Saturday, January 19, 2008


I am loving this book, given to me by my sister, Jen, at the Christmas party my family threw together on January 29th this year. I loved, first, the title: "We are the ones we have been waiting for", and I've loved its author, Alice Walker ever since I read her first novel, "The Color Purple".

This new book is astonishing me in the exact way that I like and want to be astonished. First, it's reminding me who I really am--earth citizen, wise woman, human being, a lover of gardens and sunlight and oceans. It's reminding me that I live on a planet, stand on soil, inhabit a body, have an impact--that I am not just a mind in a head, thinking, that there is so much more to life, to the world, to me, than I, usually, give myself time to experience.

This little book, a series of meditations, lectures, ponderings and poems, is masterful in its way of seeping through the cracks of conscience, awareness with a stream of beauty, rage, wisdom, power and intelligence that feeeeeeeds me in that deep down to the toes way that I am needing.

So today is about the things I am thinking while reading this "little" book. Today, I am sorting through my pile of seeds, ideas and musings, images and notions that have been coming back to me as I read. Seeds that are important to me, which I why I tucked them away last summer, when my garden was blooming but the soil of my life wasn't ready to receive them.

This is the list of themes and plans I feel moving into my life this year, as I move from 50-51. As you read it, and the poem that follows, notice if you feel inspired to prepare some seeds of your own. As you read, also, know that this list is very different from my usual cataloguing of "ways I will change myself so my life will change".

This list is not about losing weight, finishing school, getting some part of my physiology fixed so that I can feel better about myself when I look in a mirror. Nor is it about being a better, more helpful person. Nor is it about my job, my housekeeping, money or bills. This list, which came and came and came to me as I read Walker's words is more foundational, more loamy and rich, as if I have taken my socks off and I'm standing barefoot in warm mud. This list is about the things that ground the other things that I also must do--the work and the relating and the building up. This list is about what goes on under the dirt--before, months before, the seeds are tucked into place and expectantly watered.

Witness/help with a live birth; Watch the video of my daughter's birth (taped 17 years ago, when Katie was born at home with a midwife and my husband Matthew-- during a blizzard in December of 1990, and which, until now, I haven't wanted to watch); Write my two giving-birth stories (and read them to myself as if they were dreams--which, when I really think about it, they were)

Plant a vegetable garden with chard, purple potatoes, beets and so forth at my new home; Write poems and read them publicly; Release my books into the world, let them go, imperfect though they may be, let them go

A windswept cottage by the sea where I can write (a place I can return to again and again); An apartment in Paris where I can live for part of each year; A philanthropic organization to contribute generously to; My fiftieth birthday

The politics and economics behind all the struggles between the lesser class--people of color, women and the poor--and the terrorism that is corporate greed and industrialization; More french and another language: Italian, Greek, Hebrew

A world citizen, A philanthropist, A poet, author and novelist


What I found, when reading Walker's book, was a deeper voice--a way of expressing ideas that is both a part of me and connected to all that is at the same time. Here is a poem that inspired her, and which she included in the pages of her book

A blessing
by Stephen Philbrick

Don't try so hard.
It comes in a shiver sometimes,
Sometimes in a winter windowpane,
WIld with the unseeable
Frozen there in ice:
The shapes above clouds,
The score and the libretto of wind,
the plot of waves.
Don't try so hard.
Sometimes it falls,
A flake at a time,
Into your life while you're asleep.
Sometimes it comes as a winter
Waiting for storm, or ice, or thaw,
Or even wind,
And then the still air groans,
And the trees crack,
The swamp shudders,
And the woods thril.
Sometimes it comes when you least
Expect it.
And sometimes it doesn't.
Quiet, still, no voice (even small),
No whirlwind, no reply, no burning.
Just a bare winter bush.
This is God, too.

The space between stars,
Where noise goes to die,
And the space between atoms,
Where the charges thin out:
These are places, too.
The moment in the movement of the soul
When it all seems to stop,
Seized up.
This is true, too.
Ice is, also.
And dormancy.
And, I don't mean the stirring
Of seeds beneath the snow,
But the place between
And the moment before.
And I don't mean a lightning bolt,
But what it passes through.
I don't mean a dream,
But dumb sleep.
"Not a thing" is something.

After the end,
And before the beginning,
Is time, too.
Let it alone, don't try so hard.
This is God, too.
All of you is.

1 comment:

JKSarasvati said...

Liminal space is a kind of cold comfort, I think: an opportunity to accept the coming-in within still blankness. I love this passage from The Song of Solomon:

"I opened to my beloved;
but my beloved had withdrawn himself, [and] was gone:
my soul failed when he spake:
I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he gave me no answer."

I was never sure why I liked this passage so much. Now, I have an idea: it is the in-betweenness, the silence of staying, the acknowledgement of nothingness that I think is so comforting.