{december lights: that indispensable silver lining}


~ by Wisława Szymborska

They say he read novels to relax,
but only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If he happened on something like that,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.

Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’s had enough with dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggle to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction,
with its micro-scales.

Hence the indispensable
silver lining,
the lovers reunited, the families reconciled,
the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded,
fortunes regained, treasures uncovered,
stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways,
good names restored, greed daunted,
old maids married off to worthy parsons,
troublemakers banished to other hemispheres,
forgers of documents tossed down the stairs,
seducers scurried to the altar,
orphans sheltered, widows comforted,
pride humbled, wounds healed over,
prodigal sons summoned home,
cups of sorrow tossed into the ocean,
hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation,
general merriment and celebration,
and the dog Fido,
gone astray in the first chapter,
turns up barking gladly in the last.

Nothing is promised; not even tomorrow. Therefore, take no thought of it. In the moment you have, arise. Shine.

{december lights: bright against the dark indifference}

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

~ W. H. Auden

We are adaptable creatures, on the whole. So, this door, or that heart has been closed against us? Well, it may take a little time, but we will go on. Arise and even if you can’t shine yet – rising is the first step, no?

{december lights: it’s what we’re here for}

Many people find the idea of divinity, of a separate Entity in this universe, of spirit… frankly terrifying. I remember my parents talking about growing up watching people in the throes of religious…somethings, and despite growing up with that, feeling dismayed and betrayed by the adults around them, and eager to escape. As soon as they were of age, they both decamped for more comprehensible experiences, less ecstatic and chaotic, and confusing. I know some would be critical of them for that, but your faith isn’t supposed to scare you.

And yet:

There is something to be said for those in the light of Divinity, who act in pursuit of understanding, instead of relaxing in the presumption of its possession. There is something to be said for the Mystery, and the Enigma, and for uncertainty. We ought to be less comfortable in our beliefs than we are, always questioning our assumptions, always querying our conclusions, critically adjusting them, becoming comfortable in our doubts and in our uncertainties and yes, our fear. We aren’t here to settle complacently into one way of being, but to be led, turned, and moved…to where we ought to be.

We Have Come to Be Danced

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

WE have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced

by Jewel Mathieson, ©2004

Treasure Island 35

A dance that slaps the apology from our postures. A dance that refuses a self-conscious shuffle. A dance to strip us from our casings, and return our wings. What if we were to truly let go of ourselves, and leave the steps to Divinity? Then, we wouldn’t just dance. We’d rise and shine – and possibly fly.

And wouldn’t that just ring in a new year?

Hat tip to Tricia for sending me this poem after hearing it in a yoga class the other day. I might have to rethink my aversion to yoga! Or, at least find one where they read you poetry while you’re holding your pose. What a fine thing, to ignore your discomfort and open your heart to “eat and drink the precious words,” as our Em might have put it.

{december lights: in the post}

On the third day of Christmas, I finally went to the post office.

Yes, yes, I KNOW. In my defense, I have some kind of sinus thing coming on, and I’m on that immunosuppressant, remember? So, avoiding crowds is what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing… five holiday concerts notwithstanding. Anyway. I am painfully conscious of being overdue in mailing my friend Sarah’s holiday box. Not just this year… her box from last year. No, really. I started shopping for my good friend and blog partner at Wonderland summer 2016, and then put those small items aside in the closet, because after the election and following shenanigans, I… couldn’t… pull it together… enough… to get to the stuff into a box… and to the post office. Two. Blocks. Away.

Look, the end of 2016 was rough, okay? And, 2017… was more nonsense, and then we moved, and …more chaos. Heat wave. More piles of crud. Then I got sick(er). So.

Here we are.

So, today I have DECIDED: clean slate. To the post office we go. Let’s get this taken care of.

I feel hopeful, having Peter with me.

I hope you take a minute to read Andrea Davis Pinkney’s piece on the special significance to her of the memorial postage stamp from THE SNOWY DAY. (She talks a bit about her own book celebrating the original book as well.) I wasn’t born when THE SNOWY DAY came out – I really didn’t read it ’til college – but there’s still something magical about the commonality of one small person enjoying something as simple as a first snowfall. Of greater significance is that he’s one small black person, and that the book was published in a day and age where a book with a black person on the cover was seen as something impossible to sell.

Oh, yes: there are publishers who still believe that. To this day. Even after the 90’s, when there were a lot of shows on TV which had fully non-white casts. Even after the successes of myriad books and movies, the winning of awards… even after all of the successes people of color have had outside of the arts… there is always a backlash. Three steps forward, two steps back. All the progress disappears because there are people who insist that “the world” simply isn’t “ready” for these “new” ideas.

The more fools, they. Change comes slowly, but it does come. Arise and shine – and be ready to greet a new day.

{december lights: y fea sea la palabra}

“En un mundo donde la oscuridad y el silencio han amordazado la esperanza, que la musica sea la luz y fe sea la palabra. Para que vengan tiempos mejores, que suenen los tambores.” – Victor Manuelle

A loose translation: In a world where darkness and silence have muted hope, music is light and faith is the word. To bring better times, bring on the drums. I heard reference to this amazing quote on an episode of NPR’s Code Switch podcast in November, and it’s stayed with me. Even as I center light in this end-of-season celebration, it has been difficult to feel particularly joyous. More than ever before, the commercial nature of our celebrations has stuck in my craw, and the traditional insistence on larding all the cracks with manufactured joy in the face of some real doozies in terms of social injustice has been… difficult to swallow, to say the least. But, I do find that occasionally, music can drown it out, for a while, for long enough to recenter. In keeping an attitude that lifts one up and keeps one moving forward, turn up the volume. Faith is the word, so sound the drums, Sister Rosetta. On with the dance, Dirty Dozen Brass – and keep it moving. We have too much to do to mope. Arise & Shine.

{december lights: crossing crowded ways}

One afternoon, on a relatively smooth patch of snow, I found: baby steps, goose steps, rabbit, dog and deer prints, and the marks of a cane. The magic of looking is never knowing what you’ll find.

Lauriston Castle D 10 HDR


Crossing time’s wide street
here, our life’s heartbeat
Individuals meet,
explore, part, retreat —
Our song’s incomplete,
But, from its downbeat,

Leave your footprints, though all such prints be ephemeral. They’re playing your song. Arise and shine.