. Cookie hangover.
Anyway, check out a sweet spoonful and enjoy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

an evening with augustine

I'm reading Confessions with my students, and they are responding so thoughtfully. Because of a scheduling conflict, one of my students is reading it independently of the class; today she walked into my classroom at the end of the day and told me that she loves it.

Those simple responses really make my day. I personally feel conflicted in regards to Augustine's confession, especially his penchant for self-punishment, but I respond quite deeply to his ability to envision spiritual restitution.

"But just as it commonly happens that a person who has experienced a bad physician is afraid of entrusting himself to a good one, so it was with the health of my soul. While it could be healed by believing, it was refusing to be healed for fear of believing what is false. It resisted your healing hands, though you have prepared the medicines of faith, have applied them to the sicknesses of the world, and have given them such power." Confessions VI.iv.6

I read that tonight and responded in the spirit of this poem:

There will be a book that includes these pages,
and she who takes it in her hands
will sit staring at it a long time,

until she feels that she is being held
and you are writing.

(you guessed it)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I come home from the soaring
in which I lost myself.

For the past week or so, I've been reading for 15 minutes when I wake up and 15 minutes before I go to bed. After a few days, I couldn't resist journaling each time. In the morning, I've been reading Ann Voskamp's book and I write down an insight or two that I anticipate will carry me through the day. Or at least get me started with hope. At night, I usually read Rilke or the Psalms and journal a few lines that bring me comfort. I've come to think of these times as my Matins and Vespers, morning and evenings prayers. Maybe not prayer so much as re-centering. It's been hard to pray these months, but I will read poetry and feel my spirits lift. That's enough for now.

Tonight I read a couple lines from Rilke that named the movement in my soul this past week of re-centering. If I'm being honest, I think he's alluding to a more positive "soaring"...being lost in God. My lostness has been Dante's "dark woods" of despair, knowing God is there, just maybe not for me. But I read these lines and I anticipate the expressions of gratitude I will read in the morning and I believe a little more that the dark woods are not the end of my journey.

I come home from the soaring
in which I lost myself.

Now I am still
and plain:
no more words.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

i don't seem to be able to depart

This song is one of those that is difficult to listen to for the same reasons that it's irresistible - the weight of his voice and the lyrics. And those horns. I just can't pass it up.

We've got another thing coming undone
and it's taking us over
and it's taking forever
You, God, who live next door -

If at times, thought the long night, I trouble you
with my urgent knocking -
this is why: I hear you breathe so seldom.
I know you're all alone in that room.
If you should be thirsty, there's no one
to get you a glass of water.
I wait listening, always. Just give me a sign!
I'm right here.

As it happens, the wall between us
is very thin. Why couldn't a cry
from one of us
break it down? It would crumble

it would barely make a sound.


I keep encountering the idea of waiting. I think of Rilke, David Rosenberg's translation of the Psalms, and Waiting for Godot, which wrenched my heart (and bored my students) the first time I read it this past year.

I wait listening, always.

Just makes me think of those brothers. I skimmed Waiting for Godot again and there are several lines I'd love to share, but that gets tiresome if you haven't read the play. Maybe this is presumptuous of me, but I think the the following exchange illustrates simply the universal affliction of a hope deferred.

Vladimir: A—. What are you insinuating? That we've come to the wrong place?
Estragon: He should be here.
Vladimir: He didn't say for sure he'd come.
Estragon: And if he doesn't come?
Vladimir: We'll come back tomorrow.
Estragon: And then the day after tomorrow.
Vladimir Possibly.
Estragon: And so on.
Vladimir: The point is—
Estragon: Until he comes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the rest of the poem

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing -
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones -
or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.
I never want to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

I would describe myself
like a landscape I've studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I'm coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother's face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.

Poem after poem, I encounter the weight of his bare desires and simply spoken images.

Monday, August 22, 2011

a night with rilke

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.