‘They say beauty comes from a spirit that has weathered many
hardships in life and somehow continues with resilience.
Grace can be found in a soul who ages softly, even amid the tempest.
I think the loveliest by far is the one whose gentle heart bears
a hundred scars from caring, yet still finds a way
to pick up the lamp, one more time, to light the way for love.’
I was trying to write a poem today for our Zoom workshop tomorrow but it just wasn’t happening, so I am going to use this one by Susan Frybort instead. It is amazing what can be achieved online, with the right people. We are such a lovely group and I feel such love for those women. I want to reach out and hug each one of them.
I keep forgetting. I might be in denial about the gravity of the situation, or it’s just so hard to accept, but the acceptance grows daily. This time is different. As the radio keeps saying, it’s unprecedented. We don’t have the psychological muscle memory to know how to assimilate this and how to act, think, feel. At first I felt we had entered a parallel universe, and everything crumbled. The death of the ego, a cognitive re-framing. I was strong at first, strangely so. Maybe it was adrenaline. Then weeping, and headaches. A Dark Night of the Soul. Trying to find solace in poetry and nature, and the original meaning of Dark Night of the Soul, I found this poem by Spanish mystic St John of the Cross. It is an ecstatic poem.
‘On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.
In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.
Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.’
I realised I needed to be kind and to be of service in some way, so today I put on a dress again, and in this strange ever more self-reflective world I took a selfie in the dress and posted it on ‘Frock Up Friday,’ a Facebook page which was created by two of my Hastings friends to cheer ourselves up and cheer each other on. Sometimes when you pretend to be happy, you end up happy. It helps that the weather is kind. I took two vulnerable friends some organic veg and left it on their doorstep. No contact. Just texting. Then, stupidly ‘forgot’ again and texted my daughter to see if she wanted to go for a walk, but she declined, her boyfriend not at all keen on the idea. Re-learning. Queueing (how do you even spell that?) at the co-op two metres apart. Everyone co-operating, friendly, united.
Finding more beauty in the every day. Took a photo of the chair in my kitchen, Stopping to really look at things. Living in the moment. Immersing myself in poetry.
‘“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.’
Chair. Finding beauty in ordinary things.