{december lights: sing your song}

“…When you do not sing, you keep the rest of us from getting to know you—know your voice, a voice that has never been heard ever before in the immeasurably vast history of the cosmos and will never be heard again after you die, which could be any day, any moment. How can we love you fully unless we know you, know your voice? If you choose not to sing, we are left with your silence. We have to do the work of filling in the gaps, guessing at what you’re song might’ve been if you’d chosen to sing. Who are you, all of you? We want to know, those of us who recognize the tragedy for what it is.

There’s more, so much more. When your song goes unsung, you keep yourself from knowing yourself—knowing how your voice can sound, what it can do. You become a stranger to certain parts of yourself, certain sounds and the emotions those sounds can carry.

When you abort your soul’s longing to sing, you are choosing to distrust us, the ones surrounding you, distrust that we will love you and accept you and be grateful for whatever your song turns out to be. You are living as if we wouldn’t honor you and celebrate you exactly as you are. You are choosing to believe that we are not capable of holding you in the way that you deserve. Please, give us the chance.When you believe that you cannot sing, you are hoarding yourself. You are not giving your songs away, freely, unconditionally, those songs which only you can give, those songs which someone might be desperately needing right now. Creation needs your songs just as much as you need the air, the water, the earth and all its bounty. Creation does not deprive you of that which you need to survive. Why do you deprive creation of your songs? Why were you given a voice if not to sing yourself back to that which gave it to you?

– Andrew Forsthoefel, “The Tragedy of Believing You Can’t Sing.”


One of my favorite songs Jules introduced me to from Lost in the Trees is “Artist Song” from the 2012 album A Church That Fits Our Needs. In the song, there’s this poignant, repeated phrase which reminds me of this essay.

A fearful song
Played by trumpets for our heart
Oh, oh — I have a fear of darkness.
So sing
Your hymn of faith cause I have none
Oh, oh — Your song is my fortress.

What would we do if we needed to hear your song, but you’d decided not to sing it? Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear… The song you have may indeed be whetstone for a sword, armor for a battle, faith, and fortitude, and fuel for a lamp. A song. A fortress. So, sing out.

Arise. Shine.

{december lights: little fires}

This past weekend, our chamber group had a night show and a matinee show, and were able to take advantage of the gloriously bright, but bbbrrrrrisk afternoon to wander about during intermission and before call time (as long as we were within earshot. Our Director is calm, but the section leaders are a teeensy bit on edge). We were singing at one of California’s historic missions, and so the landscaping was gorgeous, dotted with ancient olive trees, fountains, and… well, graves. The original building collapsed during the 1909 earthquake, and a chapel was built in front of the ruins (and somewhat over them) and they used the churchyard as a regular churchyard, until the church was dismantled and sold to the Episcopalians. The families wanted their departed loved ones to remain in situ when they rebuilt, so… there are graves everywhere, even inside the mission chapel.

But, I digress – I was talking about the lovely grounds. I have no idea what kinds of leaves these are, and I came upon them reading gravestones… they were a nice counterpoint. In the midst of life, we are in death, but hey — in the midst of death, these leaves glow like ruby flames.


Sing a song of seasons!
            Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
            Fires in the fall!

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Arise and shine, friends.


{december lights: a new annunciation}

Annunciation

Blessed, blessed

are you, for

I

will make you weep

when the light hits the grass

in the morning.

I will make you crave

conversation like red

meat, lay you

weak, at the feet

of strangers. I will open

lives like vistas

before you

that you will never

seal.

Every

beautiful thing

will come to you and press

against your flesh.

There is nothing

that will not call

your name, nothing

that you will not long

to possess, nothing

that will not offer up red

kisses, coupling,

seeping into the roots

of the world.

I

will deceive you,

tell you all you need is a

mouthful, but in truth,

I know the desire

I infect you with is

boundless.

See, how the red shoes

I bind to you prick

your feet,

hungry for the beat

and sway

of word upon word.

Blessed, oh! blessed

are you.

~ ©2007, all rights reserved, by Sara Lewis Holmes

{december lights: queer divine dissatisfaction}

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.

You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

~ Martha Graham

{december lights: emo management}

Probably by the time you read this, I’ll be lying down with my feet up. The first two of five concerts is whooshing toward me this weekend, and this year I am not sick, I am not coughing, I am READY and … yet, no matter how many times I do this, I still get stage fright. Yes, welcome to my life. Our first two concerts, we’re singing in a chapel built in 1797…with such beauty and antiquity, there’s a slight feeling of being weirdly out of my element, not to mention the fact that people are paying to come and hear us. *Yikes.*

Whenever emotional overrun happens, we remember Mr. Rogers, who told us how to deal:

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” – Fred M. Rogers, 1928-2003

If I mention my anxiety about …well, everything too often, it’s because of this: everything mentionable is mangageable, and once we can talk about it, we can kick its butt.

And on that note! Arise & shine.

{december lights: p7’s poetry friday lai}

…or the stars, as the case may be.

It’s Poetry Friday, and the last month of the year, huzzah! The Sisters have once again persevered and come through! Yay, us! And here we are with another poetic form! This one… I’ve never done before, and it was both simple and hard. Simple is sometimes really difficult, I find. The Lai is a form from France, and this nine-line poem uses an “A” and “B” rhyme scheme with A lines being five syllables, and B lines two. The pattern is AA B AA B AA B. See? Simple. But… also ridiculously hard.

As always, the Sisters did it justice. Don’t miss works by Sara,
Laura, Tricia, Kelly,, and Liz.

Fortunately, our theme was “hope, peace & light” which ties nicely into December’s theme as a whole, right? I gave it a go, and after some technical difficulties under the heading of, “I started to enjoy just writing a poem, forgot there were rules about end rhyme and ended up with some weird hybrid,” I came up with this little poem in three parts – moving from dusk to midnight to dawn… it’s not so much about hope or peace or light, and more about… determination to find such:

I. Waning Light
Darkest time of year
Dusk seems always near;
It waits.
Autumn days austere
chill the atmosphere.
By eight,
Day time’s souvenir,
moon, will disappear.
II. Will The Dawn Return?
Let the dark gestate
That which we await
And fear.
Though we may debate,
seasonal dictates
are clear:
Let us celebrate
Life, as its due date
draw near.
III. Dragging In Darkness
Daybreak’s slow premiere
heralds blue skies, clear
roads straight.
Borne, we cannot steer
Our celestial sphere.
Our fate
mutable, unclear –
But, we persevere,
create.

Vacaville 191

2017 has been… a ride over Niagra in a barrel – and if you’ll recall, Annie Edison Taylor said of it, “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat…. I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.” Yeah… it’s just been that kind of a year. But! While days may be dark, the moon may be dim, and our nerves on edge, remember that the spirit of creativity is its own spark, dear ones. Don’t let your hands be idle. Even if it’s putting stickers on a piece of paper and making bookmarks for a school library, it’s doing something to feed you. Keep finding your feet, holding your candle, and lighting your world.

Arise and shine.


Poetry Friday today is hosted by Cousin Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Please pop over for more lovely poetry today. Thank you for dropping by, and we hope you join us – the Seven Sisters – for whatever poetic hijinks we get up to next year! We’ll see you in January.

{thursday thought: lux aterna}

Night

Stars over snow
        And in the West a planet
Swinging below a star —
        Look for a lovely thing and you will find it,
It is not far —
        It never will be far.

~ Sara Teasdale

And we close this month on the threshold of this beautiful truth. Indeed, it is equally true that if you look for unlovely things, you also find them, but aren’t we lucky not to be THOSE people, scrying the world for the ugly?

Polish the lamp, trim the wicks, spark the flint. Arise and shine.

{thursday thought}

“Judaism is a religion that’s pretty big on blessings. We don’t just say a benediction before and after eating, but also when going to the ocean, meeting an old friend, seeing a rainbow, hearing either good or bad news, meeting a non-Jewish king and smelling a fragrant tree. One that tends to make folks giggle the first time they hear of it is a blessing that you’re supposed to say after using the bathroom. Yes! There’s a potty blessing! We do have a blessing for everything! We, as a people, are nothing if not thorough.

The post-bathroom liturgy is traditionally formulated as,

Blessed are You, God our deity, sovereign of the universe, who formed humans with wisdom and created within them many openings and many hollows. It is obvious in the presence of your glorious throne that if one of them were ruptured, or if one of them were blocked, it would be impossible to exist and stand in Your presence. Blessed are you, God, who heals all flesh and performs wonders.

Even if the God language in this text doesn’t resonate with you, there’s something really important here. This blessing encourages us to experience awe in the face of the human body’s complexity, and an awareness of the myriad of things that have to go right in order for us to continue drawing our next breath — and the breath after that. The fact that we’re able to eliminate waste as we’re meant to is a wonder in its own right, a miracle worthy of our respect and gratitude. The simple fact of being embodied is worthy of our spiritual engagement.” ~ Rav Danya Ruttenberg, author of, ‘Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting’ and other books

Yes, I just wished you good eliminating on this, our national holiday of overeating.

Vacaville 200

This Thursday’s thought? For what we have received, may we truly be grateful. Maybe pay it forward.

{thanks, again}

This year, I did not do my Daily Gratitude post-a-day challenge in November.

Have you ever heard of scleromyositis? Systemic scleroderma? Polymyositis? Neither had I… but October and November were largely given over to familiarizing myself with Latin and Greek words that characterized these random autoimmune disorders. I suggest you don’t get on the internet and look up either one, or their adjacent symptoms; it’s just not helpful. It’s honestly never helpful to go straight to WebMD after talking to your doctor, but it’s least helpful when you have an autoimmune disorder, and everything you hear or see is a variation on this disorder is related to both fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s and arthritis, and Your Mileage May Vary. At baseline, you can characterize it as the chronic inflammation of the nerves, muscles and joints, but it’s much less straightforward. There is just so little unambiguous information on our bodies attacking ourselves. It’s hard to figure out what you’re feeling, how you should react, what you should fear, and what you should do next.

So.

Oakland Museum of California 119

I didn’t lack gratitude this autumn — I don’t lack gratitude — but I was lost in my head, trying to remain normal, participate in normal industry activities within the Kidlitosphere, finish this novel, keep normal on the front burner while my head was filled with gray mist and buzzing. After a September move, and finally settling into a little jewel box of a house, I should have been grateful. After the horror of the fires, I should have been grateful that we have had a lovely autumn, with one last splash of unseasonably warm days in October followed by glorious rain, and more rain, with a few clear blue days interspersed in between. Autumn has had a drinkable quality this year, as our lungs praised the air quality and took in deep draughts of petrichor, crisp, leaf-mould, wet ground, faint woodsmoke, and glowing moonrise. I got a new bike! I randomly lost another seven pounds! There has been much that is lovely and fine, including the gift of teenagers trick-or-treating who ensured that we did not have a year’s worth of old candy in a jar to keep eating. Even amidst the grinding exhaustion and pain, even with the weird lesions that showed up on my fae, there has been so much grace, so much relief, so much change – but I missed a lot of it, locked in to the paralysis of What? How? Why?

I’ve started on an immunosuppressant drug this week which means a lot of hand-washing – and a lot of hand-wringing about having twelve people for Thanksgiving and five choral performances and loads of rehearsals between now and December 16 – but the plans were made before the treatment was decided, and there’s no turning back now. I’m being as careful as I can, whilst balancing and juggling all else that is on my plate — being a good partner and friend and daughter and writer. We’ll see how it all goes.

As for my blogging, it’s time for a recenter/restart. It’s never to late to try for some gratitude, after all. Hope you’ll join with me for December Light. It’s a dark old world out there, so I’m going to light a candle a day – a poem, a thought, something. The new trailer for A Wrinkle In Time reminded me of my favorite part of the book, when IT was vanquished:

“Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure.

It’s not a direct quote from the book, but the movie synthesizes it beautifully: The only way to defeat the darkness is to BECOME THE LIGHT.

Join me?