“Allow beauty to shatter you regularly. The loveliest people are the ones who have been burnt and broken and torn at the seams, yet still send their open hearts into the world to mend with love again, and again, and again.”~ Victoria Erickson
“I want to talk to you again for a little while, dear Mr. Kappus, although there is almost nothing I can say that will help you, and I can hardly find one useful word. “You have had many sadnesses, large ones, which passed. And you say that even this passing was difficult and upsetting for you. But please, ask yourself whether these large sadnesses haven’t rather gone right through you. Perhaps many things inside you have been transformed; perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad. The only sadnesses that are dangerous and unhealthy are the ones that we carry around in public in order to drown them out with the noise; like diseases that are treated superficially and foolishly, they just withdraw and after a short interval break out again all the more terribly; and gather inside us and are life, are life that is unlived, rejected, lost, life that we can die of. If only it were possible for us to see farther than our knowledge reaches, and even a little beyond the outworks of our presentiment, perhaps we would bear our sadnesses with greater trust than we have in our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, everything in us withdraws, a silence arises, and the new experience, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.”
Letters to a Young Poet
“Beauty does not linger, it only visits. Yet beauty’s visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm, it calls us to feel, think and act beautifully in the world: to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful. A life without delight is only half a life. Lest this be construed as a plea for decadence or self-indulgence that is blind to the horrors of the world, we should remember that beauty does not restrict its visitations only to those whom fortune or circumstances favour. Indeed, it is often the whispers and glimpses of beauty which enable people to endure on desperate frontiers. Even, and perhaps especially, in the bleakest times, we can still discover and awaken beauty; these are precisely the times when we need it most.”
Excerpt from BEAUTY
Photo: © Ann Cahill
“Twelve years ago tonight, I woke up and my whole body was ablaze. It started tearing and crushing itself ceaselessly, and it started sharpening its previously unmentioned collection of hot knives deep inside my skin. I knew then that no one could survive such a thing but I have been proved wrong every single day that’s followed.
The fire remains constant, and every time it starts to die down, too much sound or discomfort or life makes the flames leap again until it feels as though that much concentrated and unrelenting pain is threatening to burn out whatever it is in me that has resisted being obliterated for so long. It is much less fierce though than it was, even when it is still utterly brutal. And, If it is less now, it can get less again. And less. Til it snuffs itself out and is gone.
A long time ago, my Grannie and I used to find pictures in the fire which burned merrily in her old Victorian fireplace. I’d watch it cavorting like Paganini with his devil’s violin and I saw that it contained its own fairytales. It contained castles and glimpses of strange lands and interesting creatures who flickered in and out of view. In this fire too, in my own fire as it rages, I have seen fairytales. The ones I have created with as much eccentricity as my English heart desires, and the ones I have found with other people. Even If I had known that whilst I went on burning, I would get well enough to speak and laugh again, and find the sort of friends you could save worlds with, I couldn’t have guessed just how much of an adventure life would become. How much genuine happiness I would get to hold in my arms like bouquets of summer flowers. How I would fall in love and have that love returned, more than once, and learn all the lessons of heartbreak that make us strong enough to try again. How I would meet strangers who became family, and go on knowing the dearest of old friends. How I would write for my living, and cook until my hair smelt slightly of fried red onions and the zing of garlic when I rested it against the pillow. How every day would bring me something interesting and thought provoking and often rather charming. And how lucky, in the scheme of things, that made me.
I couldn’t have imagined either, that on the anniversary of a terrible beginning the fire and I would walk in the cool air to meet my postbox, with sass in my hips and a spring in my step at the feel of such progress. Considering on the way back if a fringe for Christmas might ultimately be a bad decision.
So, I am going to allow myself to feel a little sorrow for all that hurts, and then I will plan the great American road trip I intend to take one day, with a good map and a great friend. I will picture myself piloting a small plane over the ocean and walking through markets that smell of spice and secrets in faraway places before I see the stars in a wide, open space without city lights to dim them. I will imagine fervently kissing someone with all the passion of the waiting and the understanding my life has asked me to do. (Oh how I plan on kissing). I will go meet a man I know, on the moon. I will think of the foxes. I will look forward to hearing the voices of people I love as we close the distance between their home and mine with the wonder of technology; either again, or for the first time. I will remember to dance at the end of every day, in a dress that changes to fit the music I can now actually listen to, in the arms of imagined and steadfastly dashing men. Who, it has to be said, never ever drop me or put their backs out.
I know there are other people who understand what the Phoenix feels like as it is reborn. There are many other firebirds. I am going to try to find them so I can hold their hand from far away. That feels like a quest worth going on.
I have realised too, and only this week, that I will never be made to feel small again. By anyone, least of all me. Not after everything that has happened and how I have chosen to face it.
You shouldn’t feel small either. Just look at who you are. You live on this wild and dazzling planet, dealing with what life throws at you as best as you can, and you are kind. You know pain too well, and yet you have not lost your laughter or your capacity to care. What more can be expected of anyone, in the end? You are enough. Enough. Much more than enough. And more. I know because I see you and I am so glad and happy that you see me too.”
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before—”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song;
Made so and rooted so by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!
“A lot of the experiences that we have in the world are torn, broken, hard experiences, and in broken, difficult, lonesome experiences you earn a quality of light that is very precious. I often think of it as quarried light. When you come through a phase of pain or isolation or suffering, the light that is given to you at the end of that is a very precious light, and really when you go into something similar again, it is the only kind of light that can mind you. It is the lantern that will bring you through that pain. One of our difficulties in contemporary culture is this massive amnesia. We forget so much because we are addicted to the moment. If sad, difficult things have happened to you, and you have earned quarried light, again and again you should visit the light, and almost like the light around the tabernacle that signals the presence, you should allow that light to come round you to awaken the presence that is in you, to calm you, to bring you contentment, and as well to bring you courage.” ~ John O’Donohue, “Walking On The Pastures Of Wonder” (official release date: March 26, 2015, Ireland only) — US, UK, EU release dates yet to be determined.
Photo “Marks of the Infinite” (C) Fe Langdon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://flic.kr/p/6Pk7cX
Galway Kinnell, “The Still Time”
I know there is still time –
time for the hands
to open, for the bones of them
to be filled
by those failed harvests of want,
the bread imagined of the days of not having.
Now that the fear
has been rummaged down to its husk,
and the wind blowing
the flesh away translates itself
into flesh and the flesh
gives itself in its reveries to the wind.
I remember those summer nights
when I was young and empty,
when I lay through the darkness
I would have nothing of anything I wanted –
that total craving
that hollows the heart out irreversibly.
So it surprises me now to hear
the steps of my life following me –
so much of it gone
it returns, everything that drove me crazy
comes back, blessing the misery
of each step it took me into the world;
as though a prayer had ended
and the bit of changed air
between the palms goes free
to become the glitter
on some common thing that inexplicably shines.
And the old voice,
which once made its broken-off, choked, parrot-incoherences,
this time on the palatum cordis
this time saying there is time, still time,
for one who can groan
for one who can sing to be healed.
– – –
“We are flesh and blood and bone. There are those for whom this reality is not a homecoming but a matter of day to day survival. Mystics and monastics pray on embodied behalf of those who can’t. In a century of staggering open questions, hope becomes a calling for those of us who can hold it, for the sake of the world. Hope is distinct in my mind, from optimism or idealism. It has nothing to do with wishing. It references reality at every turn and reveres truth. It lives open eyed and wholehearted with the darkness that is woven ineluctably into the light of life and sometimes seems to overcome it. Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory. It’s a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
– krista Tippett