November 19, 2015

Broken Hearts and Chasing Light

My mind is filled with the recent tragedies that have struck our world one after another. The devastation and the pain hurts so much, and my heart aches for the victims all over the world.

Today a friend, Israeli and French, told me that she's leaving school next week to go be with her family instead of finishing the semester because the Paris bombings and shootings shook her so much. I can't imagine what it must feel like to hear about a shooting like that and not know if your family is safe.

I also read about new explosions in Nigeria that happened today, and again my heart breaks that the deaths continue to rise day after day. I see videos of refugees piled into boats trying to find safety anywhere and instead meeting violence and rejection and hatred from those who cannot understand their pain. There's not much I can do here and now except for pray, and pray, and pray and learn how to always better love the people who are here around me.

I wish I could gather the world together and share my heart with them. I want to show them that we're people, God's creations, made in His image and for His purpose. I don't understand why that isn't enough.

No wonder so many people feel so hollow.

Take out God and all you have left is a shell. A shell of a person. A shell of a world. We're so broken and so unwilling to be fixed. It hurts to have found the light and realize that the people around me are so unwilling to open their eyes and see. 

I found this poem today, though, by poet Tyler Knott Gregson, and it seemed like such an eloquent wording of what I want to say. I know that sorry doesn't solve anything, but sometimes it can help.

I'm sorry for the gunshots, the bullets, the pain,
I'm sorry for the blood that won't wash out with the rain.
I'm sorry for the bombs, the explosions, the tears,
I'm sorry for those that take pride in our fears.
I'm sorry to the world we keep scarring with our hate,
I'm sorry for those that think it's too late.
I'm sorry for the chaos, the confusion, the madness,
I'm sorry for the mornings stained with fresh sadness.
I'm sorry for the terror, the darkness, the night,
I'm thankful for all those, who still chase the light.

November 17, 2015

The Magdalen, A Garden and This by Kathleen O'Toole

Last night I stayed up an hour later than intended working on the first draft of my non-fiction piece for my Creative Writing class. I think it's going to be a braided essay, though at this point the paragraphs splashed together don't sound like much of anything. It needs a lot of work still.

But my piece is all about names, about how much of an impact a name can have. How much of an impact my name has had, or names, as I explain in the piece. I know I have owned a lot of names throughout my life, and they all mean something to me, something I'm trying to learn how to explain as I write this essay.

This month I have also read the story of Mary Magdalen meeting Jesus in the garden three times. This story is from chapter 20 of the book of John. I read it with my Christian Club on campus and then at a poem share with members of my Church someone brought a poem about the story. Last night I came to it in my Bible readings on my own.

Every time I hear this story I can just imagine Jesus standing there saying her name, and I can imagine Him standing beside me telling me my name, and it's just so powerful. There are times when someone says my name in just such a way that it becomes so much more than just a name. My boyfriend can say my name in a way that makes me feel like I finally took a breathe of air after almost drowning. My mom can say my name and turn me into a child sitting against her lap or into an adult who she loves and is proud of and know will be okay. My sister can say my name and show me that she knows, she understands, she's always here for me.

All of this in the way they say my name. The carefulness of a combination of sounds and letters spoken so carefully with so much meaning and so much history and so much future. (When the people I love say my name I can always hear that they are pronouncing the C. I can hear the difference between C and K.)

I can just imagine Jesus telling me my name. I think I would be like Martha. That would be the instant when I recognize Him.

I think of other mentions of names in the Bible. (There are a lot. I could probably write hundreds of posts about names and never end.) God is always so precise about naming, about changing names, about the meaning of names. I love it.

However, to avoid trying to write hundred of posts in one, I'm going to end here, quite abruptly because my writing classes have tired out my writing brain today, and leave you with the poem I mentioned. Because it's beautiful. And powerful. Almost makes me want to cry.

The Magdalen, A Garden, and This
(by Kathleen O'Toole)

Strip all else away and we'd know only
that she was grateful, that she found her way
to the cross, and that she returned

to the tomb. A disciple for sure, not
Mary sister of Lazarus, or the woman caught
in adultery or she who angered the men

by anointing Jesus with expensive oils.
This Mary of Magdala only named as one
from whom he cast out seven devils, followed

until that first day of the week, in the garden,
where, weeping at her loss, she was recognized,
became known in the tender invocation

of her name. Mary: breathed by one
whom she mistook for the gardener, he
who in an instant restored her--

gave her in two syllables a life beloved,
and gave me the only sure thing I'll believe
of heaven, that if it be, it will consist

in this: the one unmistakable
rendering of my name.

November 9, 2015

Tasting Sky

I wanted to write about how thankful I am for this semester. I've been so healthy, physically and mentally, this semester and it's such a blessing to just feel good.
I wanted to write about cancer and tumors and not knowing how to help friends who are no where near me, and knowing that even without distance I would have no words to say.

I wanted to write about culture and mixed cultures, and how unfair it is that my Asian American and African American friends at least have friends who share their mixed up culture, but I'm here in Vermont and I feel like I belong to Mexico but I really don't, and people think I should belong to the United States but I know I don't.

I wanted to write about my family's move, and how glad I am to not need to deal with another move but how lonely I feel because I am not a part of it.

I wanted to write about the paradox of wanting more than anything else in the world to just be alone for an entire day and do absolutely nothing, but also wanting so much to go to a thousand places and see a thousand people and live a thousand adventures.

I wanted to write about doing neither.

Instead I'm just writing everything. Clips and fragments because tonight my brain is clipped and fragmented. I do not want to write but the words and piling out and the only thing I know to do is let them out. A poem:

To taste the sky-
mint of oxygen-
and breathe
at last. If only
for a second.

I could inhale the
earth, be full for once,
and yet alone, empty
in the earth I ate.

Suspended on a cloud
till I fall through like
a rain soaked page.

I can try to taste
the sky, but I can
never make the sky
my home. 


November 6, 2015

Peace in the Midst of my Mind

"My brain hums with scraps of poetry and madness." -Virginia Woolf

This quote, and many others, are now colorfully pasted around my room, on the wood frame of my bed, on the small strips of wall beside my window, on the edges of my book shelf. Writing quotes is like therapy. It calms me as I listen to the scratch of pencil on paper and finding the perfect quote fills me with a deeply reaching happiness which I am not sure makes sense to other people.

Today in class I sat with a group and we played with alliteration to create the perfect titles for each chapter of a story we are working on. It's a fun project; we're given complete freedom over what we choose to do. While we worked we talked about words and why we write.

We talked about poetry and even the teacher commented when he stopped by to check on our group. "You're eyes are glowing."

The truth is, there is something so very very satisfying about finding that perfect word, that perfect phrase. One of my friends said: "Writing is magic. I don't think people understand that." But I do. I understand the magic; it makes sense to me.

As I sit through classes and listen to published authors talk about how they got to where they are now I wonder what I'm doing with my life. Starving artist is just an inevitable fate for me, because there really isn't anything I can do well except write.

But for me that's enough. I am happiest in the moments when I can sit somewhere solitary and comfortable and pull out a pen and one of my many poetry notebooks and just let words flow out of me. There is so much emotion in poetry. I can write so few words but I'm saying so much.

It's been a hard couple of weeks. I've been emotionally drained, my whole body tense from stress that shouldn't even been there, my head spinning with worry and longing. But throughout these days there have been so many moments of words.

Sitting in a patch of sun for class, just writing. Talking to my writer friends about the best kind of notebooks and our favorite pens. Writing poetry on my bed. Listening to yet another PoeJam. Reading a book of short stories that each seem to tear at my heart.

Words are so peaceful.

So powerful.