January 2, 2012
The typical thing to do at New Years is to reflect on the year past, its blessings, sorrows, trials, but I feel as if I have been doing that all along, writing this blog, and to reflect on reflections is sort of redundant.
We smoothly slid into the New Year, surreptitiously, my husband and I; I fell asleep on the couch and he in his man-chair, before a show on the apocalypse until a few minutes before midnight where he poured some ginger ale and we toasted and kissed to 2012 while watching the revelers at Time Square. Then we went to bed.
On New Year's morning I sat down on the mat before the ficus tree and read the January 1st entry from Incandescence: 365 Readings from Women Mystics. Here is the entry:
On New Year's Day,
we hope the new season
brings new flowers and new joys.
But- come what may-
those who suffer and worry for Love
will live joyful lives.
Love's rich power is creative and friendly.
Love is kind and has a sweet temperament.
Love soothes with compensation
every new sadness.
Love knows the repeated blows
I must endure for her.
From now on, though, I'll rely on Love.
with a sad heart, joyful.
-Hadewijch, Poems in Stanzas
Hadewijch of Antwerp was a woman poet mystic, part of the Beguine movement which included semi-monastic communities (no formal vows taken) of the Roman Catholic faith during the 13th and 14th centuries in and around the region of Cologne, France. According to the text, “Hadewijch's most famous statement is that 'she wanted to become God with God.'” (Someday I will write a non-fiction book on these women mystics because there seems to be much to explore). Well this was an appropriate poem to read, given the blessings I had received this past year. While I do not feel the need to write about them because, somehow, it downgrades their potency, I do bow my head in deep gratitude for the twins I carry, for the book accepted for publication, for estranged family connections renewed, for my husband, family, friends, and small daily blessings. I have discovered that gratitude is a highly personal thing and is difficult to keep. Life's flow has a way of undermining it; the mind can't help but look for the next best thing. So I carved a box somewhere inside myself and wrote gratitude on it and went away to live my life. And then it occurred to me I was neglecting the thing, entity, energy, if you will, that brought me these things. I was neglecting love. (Note: A writer has to be very careful with love because you straddle the fence of cliche, and that is a fate worse than death.)
So I started thinking about love and its components passion and compassion, passion the fiery part, the dynamic; compassion the nurturing part, the steadfast. One of the exposition essays I have my composition classes read is Anastasia Toufexis's “Love: The Right Chemistry” in which she discusses the passionate and compassionate aspects of love as the results of the chemical and biological evolution of our brains. I would like to add physics to that. Love is always a force of attraction, like gravity. The Universal Law of Gravitation states “Every mass in the universe is attracted to every other mass.” With love, the lover seeks to be near the beloved, be this a person or persons (any sentient being actually) or perhaps a mode of expression, an occupation, as in the case of the artist. This nearness settles the inherent anxiety we all have due to our physical and mental separateness (space). But love has a component to a component: compassion has a component called gratitude. So often we neglect this because we are an over-stimulated society; passion is more the ticket, will get you where you want to go.
If passion is a phoenix, compassion and gratitude is an oasis where you may float, but it disappears too quickly. I think meditation can help with this. Put yourself in that oasis, feel its cool water, hear its lapping waves. Rest there.
On a different note: for weeks now, we have been waiting for the arrival of my nephew. I went to have dinner with my family at my mother's and my sister sat at the table immense and emotional. She was frustrated; she wanted to see her baby's face, but the contractions weren't coming. The undercurrent of anxiety and hope that filled our holiday season had now swelled where we could see it. She says she feels the baby moving and that's a consolation, but she's having a hard time dealing with her mind; she doesn't know what to do to induce herself (tried herbs, eggplant, sex, walking) and distract herself.
We are now, suffering and worrying for love, as the above poem states. What I want to emphasize here as that the impetuses of love, passion and compassion, deliver and we shouldn't forget that. Example: This past week we had a visit from my mother's brother and his family. We have been, for the better part of fifteen years, estranged from them for reasons I won't get into. I never thought I would see the day my uncle would be at my doorstep, but there he was and it was as if time had not passed. As we all gathered around the table and laughed and reminisced, I realized that love had done this, brought us together (well, love and facebook). It lay dormant for awhile, like the cicada who lives years underground until that day it is prompted by Mother Nature to rise up and sing. We tend to forget about the singing part. And so love will bring that baby, despite our fears.
I have, in my study, a rose bush that I kept in the yard for the summer. Instead of planting it in the ground, I took it inside. Now it is blooming again and this, together with these reflections have prompted a poem:
Watchful and cool, a rose twists
toward the window like a periscope
spying on the place where light was.
It blooms this January day, a festive red,
a smaller face than summer's,
but just as potent.