Delicate to My Fault

I saw her yesterday, finger to chin, eyes on fire:
divine cloud, Shekinah:
holy presence wholly present
in curiosity, a new born leaf
trembling at sun, rain, day, night,
coming to light with different kinds
of wisdom.  She readily weeps
with enchantment.  I wonder
if this tearing thunder
is a gift I can bear.
Dare I step under this yoke?
Incognito, unannounced, and
unconditionally vulnerable, she is not so much
angelic as delicate to my fault:
wet ink on paper
shimmering yet shivering at
the thought of being smeared.


Grounded in Gratitude

How do you thank a class,
soil for my soul?
Fecund with curiosity
they press me into life and
push me into passion.

How do you teach those
who teach me what I know
and so render me prostrate
before the One who alone knows me,
who sows me into the classroom?

How do you learn, save by rising
like a green blade,
striving for sun and
soaking in spring rain.

Paint Me a Me

I just finished a painting.  It took me all of an hour.  I suppose one might call it abstract, or perhaps experimental.  But what it really was, was therapeutic; not in the sense that it was meant to express, let alone cure, some deep seated anxiety or fear or such thing.  No, this was therapeutic in that other ancient meaning of therapy, which is “to serve” (found in the Christian Bible in Acts 17:25 wherein we witness the Greek antecedent for “therapy” to reference serving the gods).  Therapy, then, can do a service and the end served in this instance was a little joy, which came about as I painted for a bit without thought of subject matter.  I was in the moment, happy to wash colors around the canvass without the need to represent an image or express a feeling.  It was really about seeing colors brush up against colors.

Sometimes I need to explore doing per se, and bracket the point of the doing.  Sometimes I ache to rediscover the joy of color, of shape, of sound, of word.  Perhaps you too experience that desire to create without purpose beyond creation.  There is a certain euphoria that arrives with that license to attend to the physicality of sight, sound, smell and touch.  We are, after all, sensual people who live into the world by way of bodies that only know the world at the edge where I end and it begins.  Of course, edges are permeable and so I know, in the adventure of being open to the world, that as I go out into the world the world makes its way into me, in a fashion.

So, what of this world?  It is loved by the divine yet it can shipwreck our faith.  It provides fodder for the sacraments yet can pollute piety.  The world is a dangerous place yet sacred writ reminds us that the pivot that is change rarely occurs in sequestered sanctuaries where all is at peace – although such places, too, have a place in the life of the faithful.  Deserts, oceans, mountains, highways; these are the sites of insight.  We need to be “out there” – in the world by interaction and in the soul by creativity – to be fulfilled.  Creativity is a mode of adventure.  The word adventure, for good purpose, has hidden within it the Latin word venire meaning “to come.”

We “come to” in creativity: we come to our senses as a source of freedom.  Creativity frees us to be curious, and to wager a better me, a better world by being in the moment, by being in the canvas, on the page.  These three seem to come together for great purpose:  therapy, creation and curiosity.   In their interaction we take leave of self-obsession to the end that we can finally be more authentically. And so I know that my painting might not be great, but when I look at it I see me, smiling.

Awkwardly, Grace

There he is: words made flesh.

Vulnerable, his smile a

little uncertain, naïve, nervous and

yet not without purpose.  A man

with a question.

His curiosity piques mine as

his perseverance presses me past

points aware.  His lumbering

echoes are a kind of grace too, nearly not

known yet shown in an

awkwardness that takes me in.

Surfacing Tensions

I went to a Mechanical Engineering Class last Thursday on the topic of Surface Tension.  Let me assure you that quite a few tensions surfaced in this experience!

It was teaching day at my university, and professors were given the opportunity to sit in on mini-lectures from a variety of disciplines.  Since my two eldest daughters are in Mechanical Engineering programs, I thought it would be interesting to find out what they find out in their day to day existence.  I quickly learned that they inhabit a different world than I – which was part of my purpose in attending this lecture.

It is good to be a student again, especially a student far afield from areas of ease.  It is good to be uncomfortable: to have that feeling of your feet coming out from underneath as you are carpet bombed with facts, with ideas, with a way of thinking that is not yet habitual.  It is good to be intrigued by a world of possibilities that you have not yet imagined.  It is good to learn, complete with all of the joy, worry, and sense of possibility that learning entails.

It all made me think about my own teaching: what do students experience in my class?  Are they afraid? Intrigued? Bored? Excited?  I suspect they  are all of the above at different times.  But I am mindful that I don’t only address learners in my classroom, but in my writing too.  I wonder: How do readers hear me from the lectern of my letters?  I hope to make people hungry with my writing.  I want to feed them with a famishment for more because the world we write is a wonder. This is what my favourite authors have furnished for me.  All who write and teach do so in an effort to echo what we have experienced in those who inspire us.

Who has inspired and so invited you into the marvel of the novel, the essay, the short story, the poem, the homily, the hymn?