Monday, March 25, 2013

i found my via dolorosa in your love

Pity the gods, 
no longer divine. 
Pity the night 
the stars lose their shine.
-Dana Gioia

A city can harden your heart as quickly as cement on a July afternoon.
You learn to develop a bubble of indifference, to cope with the harshness of the world around you.
There are eight million people here. 
That's enough heartbreak and sorrow to leave your spirit maimed and crippled for good.
You have to keep walking to keep your heart intact.
You don't have time to pay attention to each miniature tragedy, or else you'll never be able to breathe each day.
You screw your callousness to the sticking point, and move on with your life.

Sometimes, you turn your heart to stone and go for a run down the embankment, and run right by the man, cold, and probably very hungry on the side of the road offering nothing but a smile, a wave, and a prayer.

"I have a daughter who's twenty-two," says the man with the miniature bottle of Jack Daniels. But his words smells like alcohol, and you're all alone on a cold street, so you ignore him while you keep writing, whispering pietas under your breath.
You can feel your stony heart weigh heavily in your chest. 

There's a strange aftertaste in your tea. It may be the acidic bite of the Earl Grey, but it may be the traces of your own bitterness.
In my fiery little brain, I heard the words of the priest shatter through the little shell of bitterness: Anger and jealousy are corrosive emotions.
Like acid, they erode your tender heart until all that remains is a rocky little pit.

I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

One of my favorite chores when I was younger, one that I always loved but always dreaded was weeding.
It's the most difficult chore to do well, because you can easily do it poorly.
You can just pull out the tops of the weeds, clearly the yard of any above-ground traces of dandelions and Creeping Charlies.
But if you don't give the task your full effort, your verdant plot of grass will have the roots of weeds still growing underneath the soil.
You have to dig a bit sometimes to find the very tip of the root.

A little time, and a little tears, and eventually the splinter makes its way to the surface.
You can never remove a splinter from the finger of a crying child if you are not gentle.
Firm, assured, and confident as stone; but as gentle and as soft as Cinderella with a trapped mouse.


If you sit at the large front window of the bus, the entire city is yours. 
You can't see where you've been, but only where you're going. 
But the vista is large enough to enchant and disarm you. 
You are at the mercy of the city's spell.


I watched a mother and her small daughter wait in line for the toilet.
The mother sang a nonsense nursery song with her daughter.
I always sang that one with my mother.
After Daisy, Daisy, the mother and daughter sang a magical little rendition of The Wheels on the Bus; and even "the sexist line" wove a little spell.
The magic of art is that it brings you to a specific moment.
It brings you back to a moment you were crying in the shower, or a moment you were snuggled in your Beatrix Potter sheets giggling with your mother, or the moment that Christ told his Mother goodbye, as he left to die in Jerusalem.
And the wonder of art is that we expect it to miraculous.
We walk up to it, expecting a miracle; we approach art expecting to be transported, expecting have our stony hearts transformed.
And the miracle of art is that it tells us how to approach the rest of our lives.

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