Sunday, April 11, 2010

A mystery

It's been a great spring break for Beve.  Just enough time off for him to shed some of the tension he wears like a sweatshirt, enough physical activity to keep him engaged, and plenty of time with others.  All of these things call out 'Vacation Beve', and I'm always glad to see this part of the man I love, even when I roll my eyes at some of his silliness.

 As we try to soak the last pieces of this last day's gravy up with the last scrap of bread (and watching the final day of the Masters as a boon), I thought I'd post about another writer who has meant a lot to me.  Here's a small confession:  I am not deeply enamored of poetry.  Certainly not poetry with rhyme and meter, with cadence and rules.  Maybe because such rules are too difficult for my unruly mind.  There are exceptions, of course.  Hopkins?  Love some of his.  A couple of Shakespeare's sonnets, but certainly not all of them, nor all of the plays--not by a long shot--though I do respect them. Hold them in the highest of esteem as the cornerstones of our modern English language and literature. But for the most part, poetry bores me.  There, I've admitted it.  I have spent much of my life in the pursuit of literature, and still manage to admit it.  (However, if you could manage NOT to tell a couple of my favorite profs, I'd very much appreciate it!)

But there are a few contemporary poets who have come to mean quite a bit to me. These people write poetry as I do.  And I do write poetry.  Poetry comes clawing out of me when I'm in the deepest pain. It's like full thoughts won't do in those moments and only bits and pieces of thoughts break through the jagged edges of my sadness or pain.

Denise Levertov was introduced to me at Regent College.  Her small book The Stream and The Sapphire was a revelation to me. Beautiful, transparent, accessible to even the most prosaic of readers.  Readers like me.  Or like the engineers in my life who are even less inclined toward poetry than I am.

Of Being
I know this happiness
is provisional:

       the looming presences---
       great suffering, great fear---

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:
         this mystery.

The truth in this poem hits me hard!  There have been times when I was in the midst of crisis, or in that vacuum of waiting for it (like last fall with Beve's sister), where misery becomes normal, I think.  Then the other shoe will drop and it will hurt again--harder than I imagined.  But right in the midst of this, in the very center of such crises, for no earthly reason, there is a leaping within, a sense of presence and joy that I wasn't looking for, or expecting, in that place of gloom.  But there it is.  Beve reading Psalm 139 to his comatose sister when suddenly her hand unexpectedly lifted toward his, and he held it.  How that happened is a mystery--and a deeply sacred moment--and though I didn't feel like dancing, I definitely felt the need to kneel.  Because it pointed straight up through the sadness to God.

Sometimes it's just the simple pleasure of taking a walk on a beach with some friends of the heart, picking up shells, watching the birds--gulls, and the occasional eagle with its sky-wide span of wings.  Or maybe just sitting in a car with my husband having a simple conversation with no interruptions.  The feel of one of my children's arms around my neck used to be enough to lead me into this mystery I'm talking about.  But whatever it is, it is JOY.  The Joy, CS Lewis writes that he spent his life in search of, that makes life worth living.  No money can buy it, no fame can accomplishment.  It is heaven-sent.

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