Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meeting My Buddy Jesus

More essay than poem, this is the story of something-I-had-forgotten until I went to Jennifer Elam's gallery opening and reading at Pendle Hill in January 2014. Jennifer, artist, psychologist and author of  Dancing with God Through the Storm read from her new book about her experience with cancer.  One chapter makes close encounters with Jesus more than real and reminds me to check out my own reality.  How do I invite awareness of God's presence?  

Meeting My Buddy Jesus

Let me admit this up front:
this Jewish-Pagan-Quaker
asexual bisexual
female spirit has been a
friend of Jesus for more than
three decades now.  I’m not much
on Paul and the builders of
Christianity, but the
big three—G-d-Christ-and-Spirit
are with me.  Here’s how it flies:

Gd-be-with-ye is ALL, and
Jesus is a channel there.
Much easier to talk to
someone like us than to ALL —
which would seem like talking to
myself.   I am not crazy.
I feel my spirit—something
ALL living things have—befriend
Jesus Christ who manifests
G-d, who is the son of G-d,
who meets ALL with G-d’s spirit.

It was Ken who first clued me
in to this Buddy Jesus: 
A retired navy man who
worked on nuclear subs, Ken used
to take me sailing with him
and his Buddy Jesus, out
in Hampton Bay near the sea
and—truth to tell—I did think
he was crazy until he
got cancer and approached
death with his Buddy Jesus
at his side, sustaining him.

Ken’s Buddy Jesus filled him
with ALL.  I had never seen
anything like that glow—and
Ken, he never called him Lord
or Savior but trusted him
with ALL of his heart and kept
facing where Jesus led him
to face and talking about
it.  So we ALL were with him
as he became more and more
transparent and let us see
through him: Jesus Christ held
his hand as he embraced G-d.

Such peace and joy on Ken’s face
led me to trust my burden—
this thing I carried with ALL
my experience in it
like a suitcase but nothing
I could put down or lift up
myself.  My Buddy Jesus
helps me carry it and
see its light and shadow as
my own.   I am huge with this
baggage; I cast a long and
unique shadow which is ALL
gift and burden and Jesus.

To be Continued ...     

Friday, May 16, 2014

Herman Hesse and trees

File:Calw nikolausbruecke.jpg
Nikolaus-Bridge in Calw, a place Hermann Hesse preferred to stay for fishing at the river 
Nagoldt. Today (2009) there is a sculpture right on the top of the bridge showing Hesse.

Because of Hannah Gosselin's poetry prompt on the Black Forest of Germany, I looked at many images of the region and turned to Herman Hesse who wrote in and about this region.  I could not imagine the forests belonging to anyone, and I think Hesse had a problem with that too.  His idea of freedom and individualism admitted to no governance which led to much trouble in his own life.  To me, expressions like the one below show him to be close to earlier American transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau.  I felt this when first reading his novels during the turbulent 60's as well.   comments similarly in her post Hermann Hesse on What Trees Teach Us About Belonging and Life, " ... life does not await permission to be lived."

File:Hermann Hesse Bueste.JPG
Statue in Calw
I have made the following erasure poem in Hesse's words  from his Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte [Trees: Reflections and Poems] (public library), originally published in 1984.  The translated text, also from Maria Popova's post, is below with underlining to show my choices.


Trees Preach: an erasure poem 

(from Herman Hesse, poet of the Black Forest)

Trees preach
in forests and alone

A beautiful, strong tree says
I am unique

Unique the form and veins of my skin,

the leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark
reveal the eternal

God is in me.
My labor is holy.

Life is not easy, not difficult.
Those are childish thoughts.

You are anxious because your path leads away from home.
Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

Every path leads homeward,
every step is birth, death, mother.

The tree rustles thoughts, long-breathing and restful,
wiser than we.  Listen.

No longer want to be a tree.
want to be nothing except what is.

That is home. 

Hesse's Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte 
               [Trees: Reflections and Poems]

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”