muffled amongst the layers of meaning
that wrap overlap and veil
Meant to convey
they confuse refusing to be as simple as they seem
Because we’ve imbued them all
Convoluted them all
And if they’re not in a dictionary yet, just you wait
And the words on the screen broken down
are just pixels perceived by your eyes
Any meaning perceived
all lies behind
where the lines are converted to sounds
wrapped around and around with meaning
A mean thing
created by the creatures determined to drown out the actual sounds and
Perhaps the magic of music is found
in the substance of sound without meaning,
sound just being
If I could only just be.
(The wind of the word
a i r
and the Teeth
(Are you feeling your Tongue Touch the Tip of your Teeth
and your breath breath breath)
the swish and the swash of the grass and
the buzz of the bugs
and the squish and the squash of the marsh
and the gal-lop gal-lop gal-lop)
When did sounds become words
and words become meaning
and meaning become so abstract
that I can’t even grasp what it is to mean.
Words are so remarkably frustrating. They never fully encapsulate what I am trying to convey… the swirl of thoughts and logical strands, the elegant images and buzz of emotions tingling in my veins… they never flow out of my mouth, instead they tumble and crash like the waves on a beach trying to reach the dunes but failing because their shoes have been tied together and so they fall on their face and are dragged back to the sea of confused meaninglessness by the moon, which doesn’t even make any sense because the moon is so far away so how can its influence reach us. These things, these letters and words are so limiting so constraining so endless so infinite so definable so utterly incomprehensible…
I took a poetry class in my final year of college. I sat in a desk,
watching our professor try to pull the strands
just enough to let the light come through the impressions painted with pens,
just enough to get a glimpse of the supple curves and delicate skin,
without shedding the fullness of the harsh light that would shatter the seduction.
Just enough to convince us that we are not alone in our aloneness,
that others, too, are thwarted in their attempted sharing of the solitary oneness of self,
looking to the tilted mirrors of those around them, disappointed.1
That others, too, recognize words as an elegy to what they signify,3
wavering between being and loss, awash in an incommunicable sea of existing.
That others, too, have sensed the strangeness of holding an unusable, yet somehow beautiful, broken tile of memory 4 in hand with a gentle wondering of what to do
that others, too, feel themselves at the center of a powerful and baffled will,5
Yes, and that others, too, are desperately avoiding erasure6
Aware of oblivion’s inevitability7
And the feeling or fact that
what has been done will be done again
and that there is nothing new under the sun8
And that originality is a myth
And that why is ultimately unanswerable
Vladimir: What do we do now?
Vladimir: Yes, but while waiting.9
1 Hass, Robert. “The Apple Trees at Olema.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
2 Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014.
3 Hass, Robert. “Meditation at Lagunitas.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
4 Hass, Robert. “Novella.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
5 Hass, Robert. “Misery and Splendor.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
6 See footnote 2.
7 Reference to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
8 Ecclesiastes 1:9
9 Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. Grove Press, 1954.
The innumerous nodes of the system shift infinitely, are shifting. In spite of their untangleable entanglement we, perhaps unconsciously, persevere in our belief, our obsession with one directional cause and effect. But the cause of the causes of effects were (a/e)ffected by other causes in the same way infinitely unless there was one first cause, which isn’t that the big mystery, so please no more reductions of the irreducible and solutions to the insolvable. We and me and you.
Let’s revel in the complexity, our understanding complete in its incompleteness.
But I preach
Because she has an undying obsession with answers. Trust me, we know. We tried.
Dying that is. That year. that year is the one that haunts, that demands, that is eternally unentangled. Because him and him and her and them make too many trails to follow; they loop and swerve and intertwine like necklaces thrown in a bag and left for years because that was all an act and the curtain was drawn and the scene changed and now even if she wanted to separate them she couldn’t.
But she does want to separate those chains of days, to complete the autopsy, for what died was her hope and perhaps the black box of her heart could hint at the happenings causing the crash. She may not be able to reconstruct but perhaps she could aid someone else’s avoidance.
But time disperses all nodes which feels more like the continual ripping of stitches rather than the healing of wounds. And she awakes again from the dream of a memory of an idea, who was once flesh. But her reinvigorated desire to detangle is thwarted by the dispersion.
And so platitudes fill her, pumped by the society obsessed with succintness. Forgive and forget to keep calm and carry the dark days tucked away where nobody can see them because they’re over now, over your head, that is. Today is a new day, because we say so even though all the days are the same spinning spherical ballet connected only by the thin strand of memory and the untangleable web of effects of effects of effects of effects of effects…
The Cure for Curiosity
of the whys of the world is the
disease of distraction
bound by the blindfold of busyness;
The Cure for Curiosity
of the whys of the world is
healed by a hope in holiness,
the affliction of arrogance,
bound by the books of beliefs,
and crippled by caring;
The Cure for Curiosity
of the whys of the world is the
dispassionate data disorder (DDD),
the sickness of scientific certainty,
and the obsession of the observable;
don’t perceive these as Placebo,
or the illness as imaginary;
don’t desire the death of difference.
Just be aware
of the odor of obstinance,
the constipation of conversation,
Elixir of Empathy.
Phenomenal writer. I couldn’t agree more.
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Sometimes I think all living is the story of what we do with our wounds. When we ask each other, How are you? what we are really asking is, What are you doing with your wounds today? Maybe Jesus asks the same question, when it comes down to it.
The human narrative is the narrative of woundedness. How we felt the cut to be fatal; how we try to bandage it with technology and distraction, or else inflict the same injuries upon each other; how we do our best to escape it but also feel inexplicably that such woundedness is us, is us not just in our most honest but in our most beautiful, and all our attempts at sewing really just begs for surgery; how it all feels so very much like homesickness.
The Gospel narrative, as I understand it, is also the narrative of woundedness. It is the…
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Today I had a really helpful conversation. A conversation I desperately needed but didn’t fully realize.
Obviously some part of me knew I needed something, for I was the one who initiated the conversation. But going into it I was thinking to myself: Why am I even doing this? What kind of an answer am I looking for? Am I just wasting his time, my time? After walking in the front door, but before he knew I was there, I almost turned around and left. I almost walked right out, thinking about the excuses I could send over text, how I would be able to avoid him for a couple weeks to let any awkwardness fade… See, but that would have been the easy way out; avoidance is almost always easier. But something that’s been talked about a lot recently is courage.
Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.
Not fearlessness, but doing despite fear.
So I stayed and poked my head into the room and faced this fear. The fear of reaching out. Of asking questions. Of admitting doubt. Of being vulnerable. The fear of risking being burdensome or being judged.
And the answer was No, it was not a waste of time.
For during that conversation I was reminded of truth. The deeply counter-intuitive truth that I am actually free. No matter how many times I tie my own hands up, lock myself in a box, despise my mixed motives, fail to be all I could be, imprison myself with thoughts of striving, thinking I need to earn my worth… no matter what I do or don’t do, think or don’t think, pray or don’t pray, eat or don’t eat…. no matter if I am the most loving, admirable, courageous person on the planet or a despicable, cowardly worm… I am free.
No height nor depth,¹ excitement nor depression, self-loathing nor prideful arrogance can separate me from my Father and my God. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection I have this freedom. Why did he work in me, softening my heart to believe in Him? I don’t know. What is the role of decision/free will/choice in this faith? I’m not entirely sure. Does this drive me absolutely crazy? Some day, yes. Yes it does. Some days I sit creating scenarios where all of the pieces can fit together in my little finite mind…until I look to the side of my puzzle and realize I left out a few pieces… But nobody except me expects me to have all the answers, to “figure out” the things that scholars and theologians have discussed for centuries. Does that diminish my desire to understand? Nope, unfortunately it does not. However, realizing that I really have been offered freedom, and being reminded that it really is for freedom that he set free² gives me a renewed desire to actually LIVE IN THAT FREEDOM. Knowing that Christ bought me a seat at His table because he loves me, not because he wanted to guilt me into accepting the invitation (hey, look at what I spent on you to get this seat at the table with the King…do you not realize how much this cost me? are you really going to waste my death? those nails were not pain-free ya know.) Knowing that I can say to God, Hey I am struggling right now to actually believe you are good and not manipulative…What do I do with that? Sometimes I am even struggling to believe you exist… Can you help me see what is true? and knowing that this doesn’t disappoint him, this doesn’t cause him to look on my with less love, with frustration. This is MIRACULOUS. His love for me is unchanging.
Do I want to take that for granted? (Good Christian answer: No, no of course not.) Honestly, ya, sometimes I do. Sometimes I want to say, Well grace abounds, right? Nothing I can do to lose my salvation, right? And so sometimes I spend a couple months not reading the Bible. Sometimes I skip church. Sometimes I am pretty rude to God in my prayers, or in my avoidance of him. But the thing is… the thing that I keep realizing over and over and over again… is that while this separation in our relationship doesn’t diminish his love for me or my salvation it really does affect my well-being. I lose my sense of meaning and purpose, connection with community, I get more anxious and depressed, I feel lonely and empty…. Should those things be the reasons why I want to be with Jesus? Is he going to be upset that I am coming to him because I want joy and I know he promises joy? Is he going to look at me and say “I only want you coming to me for ME, not for what I can give you.”? NO WAY! He WANTS me to come to him with those requests! In doing that I am acknowledging my need for my Father. I am acknowledging that He provides.
In another conversation with a friend this evening she mentioned a book that talks about this neediness as a form of love. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I haven’t read it, but I think I want to. I want today to be the start of me actually desiring the Lord again. Will it actually be that? Who knows. Do I want that change partly because I miss the joy and meaning I felt those early years of college when Jesus and I were still in our honeymoon phase? Yes. And ya, I still feel guilty for that. But one conversation isn’t going to change years and years of thinking and patterns. I mean, I have been hearing about this grace and freedom since freshmen year of college but here I am still struggling to believe that is true and still struggling to live it out. But if I had it perfect, well, I wouldn’t be human.
To be human is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
To be a believer, a follower of Christ, a child of God is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
Funny enough, none of those things change…
More processing to come…. as always. haha
Thanks for reading! :)
¹ Romans 8:38-39
² Galatians 5:1