Made me Smile
It never fails to surprise me when I come across another noted author or poet whose vision of the world was influenced by Thomas Traherne. I recently happened upon this poem by Robert Siegel (1939-2012), an American poet and novelist. It is certainly worth sharing. Enjoy!
The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never
should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it
had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust
and stones of the street were as precious as gold;
the gates were at first the end of the world.
In God’s green camp you sit in a silk tent,
flowers springing under your feet, intent upon
marigolds, goldenrod—sweet ragweed—
Ferdinand forgetful of the fly
which shakes the air with its small news of war.
The ramparts of the camp unwatched, you think:
Let Charles the Martyre go and Cromwell come,
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Stairway to Heaven
My father passed away in February of 1990 after a grueling battle with an unbeatable foe. He was only 54.
His face became emaciated, his nose a point.
He was experiencing heart failure, and this became the in-the-moment cause of his death to stomach cancer. This is what you would read if you viewed his death certificate.
I watched the swelling creep from his feet and up his legs, which seemed to turn to stone. They looked as though they would burst like ripe fruit if scratched. I watched the swelling pass his hips. When his chest began to enlarge and harden, I knew he was close to being entombed in his own flesh. I knew he was going die but I didn’t let myself truly know it.
Sitting on the floor of the bathroom of our second floor apartment, I cried to God late at night. I didn’t want to wake my husband. We were both weary from traveling to and from the hospital—though the emotional fatigue took a higher toll. I pled with God until the tears would not come. Each night I cried myself dry so that, completely spent, I could finally sleep.
I was actually shocked to get the news of my father’s death. Such is the nature of human denial.
Throughout my life, my father shied away from church attendance. He was not interested in discussing spiritual matters; and he periodically ridiculed me, my mother, and my sister, for representing ourselves as Christians. We were–and remain–so flawed, it is true. But isn’t that the very reason for seeking Jesus?
On one of the last days I knew my father, we shared an intimate conversation about faith. He did believe, he confessed. He told me about “walking an aisle” as a child. I wondered, but never asked, what had caused him to remain so silent all these years. I wondered, also, how all of our lives might have been different if he had not just believed, but worked to access the transforming power of the cross. My father was a difficult and sometimes abusive man….
After his death, I believed he was with God but solace was hard to come by. My then 5’8” frame shrank to 114 pounds, and coworkers expressed concern.
A dream provided a great balm to me during this time. I awoke knowing he had been with me.
In the dream, I opened the door to the basement of my childhood home and began to walk down the steps. As I descended, my father began to ascend. He looked as he had at around age 35 or 40.
Neither of us said a word. Our eyes met and held. In his look, I felt the realness of his presence.
He wore on his face the tiniest smile of contentment and mirth. No ear-splitting grin or words of reassurance were needed. My father was peaceful; and he conveyed this, and a depth of affection, through this simplest of glances.
We passed silently and didn’t look back.
I grew up in a very religious home, so I was leary at first about the Native American beliefs that we can receive messages through all of God’s creation. Then I thought about creation, it is so diverse and amazing, so why cannot God’s messages and ways of communicating be the same with us? Well I have had many positive and healing experiences happen this way since. Recently, I went through an incredibly hard and ongoing situation, feeling like I was going to be defeated and hopeless. I had a new experience with a lady and her cat at the same time this was going on. I realized, after the fact that this was a powerful and hopeful message to me during this time. I googled, “power animal- domestic cat” and again was blown away about how right on the message was.
Is there a more ostentatious bird than the male of the Indian peafowl, the Peacock? I was introduced to this species at a very young age. Due to its popularity as an ornamental bird and its readiness to breed in captivity, Peafowl can be found in zoos, parks and gardens around the world. As with all species of captive wildlife, the bird achieves new levels of magnificence when seen in its natural habitat. I was fortunate to see, and photograph the national bird of India, wild in the National Parks of India and Sri Lanka.
I had become so accustomed to seeing them in captivity that I was taken by surprise when I saw my first wild bird. I hadn’t imagined them as a wild bird. Even the local pub where I grew up kept peacocks as a beer garden attraction. I loved the exotic call that they bellowed out, starting at sunrise…
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Dust everywhere. Incessant mosquitos that attack any exposed stretch of flesh, with a bloodthirsty affection for the neck and ankles. The dark night is chillingly cold, except near the warmly leaping flames where it’s suddenly and uncomfortably too hot. The bathroom is many, many, many miles away, on the other side of terrain treacherously strewn with gigantic tree roots and fallen logs hiding in plain dark sight. Easier, safer to hold it in.
(Actually, the bathroom is less than 200 meters from the campfire and there is only one potentially, not-really-dangerous exposed tree root. But everything is amplified in the dark).
Tall, tall pine and redwood trees stretch their lean, leafy necks right up to the moon. The inky black sky and its twinkly blanket of stars keep everything hushed. Whispered. Even the guitar’s lazy strums and the low, rumbly voices talking about everything and nothing float quietly in the night. Sometimes splashes of laughter musically disturb…
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The air is still. So still I can barely hear the crickets chirp. The window is open wide to the sultry night and somewhere far down the street a dog barks. It must be midnight. Every now and then, the faintest, coolest breeze kisses my skin. The leaves sigh.
Softly he rests his hand on my arm.
“Don’t. Touch. Me.” My lips scarcely move. The words are a flat monotone in the dark.
His amused chuckle fills the heated space between us, and he rolls over.
It’s too hot. Too hot to touch. To be touched. Too hot to think, to exhale, to remember if I turned the dishwasher on. Even the whisper-soft breeze has stopped. It’s too hot to sleep and I feverishly wonder what tomorrow will bring. If it ever comes.
The sun scorches the trail we’re walking on, and a spotted lizard darts under a bush…
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