Exchanging Letters 3

God,

I know the difference between talking about you and engaging with you. I also know which activity is easier. A similar concept is reading about writing and actually getting butt in chair and fingers dancing on the keys.

I’ve been thinking about third person. Do you observe the world from a third person angle? Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lived my life in third person. I live a shave away from wholeness, and see myself pouring the coffee, but hear no sound thereof. I report the life around me as a proof I might just exist. I joke with my family as I scan the obituaries for my picture, then shake my head…”I’m still here!”

So there’s the parallel on how I feel you operate and my own function under the sun.

Hmmm.

There are so many ways to try to reset the dislocation of my heart, spirit, soul, spirit, with the world spinning around me. But there is a simpler way. There has to be. I hear Jesus’ words “come unto me and I will give you rest.” Peter stepped out of the boat, and Thomas was encouraged to poke around the resurrected body of the Lord. I wonder which of the disciples I take after. I lean toward doubting Thomas with a dash of the denying Peter, but long to be like the disciple Jesus loved. John.

Love, Jerry

 

Jerry,

I see you. There is a simpler way. I am the way. Your dislocated feeling is understood. I too want engagement, not a third person detached rhetoric. I want your heart. Remember that dreary rainy day way back when? The day you walked up a driveway with a package and engaged me with a question? You asked me if I loved you. I sent a breeze through a row of pine trees and whispered “yes.” I knew you and one of your favorite things…the sound of wind through thousands of needles.

I see your fear. I feel your resistance to releasing control. I know you struggle with being labeled as one of ‘those’ kind of Christians. I got you. I get you. Bring those thoughts to me like you are doing right now. I can handle them. I Am, you know. Take a deep breath.

By the way, living in third person isn’t always a bad thing. That’s how creatives are wired. They help those whose don’t know their need to stop and smell the roses to consider doing so. I sent someone Saturday night to tell you those very words to encourage you.

Love, I Am

Exchanging Letters 2

Dear God,

As I sit here in this moment listening through the cracked window, how I wish to sing every morning like the sparrows, and fly like the barn swallows. How I hope to enter into exactly what you created me to be. Not to draw attention, but to give attention to the space within my proximity. I want to thank you for the senses you have given me to receive the wonder of nature, and the nurture of human connection. Although there are seasons where solitude sits on a bench, and invites me to feed the birds, the thick threaded reality of relationships gives voice to this life. I don’t understand why I can be so aloof, self-absorbed, and judgmental toward others, especially when You said it is not good for us humans to be alone. I want to leave this solitary place and enter the world, pay attention, and be a giver.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, sinner.

Jerry

 

Dear Jerry,

I will have mercy. And love. And justice. And prudence. And, and, and.  Thanks for noticing my creative acts around you. You keep using the word ‘mystery’ when you share your thoughts lately. I like that. You keep growing low among the grasses like my servant Wendell Berry. Humility will better connect you with humanity. You were made for connection, but solitude has its seasons too. How about I sit on the bench and wait for you to come and tell me about your connections with this world. I’d like that.

God

Floor Dance

A friend told me

The Greatful Dead saved his marriage.

 

He only listens to the Garcia grace now.

All day, every day.

 

I wonder if our resolve evokes a band,

a genre along the fringes

 

of what it takes to marathon dance,

to keep our feet shuffling.

 

When a song interrupts us to the point

of dancing in the kitchen

 

we experience another salvation.

 

 

T. S. Elliot’s Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock. J. Alfred still sings.

Prufrock, J. Alfred. Thank you for being a part of my life and memory. Although I didn’t “get” all of Elliot’s sung interpretation of what love you had for another, I quote, as others do, your great lines of passion and mystery. I know C.S. Lewis disagreed with T. S.’s description of an “evening spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table.” So what?

Last night I saw the patient being etherized as the sun drifted off to sleep in the west. The colors blended as if in a drug induced coma, laying (lying?) on the air as the evening shifted and settled into night. I dared to describe it to the two sitting with me. I didn’t do justice to what all six of our eyes were taking in. “I dared to eat a peach” and was so glad my “you” was next to me. The “you” of “Let us go then, you and I.” Barbara, my friend and confidant.

One of my daughters sat with us as she measured out her “life in coffee spoons.” She in her tussle with depression may be asking if she “dare disturb the universe?” Poor thing, I know all too well the resounding clang of symbols which drown out life. She has disturbed my universe, and I am the better for it.

“It is impossible to say what I mean.”

Ah Prufrock, so accurate your aim. Isn’t it Lewis that said in his last novel, Til We Have Faces:

“Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.”

The art and joy of words? Indeed. All anyone ever wants, at the core of connection, is a transference of exact meaning, is it not? Yet your love song, J. Alfred, is riddled with subtlety and it draws me back again and again. We don’t necessarily need blanket statements but blankets to warm our disconnections. Blankets big enough to wrap around our “I and Thou” as Buber said.

So whether it is “Let us go then, you and I,” or the “I and Thou” of existence we non-atheists adhere to, the subtle connections keep us moving toward growing old with “our trousers rolled” each rolling up the other’s.

Most of the quotes above are from Eliot’s poem unless otherwise noted.

Below is the poem in its entirety.

http://people.virginia.edu/~sfr/enam312/prufrock.html

Do you have a poem that has drawn you back to it over and over?

Her Cupped Hands

Leaned on the pane
are the outside edges
of her hands, pressed.

Light from without
dispelled at her will
to see inside of me

the dimmed refract
of loves shadow lens’
concave mystery.

Leaned on the pain
are the outside edges
of her hands, massaged.

Her light quartered
into the chambers
of constant flex

of cardio compulsion.
She feels the bleeding
coming in and going out.

For Barbara

Protest-ant. An Ice-o-lated Poem

Stubborn as a statue,
he stood barefoot on the ice,
smooth as polished granite.
The chill climbed over his ankles
to just above the knee;
that’s when the rattling started.
First the teeth under sealed lips,
then uncontrollable chest quakes.

His misquote of Donne
led him there.
“No man is on Iceland.”
He saw the block, frozen,
and stepped up on it naked.
No one saw him on the west end
of the memorial park.
After twenty minutes he stepped off.

He got cold feet.

***

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.John Donne, Meditation XVII
English clergyman & poet (1572 – 1631)

 

It’s a thought. Iffin I don’t get voted off, I step off the island to find my need for you. My poetry and books don’t protect me. They often push me toward community. We all close the pages at some point and meet each other. All we have to do is count our ribs while we embrace.

 

 

 

Vacation, Power Out and Powered Up.

Vacation week. Family week. Family weak. I mean, I feel weak concerning my connection with my wife and children. This time of year it only gets worse. Christmas and the cultural material grasping intensity have a direct effect on me. The Big Brown and its elves get all the truck shelves filled like a sardine tin.

This year will be different because my eighteen year old daughter will be jumping for me. Jumper is the UPS term for driver helper, its version of Two Men and a Truck let’s say, only this time one man, one woman, and a truck. How about one dad, one daughter, and a truck? It shall be fun and bonding moments I am sure.

Anyway, this week I have taken over the chauffer duties for my wife Barbara. Tuesday I watched some children hit the gymnastics floor. Simply observing my children, really observing, has gained me further insight into what is relayed to me from Mom in the evenings after a long days work.

The beginning of this week a storm knocked out our power. Sunday night the singing by candle light began. Sunday night the screens entered into a coma and everyone gathered in the common area to play games. The big table wasn’t for eating, but for shouting across the eighteen inches at each other. Laughing at nothing (Don’t you think that kind of laughing is the most contagious?).

I got to work with my son Nathan too. The generator was working fine but the cord that led to the auxiliary breaker box didn’t jive with the outlet of the generator so he fetched the right plug from Menard’s. I watched him cut and strip the wires and begin to replace it with precision. He studies stuff before attacking a project. I left to figure out how to transfer the power to the auxiliary box and when I returned he needed a third hand to thread in the wires. We also spent some time putting up some insulation together. Then I taught him how to play rummy and he beat me hands down. Simple things really, but I felt connected to him in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Yesterday I took the kids to Battle Creek all day for co-op classes. I saw two little girls of mine in their ballet lesson. Lots of smiles exchanged. Two other children had a fencing class and I heard the soundtrack to the movie The Mission in my mind and imagined Robert De Niro lunging with sword in hand. I saw seventeen year old Elisabeth poke an opponent in the chest. Her first time scoring and she smiled and let me know. Then off to the ranch for horsemanship to watch three daughters ride and trot and circle horses. The two little ones were so proud they rode alone with the reigns in hand.

I am thankful for the first-hand, real time look into Barbara’s busy life. Her every waking moment is an investment into family. A line forms right from the beginning of the day, usually with a child snuggling with her. If someone were to ask me what my wife does for a living my response would be she lives life, transfers life, and shows life to our community called family. We have a code we use to touch base. It’s called the EMP. I ask her how her Emotional, Mental, and Physical state is on occasion. Yesterday, after spending all day with a portion of my children I found my EMP was near EMPTY. More understanding for her depleted evening EMP will be there when I get back to the Christmas rush at the Big Brown.

IMG_1452
Emily and Zoe happy to be near horses.

Something’s Missing

A few days ago the sun cracked
a half smile like my father did.

The clouds were like eye patches
and I remember his weeping eye.

Partially sewn lids of paralyzed sight
gave him shallow depth perception.

My brother-in-law’s Bell’s Palsy
grinned at me yesterday.

One corner down, one corner up,
his mouth surfaced memories

of my father’s permanent condition.
A tumor stole half of Dad’s face

decades before he died.
I was frustrated I couldn’t find

one of his fifty percent photo’s,
portraits of two faces in one.

I found myself trying to get
Tim to laugh throughout

the day as we worked
just to incite a smirk or laugh.

I wanted to see my Dad’s
look again and again.

By the end of yesterday
I found I missed him.

Increase. A poem of lines.

Could it be a rivulet for sweat,
the crease just below the stem?
Maybe that is where thoughts
collect at the back of the neck.

I find myself running my finger
along it east to west.
I stare at elderly linear divots,
gullies which underline their

retention pond of experience.
Many years they’ve kept their chin up.
Maybe that is why the creases
increase, line upon line.

Maybe that is why thoughts spill,
and the neck, like a downspout, carries.
If so, I pray for more chin-ups
and memory catching indentations.

I hope when we hug each others neck
we are able to read them with fingertips
on inverse bumps of brail
and exchange thoughts.

Umbilical

The talking’s good from the belly.
Distended words, tight,
pushed up like a burp.

The singing’s good from the diaphragm.
Birthed below the heart,
skipping beats.

The prayer’s good from the center.
Released midriff, exposed
from under our coverings.