gratitude

It’s already been two years
since I got the call
that my father had rung 911
– chest pains –
a stay at Sinai Grace,
and every single idiosyncrasy I’d miss
flashing behind my eyes.

Which bit of tang
helps one find sweetness in the move,
the boxes,
the sorting that he’s still around for,
for better or worse.

It’s just over two years
and/or just under nine months
since my nieces were born,
various degrees of early, tiny, and fragile.
Babies can die, said my pastor,
maintaining that
being subject to death,
they were subject to sin,
q.e.d.

God be praised for baptism, of course,
defense against the second death –
but God be praised more
that these tiny breaths
(and/or huge, red, screeching cries)
persist, right now, against the first.

And now it’s just over two weeks
Since hearing the sweetest “no”
– that your body is not in rebellion
(well.  no more than is common),
that today will not be the day to fight
to quell that invisible uprising.

Surely there are sour notes,
somewhere along the days
but by God I can’t taste a one of them
over the profoundly sweet relief
that today is not that day.

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A Few of My *~Absolute Favorite~* Things

It being the Monday after Daylight Savings Time starts, I think it’s fair to say that work  weighs even heavier than normal on company employees today.

That being said, the following lyrics are not really about my job.  But they might well apply to your job.

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, as well as any children or readers with a more sensitive conscience than mine.  This post contains somewhat strong language, along with a sarcastic refrain, and you may wish to cease reading here.

For anyone else, join me in song:

Meaningless meetings that swallow up mornings
Random-ass deadlines that come without warning
Waiting for Red Bull to give me its wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Idiot systems for logging my hours
Longing for co-worker-Force-choking powers
Clawing my face off each time the phone rings,
Just a few more of my favorite things

Lead gave no feedback regarding my graphics
Please just accept that I’m not telepathic
Dreading each comment the editor brings
These are a few of my favorite things

When I’m crying in the bathroom,
When it’s all quite shit,
I think about nothing but our health insurance
So that I don’t up and quit

Clients: I can’t care enough to go woo them
Tasks went undone since no one said to do them
Tripped up by all these invisible strings
Just a few more of my favorite things

Failure of process: it’s sadly systemic
Nit-picking needlessly: also endemic
Waiting for 5 when the quitting bell rings,
These are a few of my favorite things

Training is but a disorderly jumble
One day I’ll choke as I swallow my grumble
Praying for patience before my fist swings,
These are a few of my favorite things…

Paycheck is smaller than what we agreed on
Tired of having my dignity peed on
Straining to bear Fortune’s arrows and slings
These are a few of my favorite things

When I’m crying in frustration,
When it’s all quite shit,
I simply remember my comp’ny insurance
So that I don’t up and quit!

A Tree Song

Through the glorious bounty of the internet, I stumbled upon this poem by Rudyard Kipling today.  It’s not yet midsummer, but it seems appropriate anyway when the weather is so lovely and I am longing to go back to England.

Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.
Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs
(All of a Midsummer’s morn)!
Surely we sing of no little thing,
In Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
Or ever Aeneas began;
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,
When Brut was an outlaw man;
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow;
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
Your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
To Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That anyway trusts her shade:
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He’ll take no wrong when he lieth along
‘Neath Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But—we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth—
Good news for cattle and corn—
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
With Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs
(All of a Midsummer’s morn)!
England shall bide till Judgement Tide,
By Oak and Ash and Thorn!

A Gymnosperm by Another Name

Here is a poem by C.S. Lewis.  It’s one of my favorites, kept in a folder to be deployed when necessary.  I’ve posted half of it before, back in 2011, but recent days have demanded that I bring it out again, so I thought I’d share it around.

Gymnosperm comes from the Greek for “naked seeds,” so there you have it.  Whether Lewis had conifers in mind or not, I can only wonder.

The Naked Seed

My heart is empty. All the fountains that should run
With longing, are in me
Dried up. In all my countryside there is not one
That drips to find the sea.
I have no care for anything thy love can grant
Except the moment’s vain
And hardly noticed filling of the moment’s want
And to be free from pain.
Oh, thou that art unwearying, that dost neither sleep
Nor slumber, who didst take
All care for Lazarus in the careless tomb, oh keep
Watch for me till I wake.
If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou
Desire for me what I
Cannot desire, my soul’s interior Form, though now
Deep-buried, will not die,
— No more than the insensible dropp’d seed which grows
Through winter ripe for birth
Because, while it forgets, the heaven remembering throws
Sweet influence still on earth,
— Because the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, goes
Still turning round the earth.

 

Here’s the thing.  My heart doesn’t feel empty.  It’s full of thoughts, of considerations, of half-filled timetables, of a plethora of worries: my job, my car, the friends I don’t write to, the friends I do write to, my parents’ health, my brother’s wedding, etc., etc., etc.

But it isn’t full of what ought to fill it, this heart of mine.  The longing and the love which should fill it and flow from it: they are a mere trickle.  To borrow another of Lewis’s metaphors, the gas tank is empty, or else full of the wrong thing.  I can feel the transmission seizing up, or whatever it is that transmissions do when something’s wrong.  Slipping, I suppose.  Not getting into the correct gear and getting stuck in neutral!  That is surely me this past fortnight (or two, or three).

Lewis is, as always, more eloquent than I; in this poem, he is also more hopeful than I tend to be.  Who will save me from this heart full of death?  Thank God for the heavens remembering when the seed forgets!