Sunday, June 24, 2012

Can We Adapt to Change?

End of June:  cosmos blooming, zinnia seedlings popping up; week-old chicks trying out their new wings; leeks mostly harvested; some peaches rescued from the squirrels; picking my biggest crop of Gravenstein apples to make canned apples for the winter; first batch of borsch in freezer; making pickles today from my own cukes, onions, and peppers.  Back in March?  A strange, unpredictable spring, and yet...


The Telling that Changes Everything XI. March 4, 2012

We have it all: the numbing, merciless cold
and the beneficent sun rays rousing all the
juices of spring–animal, vegetable, human.
Will I lose my peaches because sun has 
lured them into early bloom time and
a hoarfrost lurks around the corner?  Last
night’s rain nurtures the new roots of leeks
and onion plants, brings insects and
earthworms to the surface where the hens 
scratch and pounce, feeding on their native
diet.  I pull them chickweed, which is
impervious to frost and relishes both rain
and sun.  I am whole and hale in my aging
time, but I lose companions, like Odysseus
did.  I walk, garden, eat well, create, to stay
lively, but even so my flesh being firm as
I approach seventy-five is a gift, one of
many I’ve had in my lifetime.  To live
long is to lose much, yet I want to live
and do, as Susan says, the best I can.
I am able to write and publish books.  
I am able to see into the souls around
me, even tame them, as the Little Prince
did.  That, too, is a gift I must not abuse.
I carry my years lightly, and yet sorrow 
sits on my heart for all the losses, for the 
lack of wisdom, the inability, in so many
people, even to see what benefits them,
what helps them thrive.  Yet the Great
Mother, our planet home, teaches us
the same lessons over and over.  If we
don’t adapt, if we refuse to cope, if we
become passive and inert, if we say,
“It’s too hard,” we die.  To live well, 
to stay our whole life course and make
our final homeward journey, we have 
only one choice: to pay close attention
to the world within and the world without.
The grain of the universe doesn’t destroy
us unless we let it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Ways of Looking at Things

Judy's figs


The Telling that Changes Everything VI.

January 8, 2012

There are two ways of looking at things.
I learned this the hard way.  I had hints.
At the end of The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis
takes the children through a stable and
into the Elysian Fields.*  The dwarves,
right behind them, see only the stable
and not the beautiful meadow.  I look out
my window at my January garden and the
meadow beyond it.  Six months ago it was
vibrant with color, and I picked cukes,
tomatoes, peppers, and later, figs, okra,
beans.  The fruits of that flourishing
beauty lie safely in my freezer or stay
cool in my unheated bedroom where I
sleep under layers of quilts, my wool 
serape on top.  But some see only a
bleak, grey landscape, a scarecrow in 
her blue robe and plastic bag head,
her two-by-four arms held wide to
frighten crows and guard the plenty
that ripened all around her.  In my
mind’s eye, the garden still lives.
Next year I’ll have new fruits to gather,
savor, and lock in boxes against the
winter, cold and grey.  I learned early
that I would be loved and hated.  So
I learn now that my books will stir 
praise and blame.  It shouldn’t surprise
me, since I do what I love and in the
mode it is given to me.  I see by my
visions.  I follow the prompts of
my Deep Self.  I’m more interested
in revealing how love works its
transformations than in being known
to be Kierkegaard’s genius.**  The only
kind of genius I want to be is the one
who knows how to invent in Sartre’s
desperate circumstances.  The one who
can take an unexpected kick in the gut
and place it in the context it deserves,
of short-sightedness.  You see only the 
stable and not the Elysian fields?  It
must mean you’re short-sighted or even
blind.  Procrustean*** beds can only take
you so far.  But I refuse to have my arms 
and legs lopped off so you can fit me
into the box of your choosing.  I’m a 
little more effervescent than that.  I 
didn’t get to this age without learning
how to elude the reductionists who
love to classify, categorize, and box 
you in.  Of course, you’re welcome 
to your opinion, and you may spread 
it around, conceivably do me or my 
books harm.  But I have weapons 
you scarcely imagine.  You write to 
rules and slogans.  I heed the Muse, 
write the books I must write. If you 
read them with an open mind, they 
might change how even you see 
the world.  As for me, I’m on my best 
path, heading in my chosen direction.  
I wish you well on your path.  
Let’s see who dies most satisfied.

* Elysian fields: in Greek mythology, the fields of asphodel (like daffodils) where the good dead go.

** Kierkegaard distinguished between the genius, who writes to show off his genius, and the apostle, who writes for the sake of what he values.  Sartre said: “A genius is one who invents in desperate circumstances.”

*** Procrustes: a giant who forced people into a bed, whether they fitted or not, lopping off limbs as necessary.