Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thursday, December 1, 2011

She Blows Away Bad Spirits

"You hung up on me?" 

"Yes, I'd said all I had to say."

This morning I snapped at Valecia, whose feelings I know to treat carefully, who deserved part but not all of my aggravated and door-slamming irritation.  I had not listened well enough and came to exactly the wrong conclusion, which was exactly the right conclusion to vent something I've been afraid to say straight-out. Because I've been afraid it's been unsayable.

I offered my apology, which she has not yet accepted.

"How do you eat an elephant?" the old joke goes. "Slowly, in pieces."

Afterward, as I was mulling over what had just happened--okay, what I had just done, because that is the way it felt to me--I flashed on something else.

When my therapist, Don, mentioned recently that he's been taking pictures for 30 years, my immediate reaction was consternation, even shame. Though he's been more than supportive of my talent and continues to praise my work when I bring it in, he actually sees very little of what I do. How could I be such a fool as to go on and on when he probably knows more about photography than I do? How can my five or six years measure up against that? And I was found wanting. Again.

I must have scraped bottom this morning because I got to a new place as I mulled over these feelings in my journal. There is nothing denied me that is necessary. Startled, I realized that the grain of sand that forms the pearl of great price and the one Blake used to espy heaven are one and the same--and that I have what I need. I can tell my truth to Valecia. I can quit trying so desperately to elicit from Don a life-saving love I could not get from my Daddy. The real question is only how thoroughly I occupy myself. There is nothing denied me that is necessary. I would have said, "That's news to me." Now I say that's good news.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grizzly Mama Love

Tomorrow is my birthday, so this picture of Mama and me was taken almost sixty-five years ago. The picture says a lot. She shows already and still a maternal solicitude and I, I am determined and beginning to look out of the frame.

Several years later she was carrying me along a path at a rustic mountain resort. I'd broken my leg and was in a full body-cast around the injured leg and my torso, so I must have been somewhat cumbersome. There we were, no one else around, and she turns her ankle and falls, taking me down with her. But I didn't cry out. She held me vertical and I didn't know anything had happened I should have been afraid of. Grizzly bear love is how I think of it.

The years to come were not always easy for us or between us. She has been gone since 1989, when she lay in her final hospital bed and I breathed into her heart, "Daddy loves you, I love you." As she left, she paused a moment at the threshold and looked over her shoulder. That night I know she and my father went dancing. He had been impatient all afternoon for her to get there.

Last night these words murmured themselves to me. I am pleased that they are more fond than is sometimes my wont. They are for her.


baby baby don't you cry
mama's going to get you a bye-and-bye

if that bye-and-bye don't come
mama's going to get you a big shotgun

if that big shotgun don't shoot
mama's going to get you a high-heel boot

if that high-heel boot don't kick
mama's going to get you a candle wick

if that candle wick don't light
mama's going to love you right all right

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Occupying 2011


"It is an act of violence to begin anything," said Sagittarian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. "I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning." I urge you to consider trying that approach yourself, Sagittarius. Instead of worrying about how to launch your rebirth, maybe you should just dive into the middle of the new life you want for yourself.
                              --Astrologer Rob Brezhny

Aint it the truth? Or, as the Governor of South Carolina is reported to have said to the Governor of North Carolina at half-time of one of their yearly football rivalries, "It's been a long time between drinks."

Such as it is, and it's big enough, right here, right now, I want to do a SHOUT OUT for all the kids, because that's what they are to me, who protested and demonstrated and marched and--dare I say it?--occupied against Viet Nam. They bring tears of gratitude to my eyes. In large part they turned this beloved juggernaut of a country around and got us out of that damned war. God bless them all, God keep their sleep, God warm their ancient, aging bones.

I sat out Viet Nam. My life was too imploded. I read the newspapers and watched TV, and somehow it didn't get through. I cared as much as I could--and action scared me. Such certainty scared me. Such righteousness scared me. My father scared me. No way I could take on the President and the country. I don't feel good about this, and that's all right.

It's in the context of Occupy that I've been thinking these thoughts, revisiting these memories, thanking my friends who were out there so many years ago.

This time, count me in. I'm going to occupy my heart as far as it will reach for this country and its people that I will not let go of without a protest. I'll do what I can. As I saw on Facebook this morning, 99 to 1 is pretty good odds.