Hello dear friends,
It’s been a very busy fall so far: the start of my Story Circles, the beginning of a new reading group at the library I’m co-facilitating (we’re reading Karen Armstrong’s 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life), my birthday, my son’s birthday, several friends’ birthdays, the writing of poetry, and the highlight: going to the Original Voice training with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Colorado. This year it was on The Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th Century classic on the contemplative life, written by Anonymous. (And might that have been a woman?? Hmmm. . . . sounds like it!)
I’d like to share two new poems from this fall. They go together, because they are the two ways it seems my days go. One day I feel the one; the next day I feel the other.
May your autumn be full and restful.
With much love and many blessings, Cat
All Shall Be Well???
Cat Charissage, October 2019
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
--- Julian of Norwich
Hey Julian ---- is that really your name anyway?
Awfully suspicious that it’s the name of the church you lived next to ---
So is “Julian” just another name for “Anonymous”?
Anyway, “Julian” --- did you really say that? “All shall be well?”
What? Were you on drugs, hypnotised, or just mentally unbalanced?
I mean, just look around;
Watch the news, for crying out loud.
Hate to break this to you, but things are definitely NOT “well”.
Black woman killed in her home, shot by the policeman sent to see if she was all right.
Kurds abandoned by allies to armies just itching for a little ethnic cleansing.
Sexual slavery rings. Cages for migrant children seeking asylum.
Opioid crisis. Climate crisis.
All shall be well? Try that line on a woman who just lost her child to a bullet.
Are you kidding or are you nuts?
I am not impressed.
Yet, through the ages you say
all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
It’s kind of got a nice rhythm, eh?
Deep down, I can’t believe you were nuts.
You lived during the time of the Black Plague, which killed 1 out of 3 persons.
Maybe the plague killed your children and spouse and that’s why you ended up
living on the side of the church, never leaving that tiny room,
an anchorite with window open to listen to all who came to tell your their heartbreak,
asking you to pray with them, for them, for comfort, for strength.
Though you didn’t get around much, the evening news came to you,
hour after hour, day after day, year after year.
You knew how much we hurt,
how much we suffer,
how much we need.
Some things just never seem to change.
All shall be well and all shall be well.
Well, I guess I can hope.
Maybe someday I can believe it.
After all, some days, underneath it all,
I find myself wordless
watching a magpie watching me,
seeing the tenderness of an openhearted soul,
feeling “thank you” arise from my bones.
And I hope.
The tension of the opposites.
I hold it all, waiting for a creative resolution.
And I hope.
Craving the Sublime
Cat Charissage October, 2019
It’s the moment that takes your breath away:
The trees singing harmony with angels
Visions of unity, pattern, exquisite beauty
A conviction that love --- unconditional, all-inclusive, and infinite --- is truly where we live and move and have our being. Love: our matrix, our motherboard.
Knowing --- in a flash --- that everything belongs.
This is the sublime.
This is what I crave.
No matter how much I want it to happen,
I cannot make it so on demand.
No matter how much I need that numinous moment,
I cannot make it so on demand.
No matter how deeply I wish to see, to know, to feel,
I cannot make it so on demand -----
no matter how hard I grit my teeth.
I can live expectantly, trusting in possibility.
I can tune my hearing to voices under the noise.
I can look between the atoms to see what dances in that emptiness.
I can quiet myself to feel the invisible’s presence.
Yes, I can.
But give me just a minute, because
my friend just posted the cutest video of her youngest going on her “pick up the trash walk”,
and there’s a kid at the door wanting to sell me Girl Guide cookies --- the chocolate mint ones,
and I’m in the middle of an email to my dear friend in the midst of despair,
oh, and I promised to finish prepping those questions for the reading group on compassion.
And I haven’t even started my homework for the Life Story Circle,
and I forgot to pick up tofu on my way home from the doctor,
and my son really wants me to proofread his essay before tomorrow morning,
and I just saw an alert about yet another tweet from that president down south -----
I thought I’d disabled all those notifications already!
Time to turn the kaleidoscope one notch.
All this fullness.
All this embeddedness in my own world.
I do belong, now.
There is love, here,
here now where I live and move and have my being,
a unified life of participation, of giving and receiving.
I can almost hear the angels singing.