Sunday, January 19, 2014

That Inner Flame

 Backyard zinnias, cosmos, lantana at Hoganvillaea Farm


A THREAD OF LIGHT IV. August 25, 2013

We agree to work on incarnation while we live.
Make more and more of what we see come true.
Carry in our packs real food; free our shoes
of stones.  A climb like this will not appeal
to everyone, and most don’t yet conceive their chance.
But one who labors so–steady, constant–brings back
many stones–lost and never faceted by those 
who didn’t think they cared.  One who cares to be
in tune with rising sap, humming along the bark
toward leaf and light, can hold one hill in place,
and shelter in her branches many a joyful creature,
many a looping and ecstatic vine.  We have the sun
and we have life.  To be content in these, and in
that thread of truth residual in our core, our heart;
that sense, like a pulse beating, of what is good
and true and lovely; that surely is enough.
Susannah, Teach Me to Love/Grace, Sing to Me.  1985, p. 81.

To envision what can be–is that not the
true gift?  Giving up, giving in, giving out–
all those ways tempt us, undo our belief
in our own power to change our lives, even
to change the world around us.  If we imagine
that each of us has, deeply planted, a small
but persistent flame in our depths that we
mustn’t on any account cease to guard, then
we know exactly what our life is about.  We
are guardians of that flame so easily 
extinguished by despair.  Others can assume
the role of flame extinguishers and do their
best to dismay and dishearten us, or events
can seem to conspire against what we work
for, what we feel compelled to do and to say,
but only we can douse our own flame.  Only 
we can deliver the death blow to our hopes.
Only we can hold off our own despair.  How?
Some days it feels like we are holding on
by our fingernails, but we do our best.
If we can’t stride, we stumble, but we
keep moving in the direction we know we 
must go.  Then to our surprise, we notice
the landscape has changed.  The grey
skies have yielded to perfect blue.
The fruit hangs ripe on the trees.
The red zinnias seem to burn with light.
The return of sun has the whole creation
humming.  Butterflies dip into the
yellow cosmos blooms.  A hummingbird
suspends herself over the lantana.  A
cardinal scolds from the fig tees.  The
hens circulate at my feet, watching for
figs I drop accidentally or on purpose.
I see the weeds I must dig out, the pear
limbs that need pruning.  Thinking ahead
to the work that waits for me, I feel no 
despair.  I remember how much I wanted
to live here on my own land, growing my
food, feeding myself and my friends.
I learned how.  This is the life I wanted,
and I made it possible, with help, but
that, too, required me to keep my
inward sun aflame.  In one way, it’s all
that matters.  Exactly how we manage it
is up to us, but that inner flame 
will help us if we let it.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and thought provoking poetry, Judy. I loved the pictures of zinnias in your garden, too. They're one of my favorite late summer flowers.