No more chatterbox monkeying around stuff. Going forward, I will be like that for a while:
Confession: I’ve said I love the number 7 as my lucky number, but I always kinda loved 13 as much or more and claim it as my luckiest number. That does not mean, given all the baggage – historical, cultural, social, etc. – that goes with that number that I don’t have some dread about 13th floors, Friday the 13th and so on. (Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th part 2, the first of the series I watched, nearly terrified me off horror movies for good.)
Where I am sitting at this moment it’s still Friday, October 13 , and that fact made me forget how I was feeling and drag myself to a church this afternoon. The reasons why I love 13 have to do with my faith orientation. (Something I post about occasionally on this blog, not to proselytize or snare anybody’s soul, but because it is part of the make-up of me, as is my Caribbean/Saint Lucian identity, immigrant status, Daniel/family genes, etc.)
I walked in with a friend and a bas-relief of Jesus and his 12 apostles (13 people) greeted us at the entrance. A bit further into the church and there was a statue of Saint Anthony, whose feast day is June 13 and whom I have a particular devotion to. (Yep: I devoured Greek mythology, over-consumed African folk tales and Caribbean oral literature growing up and I now like a lot of the Catholic mythology.) Anyway, the draw of church today was this October 13 being the 100th anniversary of the last Fatima apparition and the Miracle of the Sun – an event that the recorded newspaper accounts and other histories can sway a stubborn mind to the side of believing these eyewitness reports have more to them then mere group histrionics or mass hysteria.
I know, this is not your typical Friday night post, but my mood is light and happy, as if I was enjoying a night out on the town. It has something to do with going to confession. I thought I had a burden of bad things to put down, in this essentially free and confidential spiritual therapy-like sessions. I am always bowled over by the gentleness, kindness, compassion and genuine caring, non-judgmental nature of the priests I encounter in the confessional. So my latest confessor, hearing all the bad things I have done, cut me short with a finger wagging and a sharp, “Listen to me, you’re being too hard on yourself.” And for my penance asked me to go read Psalm 103 (you’ll find a 13 in there somewhere if you look hard enough). I just found it so beautiful, so consoling reading this that I had to share. In case someone else will find it soothing.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
Update, Saturday the 14th: Note that ‘fear’ here does not mean bone trembling terror but awe, respect, reverence, and such like.
I’m told there is no such thing as writer’s block — it’s just a bad habit of non-writing. So, what’s it gonna be? I am more inclined towards option 2 (was that said by a British prime minister?), but I am loving something greater than my habits now, a new hobby, which is also offered as a surefire cure.
I didn’t know of Padraic (Patrick) Pearse as a poet until a couple of days ago. I am guessing that name is not popular in the UK at a time like this – given recent events – and his poetry may not be presented for public celebration. Regardless, I read and was touched by his poem, The Fool. Perhaps it speaks to an interior conversation I have, about when to accept the fall as something that goes with the territory, brush the dust off and keep going in the same determined direction, or decide it’s time to pack it in, give it up, drop it down, let it go…and so on. Gwaaad, I have been foolish, as in this chunk of Pearse’s poem:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Whatever happened to the Desiderata – ever so popular in a time back then. I saw the title line of this post in another context and it reminded me of the days when there were Desiderata posters prominently displayed for sale in just about every bookstore you went into and, it seemed, on the walls of every friend’s home or apartment you visited.
Pinching is sound poetry-writing practice, Derek Walcott says, in his What the Twilight Says..or what I say he says regarding a poet’s knowledge of the history of the poetic tradition.
It proves that the truest writers are those who see language not as linguistic process but as a living element; it more closely demonstrates the laziness of poets who confuse language with linguistics and with archaeology. It also annihilates provincial concepts of imitation and originality. Fear of imitation obsesses minor poets. But in any age a common genius almost indistinguishably will show itself, and the perpetuity of this genius is the only valid tradition, not the tradition which categorizes poetry by epochs and by schools. We know that the great poets have no wish to be different, no time to be original, that their originality emerges only when they have absorbed all the poetry which they have read, entire, that their first work appears to be the accumulation of other people’s trash, but that they become bonfires, that it is only academics and frightened poets who talk of Beckett’s debt to Joyce.
(From “The Muse of History,” collected in What the Twilight Says)