He nibbles away, as nonchalantly as one so wary is able to be.
He's quite compact, about six inches long, maybe, with cute ears. He seems so happy in his world, being. Being small. Stopping at what ever blade attracts him. He startles to sound and movement, scampers off toward the front flower bed.
I follow and watch, even see him doze off momentarily. Evidently he's eaten something "soporific" as Beatrix Potter would say.
Soon I'm lying in the grass, watching the clouds, the birds, the sky , the trees. You do not have to be a child to try this. I'm the subject of one of Mary Engelbreit's drawings, a child lying in the grass at the start of summer, in my front yard, right out there for the world to witness. I have no shame.
I notice my shoulder is tense, try to relax it, to relax my entire body. Then I remember.
I'm reading an online retreat with Cynthia Bourgault on Gierjoff's Fourth Way. I understand very little of the point of the whole thing, but I think if I engage in some of the practices, I will somehow begin to grow in it. It all has to do with the practice of sensing and attention.
The bunny stretches out in the grass at the shaded edge of things and sleeps amid all that softness and those good smells.
This has been a full week, a good one, really. Every morning I write, "What a good day, yesterday. . ." and try to think about the best thing(s) that happened. Some alone time, some people time, a good mix: meeting Catherine on a whim to talk for an hour one morning before work; Linda and coffee and conversation at Grounds for Celebration on Friday; Cathy for a bowl of soup one rainy afternoon after work. She drank something hot made with vanilla and milk? and no coffee.
We talked about her question, "What makes you YOU?", raised because her husband told her about someone who is going to receive a head transplant. (yes, HEAD.) Later that evening, Jack and I watched a terrific documentary called "Alive Inside" about the way nursing home patients with Alzheimer's and dementia respond to music therapy. That held so many parallels to the conversation with Cathy. It was so good we watched it twice! I really love the way it went beyond the usual "our culture needs elders" to the idea that we are missing the physical touch of the elderly.
Cathy and I also talked about Etty HIllesum (An Interrupted Life), a young Jewish woman who lived through the German occupation in Holland during the Holocaust, and the manner in which she deepened spiritually over such a brief time. At the beginning of her journals she is a brainy, sensitive, hedonistic young woman and within a year she is saying things like,
I shall always be able to stand on my own two feet even when they are planted on the hardest soil of the harshest reality. And my acceptance is not indifference or helplessness. I feel deep moral indignation at a regime that treats human beings in such a way. But events have become too overwhelming and too demonic to be stemmed with personal resentment and bitterness. These responses strike me as utterly childish and unequal to the fateful course of events. . .I am only bowing to the inevitable. . .And it is sheer arrogance to think oneself too good to share the fate of the masses.
We've always assumed that if this were to happen in our time, we would put a stop to it. That we wouldn't remain blind. That we would not allow whole populations of people to be rounded up and slaughtered under our watch. Yet, as I said to Cathy, it has happened again, and it is happening again, and here we are, standing in Hy-Vee pondering which cheese to buy.
Other things this week: Helen called from the San Francisco airport on her way back to Northern Ireland. Her son just got married in California. 'And," she reported, "The bridegroom's mother didn't fall down."
She plans to return in December. She has switched from reading novels to memoir, and is slowly reading the book of Isaiah with a friend. "So much of God's wrath in those early chapters," she told me.
Later, I emailed her this question: "Do you think it's God being wrathful or men portraying God as wrathful to keep people in line?"
In other news. . .I read this week that the Southern Baptist Convention has recently changed its policy on the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. (And, it appears, just in time for the Feast of Pentecost.) Which leaves me wondering. . .if we're uncomfortable with something the Spirit does, we just issue a policy against it. Evidently. Except, now, for some reason, a lot of people in the denomination are receiving this gift from the Spirit. It's slightly more palatable, it appears, since it's happening more in other cultures.
In other, other news. . .I may have a new writing partner. Her name is Carol and we meet tomorrow to determine whether we're a good fit. I don't know what to expect. And I'm noticing again that first drafts are always messy and ugly--not just the writing but the content. It seems to be a necessary step, though, in reaching the core of what needs to be said. Speaking of cores. . .I decided recently that in order to get to the core of one of the main characters in the novel I need to go back and explore my experiences and relationships with the boys and men in my life. I am not speaking of any vast experience here, only that there's something really essential in it for me. That in order to understand this character and make the reader care about him, I need to understand more about myself. A daunting task, to say the least. I couldn't believe how much, initially, just listing boys from grade school stirred up such intense feelings of shame and vulnerability. Gulp. And exposure. Starting with my brother.
Which brings me to the subject of my brother, Mike, whose 70th Birthday was a couple of weeks ago. We haven't spoken in two years, but I decided to give him a call. Here is how it went: I placed the call. The phone rang. Someone picked it up and hung up. I placed the call again. Someone picked it up and hung up. I placed the call again. Someone picked it up and hung up. I placed the call again. This time it went to voicemail and I left a message.
So, I thought. Maybe this is the final disconnect between the two of us. Within the past few months I've thought a couple of things in regard to Mike. From him I could have learned from early childhood not to take things personally. As cruel and derisive as he was toward me, always, for him it was never anything personal. I've been slow catching on. Also, from Mike I learned what it's like to be an only child.
I'm not bitter, and I'm not even sad. I came to terms with it a while back--the fact that I would probably never have a real relationship with him. I was just trying to be nice.
And this. The inimitable Phyllis Tickle, a wonderful woman and spiritual writer, just learned she is dying of Stage IV lung cancer. From Phyllis I have learned more about writing, about thinking, about what it means to live a life of faith. Pick up something of hers and read it. She says that in the time remaining she wants to write another book.
Last thing: Jason is here this week, making his way from California to Chicago and Michigan. He and Jack are playing golf.