Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday 5

Haven't really felt moved to respond to the Friday 5s at RevGalBlogPals in recent weeks. This week's 5 reminds me of why I love the blogosphere, as some of my dearest friends are connected across oceans and mountains via the web.

Here's the Friday 5 leader:
So for today's Friday Five, give us five blogs you visit regularly, and tell us briefly WHY you like them. These can be RevGal and Pal bloggers and others ... or news sites, knitting sites, etc. Who are you showing the love to on a pretty constant basis?

I'm surprised at how much my 5 have changed. I used to check Father Jake Stops the World all the time. When we moved out of the States I stopped reading Father Jake (and now there is no longer a "Father Jake") and I changed computers, so I didn't always remember to check on old friends like Maggie Dawn.

In no particular order:
Di at the Kitchen Door. Di, how did you and I start writing back and forth? I don't remember a specific moment, but I am so glad that we did!

Nancy at Big Harmony. Nancy and I lived next door to each other, a minor miracle in Navy housing: 2 Episcopalians, 2 academics, 2 kids apiece, 2 foodies...she's been in Japan for ever and I'm in Sicily. Nancy's voice comes through very clearly in her posts about life as an American in Japan. I am grateful that she started to blog rather than send emails. I crack up that we both read Cake Wrecks, which is how we started posting to one another. I am thrilled that Nancy and Di are friends!

Milton at Don't Eat Alone. Milton is very faithful about writing every day, which means I am guaranteed a meal each morning when I log on. I think I've been reading him almost since he started blogging and I value his perspective on church, food, and most of all, relationships.

Vicky at Beauty Tips for Ministers. I fell in love with the tag line: Because you are in the public eye and God knows you need it. I love Vogue and W almost as much as I love the Church. Reading Vicky's blogs gave me permission to talk about how we look and what that says, within a professional and theological framework. In addition, Vicky has always made herself (electronically) available to me and used her vast network of friends to answer questions. Thanks, Vicky!

"Sally Big Woods" at Grand Foret. Sally blogs about sacred spaces and sacred itentities that are created through art. She and I went to college together and I love that her blog keeps us connected.

Sally usually only posts once a week, so I am going to cheat a little bit here and add some more:
I don't have a personal connection with Elise at Simply Recipes or Daniel Clenedin at Journey With Jesus Foundation, but they both deserve a shout-out and I tend to check in with them once a week, too!

Finally, I've just found Roberta at Spiritually Directed. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today is Joseph Campbell's birthday, according to Garrison Keillor at The Writer's Almanac. I've never really dug JC, but I remember the Bill Moyers interviews and how ga-ga everyone was about him. Was I merely not interested or had I already figured out the corporate-dream state of myths?
At anyrate, I was struck by the quote that Mr. Keillor used at the end of birthday note:

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

Whatever it was that I was trying to say with the quote below, this one says it, too. I rely too much on plans, don't we all? But life, all life, is a blessing. Think Abram and Sarai, Moses, Miriam & Aaron, Ruth, Jael, even Peter as he denied the Lord and heard the rooster crow. Drop the limitations of your imagination and move into God's dream!

**I just reread Sister Joan Chichseter's comment about perfection holding us back. No one is perfect this side of paradise, perfection holds us back from God's work. (From Daniel Clenedin's Journey with Jesus Foundation reading for this week. Check him out, he also has the complete text of Psalm 51 and an amazing image of David and Bathsheeba.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


What I like best about poetry
is that the words fold in on themselves
two simultaneous beings
looking one way and
without losing a set of truth
looking elsewhere:
distinct but not separate.

Washi paper-words:
one side is swirled black and green
the other tiny dogwood flowers.
What starts with a quote
paints the sky at early morning,
detailing the plodding nature
of our hope-filled lives.

A riff on Barbara Crooker's Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem'
**check out the mopheads behind her photo - lovely!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

more luscious words

The White Museum, George Bilgere

My aunt was an organ donor
and so, the day she died,
her organs were harvested
for medical science.
I suppose there must be people
who list, under "Occupation,"
"Organ Harvester," people for whom
it is always harvest season,
each death bringing its bounty.
They spend their days
loading wagonloads of kidneys,
whole cornucopias of corneas,
burlap sacks groaning with hearts and lungs
and the pale green sprouts of gall bladders,
and even, from time to time,
the weighty cauliflower of a brain.

And perhaps today,
as I sit in this café, watching the snow
and thinking about my aunt,
a young medical student somewhere
is moving through the white museum
of her brain, making his way slowly
from one great room to the next.
Here is the gallery of her girlhood,
with that great canvas depicting her father
holding her on his lap in the backyard
of their bungalow in St. Louis.
And here is a sketch of her
the summer after her mother died,
walking down a street in Berlin
when the broken city was itself
a museum. And here
is a small, vivid oil of the two of us
sitting in a café in London
arguing over the work of Constable
or Turner, or Francis Bacon
after a visit to the Tate.

I want you to know, as you sit there
with your microscope and your slides,
there's no need to be reverent before these images.
That's the last thing she would have wanted.
But do be respectful. Speak quietly.
No flash photography. Tell your friends
you saw something beautiful.

This poem has fabulous construction. At the end it reminds me of the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, "in the rooms the women come and go, speaking of Michelangelo." That of course sends me instantly to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where I spent many, many happy hours as a teen. Perhaps that is a distant connection? The rooms at the Gardner seem especially constructed for the deceitfully light chatter of ladies who lunch. I wonder at the poets who write these lines. Did they too spend impressionable hours in quiet houses peopled with oils and marble?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tina Kelley

When I'm Your Blood
I pull you like a tide
towards times you cry from happiness.

I flatten out like a bay,
you hear distant sounds.

I carbonate your heart
and keep it grasping.

I will
intoxicate you.

I clear your head so you thrill
at the cliffs, properly amazed
that by raising your eyes
murals of grandeur in precise detail
enter your mind.

When you make love I surf, crash,
swell and sway, I mirror and populate
your eager arms.

When you can't sleep I slow
my headlong bustling to help.

I help you praise yourself from within.
I move you nearer.

I keep myself inside you,
keep every favorite part warm and live,
and let you know with certainty
when sunset is over and it's time
to go in by the stove.

Invite me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Take, Eat, and Inwardy Digest

Long story short: we don’t get to make our lives up. We get to receive our lives as gifts. The story that says we should have no story except the story we chose when we had no story is a lie . . . Christian discipleship is about learning to receive our lives as gifts without regret. And that has the deepest political implications. Much of modern political theory and practice is about creating a society where we do not nave to acknowledge that our lives are gifts we receive from one another. (92-93) Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness, Stanley Hauerwas from Milton @ Don't Eat Alone

Without returning, you can know that I think this is seismic to the way I approach life. Perhaps, if you return, I'll have something more to say.

Friday, March 06, 2009

day of auspicious births

It seems human nature to be interested in those whose birth date we share. As far as I know, no one famous shares my birthday - and no one not famous does, either!
Today, however, is a different sort of day:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806), and Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475)

I never knew this and it is only thanks to The Writer's Almanac that I know it now. But ignorance doesn't negate the fact that they are 3 of my favorite artists!

One Hundred Years of Solitude
has stayed at the top of my desert island booklist since high school and I nearly flunked out of first semester freshman year in college because I could not put down Love in the Time of Cholera. I don't think I had ever read another piece of magical realism before Garcia Marquez, but I instantly took to it - it is my kind of world, where reality is a sideways glance from extraordinary and people move between the two like moving between the kitchen and living room. Would I have enjoyed Faulkner as much or even tried to read Master and Margarita if it had not been for Sr Garcia Marquez?

I was given an early copy of EBB's love poems as a wedding gift, but I confess I don't really care for her meter or rhyme or word-sense. That said, I love her spirit. She and Robert Browning had a mysterious and love-filled romance and marriage and she trod a path for others to follow. She disobeyed her father, trusted in the love of Robert, traveled to and lived in Florence, had a child at 43 (!!) and continued to publish in her own voice. One of my favorite poems is from Sonnets from the Portugeuse (his nickname for her, not an actual translation), where she describes his kisses, first on her hand and then the near misses on her hair, forehead,'s rather flip for a poem written in the mid-19th century! (It's poem 38)

And finally Michelangelo. What can I say that hasn't already been said? I am not sure I'd want to meet him or have him for dinner or tea or whatever it is the teachers now have their students imagine of their heroes. However, I am in awe of his work and the Pieta in St Peter's is high on my list of must-sees. (Next week! Next week!)

John Updike, who died a few weeks ago, wrote a series of children's poems, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman called A Child's Calendar. The poem for November contains this line:
Tall God
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Perfect eloquence, in meter, magic and stone.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

This one is for you, Di*

A New Poet

Linda Pastan

Finding a new poet
is like finding a new wildflower
out in the woods. You don't see
its name in the flower books, and
nobody you tell believes
in its odd color or the way
its leaves grow in splayed rows
down the whole length of the page. In fact
the very page smells of spilled
red wine and the mustiness of the sea
on a foggy day - the odor of truth
and of lying.
And the words are so familiar,
so strangely new, words
you almost wrote yourself, if only
in your dreams there had been a pencil
or a pen or even a paintbrush,
if only there had been a flower.
from Heroes In Disguise, 1991
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY
Copyright 1991 by Linda Pastan.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission

*You seem as someone who would write a poem about finding a new poet!