Mostly, now, I feel an immovable writer’s block. What is there to say that hasn’t been said? We are living in a time of collapse. The world feels very chaotic. It’s hard to find peace, stillness, quiet. The wheels are spinning out of control, while at the same time, the gears are grinding to a halt.
We are being torn asunder.
This morning I took my little son and my nephew for a walk in the woods. We wandered barefoot, and they found magic in everything. Blades of grass morphed into wands. Trees turned to dragons, and old rotting stumps transformed into knights. We delighted in miniature monarch butterfly caterpillars chewing at the underside of the Milkweed leaves, and marveled at the brilliant orange of the baltimore oriole flitting across the sky.
How can it be this way? That somehow even in death we are in life?
This planet is dying! I want to scream.
I want to grab the massive bouldered shoulders of the earth herself and shake until her teeth rattle; scream “wake up!” I want to gaze into her crystal clear eyes flecked with blue and yell, “Why don’t you do something!? Shake us off, murder us, throw us from the surface of your spinning, marbled world. Ruin us, destroy us, end us, put us out of our own fucking misery!!” I want to spit at her, claw her sun kissed skin and pull her wild hair, blame her for letting us do what we’ve done, blame her for all that we are doing.
And you know the worst part? I know she would listen. With her gentle mother ears she would hear me and understand.
But she would never ruin us. She wouldn’t and she couldn’t. Because she is us and we are her. We are held here at her breast to suck even though we don’t deserve to, even though we can never understand the love she has for us, even though most of us don’t even care that she’s alive.
We’ve forsaken our mother. But our mother?
She will never forsake us. She will only guide us through the rough spots with her abundant love and forgiveness. She will hold us tight with both her arms again and again, bandage our scraped knees and kiss our brush-burned elbows, whisper “there there” into our hair. She will feel our failures like the sharp blade of a knife but she will not intervene.
We are her children.
And even though we cannot yet understand it,
She is teaching us a lesson about faith.
Thank you for listening,
photo by Michelle Johnsen
I need to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to my friend April, who sent me the beautiful poem below when I was at my lowest point. Thank you for giving me a lesson in faith. Thank you for allowing the earth to speak through you. Thank you for sharing your words.
Our Only Obligation
In the middle of the night I am awoken by poetry –
words spoken like dear kin I had one lost or forgotten,
and it’s been so long that when they stumble from the dark
to pronounce their voices visible, I hardly recognize them
as the living, breathing beings
they have somehow come to be.
they shake me –
softly at first, but then
with a lustful force
when I try to roll over
and simply go back to sleep.
They are fed-up with being rejected.
They arrive without warning or invitation,
and will not go away until I promise to entertain them.
So I pull my bare-skinned body up and out of bed,
leaving my love behind to safeguard our stockpile of dreaming.
I sit in the dark of our house,
quietly receiving. Curled up on the floor
like a crumpled piece of paper, carefully
ripped from an old and well-worn book of poems,
written in a language only the sacred can remember.
I pray these wasted lines, which now emerge from my wrinkles
and folds, will be in service to something greater.
My only obligation is to listen –
to the spaces between the silences
where we drape all the blessed things
we never quite know how to say
things hung in the open air to dry
like aging meat, fat unfastening from its bone.
I hear the snow curling over the mountains,
casting a storm that promises to be bitter
but not more than it longs to be beautiful.
I hear your heart beating, miles and miles away,
and I hear your life changing, well before you’ve learned
how to let the conviction of change, take your quivering hands
and guide you deeper into the night. I hear urgency
straddling our flailing limbs as we flee down the face of the mountain,
and I hear loneliness in the people who are constantly running
from each another, but since distance has become such a trustworthy aid
somehow those people have forgotten they are still running.
I hear the tremor of the imperfections
we’ve been hiding from all those
who threaten to step in too close –
flaws that favor the landscapes
where love can take root and grow
into acres and acres of fruit bearing trees.
And I hear horror in the hacking of our forests.
I hear misguided messages
blaring into our hardening hearts,
telling us it’s perfectly normal
to keep our grief private.
So much so, that we hide it
even from ourselves
and when we go to find it,
we discover it will always
be buried bellow boxes
of seemingly more serious
of things. I hear the heaviness
of our footsteps, weighed down by clay and
all the artistry we’ve been unable or unwilling to see,
like the traces of those who’ve walked before us
or the nearing wail of the ones who’ve not yet come
into being, begging that we listen
to what is beautifully hidden,
yet is too obvious not to be wholly seen.