this secondhand place

img_0916

In the darkness of night and nothing but a fabricated light, the mirror brightens reflection. Framed glass plays back in real time a moving picture that looks like the story of my life. I star in this episode created in The Image, my image distressed with shadows and imperfections in this half-lit, secondhand place.

Carefully, I look this way and that, finding the best angle as if it matters to the world. But they can’t see it anyway. All that anyone can see is behind me in my shadow that is  larger than life. The shadow of my movement and the direction of my attention.

Blue eyes blink back at me until I turn away from my self-scrutiny. The shadows shift, revealing the profile of who I was born to be and who I have become. This is me, face turned from the mirror, finally possessing the ability to possibly see you and for you to see me.

What will we become?

img_0914

possibility

IMG_0089.jpg

Paint stained, memory stained, tear stained shirt is her heart inside out in the only room where she is right side in. Blank canvases hang limply on the wall waiting for her touch. “What do you see?” they ask. “What do you make of us?”

Tall windows testify to a world outside that is no more complete than the bleached fibres her fingers slowly make their way across. “What can I give to you?” she asks.

A shape, an image, a dream rasps softly against the surface. Possibility.

Her colours come out, the only ones she has. Tubes half empty, worn at the edges, shaped from years of use. And then the edges, the tools to mix and shape. Her tools. The ones that feel at home in her hands. She holds them like old friends and trusts them to work with her like so many times before. Her arms remember the movements even when storms of grief strip away her shoreline.

Colours dry for days, for weeks, no changes. She returns.

Paint stained, memory stained, tear stained shirt is her heart inside out in the only room where she is right side in. Colour carved canvases hang limply on the wall waiting for her touch. “What do you see?” they ask. “What do you make of us?”

Tall windows testify to a world outside that is no more complete than the stained fibres her fingers slowly make their way across. “What can I give to you?” she asks.

A shape, an image, a dream rasps softly against the surface. Possibility.

unfolding for the sounds of the city

12509070_10156394458740324_5831690278449904378_nClip-it-ti-clop, clip-it-ti-clop. The sounds of the city filter through my window. I lift my hands off the keys and exchange a view through the window of the worldww for the window of the world. I stretch, lengthening my body from its desk side curl. My eyes search the grey sky above me, triangle peak and red brick in front of me until they settle on the cobbles below. A smile tugs my mood upward as I spot the source of the noise interrupting my staring contest with the screen. A horse, saddled, with its owner are the only traffic between my building and the next.

The cobbles and the hooves have been here longer than the metal strips placed between them and the ding-ding of the Luas sliding by. The new city resembles these. It has reconstructed the inherited streets so that glass, metal and plastic can whisk us through them fluidly … in a hurry … forgetting to look outside … forgetting to listen.  But the windows were not forgotten in construction. They have been built into our modernity. The sounds can still seep through them. Our legs can still carry us and feet can still bridge the cobblestone gap. And the horse outside, it can still clip-it-ti-clop, clip-it-ti-clop. They can still disrupt and entice me to the window where I give thanks for the sounds of the city.

Longing

12373258_10156314482045324_5770243564542897952_n.jpg

I am Longing. At the edge of the garden, that first garden, I made my home with you. Grief rolled in waves down your cheeks as you looked back one more time to the place of belonging and wholeness you were denied. I dried your eyes. While you slept I whispered promises of restoration until the air sang a new harmony that sounded like hope.

I am Longing.

In the soul of the nation.

In the breath of the prophets.

In the scriptures and stories.

You grew tired of waiting and tried to expel me from your home. You don’t even recognise me anymore. You mistake me for Hurt and lash out at anyone who doesn’t heal you. You mistake me for Loneliness, and so move the people around in your life like furniture, as if the right combination will finally make me disappear. You mistake me for Disappointment and so take control of your life and everyone else around you.

But I am Longing.

I turn your stomach sour at the thought of where you are and hang a framed picture of promise of some unknown, impossible place that will dissolve your sleepless nights and endless days into realities so perfect, so unimaginable. The painter of it dipped his brush in joy to wash the sky and carved out peace across the earth.

I am Longing

In the girl who believed what God had said to her.

In the wise men who studied and searched the stars.

In the heart of the shepherds who got up day after day to do the same thing all over again.

I am Longing, more than anything, in the baby born that day. His longing was as the one who could make the pictures come to life, not as in a dream, but life more real than you have ever felt before. His longing was for you. I followed him to the grave and back again. He restored the home built for you, where you don’t just hear about belonging but can be filled with it again; where you aren’t in search of the pieces of yourself you lost along the way but are complete.

I am Longing. He made me his companion, and I followed him to you.

the edge of childhood

10845883_10206019106457929_3046460801567224247_o
Painting by Joy Watts

What do you think is in the forest? …

I think that’s where all my missing footballs are.

I’d say there are dragons with great big blue wings.

Not dragons. There is a village of foxes that make a plan every day how to get our chickens.

Or a trail that leads to a magic waterfall that, when you swim in it, takes you to a palace in the mountains.

Woof

Don’t be stupid. It’s just a bunch of trees.


How could you say that? You’ve still never been in there.

Do you think that anything would happen to me if I looked for my footballs?

The dragons would help you, they are nice dragons.

The foxes are probably using them to practice sneaking.

Maybe they fell into the waterfall. Oh! Can I go look for you?

Woof woof

That isn’t even realistic. You’d just get scratches all over you, and for what? Nothing.


Who cares if it’s realistic. Can’t you remember how to just have fun anymore?

Maybe we should send her in to look for them. If she comes out alive then it’s safe.

I think I just saw one! Did you see that bit of blue? Look!

I missed it. Think that the foxes and the dragons are friends?

Probably, I don’t see how they could be anything but friends when they drink such delicious magic water.

Woof

You are all crazy. I don’t know why I even bother with you. You are so immature.


Maybe you just can’t see from there. Why don’t you climb the fence like us?

There could be anything in there. Climb up! Tell me what you can see.

My dragons might even like you enough to let us see them again.

Your dragons? If they are your dragons then the foxes are mine.

Climb up with us. You used to love this. Remember the birds that used to sing their songs just for us?

Woof woof

… well … maybe … just this one last time.

*This writing was in response to the painting above for Space/Place A Visual and Literary Art Exhibition for Core Art @ St. Catherine’s, June 2015.

presence

Humanity comes alive under the connecting influence of presence each day. When mechanized productivity takes a supporting role to sitting shoulder to shoulder with others in mutual sharing of space without pretense, secure social structures plant themselves in communities that become strong enough to support generations to come. Safety – it is a pillar that carries the weight of stone tables offering feasts of resilience for anyone whose bones show through their skin from exertion without nourishment.

Strength is found here.

It is found in the honest acceptance of existence as it is, not as it should be, could be or will be. It is found in the silent expressions of love baked into the homemade gifts with handmade flaws. It is under the furrowed brows and in the watery windows that painfully expose questions devoid of answers. It is in the space between that charges the air with particles of unspoken uncertainty until flooded with the sameness of the two, who sit side by side.

Presence is found here.

It nourishes the seeds released from the pine cone when the fire came. Survivors and thrivers burst through the ground and stretch arms to the sky following the dawn as it welcomes the rising light of the day. Be upstanding, humanity, for the strong arms of endless summer warmth when Presence will starve darkness and fires that suck life away.

preach to me what you practice

I see your actions. I hear your words.

You preach what you practice and it sounds good.

How do you do it? I might ask.

Preach to me what you practice. Give me knowledge to do the same.

 

I hear your emotion. I see your expression.

You preach what you practice and it sounds real.

How do you do it? I might ask.

Preach to me what you practice. Give me courage to do the same.

 

I see your dream. I hear your reality.

You preach what you practice and it sounds strong.

How do you do it? I might ask.

Preach to me what you practice. Give me faith to do the same.

IMG_0767

St. Brendan