Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another poem

Yesterday morning, I read this post at Segullah. It knocked me over.

The whole post is beautiful, so read it, but the poem...oh, the poem...

So here it is. (And I promise that my next few posts will be less heavy. My life is full of light and fun and spring rebirth and music and teenagers rolling their eyes at me and so much's not all philosophy and pain. Really, it's not.)

A Brief for the Defense

by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Gift of Darkness

I recently found this lovely Mary Oliver poem. It's been rattling around in my head ever since I read it first:
The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

As I've worked on becoming more grateful, I've had to confront some bitterness I've kept close, cherished even. (Note to future self: Keeping bitterness close? Super bad idea.)

Facing the ugliness wasn't easy. I've nursed and polished the hurt, noticing every little facet of it, allowing it to take up so much more head and heartspace than I ever intended. Since I'm on this journey of gratitude, I decided to turn what I'm learning to this very hard task. I started talking about why I was grateful for the pain itself, why I was grateful for the givers of pain. I started thanking Heavenly Father for the experiences I was enduring. I prayed to love those who had hurt me and to find more about them to appreciate. I prayed that they would have peace and happiness in their lives.

Guess what? It's working.

And it's a gift.

The experiences?


And those who gave me these experiences?

Gifts, too.

When is it easiest to sense the truth in Oliver's poem? When I'm emotionally healthy, when I'm sleeping enough, when I'm studying scriptures, when I'm communicating with the divine. At those times, I see that opposition in all things is a true principle: I won't become the woman I can be if I hold all my pain too close. Frankly, I can't hold on to pain and hold on to peace at the same time. So I'm opening my heart, letting go my desire for control or revenge or whatever else wants to tuck itself close and feed like a parasite. And that space I'm freeing up? I'm accepting new tenants: Peace. Happiness. Love. And's so great to have hope back.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And...She's Back(?)

Oh, how I love these people. (And can Ben NEVER make a normal face in a picture?)

Don't you love those blog posts that say, "It's been SO LONG since I've written!"

This is one of those blog posts.

This blog post is to inform you, delightful readers, that my intention is to return to our regularly scheduled posts, more for my own sake than for yours, of course. I just need to keep track of this messy, beautiful life for me and for these five people you see pictured. If you'd like to come along for the ride, come along! The more the merrier!

I can give you lots of reasons to explain why in 2010 I posted 359 times, 2011 I posted 45 times, and this year I have posted 2. I'm sure some of those reasons will be discussed in future posts. Some of them will never be discussed. I will say that being refined is a ridiculously hard process, harder than I ever imagined, and sometimes public discussion is not appropriate to some of the refining processes.

And yet here I am; here WE are. On the other side of the nastiness? I sincerely hope so, at least on the other side of THIS part of the refining. My experiences have taught me, however, that there will be more refining to come, that this life is full of refining times, and that trying to avoid them has never done me any good. They will come when they will, and I can only attempt to handle them more gracefully in the future.

So here's to happiness ahead...and a few more posts in the future!