A Six Word Balance

Norman Vincent Peale was once asked to give a message to America and he gave it in six words: “Expect a miracle. Make it happen.” These six words strike a balance between expecting and doing.

Lowell M. Atkinson then asked, “And what gets in the way?” Atkinson believed our negative thoughts, our worries and anxieties and depressions, and our fears often keep many thousands of miracles from happening. This negative thinking blankets our eyes and makes it so we can’t see anything good.

Someone asked a positive thinker, “Don’t you ever entertain negative thoughts?” and she said, “I have negative thoughts; they come to me — but I don’t entertain them. I don’t welcome them. I don’t hold on to them; I don’t nurture them.” If instead of nurturing our negative thoughts we reversed them, we would surely begin making good things happen.

The truth is negative thinking is toxic. It can blind us to wonderful possibilities we might enjoy if we worked to help them along.

The Currency of Tears

In Nevada Barr’s novel, A Superior Death, Ms. Barr describes a tender encounter between the principal character, Anna Pigeon, and a diver named Hawk.

“I’m sleeping on the Belle tonight,” she said. “Can I offer you a nightcap?”

“Only if the night comes with it.”

“It does.”

They walked together, not touching, to the boat. Anna latched the cabin door behind them… Hawk sat on the blue-vinyl-covered bench and watched without speaking as Anna cranked open the hatch, letting in the soft night air, the light of the stars. He watched while she put two cassettes in her well-used player and punched play on one side and pause/play on the other. As Cher’s voice sang, “It’s in his kiss,” he smiled.

“Be gentle with me,” he said and Anna laughed.

“Your first time?”

“Might as well be.”

“Orphans in the storm.” She sat beside him and he took her face in his hands, smoothed her hair back with callused fingers.

“If anything was new to Anna, it was the sadness. As they made love, sweetly, gently, she felt Hawk’s tears falling on her neck and breast. She found herself crying too, without knowing why. In sympathy, she realized, but whether for Hawk or herself she couldn’t tell.”

Excerpt from A Superior Death by Nevada Barr

A tender encounter, for sure. And the tears, the tears falling on Anna’s neck and breast. A mix of Hawk’s from not being able to be with someone he loved more than Anna and of Anna’s from missing a husband who died much too soon.

We make lots of concessions on our way through life, especially in honor of love. The more painful ones come to tears. But love is not a feeling. It is being for the other person. “To love is to be for another and to act for another, even at a cost to oneself” (Charlene Payne Kammerer). In the freedom we give ourselves for loving, the loving may require a payment in a currency of tears.

Summer Solstice

Summer, a magical time when the shadows are short and the days are long. A time to abandon shoes and run through lush grasses like a child. Stop to pick wild flowers along the way to nowhere. Run in circles and roam aimlessly beneath blue skies, releasing worries to the wind. Get lost. Find your way. Get lost again. Let the day take you where it will.

Go deep within the Milky Way at night. Dream until the sun comes up. Rise at will and do it all over again.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade.

—William Shakespeare

Happy summer, everyone!

The Doldrums

There are lovers who are lonely,
beds full of dreamless bodies that toss and turn
on each other,
crying themselves into darkness,
darkness taking over the moonlight,
the sunlight falling way to rain.

Their thoughts are dappled with ambivalence,
bleeding hearts rimmed with emptiness,
spilling everything that was
into the nothingness of now,
for they gave and lost themselves,
and lost and gave and lost again.

No longer shining like the sea
nor raging like rivers,
they drift into the doldrums,
the place where half souls dwell
without their mates,
existing as ghosts in the flesh.

Longing for the movement of bodies
of water,
longing for completion
of souls,
longing to go back, longing to take back,
longing, longing, longing to hear the wind whisper
I’ve got you and I’ll carry you home.

Exquisite Expression of Love

Frida Kahlo once wrote to Diego Rivera: “Nothing compares to your hands, nothing like the green-gold of your eyes. My body is filled with you for days and days. You are the mirror of the night. The violent flash of lightning. The dampness of the earth. The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. My fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.”

Today this exquisite expression of love might be paraphrased as:

Nothing compares to your hands, to be healed by their touch. My soul is forever imprinted with the burn of your gaze from the moment we met. You are the light that outshines all darkness. The warm and glowing rays of the sun. The romantic and mystical beams of the moon. Our orchestrated union is rejoiced in the heavens. All that I am, all that I was created to be, is made better by you. I am completed by your existence, made whole by your presence.

Said the Lady to the Man

When Nature gives a gorgeous rose,
Or yields the simplest fern,
She writes this motto on the leaves—
To whom it may concern!”
And so it is the poet comes
And revels in her bowers,
And, though another hold the land,
Is owner of the flowers.

John Godfrey Saxe

To whom it may concern, and darling, this concerns you. Today I write of the Athyrium filix-femina, better known as the lady fern. Hers is a quiet beauty. Unlike a rose, she does not dazzle with showy and sweet smelling blossoms, nor does she need to. She’s been around for 60 million years — she knows what she’s doing. Her hardiness defies her fragile looks and delicate nature. Give her a damp, shady environment and she will grow in abundance. The lady fern is native to northern regions of North America, Europe and Asia. This lovely lady is well travelled.

It’s easy to see the beauty in a gorgeous rose. The everyday beauty you bring into my life allows me to see beyond the obvious. More and more, I am drawn to the simplest fern. Everywhere I look is a memory of you, of us, and a dream of our future. So let’s settle in and embrace what is simple and enduring. When we find the grace and elegance in everyday life, we are bound to thrive.

Light Talks

Thomas Aquinas says something I want to say to you in a poem called, What Does Light Talk About?

When you recognize her beauty,
the eye applauds, the heart stands in an ovation,
and the tongue when she is near
is on its best behavior,
it speaks more like light.

What does light talk about?
I asked a plant that once.
It said, “I am not sure,
but it makes me
grow.”

When I see you, I promise I will recognize and honor your beauty. My eye will applaud, my heart will stand in an ovation, and my tongue will be on its best behavior.

It will speak like light to comfort and encourage you.

Go Round Again

The Virginia-born musician, Swamp Dogg, has just released a new album called “Sorry You Couldn’t Make It.” John Prine joins him on two songs, and in one them they ask life to let them go ‘round again. “Oh life, won’t you afford us another chance? Everything we put our hands on, we blew it. Women, jobs, money, friends, and we knew it. Acting crazy and talking dumb all the time.” I can’t sing a note but I’ve hummed that refrain before. Life, please afford me another chance.

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The other morning I noticed a flower spreading its petals toward the sun. It seemed to me to be lifting its arms toward the heavens instinctively embracing the day with no worries about getting to go ‘round again. I guessed it was filled with a heaping-helping of gratitude for whatever the day would provide. Not a wasteful use of one’s time and energy.

DESTiNATiON

Hi there, handsome. I’ve been thumbing through my shoebox full of love letters, admiring your sentiments and penmanship. Your strong and orderly handwriting has a unique flair. Your lowercase i’s are playful and flirty amidst your capitals, and you often write in purple ink. I love opening the mail to find a good old-fashioned love letter from you. The last one you wrote brought tears of joy to my eyes:

MY LOVE—
KAHLiL GiBRAN WROTE:
“OUR SELF iS CONSTANTLY ON A PiLGRiMAGE TO THE HOLY CiTY.” iF HE WERE HERE TODAY WITH THE SAME PROPHETiC iNSiGHT, HE WOULD SEE MY ‘SELF’ iS CONSTANTLY ON A PiLGRiMAGE TO ‘YOU.’ I WiLL NOT REST UNTiL I REACH MY DESTiNATiON.

It’s been tough being separated during a pandemic. It really puts things in perspective. But guess what? I came across an adorable little house today. What do you think, my love, could this be OUR DESTiNATiON?

She Nuts Up

Loving Rick Estrin & The Nightcats’ She Nuts Up.

Oh, my woman’s just the sweetest little thing;
she’s got brains, she’s got class, she’s so fine;
but something bad musta happened to her back in the day,
‘cause there’s so something wrong with her mind.
Oh, she nuts up. Man, she nuts up. And it ain’t about if, naw, it’s just about when, for God knows she’s gonna nut up again.

I’m smiling, almost laughing at Rick’s grief because I can relate. I know someone who nuts up every now and then. But my someone usually goes ballistic because I provoke her. I touch the wrong buttons, maybe mishear, misspeak, or misunderstand. I don’t always handle our relationship properly, I know. I’m just thankful my someone’s nuts up is sort of charming in a searing hot and caustic kind of way. And when it calms and passes, like Rick says in the song, she makes everything right when we turn out the lights, and rock the house at midnight.

Voice of a Lifetime

Wish I had a name to address this letter to,
that’s all I’ve wanted,
your name,

it’s been nine years,
the night ended differently for both of us,
it was such a strange sensation,
some might call it an out of body experience,
that whole weekend felt odd,

Sundays usually are my days off,
I worked a double that day,
I remember every detail,
that’s my point,
you caught my attention immediately,
I went home that night to write

  • How did that happen?
  • Should I run after you?
  • How was this even possible?

Something I’ve never felt still to this day,
you didn’t physically touch me,
somehow you sent me into outer space,
every cell electrified,
your voice sent fireworks to my brain,
I was paralyzed,
in shock at the touch of what just happened,
I no longer had any idea of the physical,
but I watched you walk up those stairs and into your night.

Almost 9 years have passed,
still taken and consumed by that force,
the life of that man,

I don’t know if I am the love he deserves,
I don’t know the outcome,
you might be married,
knowing you took everything I am that night,
without you life now is empty.

December 9th 2012 you came into my life,
best experience of my life,
I don’t even know your name,
thank you for having a voice that saved me.

Jacquelyn