CONSOLATION PRIZES THAT DON’T COLLECT DUST

For those that enter beauty pagaents, writing contests, or sports competitions,  receiving the consolation prize is a sign that you are some kind of a runner up.  There was a winner and they won the grand prize. All the others prizes may represent a good effort or recognize the great performance, but are really an attempt to ease the blow of well, losing. 

How different the prizes of consolation are for us when they present themselves amid and after the inevitable losses in life.  To be awarded consolation in its many guises after grief, rejection, emotional exhaustion is to know the sweetest balm.  While these salves can be as simple as a stranger’s smile, they are often times a reawakening of our senses to the world around us.  In The Sinner’s Almanac,  Taufiq Khalil writes these verses in “Audacity No. 127”: “The dew on the grass in early morning makes me happy. The puddle of water left by the evening rain makes me merry.  The Sun glimering behind a green canopy keeps me cheery.  And God is most pleased with those who smile Whatever the hour Who have the audacity to be happy When all life seems sour”.

There is the gift of a  morning when the heavy hurt you carried like lead for a time too long gives way to the sunshine in a way that no longer mocks your inner atmosphere. The warmth on your face and the sound of the chickadee whose great great great grandparents once sung outside your nursery window is calling you to attention, to be attentive, to attend.

The prolific Pultizer Prize winning poet (yes, she did win a grand prize) Mary Oliver understood well how the Sacred and Holy are embued in Nature, that the possibility of a Kairos moment (meaning the right or opportune moment) is ever beckoning. She asks that we lay our burdens at the altar of heartbeating Life in her poem Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, over the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are flying home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

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THE LION IN THE CAVE

It’s been two months since I’ve entered the blogosphere; and I am so ready to be back. 

Do you know Ecclesiastes 3:3 in the Bible? It is in the Hebrew Bible; what I know as the Old Testament.  The book consists of maxims that reflect upon the meaning of life and the best way to live it.  It tells of the hard times that are a part of life and the need to take your time moving through them.  Actually the whole of chapter 3 is about the rhythm of life.  Life’s timing, the wisdom of knowing and accepting fully how long each “time” takes.  The specific verse 3 says, “There is a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.” 

I am broken, but not dead.  Just healing and building up.   I needed to go into my “cave” and like the mighty lion after a bloody fight, lick my wounds. It hurts and it’s itchy and it’s generally not something we humans go out and look for.  

Yet like all crises, all catastrophes, there is God’s gifts of the silver lining.  We are grateful for small things.  A friend’s call, the morning cup of hot coffee (not to be underestimated), and the sense of connection with others who are currently suffering “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” all register.  They are not disregarded; as they often times are when the world seems our oyster. 

Suffering is, of course, universal, and cuts us down to size, whether we feel we need it or not.  But when it happens often enough, or poignantly enough, we begin to let go any romantic attachment to drama.  Drama as an addiction, as a predilection, becomes not only a luxury we can ill afford.  It takes off its clothes and it exposes itself for what it really is: a childish, immature, and unimaginative way to engage with the moments given to you.    

There are lyrics to a song that has been mantra; it has made so much sense to me, it has given me strength, it’s almost like I wrote it.  I guess you could say that I wish I wrote it.  It’s by the Dixie Chicks.  I know the Dixie Chicks and Ecclesiastes, huh?  I warned you once or twice of my heretical leanings, so if you are still reading, here you go. The name of the song is Truth No. 2:  

You don’t like the sound of the truth, coming from my mouth.   You say that I lack the proof. Well, maybe that might be so.  I might get to the end of my life, find out everyone is lying.  I don’t think that I’m afraid anymore.  You see I’d rather die trying.

This time when he swung the bat and I found myself laying flat, I wondered.  What a way to spend a dime, what a way to use the time.  I looked at my reflection in the window walking past and I saw a stranger.  Just so scared all the time make me one more reason why the world’s dangerous.

Tell my what’s wrong with having a little faith in what you’re feeling in your heart.  Why must we be so afraid and always  so far apart. 

The refrain is: “Sing my something brave from your mouth.”

That’s what I’m looking for right now.  In everyone I meet, encounter, and I’m finding it.  Bravery, to speak the truth and then live it.  Go on.   

By the way, don’t get me wrong, the irony is not lost on me.  My words ring a bit melodramatic, even to me.  But I have been thinking about them, even nuance of thoughts and events.  And you know what?  In this particular instance, they are not. 

I’m not trying to be mysterious, just judicious. 

Got lots of blog ideas in the queue.

Wishing you peace and love and good health.