I sing you in my body

I sing you in my body, God said.
The crystal goblets in
my credenza vibrate with your nearness.
Echoes of the Big Bang bounce off
my parlor walls when you laugh.
You show your moon-side, and
all of the parish dogs,
sleeping on sofas, and the midnight coyotes,
snacking on offal,
stand up and howl.

Nothing in me can resist you.
I’m like a tuning fork,
humming
at your approach.
I just
can’t
help
it.

* I’m still not settled on the big bang line. Something seems off about the rhythm or the progression of imagery. Any suggestions?

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God’s dog.

When I walk my elderly dog, I often think of the parallel of my relationship with God. I wonder, does my beloved friend feel forsaken when I’m away at work? Does he blame my faltering omnipotence when my tardiness reduces him to the shame of unloading an unbearably full bladder on the forbidden rug? When his deadened hearing and failing eyesight lose track of my footsteps, does he feel lost even though I am still right beside him, silently grateful for his companionship? In his bursts of joyful energy, if he runs right off an unseen curb and stumbles, does he feel betrayed even though I am scrambling to keep apace with his exuberance for life? Or, when he feels my hand scratching his ears and he melts into slack jawed bliss, does any of that matter? Is it maybe enough that the best I ever could do was cherish him?

How can I tell him that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give so that, when his life light dims and fades, he won’t have to wonder where I have gone, that all the while I will be hugging him with the total force of my being, in a pool of grief, wondering how to bear a world unleavened by his devotional heart?

It’s not that different, really.

I Saw You

Dear life, I saw you today when you thought I wasn’t looking. You were on the corner of 30th and Colorado, waiting for the light to change, when you shook your wild mop of curls to fully greet the wind. You rode, hanging out the window of the SUV, tongue flapping in the breeze, a grand hello to all you passed. Your petals strained toward the evening sun, nearly flopping over in ecstasy like a dog having reached the ultimate, carnal itch. You didn’t know it, but–right there–you made me fall in love with you all over again. Shake your hair that way once more and I’m yours for eternity.

In My Secret Life

Monday came and pushed out the sunshine. Echoes of the weekend’s intimacy faded into weekday anomie, and, by nightfall, I was lonely once more.

It was past the hour for a proper meal. I had queried every flavor in the pantry and none had stood up and danced for me. Resigned to the discontent that travels in the wake of unlimited choice, I pecked at fresh fruit and cheese and flipped on the TV. My dog, seeing no potential for scrumptious handouts, gave up completely and called it an early night. And, after a couple episodes of “Six Feet Under” and a dose of righteous melancholy, I too succumbed to the barometric pressure and headed for bed.

Shucking off my clothes, I shoved my hand into my jeans pockets and found an engraved, silver heart–a memento left there to remind me that I’m loved, even if only by an unseen force. I smiled and rubbed its smooth edges and measured its small heft in my palm, fascinated by how some things can be so real and yet so intangible.

Still, the bed felt too big and the empty spaces too confining, crowding me with insecurities on all sides. And, by the time I woke, my beloved had visited and slipped off again. Teetering on the edge of morning consciousness, between the worlds of the sacred and the profane, I tried to stitch together the opposites of my life and, like so many mornings before, my thoughts unraveled into confusion. Yet, standing later at the kitchen counter, stirring the breakfast bowl, I was struck by an image of myself as a character on a movie screen, frozen in time, listening forever intently, as if for her own wistful soundtrack, hoping that the camera won’t pan away just yet because it is this one pose, this one peculiar mood that links her pigtails and ribbons, her worn-out shoes, her mothballed prom dresses, her passport stamps, her degrees on the wall, her proud, grey hairs, and every well-meaning act of generosity scattered amongst friends and family to the thing that’s about to happen.

In the background, Leonard Cohen sings

I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In my secret life.

Spring

It was a weekend for lovers and my secret paramour (life itself) stole into town under the cover of grey skies. After a drink Friday night and long discussions of old friends, Jung, and the nature of the soul, we fell exhausted into each others’ arms, our hearts full and our eyes drooping with jewels of possibility. Saturday morning, we lingered in bed, sipping poetry and snacking on sunlight. And on a long walk through town, we held hands and remarked on the novelties of the season. At the end of the path, where the mountains allow only the lonely to pass, the Universe gently touched my shoulder and said, “Look there,” motioning towards the heavens. The sky was so blue that I felt I could fall forever upwards into it. As if just by tilting my head back and uncurling my toes, I would tumble, weightless,  elbows over ears over shoelaces into the blue beyond the blue, all of my defenses spooling out behind me like pink petals from a wind-blown crab apple tree. That night, again sweet surprises–the Universe offered to make dinner but he overcooked the vegetables and I spilled the beer–faults quickly forgotten when he began singing melancholy tunes of tragedy and triumph and I became soft and sentimental, despite myself. Secretly, I vowed to stop being so coy and thank him for all of the ways he opens my heart but, that night, I fell asleep before I reached the end of the list. Sunday morning, no words were spoken. None were needed. We gazed out the window, occasionally glancing contentedly into each other’s eyes, wanting neither to break the spell nor to get ahead of ourselves. As I shrugged into a new shirt of delicate design (bought just to please him), I felt suddenly younger and prettier, as if the color blue were made just for me and kisses invented simply for my amusement. After noon, we parted ways for a time–him to make some phone calls, me to take out the recycling and give the dog a bath. Alone but with a full heart, I worked to massage warm water, shampoo, and every bit of love I have been given into my aging dog’s body, hoping that he could know like I do that, in the end, everything will be all right .

Much love to you my friends. I hope spring brings you many wonderful things.

On Praying

A few months ago, I decided to tackle learning all of the names of God by praying or meditating on each one, in turn. Now, seeing as how Hindusim has about 300 million known manifestations of the divine, Islam has the 99 names for God, and Judaism has 10 sefirot (attributes), and that’s not even getting into the Greek or Roman pantheon, I figure I better get cracking. You are probably thinking, “Why in God’s name would I want to do such a thing?” (pun intended;). But if you ask “why” you won’t get t the answer you really want. So, I’ll pretend you asked me “how” instead and let my gut, rather than my mind, take a whack at responding.

I write to digest. So, don’t feel obliged to take this journey down my gullet and out my ass.

Still not saved, but definitely more sane.

OK, I know I’ve said here in the past that I thought I’d make a good nun (except for the small issue of me not being Catholic, OK, yeah and there’s the celebacy thing), but, after this past weekend, I’m pretty sure I would go bat shit crazy if I ever tried (and that’s aside from the unwieldy doctrinal and moral theology). Not that this was a serious risk, mind you.

This past weekend, I decided to get away from it all. I’ve been feeling a bit wound around the axle this week, and the nearby Benedictine Abbey promised just the right distance and solitude that I needed. A friend had gone there on retreat years ago and her recommendation stuck with me, especially her recounting of the nuns trading chant verses in the resonant chapel. I was not disappointed. I joined Vespers at 5 and Compline at 7, and the sound of the voices in slow, repetitive unison mellowed me right out. When I left to walk back to the retreat quarters in the dark, the stars were out in force and two owls were trading calls of their own. It was sublime. I liked the whole experience so much that I thought might get up for 6:30 AM Matins and Mass as well. But, out there in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in a bedroom labeled “Queen of Peace”, with nothing to disturb me, I thought wrong. 🙂

Saturday, I rolled out of bed and helped myself to breakfast by the crack of 9. A nun (and biblical scholar) from a Benedictine Abbey in Kansas was visiting and offered a program on women in the Old Testament. Now, I’ve heard that the folks who are really in the know in the theology world are actually quite hip to the debatable historicity of the Bible and the ambiguity of its directives and the general magical thinking of the characters and authors (yes, authorS). But I was pleasantly surprised when she also took up a feminist stance as well, pointing out that pretty much any time a woman appears in the Old Testament, it’s because she is taking on responsibility for something that was often the joint or sole responsible of an ineffectual male and then she gets found guilty for it. Her whole approach to the teachings of the day was really one of “Where would Jesus and the other heroes of the Bible be without all these women intervening of behalf of their destiny?” In fact, the only really eye-rollingly close-mindedness I saw came through on the anti-abortion issue. (She suggested that Pharaoh’s daughter saving Moses was a pro-life argument. Uh, yeah, hmmm, and I suppose then that the next time your husband violates any commandments, you should probably circumsize your son with a sharp rock and rub your husband’s penis with the leftover foreskin, just to be sure that God doesn’t come and kill him in the night. Yeah, that line of thinking holds. Riiiiiiiiiiight. Talk about heresy.)

As much as I find religion fascinating and relevant, I was really turned off by just how much Christian scripture, at least the Old Testament, speaks from a victim mindset. “Oh, Lord, save me from my enemies here” and “Banish the evildoers who tell falsehoods about me there”. It has been a long time since I really have sat down and read the Bible–I think when I was younger, I got thrown by the strange grammar and vocabulary. So, I was kind of re-disheartened to realize just how much the Bible harps on justice and mercy. Not that justice and mercy aren’t virtuous. But when that’s what is focused on and the way it’s presented, it seems to just manifest a lot of externalizing of blame. Really sad to me. But, given the Christian roots of our society, it sure would explain a lot of today’s ills.

As for the nun thing, you know, the monastic part still appeals to my soul (although, with a hungry mind like mine, I’d probably go bonkers without an unlimited library and internet access). And the service and hospitality part makes my heart happy. And the ritual part blows open my mind to the sense of mystery and reverance that I love so much to feel. Honestly, I kinda wish I were Christian. It would make my spiritual life a lot simpler. But I really struggle with the “Jesus as God” thing, especially since I have no direct, experiential relationship with the man. (The God thing I have no problem with but that’s a private matter.) And I have trouble with the built-in father complex. I just don’t relate to God that way. And I couldn’t find where a sense of humor was considered much of a virtue in Christianity. (I prefer a God that loves a good practical joke.)

I know the penguin suits added an air of formality to the whole thing. (Not all Benedictines wear them, but this abbey still does.) The outfits seem to make every interaction feel so formal and complex and cumbersome to me. It’s just hard to enjoy some good natured ribbing with a nun. (Although Sister Hildegard was pretty funny. Especially in the nun suit, she has stand-up comedienne potential.)

All that said, I’d go back some day just to sit in that chapel and listen to the singing. And to hear some more feminist theology.