Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Second Night-sky

Although I am hemmed in by the comforting quilt-like folds of rolling mountain ranges, the ocean's landscape still fascinates me.  On the one hand, the immensity of oceanic space overwhelms me with fear.  If I were pinpointed upon the silken skin of the most remote water, that expansive fluidity would appear as mind-boggling as the distance from Terra to her sun.  The cold sweat common with delusional illnesses, when clouded nightmares prickle neck-hair and the body projects itself from the dream by sitting in shivers stark-straight in bed, provokes the edges of my mind when I mentally thrust myself on the horizon of the sea.

And yet, on the other hand, I imagine the rhythmic current, constant on my limbs and back, the support of the seawater, and the under-viewed beauty of nature's puddled tears.  Consider the multitude of sea creatures, whose shimmering glow mimics the stars that shine above, so as to create its own map of constellations.  And, there, pressed at the point where two night skies meet, I imagine the stories above and the stories below that thread these stars together.  Or, consider the brewing clouds, whose fullness brings a silent snow or heated thunderstorm battering upon the land, but also glistening onto the flourishing ocean.  What would it be like to see firsthand snow sift onto ocean-dunes?

Friend, does something terrify you?  Perhaps you have an impending decision or a looming deadline; perhaps an illness caters that which you want not or a past experience emerges from the depths?  Regardless of the fear that threatens to overwhelm, try to turn your eye in a way that sees beauty where you dread.  Remind yourself of the comfort of a friend or love, and cautiously peer at that second night-sky to imagine the beauty there to see.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reeling shadows

In the waning sun, light sprays over a frost-bitten hibiscus tree, whose leaves wrinkle into brown and yellow chrysalides—but ones hanging like hollow wombs. Instead, those leaves proffer life to a shadow display, which holds the essence of Impressionist work in a slowly moving reel. It falls on the light cherry laminate, on the walnut-stained baseboard, on the white-wash wall.

The animated painting seems to breathe, even as the day fades. And amidst this dying, a whirlwind of white noise, like the sharp murmur or the speckled texture of out-of-tune frequencies, amasses and works to consume that shadow. This swarm, friend, resembles the multitude of love-negating happenings that infiltrate life. Harsh words, pride-filled sins, torturing memories, aging aches—all those heart pangs that press like weights upon our backs can easily overtake even our most engaging attempts at grasping the way we want to live. We try to hold and contemplate and experience beauty and truth, but in so doing, we smear them with our fingerprints, so that our faulty vision is further skewed by our humanness.

Do you feel this way, friend? Does the day seem to convolute into little tornadoes of negative emotion: anger, pain, despair, anxiety? You do not need to experience these things alone. We are meant to be communal creatures. Who do you trust? Who can show you love beyond the layer of common colloquy? Reach out to them, today. And know that you can be a source of light to others, too. Even in our mutual brokenness, we can cast shadows that proffer a projection that dances with a love ready to withstand the chaos that envelopes the day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This little light of mine...

When I was very young, like my sons are today, myriad people reprimanded me for being a loquacious and hyperactive child. I still recall the day a pastor stopped mid-sermon, cast his eyes earnestly in my direction, and told me to settle down. In kindergarten, my cheeks blushed fire-pink when a teacher shamed me for wiggling and whispering from my padded mat at nap-time. Other elementary experiences left me in fear of a particular teacher, who admonished me to stop talking when a girl beside me was the guilty party, who denied my request to use the bathroom during her mathematics lesson and smirched me for the result of a pungent puddle on my plastic chair, whose overtone - even when she was absent from the room - led me to clean up my own vomit (that I unintentionally let loose one day upon arriving in her room) so that I would not have to experience her humiliating gaze.

These experiences remind me of the quote sprawled across the wall of the Dotheboys Hall schoolroom in the movie-from-a-Dicken's-novel, Nicholas Nickleby: "Fear him who formed thy frame." This quote, for me, exudes the knowledge of Psalm 103:14, "for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." But, the mercy and compassion bolstered by scripture is completely lost on the schoolmaster that wields such a weapon against his school children. For God holds pity on mankind; God knows our limits and does not seek to break us.

Reflecting on the pains of the past and resolving to live differently are fundamental to showing and experiencing love in this world. My pains have caused me to become a contemplative spirit. Charged with being shy, I take things to heart. And yet, I want to interlace my actions and way of living with the careful observation needed to show compassion for others. Perhaps this derives from that sensitivity.

Our social and cultural standards dissuade individuals from such sensitive and reflective living. Constant motion, egocentric striving, and characteristics of mania are endorsed, as the blogger of Forever Becoming also purports, but not a quieter and more-intentional way of life. Friend, let us encourage more contemplative and meaningful living. Dare to talk less and observe more. Dare to consider the impact your words, your demeanor, and your way of life have on others and on the world. Dare to be a source of encouragement, rather than a source of denigration.