Saturday night Wayne and I had the pleasure (thank God for sleepovers!) to plunk ourselves down on our favorite lumpy, stained, neck straining couch on the second row of Ragtag Cinema and view "The Darjeeling Express," the tale of three estranged brothers off to India in quest of reuniting on a heavily itineraried "spiritual journey." The film was enthralling in the glimpses of the setting alone and though I'm a sucker for these types of tales (I've recently read Eat, Love, Pray, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes; Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality, and A Short Trip to the Edge, among others) where the writer sets off on a rigorous journey seeking an intense spiritual encounter, precipitated either by personal crisis or merely a consuming hunger for the love of God, not all of us have the luxury (time, finances, health, etc) to drop out of society for large chunks of time, especially mothers with kids, to connect with our "spiritual side." Which is why I suppose all those famous disciples, monks and gurus are typically male.
Achieving a "spiritual" jolt while contemplating the sheer rock face of a mountain or a vast desert expanse is not particularly difficult, nor surprising. And what is amusing is the idea that we must "go" on a spiritual journey, as if we for even one moment are not already on one, as if we occasionally retrieve our souls from the mothballs and schedule time to hang out with them. God is no more available on the peaks of mountains than at the sink of dishes or the crush of 5:00 traffic. We don't GO on a spiritual journey, we ARE on one. Whether we are aware of it, acknowledge it or adamantly deny it. Whether we feel our corpuscles vibrating with divine energy or feel like a block of wood. No act is necessarily any more spiritual than another though our attention to the spiritual may be awakened, focused or heightened by willful gestures such as worship, prayer, a surge of gratitude or the contemplation of natural beauty.
All that to say I love journeys. Of any kind. So by all means, GO! Just don't forget your "spiritual journey" is not waiting somewhere for you to show up and discover; that journey began way back--when you did.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I attended novelist Bret Lott's reading with Wayne and the girls last Thursday night at Mizzou in hopes of a) hearing him read and b) thanking him personally for having published my work in the spring issue of the Southern Review, both of which items I did accomplish. But that simple desire led to a series of unexpected and delightful events which include, among other things, meeting Aliki Barnstone, a new poet on faculty at Mizzou, her daughter Zoe (who quickly became fast friends with our girls), and later her father Willis, in for a reading Monday night in KC. If you want to witness an insanely talented and prolific family, visit Barnstone and just imagine what conversation around their Thanksgiving table might sound like.
At the reception after Bret's reading I also got to chat with Speer Morgan, longtime editor of the Missouri Review (one of my favorite journals), and with our by now good friend Scott Cairns. The same group was in attendance at a party Aliki threw Saturday night in honor of her father and which Wayne and I found ourselves the last to leave (are we ever not?) after a long post party conversation with Aliki and Willis which included a tour of the artwork on the walls, mostly created by Aliki's mother and the other insanely talented Barnstones. What kind of vitamins did they eat?!! And though it was way past one when we finally dragged our kids home, Aliki and co. came by the next day as we returned the art-on-the-walls house tour favor and before we all set off for Rocheport and the General Store and Katy Trail.
The Leal part of the Sunday bikeride was cut short as I had to head back for a dinner party Wayne and I were set to attend. The dinner was held at the home of two retired Mizzou archeologists so over a potluck dinner of chicken tarragon and potato pancakes I got to ask, firsthand, about the dig in Peru in which Bob Benfer has unearthed " the oldest known celestial observatory in the Americas," dated to 4200 B.C. Talk about interesting dinner conversation. Meanwhile, that morning, Wayne appeared in yet another newspaper article.
I think there is a lot to be said for little ponds.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This morning when I stumbled out of bed to get the girls ready for school, I thought something outside was on fire. I opened the bathroom door which faces east and the room was blazing in tangerine light. As I ran to open the front door for a look, Hayley called from the back. A perfect orb spanned our backyard, an expanded St. Louis arch in luminous technicolor. The four of us stood and traced its vivid rim, hues waxing and waning before suddenly dissolving back to infinite blue, as if it had been a mirage of our own making.
I recalled the lines I'd just read from Robert Cording's poem "Last Things", appearing in the fall Georgia Review:
But just as often I have been distracted
by dust on the windowsill dimpling with rain
or the yellow shine of afternoon sun
on the grass, by the rush and babble
of voices talking in the next room,
or even a dog's barking--as Augustine
may have been, looking up now and again
from his prayer, arrested by an ordinary cloud
passing across the face of the sun
and the new shadows pooling on the floor,
the next thing still happening, still arriving
and being replaced, still restless, all of it
part of a world so hard to finish loving.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Enough chill in the air and the patter of long missed rain on the windows to conjure an extreme case of cozy. Wayne showed me another timesuck feature of google which shows a running display of photos being uploaded at any given moment to blogspots. So I've toured the world from the cocoon of my study, sharing my morning coffee with these strangers from around the world. Cheers, all.
Click the post title to take your own armchair journey. (Note the worldwide phenomena of how many people like to take photos of their plates of food. Also note how many people do not know how to focus their cameras.)
from the Netherlands
from Niagra Falls
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The critter has been back every night since he terrified me a couple of weeks ago when Wayne was out of town and before I reasoned that the serial killer I imagined at the back door would make a wee bit less noise. Since then we moved the cat food inside the screened-in porch so our new cat would not starve but the raccoon chewed through the screen AND THEN ate the cat food. Wayne borrowed a trap from the neighbor I'd phoned at 1:30 am and set it last night. It strolled in on schedule, ate the food and left without leaving a tip. So tonight Wayne greased the trap and fastened the cat food can to the wires so the wiley creature would have to trip the trap to eat. He came, he ate, we conquered. Now what??
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
You say, "Why?" I say, "Why Not?" I get free graphic design and programming (thanks, sweetie!) Here's to a chicken in every pot! Please click on over and stay awhile...
Monday, October 08, 2007
This Thursday's broadcast of Women's Issues Women's Voices on KOPN features a discussion on women who write poetry. Marta Ferguson, Juliet Rodeman and I join host Victoria Day to discuss the poetry we write and why we write it. The podcast will be available after the airing (7 pm) if anyone would like to listen in.
Monday, October 01, 2007
For someone whose head perpetually hovers in the clouds, I'm making real attempts to become rooted to this world. It may seem ludicrous that this requires effort, but I am a product of mobile, family fragmented, mass production, urban/suburan, de-natured, paved over, homogenized America. I consume post-modern food, clothing and goods which, like me, lack a recogizable homeland. But I am making conscious efforts to shed what Belden C. Lane refers to as the "impulse of modernity" which is to "emphasize the universal rather than the vernacular, the anonymous instead of the personal, the freedom of uninterrupted space as opposed to the particularity of place." So lately I'm making a lot of soup and reading Wendall Berry. No more pie in the sky, I want pie on my table and to know where its filling came from. Ideally, from my own garden (at this point I could attempt a green tomato and basil pie.) I'm relishing my time outdoors, inhaling fall, its colors and light, its breezes, its migrating populations.
Last night I heard a ruckus in the screened-in porch. Earlier a fierce storm had blown in and I'd taken pity on our cat, allowing her inside the porch to shed her asthma inducing dander all over our furniture. Looking out through the glare of the windows trying to see if she was okay, I decided the thump I'd heard was Libbles jumping out of her box. I could just make out her white boots in the dark. A moment after I'd gone to tuck in the girls I heard a very loud (!) exclamation from the porch. Wayne had stepped out there and glanced up to find a raccoon two feet away from his head. His yell scared the raccoon across the porch, trampling plants and turning over everything in its path before it made its way up the opposite wall, only to become entangled in cable wiring. For awhile the raccoon played possum, unable to go forward or back, its tiny paws gingerly exploring the tiny ledge it perched on. I realized this was the likely culprit to the racket I'd heard a couple of weeks ago while Wayne was camping in South Dakota which had alarmed me enough to call an armed neighbor at 1:30 in the morning before finally realizing if something making that amount of noise was trying to get in, it already would have. The stalemate with the raccoon went on until Wayne gave a war cry that so startled it, it somehow escaped its confines and scampered out the screen door and into the night. Earlier I'd spotted the praying mantis at our front door. We all walked up and watched it watch us, its little ET face turning toward us as if considering what sort of creatures we were. Then it put its hands (is that what you call them?) together, as if in prayer. Like, "See why they call me a Praying Mantis?"
Berry says, "There is time, and then there is timelessness. And if you're lucky, and if you can be still enough, observant enough, you may be able to know and speak about that intersection of time and timelessness, or time and eternity." My neighbors here, the raccoons and the insects, probably know that intersection.