Anne Notations

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bleak midwinter


An hour ago I woke up from light sleep in my recliner with the buzz of a snore echoing in my ears. On my chest rested two open books, one atop the other: a bestselling novel, The Help; and a poetry anthology open to Sylvia Plath. It's a day off from work and I'm sucking down books, a greedy two-fisted reader, a passed-out derelict littered with drained pages.

It is now, truly, the bleak midwinter. Gray skies, a skitter of icy rain. I'm thankful for the downy woodpecker couple that visit our suet cakes, lively punctuation marks outside the living room window. Michael returned to Connecticut early yesterday, and Melinda left for Syracuse at 7:15 this morning with a friend. The week before Christmas, our house filled up with people – three kids! a husband! – and their conversation and laughter, like a gay balloon. Slowly it has emptied. Today Kevin and I are left to our drab routines.

Yesterday as I made an omelet, I watched Mass on Channel 12. It's not something I usually do, and this was a stripped-down version. But the irregularity of these recent days – the catastrophic Haiti earthquake that has left thousands dead and a country gasping for its future, the bogeyman economy, the specter of layoffs – made me grateful to say the familiar responses. "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." The Mass is ended; go in peace to love and serve the Lord. "Thanks be to God."

Do I believe in the power of prayer? What does that even mean? I pray not because of my belief (a shaky foundation) but because it comes naturally; it is, apparently, What I Do. Debating myself on whether prayer is a waste of time or not has become beside the point.

Sometimes a prayer has no words. One recent morning Daisy and I came upon our bay all pearly with sunrise, the sky splashed with a fan of pale light. The light reached toward us, like arms. A thought surprised me: "This is a prayer." What does that even mean?

What does it mean when a poem reaches out its arms to pull you in? Read the second paragraph above. Now, 10 minutes later, I retrieve the anthology and reopen it to Plath. I turn the page and see this:

Balloons

Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Oval soul-animals,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk

Invisible air drifts …
Delighting
The heart like wishes


Coincidences delight my heart. What do they mean? "What you want them to," I've been told. But I hadn't thought to wish for synchronicity; it comes to me like grace.

Sometimes a single life is a poem, or maybe it's a prayer. On Martin Luther King Day, I find 17 minutes to listen to the preacher-poet's words. You should, too.



Amen.

2 Comments:

  • First off, I wish I had a bookmark in my Facebook bookmarks so I could remember to come here more often. That said... :)

    This entry moved me deeply. I cannot find more words about it.

    By Blogger Aunt Deedee, at Tue Jan 19, 04:50:00 AM EST  

  • On Monday I was listening to "I Have a Dream" on the radio just as I drove up to an empty post office parking lot and wondered, "where is everyone?"

    Coincidence? :-)

    Regarding prayer: I'm glad it's What You Do and that you have it in many forms.

    I joke sometimes that I pray to the God I don't believe in but hope is there anyway.

    Does prayer help the prayed for? I don't know. But I am sure that prayer helps the one who prays. If we all pray, we all win, even if not in the way we expected.

    My mother changed cable subscribers just so she could get EWTN -- the Catholic channel broadcast from Birmingham AL. My dad and I dropped by on our road trip from Texas to NC back in October. We went to the gift shop (so many little angels in baskets, so many crosses on the wall) then he took the studio tour while I took a nap.

    I walked away from the Roman Catholic Church years ago but still appreciate what it does for my family, every day.

    By Blogger Marsosudiro, at Tue Jan 19, 09:04:00 PM EST  

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