In response to difficult times. . .


acrylic on canvas, (c) Cat Charissage, 2015

Love, Boundaries, Beauty

Cat Charissage, November 2015

On Friday the thirteenth my heart, pierced, rained an ocean of tears,

salt water from an ocean of love.

Everything I heard, saw, read, thought about brought on the rain of tears that day,

and the next, and the next.

Filled with so much love that my heart broke open,

the tears and the love flowed over everything I know,

over my entire awareness, over all.

So much love for our broken open world,

so much love for my broken open life.


There were shootings in Paris

stopping, dead, forever,

more than a hundred fellow souls

living their evening freedoms in a neighborhood epitomizing liberal society.

Hundreds, thousands, millions more are stopped,


with a hurt we may live with forever.


Meanwhile, on another continent but no world away,

I have a son we named Liberty.

Liberty — so that he may be liberated from indoctrinations;

Liberty — so that he may be free to be his unique self.

And unique he is:  deeply creative, highly sensitive, quirky, eccentric,

a writer, becoming a man

trying to figure out how to make a life

while making a living.

Raised with such love and extraordinary understanding

(he says so himself, grateful to be able to be who he is.)


He sees this crazy world,

is pained, taken aback by the hatred.

How to make a future?

“Do I even matter in a dying world of 7 billion people?”

“I can’t even run this program, how can I ever make a difference?”

And sometimes he is angry; oftentimes he is sad.

He is so often misunderstood —- liberty IS very often misunderstood

in a world of shoulds, oughts, “you need to be controlled.”

After the school shooting in Oregon and too many other places,

an unusual young man, an angry young man,

is watched.

And misunderstood.

And feared.

“Can’t be too careful, you know.”


My mother’s heart breaks open again and salt waters flow.

The salt waters flow

for Liberty, for liberty, for those killed in so many places

in this broken open world,

for those still alive, broken open.

Love flowing out, for all of us.


And the newspaper says that the killers will be pursued without mercy.

Without mercy.


My salt water’s love flows over that, too.


All of us yearn to make a difference, to make one’s life meaningful,

and yes, even memorable, if we can.

All of us want that, even those who grow up to undertake terror.

What is it like, really, to grow up seeing this broken world,

yet also be frustrated, isolated, and tutored by haters who show you

how to make a difference, this kind of difference,

show you how to become memorable?


People say violence is senseless.  

But I understand.  

It’s not senseless at all in its twisted meaningfulness.

Not senseless, but tragic.  Totally and fully tragic.


My salt water’s love flows over that, too.


But I can almost not bear my heart so broken open, too open.

Love flowing, but life flowing out, too.


Where, how, what do I do to bear this?


My heart broken open,

I must remember,

is also held in, gently, by my own skin, my own body.


Salt waters can flow, but also be bounded and contained.

I can choose what to let in.  I can choose where to look.

Salt waters can help me cleanse my eyes, can help me see more clearly.

See the finches play at the birdfeeder,

see my spouse prepare supper,

see the the branches of the crabapple twist toward light.

See the helpers come to help, the healers come to heal.

Know that I don’t need to feel it all, do it all,

but do what is mine to do — bounded by my reach.

My broken open heart can contain me,

give me words to direct my thoughts,

give me actions to repair my piece of the world,

give me the discipline to show up every day to the page, to my life

where I can make my difference, my meaning,

where I can pour my salt waters’ love with mindful intention.


Boundless love, bounded life; directed love, repairing life.


And I move into a truth that can only be known

by seeing all sides

with compassion —

including my own limited, bounded self in this limited, aching body.


This truth is beautiful.


The beauty of love, flowing yet contained by the banks of my own body

and life-in-this-world.


And the crystal in the window transforms sunlight into rainbows.

Different colors.  Unexpected beauty.

Who could believe all those colors are in sunlight?

All our colors, held in the light. . .  

our human rainbow of colors, held in the Light.


That’s a promise!  And it’s beautiful,

so beautiful.

The salt waters recede.

2 thoughts on “In response to difficult times. . .

  1. Cat

    Nury, Thank you for your prayers. Still needed, but we’re hanging in here. I so appreciate that you pick out the phrases that touched you. No better response to a writer is there! I miss you.

  2. Nury Stevens

    Dearest Cat: what a beautiful poem! I love it. The salt water image is awesome. I love how you ended the poem. ” the salt water recedes.” An aching heart longing for love, peace and mercy. Another image “and the crystal in the Window transforms sunlight into rainbows.” I pray for you daily. I do not know how many novenas now, but I hold you up in my prayers. Thank you for being you. Love, nury


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