Monday, December 31, 2012

A MORNING OFFERING - Remembering John & Lisa

John O' Donohue - Jan. 1956 - Jan. 2008

A Morning Offering

I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

~ John O'Donohue ~
                                                          "To Bless the Space Between Us"

John - Connemara

A Blessing for Absence

May you know that absence is full of tender presence
and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life be full of eternal echo
May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere which holds
the presences that have left your life.
May you be generous in your embrace of loss.
May the sore of your grief turn into a well of seamless presence.
May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear
from and may you have the courage to speak out for the
excluded ones.
May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words or false belonging.
May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight
are one and may your longing inhabit its deepest dreams
within the shelter of the Great Belonging. (Eternal Echoes 275)

                                                     John O'Donohue

For Lisa

Child, Daughter 

Your death murdered me
I became a stone of grief
flat, gray, cast into a deep well
a weeping stone like the one the druids
placed on the altar at Skye
my life the sound of a well gone dry.

How could it be that an old French woman
from a duck farm in Lucage,
could reach into that well
after so many years, find that stone
and warm it in her hands?

Child, daughter

maybe I can bury you here now
in this new country of grief unleashed,
take your body from that snowy, treeless
patch in Minnesota and place it in a field
of eternal sunflowers that match your golden hair. 

You've always had the power to heal yourself --"...close your eyes and tap your heels together three times.  And think to yourself, there's no place like home."

Glinda, Good Witch of the North

I awoke from a dream on December 8th, the anniversary of Lisa's death, and I remembered that she always had to have her special deck of cards in her hands from the age of 6 months; she kept them with her always-- in the hospital, in the operating room. through radiation; she had them with her when she died in my bed.  She was buried with them.  An old soul--dear Lisa, you've gone home.  Here are your ruby slippers, my little Angel and a card to keep you company:

Tarot de Paris - J. Philip Thomas, All is Sounded

Heart weeps
Head tries to help heart
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love.
They will all go. But even the earth
will go someday.

Heart feels better, then
But the words of  head do not remain long
in the ears of heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says Heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help head.  Help heart.

Lydia Davis

Angel - Montparnasse

"nothing is ever lost or forgotten."


Thursday, December 6, 2012

OH, LA VACHE! French COWS demand the right to wed

Marguerite La Normande, President of "Oh La Vache"


On the other side of the mirror there's an inverse world,
where the insane go sane; where bones climb out of the 
earth and recede to the first slime of love.
And in the evening the sun is just rising.
Lovers cry because they are a day younger, and soon
childhood robs them of their pleasure.
In such a world there is much sadness which, of course,
is joy.    
                      --Russell Edson

Living in France is sort of like watching a French (or Italian) film:  rien ne se passe et tout se passe --
nothing happens & everything happens. 


I braved the blustery clouds & cycled to O'Sullivans in Feuillade yesterday for my ritual noisette. Haven't been back there since the sunflowers croaked.  They're all plowed under now and the fields have a "strafed" look.  I know that can't be the right word since the definition is:  attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft: military aircraft strafed the village.

The origin of strafe is worth noting:  early 20th century, humorous adaptation of the German First World War catchphrase Gott strafe England 'may God punish England'.  Those Germans, always with the humor! 

I think la willowy jolie jeune fille, Nathalie, who works at the Cafe (and is generally completely disinterested in me or my noisette needs), must have missed me.  She put an extra milk dollop flourish into my cup and the coffee was hot instead of lukewarm!  I take it business has been slow. Special tip for coffee addicts:  if you order the noisette instead of the cafe creme, it's about half the price, though admittedly half the size.

And speaking of Germans, one from Strasbourg came in while I was ever so slowly sipping my noisette; he asked about the route to Poitiers, which is about 3 hours drive north of O'Sullivans.  No problem, except that Monsieur was pedaling his velo/bike and it was 3:30 in the afternoon; pas de camping equipment nor any clue as to how to get to the bike path which would be his steady companion for the next 25 hours.  His french was reasonably good, but Nathalie just kept rolling her eyes and saying Ohhh La La, and making that little snort that the french do so well.  He was undaunted & took off into a stiff headwind. It started raining.

*The Desert of the Tartars from Museo Dei Tarocchi -- Morena Poltronieri 

For some reason, the pelting rain, the chill wind, the man from Strasbourg, and the last wisp of my cafe, made me long to be in the Roxie Theater in the Mission in San Francisco watching Valerio Furlini's Italian classic, "The Desert of the Tartars", filmed in the mid 70's.  This gem is packed with European actors.  I remember a few of them because who could forget Max Van Sydow or Vittorio Gassman as the Colonel or Jacques Perrin??!!

It was partially filmed in Iran's Kerman Province where the Bam Fortress, the world's largest adobe structure used to be before it was destroyed by the 2003 earthquake.  I can almost feel the warmth of the Persian sun on my back, the soft, pink bricks of sun dried earth and straw. 

Bam Citadel 500 B.C. - Before


"The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time."

“O lost,
And by the wind grieved,
Come back again.”        Thomas Wolfe - Look Homeward Angel

It's a war movie with no action scenes  Perrin, as a young naive Lieutenant wanting to make his mark, has been assigned to the Fortress at the edge of an archetypal "Empire".  Gradually he meets the other soldiers who have retreated into faux ceremonies and drills, empty routines, as they all wait for an enemy they fear, but have never seen.  Gassman's Colonel is a monolith--untouchable, melancholic. The fear is so pervasive, yet undefined, that any deviation from military procedure is grounds for death.   There is waiting and more waiting which reminds me of "Waiting:  A Novel", by the Chinese writer, Ha Jin, but that's for another blog.

The waiting is punctuated by a few strange occurrences.  A white Tartar horse is spotted. An officer with a strong set of binoculars sees strange lights in the distance.  Months pass into years, the characters grow old, the endless repetition of the days grinds away at them until finally the fortress is abandoned.  "a meditation on suppressed emotion, the futility of war, the physiological effects of continuous fear and tension…" Joachim Boaz.

And if you have ever had to wait in the Prefecture's office in Angouleme for renewal of your Carte de Sejour, you'll know exactly what "The Desert of the Tartars" is trying to illustrate (minus the White Horse).

ok, ok, what about the cows getting married?   Well, while Francois Hollande has been waffling on the same sex marriage issue, the 3.5 million French dairy cows have been busy lobbying their official organization representing both France's dairy and beef herds, demanding that the draft legislation dubbed "mariage pour tous" or "Marriage for everyone" be taken literally & extended to allow cows to tie the knot. I read in a "Survive France Network" piece by Johnny Summerton, that they are hoping Holland will soon put an end to his "aimless mastication".


*"The Desert of the Tartars"  XX - Il Guidizio (The JUDGEMENT), I photographed at the Museo dei Tarocchi in Riolo (Bologna, Italy).  An earthly paradise.  You can visit there too!

I will be reading the cards at the Marche Noel in La Charrue near Brantome on Friday night and all day Sunday at Abjat-sur-Bandiat outside of Piegut.  La Charrue's event supports the "Twilight" doggie retirement home & Abjat's fete will provide funds for the Bansang Hospital. Tis the season to be jolly (and generous)...