Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

Part One: Life

XXVII

I ’M nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there ’s a pair of us—don’t tell!

They ’d banish us, you know.

  

How dreary to be somebody!
     

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!

92 (95 Poems)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry you heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

Cheeky Monkey

April 25, 2005

I took little Miss Blondie to a baseball game. She was dying of boredom until she realized there was a prize to be gained: a baseball from one of the men warming up in the bullpen. Never mind that it was the team playing against the team which had given her a free ticket for reading so many thousands of minutes. She had a goal: cute guys with something she wanted.

She’s eight.

I didn’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed as she held her tiny glove over the barrier and yelled for the pitchers and catchers to give her a ball PLEASE!!! Such stick-to-it-iveness, such feminine wiles, such audacity. She did not give up even though they ignored her and the fifty other kids who followed her lead and began chanting for a ball.

But blonde girls always win (at least they did when I was a mousy-brown haired girl), and the catcher gave her a smile and–the coveted prize–a ball. With profuse thanks, she held her trophy high and beamed with pure joy. I couldn’t be sad for all those brown-haired boys and girls who didn’t win because she’s my daughter, so I felt like I won, too.

Once the ball was in hand, she was determined to have it signed by EVERY single member of the opposing team. Her defection was complete. Indulgent parent that I am, I let her. It was a nice day, there were no male-gendered family members chomping at the bit to race everyone else home. We stood outside the locker room door, and she and her little blonde cohort caught each one of the players leaving and reeled them in. They were glad to sign; fans of any age are nice. It didn’t hurt that they were breezy little blonde girls who didn’t care that the team had lost.

Goal achieved, ball signed, last car out of the parking lot. We headed home filled with the joy of conquest. As her father and I debriefed the day, we shared concern that she is too preoccupied with beauty and getting what she wants.

But there are two sides to that coin. I don’t think I ever had the guts to do what she did. To risk humiliation or disappointment because I wanted something so single-mindedly. At least I don’t remember it. Maybe she didn’t win because she was cute or loud, maybe she got the ball because she was tenacious. Probably a combination of the three. I guess my job is to help her take that quality I lack and use it for good and not evil.

We have a friend who, in addition to being blonde and beautiful, is good. Her name is always trotted out in these conversations about beauty and character–WWCD? She is a model my cheeky monkey would do well to follow; she is tenacious about all the things that matter in body, mind and spirit. If my girl grows up to be even a little like our dear friend, she will be successful.

As for beauty, I am attracted to it too. I admit to thinking the same thoughts about the pitcher from whom she was trying to win the ball. She came by her love of beauty honestly. It’s part of who we are, and our challenge is to love beauty in all its forms, not just physical (especially male). To worship the One who gave us the beauty not the beauty itself.

My cheerful one is who she is, though, and I’m proud of her for being more than I am. I’m charmed because she’s beautiful, not just in her face and body, but in her joy at life, her doggedness, and most of all, her chutzpah.

A Shower of Ideas

April 25, 2005

Why is it that creativity happens at the most inopportune of times? I can sit in front of the green glowing thing on my desk for hours and have not one single original thought, and then I go take a shower and the floodgates open. With the stream of water comes a torrent of ideas I cannot dam up.

And worse, I cannot remember. How shall I catalogue the genius that flows when the water hits my body? For as soon as I dry off, the ideas have dried up as well, and I can barely remember my times tables let alone the pure wit that visited me as I washed up. Cruel muses.

I shall hire an assistant. It will be his (or her) job to listen to me talk aloud and jot down my ideas in very neat handwriting (too damp in the bathroom for a computer). I laugh with glee at that thought, for who would sit in a small, clammy bathroom jotting down the rantings of a middle-aged woman talking to herself and fancying it to be inspired? More laughter then because of course my assistant would need to be pleasing to look at as well as excellent with pen and paper, and I sincerely doubt there are any Orlando Bloom look-alikes clamoring for this particular job.

Rituals

April 25, 2005

This one, this Gandalf to my Frodo, laughingly derided himself for eschewing ritual in true independentfundamentalbabtist form then practicing it in his prayer life. He prayed in the same order every day (me first of course 🙂 and felt that God was having a laugh at his expense. Perhaps He was; no He definitely was.

I began to think about rituals, for I too had written them off as bad in theory while practicing them every day. I realized that it is the rituals that save us, or at least me, when we cannot save ourselves.

The Protestants, always doing what their name says, left ritual behind because it had become empty and formulaic–devoid of the meaning they so desperately sought in their lives. Then a splinter group protested against the rituals the Protestants had developed and formed their own club, again seeking meaning. But they too, fell into the trap of rituals, for is it not a ritual to have the same order of service every Sunday, to have the same schedule every week, to be expected to wear the same thing as everyone else? Rituals, all (and less meaningful than the original ones). Admit it.

If you won’t, I will. So I found a church that revisits the rituals: the Lord’s Supper, Advent, Lent. They are rich with meaning if we seek the substance within the form. If we allow our hearts to be quickened by what they represent. I have picked up the baby that someone threw out with the bathwater and found it to be beautiful.

And then there are times when our hearts (my heart) cannot attain to the level of pure worship, and we fall back on ritual. It can become a barrier to knowing God, but it can also be the vehicle that propels us toward Him until we have the strength to rise and speak our hallelujahs.

Each day I perform a ritual. Only God and I know about it. It is an act of obedience to Him that has long since become ritual alone. The substance beneath the symbolism is dead and my heart with it, but I do it in hopes that God will restore not only my heart but the worship behind the ritual. In due time; in His time.

I know it is the ritual that saves me because it calls me back to what is true, what is right, what is lovely. Had I no ritual, I would have no reminder to walk in faith as Abraham did. I would gradually slip away into the sea of despair. It is my little practice that moors me with the anchor of faith that God will reappear. I do it for Him whether I feel like it or not and know that He hears the deepest part of me worshipping.

Worshipping with a ritual.

“Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred”
(From “The Merchant of Venice”)

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Reply, reply.
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle, where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell;
I’ll begin it – Ding, dong, bell.

Ding, dong, bell.

LVII (from W [ViVa])

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands

ee cummings

I always used to freak myself out with this one:

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and
the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles
far
and
wee

It still gives me chills.

(from Chansons Innocentes, I)

10 (from 95 Poems, 1958)

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

ee cummings

29 (from 50 Poems, 1940)

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy and cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

ee cummings

Maybe it wasn’t adolescent angst after all; those words still grip me all these eons and miles and scars later.
To my anyone from your noone.