Apr 212010
 

With the obvious exceptions of everything that Chimmy and Diane write, this is my favorite poem.


Saint Francis and the Sow

By Galway Kinnell


The bud

stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on the brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as Saint Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessings of the earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking

and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.






Excerpts from Roger Housden’s review of Saint Francis and the Sow

“If you have the genuine feeling that everyone, yourself as well as your lover, your child, your parents, even your enemies-everyone in your life- is already flowering from within, then the person you are with may feel that too and begin to remember for themselves their own truth and beauty. You cannot “re-teach a thing its loveliness” if your motive is to change another person. This would suggest that how they are is not good enough, and you can do something about it. It is not in your power to enlighten another, make them better, or even bless them. All you can do is remind them, by your presence, of the flowering that they already are. Love is an environment more than a set of principles. An environment that, simply by existing, draws out another into his or her own fullness….However good your principles and intentions may be, they won’t reach far unless it is love that places your hand upon their brow.”

“Like many of us, she (the sow) has a great broken heart. Broken, perhaps, by the weight of the curses heaped upon her since time began, by the lowliness that others have foisted upon her, by the feelings of ugliness and self loathing that cling to her like second skin. Some of us know how the sow feels. She comes, despite all of this, and through the blessing of St. Francis and the earth to remember

The long, perfect loveliness of sow.

She remembers, not just in the sense of memory recall, but “all down her thick length” – in all the cells of her body- that she is perfect exactly as she is, slops and all. Not that she is better than anyone else, or that she measures up to some external measure of perfection, but that her very existence is enough in itself to validate fully her being here.

This poem itself is a hand on our brow.”






Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Apr 202010
 


For M, Who is Starting Down a New Road…



As you know, I had a rough go at life for a while. I spent a couple of decades lying and cheating and fighting and scowling and hiding and chugging and eating unbelievably huge amounts of food and then throwing it up.

These things might be hard for you to read, but they’re not hard for me to write. I think that’s because while I’m a different girl these days, I don’t judge the girl I used to be. I don’t think it makes much sense to judge other people or my past self with the ideas I have about life today.

Addiction is a funny thing. You seem to find yourself living one big lie, and nobody can, or should, trust a word you say. But that’s not how it starts. There’s something about addiction’s beginning that’s about truth telling. When my bulimia, which eventually morphed into alcoholism began, I sometimes had this feeling that there was something very wrong with the world, and that wrong thing was hurting my feelings and scaring me and making me feel like crawling out of my own skin forever. I had to tell the truth about how I felt somehow, so the truth came out like puke and booze. I may have been acting out, but at least when I was binging or purging or drinking, I wasn’t acting. I was sayingsomething’s wrong.

I know that addiction always ends badly, with lots of innocent and semi-involved bystanders getting hurt. That’s how mine ended. But that’s not how it started. It didn’t start with the intention to hurt anyone else. It started with a little girl who hadn’t found her words yet. A girl who didn’t yet have the courage to say, or write out loud, “Something’s wrong with me. Or maybe with everybody, actually.” So she just said those things by herself, secretly. But at least she said it. A girl has to tell the truth somewhere, if she’s going to keep a tender soul. If she’s going to be able to keep thinking and feeling and trying to understand things.

Now that I’ve found my words, things are better. When I feel like crumbling, or numbing myself because the world is so mean, I come here and use my words. Not to write about how mean the world is, but to write about how beautiful it is too, because that’s also true. Now when I feel like crawling out of my skin in the world I’m in, I come and create my own world in my writing, where things are better and more beautiful and often make sense. And it’s still an escape, but it’s a less lonely and scary escape than all those bathrooms and bottles of wine. Still, here in this world, I’m sure I’ll accidentally hurt people, too. Telling the truth seems to do that occasionally. But it’s healthy for me. And that’s what’s most important to me these days.

I understand what the girl I used to be did and why she did it. I love her . . . I’m proud of her, even. And the woman I am today is grateful to her. Because she walked that lonely road, I learned to forgive myself and be forgiven. And to be gentle, always, because everyone is just as fragile as those little hand- blown glass swans. Actually people are more fragile than those.

Most importantly, she taught me that a girl can be an ugly, scary mess, and still be doing her best, and still be capable of and worthy of saving. She taught me that nobody is so far gone into the darkness that love can’t sneak in and shed a little light.

So really, I think that little girl taught me everything I need to know, ever. I think she was sort of brilliant, to tell you the God’s honest truth. If I could take her for a walk I would tell her, Hang in there, little one. You will find your words.





Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Apr 192010
 

I woke up this morning thinking about Tricia, who is in surgery right now to determine if her lump is cancerous. I’ve never met Tricia, but the weird thing about this Momastery place is that if you hang around long enough, you end up caring a whole lot about the other Monkees. A whole lot. Consider yourself warned. So for a good twenty minutes I laid in bed and worried about Tricia and her husband and her two little boys and her baby girl who always wears these big beautiful bows on her teeny little head. Each of the big bows sings “My mommy loves me thiiiiiiiiiisss much.” Anyway, I just laid there and wondered what to do about all that.

I want us to take care of each other here. In fifty years I want 60 Minutes to do a show about us Monkees. We will be old and hunched over and gray and gorgeous and we will have hot pink canes, tattoos, and God willing, better bangs by then. The reporter will describe us as a group of little old ladies who met on the internet, encouraged one other each day, and laughed and cried their way through life together. A group of ladies who made a difference for each other, and for the world. The reporter will end our segment by announcing that the Monkees agreed with whoever it was who said, “What are we here for, if not to lighten each other’s loads?”

I read a post of Tricia’s the other day about how people are always saying they’re praying for her and her lump, but sometimes she gets suspicious. I understood what she meant. Sometimes you’re in my prayers just feels like something we say, doesn’t it? Well, I want to be sure of my prayers today. I want to pray big for Tricia, and I want her to know it.

So today, I’m going to hitch my prayers to actions. Specifically, I’m going to do some Random Acts of Kindness, some loving things I wouldn’t normally take the time to do, and I’m going to dedicate them to Tricia. In short: God’s gonna give me some nice things to do today, and I’m gonna do them, and then I’m gonna say:

Kay, God. That was my prayer for Tricia. Signed, Sealed, Delivered. Help her, please.

I think all the love we offer makes its way to our intended, even if it’s initially given to a stranger. Sometimes when the kids and I are sitting out on the dock with our feet in the water, we see a boat way off in the distance. And a long time later, just when we’ve forgotten all about that boat, these little teeny waves lick our toes. I think maybe prayers and kindness work like that. Like little waves.

If you are a Monkee in need of your own RAK day, please let me know. We’ll dedicate a whole day to you. We’ll pay for a stranger’s coffee, smile at a frowny lady, offer somebody the benefit of the doubt, or maybe even be kinder to ourselves than necessary, all on your behalf.

And God will look down at us and say:“WELL, WELL, WELL. WHO is responsible for all of this extra love today?”

And we will point at you and say: “SHE is. Help her, please.”

And He will. HE WILL. He’ll make sure our waves find their way to your toes.

I love you Monkees. Especially you today, Tricia. I’m gonna love hard for you, sister.





Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest