Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I have missed much of Poetry Friday this summer, and I've missed you all. Many thanks for coming by, despite my flitting in and out every few weeks.
As I'm still (don't judge) getting my artistic house in order, literally, after having to leave my downtown studio space at the end of June, I've been craving some time and orderly space to
c-r-e-a-t-e! Getting there, slowly but surely and all that.
Putting together the new-to-us second home in the SC hills in recent weeks has certainly offered some creative expression, as I've mixed old stuff and new stuff and upcycled elements to make it, I hope, as welcoming as a cozy pub. It's only a couple of hours for our kids to get to from their respective homes in North Georgia and North Carolina, and we're delighted that they and their dogs are already enjoying going there as much as we are. We've had repairs done, painted a couple of rooms, and fenced the back yard (I held boards while Jeff did all the work!), and we plan to actually spend quality time on the front porch next time we go.
But what I'm craving to get back to soon is collage. Life is very layered right now….
Son Seth and his girlfriend recently returned from a glorious and ambitious trip hiking in and around Yosemite (a surprise graduation present from her). The beauty in their pictures, which they said only hints at the grandeur in person, was breathtaking. Other images on the news from California have been gut-wrenching, in the aftermath of the already relentless fires.
Watching the Olympics was often inspiring, admiring the results of years of individual and team practice and dedication, and records smashed, and frank discussions about mental health, and the unexpected and heartwarming instances of athletes from different countries caught on camera in moments of kindness and cooperation.
And then there's Afghanistan. Right this minute. (And other hotspots of atrocity across the globe.)
A friend in the next neighborhood sent me a first-day-of-school photo of her precious and eager young son, as he embarks on third grade this week. I've been cheering from afar as daughter Morgan just launched her third grade class this year, too, with an enthusiastic and sweet group of kids.
And then I've been horrified at what's going on in my home state of Florida (where all of my side of the family lives). Covid-19 cases have been averaging more than 20,000 per day. But in schools there – the governor is actually attempting to punish school administrators for trying to keep children alive and well?!
On Thursday afternoon on MSNBC, Dr. Kavita Patel voiced a thought which had crossed my mind when she said, something to the effect of, the current situation evoking similar feelings to those following Sandy Hook.
Don't we want our children to be safe in this country?
Then there's the dire climate report this week, and more stories than I can keep up with.
As often helps, I've turned to the past to find some nuggets of wisdom for going forward.
A couple of poems about peace seem as relevant as ever.
Here is a short poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), which a commentator said likely refers to inner peace but can also describe the longing for peace in the outer world. (This poem can be found in Complete Poems, 1924, Part One: Life, LXXIII.)
I many times thought Peace had come
When Peace was far away—
As Wrecked Men—deem they sight the Land—
At Centre of the Sea—
And struggle slacker—but to prove
As hopelessly as I—
How many the fictitious Shores—
Before the Harbor be—
The search for that peaceful harbor continues.
Then I found a few lines from Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941), a poet I must confess I was not familiar with but who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. I'm guessing Seth, well versed in a variety of religious literature, and Jeff, well versed in Ayurveda, have read his work. Tagore, who possessed many talents and was a social reformer, was sometimes called "The Bard of Bengal."
Here is "God in the World" from Tagore's 'Gitanjali':
LEAVE this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!
Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all for ever.
Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.
Here is a link to The Poetry Foundation's entry about Tagore. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/rabindranath-tagore
These lines spoke to me after I was able to watch the first part of an outdoor worship service on Wednesday, livestreamed on Facebook from Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, where Seth was invited to preach this week. The recording ended before the main part of Seth's message (which involved the struggle to feel gratitude and praise expressed in some Psalms in the midst of turmoil), but it's always soul-nourishing to witness the dynamic give and take with this congregation. Services are interactive, and everyone is welcome - housed or not, healthy or struggling, gay or straight, religious or skeptical. Seth was the first live-in intern there for a year right after graduating from college and before going to seminary, which he just completed.
If you're still reading these rambling thoughts, thank you. I don't have answers to the strife and troubles which coincide with life's joys and appreciations. Each day, and each life, is layered, layered.
But I know that peace is always worth keeping a weather eye out for, and God is where the dust is.
Christie is rounding up Poetry Friday this week at Wondering and Wandering - Thank you, Christie!