Monday, April 29, 2019

March 17, Minnesota

The frozen pond like two lungs—the sun hitting the houses

This is a blessed place

Clouds like biscuits on a cobbler float beneath the plane

I would scoop up this snowy landscape
Into my bowl and eat it, dripping sugar, until I burst

It’s good to be going home to a bed you like.

I’m so  in Love

Monday, April 15, 2019

why lovers hold us

we fall in love so that we are not alone
in life's big moments:
our mother's passing,
our nephew's birth,
our best friend's wedding,
as Notre Dame burns.

Friday, April 12, 2019

loving these least

Do you ever feel, mid-conversation
with the elderly eyes you are staring in,
tearing up from the wind,
a deep love well up from you,
the primal urge to protect the fragile soul that meets you,
the call of ownership,
to hold this person who you speak with as gently as a crocus.

All the crocus blooms I've crushed
remind me to carry this heart gently,
make space for them to breathe and grow,
for the sake not of the ones I've dropped,
but simply for the sake of the soul
whose goodness overflows into now.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

blue sky scapulars

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless

It's funny what you think Catholicism is growing up. When you are small, it's hard to distinguish between what is mandatory and what is optional. Everything is at once: attendance at Mass is inseparable from wearing your brown scapular under dress-up clothes.

Your mental landscaped is formed by twisted columns of liturgical sentences.

The other day, I was walking down West 49th, and my brain just spewed out the phrase:

Tomad y comed 
todos de él 
porque esto es mi cuerpo

a strange mental burp of language.

And it's funny.

When you burp long after a large meal, and get a taste of the food you had previously eaten (this is gross, yes), you tase what you have eaten, you taste a bit of what is composing who and what you are.

This is what I'm made of: I'm made of Eucharistic anaphoras in Spanish. This is the food my brain is eating, what's fueling the synapses.

The easiest way to take the temperature of your mental health (this is a home remedy, but actual medicine is important, too) is to take stock of what your brain is saying, the mental grooves your words are carving, between actual thoughts.

Are you thinking:
I am failing, I'm a failure, I'm behind?
f^%K, s%$*^, f^$#?
or are you thinking:
the treasury of compassion inexhaustible
the other prayer, that's not an epiclesis or anaphora is the closing prayer of the Divine Mercy chaplet. I have grown lukewarm in my devotion to the Divine Mercy. In my childhood, I was mightily devoted, but this is because the Hmong community at our parish was devoted, and they made a huge feast every Divine Mercy Sunday and I love home made egg rolls and spring rolls. The Polish mystic's image of Christ is forever wedded with the taste of crispy fried wonton dough.

Religion is this weaving together of memories: deities and eggrolls, childhood and pre-history. Beyond memory, before time, rolled up into the present. That's ritual.

look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that, in difficult moments we might not despair, nor become despondent, but, with great confidence, submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself. Amen.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

give thanks for what is good

Give thanks for what is good, even when you have been proved a fool.

Oh, wow.

Of course.

You have suffered loss—it’s that simple. To fail is utterly crushing.
You’re an idiot, Renée—only idiots risk loving people.

Was it worth it?

Is the letter about Mary good?

Why yes.

Is the postcard with the quiet words: I miss you very much, good?

Of course.

Are the memories—too many of them bitter and regrettable worth it?

It’s hard to say they are, when my heart stings from cruel words said and my eyes begin to burn with tears from having passion met with such a callous, cold indifference and my cheeks flush with hot anger and my brain begins to tell me the old story of my self-righteous hurt at the audacity of hands and tongues to making promises and laying claim to my body without intent to keep the promises or pieces—

You were a fool, of course, to believe them.

But thank God for that.

Guilt grabs my throat and I cry, not the bitter, swollen tears of loss, or the angry, hot tears of the raging scorned, but I cry because I did not hold another human gently, and I did not realize, as I read through the law students complaining about their massive amounts of work, describing symptoms, reactions, fights, and pains I recognize, which I was on the other side of. I cry, I suppose because of remorse, because of failure. To have failed to be good to someone; to have failed at understanding.

I know it is springtime, because my winter time duvet has begun again to sweat at night.

I know it is springtime, because there is a dogwood tree blooming on Broadway and there is free ice cream.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Major disclaimer: God is not Rod Dreher

But here’s the thing:

When I think of the divine, I do not imagine
That she exhausts herself in meeting
all our incessant efforts,
short-sighted prayers, with

I don't imagine wisdom whispers:
But actually
Here’s where you’re wrong

Whatever God is, he’s not a sneer.
Everyone’s a critic; God only creates

And doesn’t bemoan categories—
Straight white men



God is something else,
my grandma‘d say

God is the one who says:
This is mine
And this

All of it:
Your lover and your cat

God is the one who claims it all
—even death—without fear, making all of it an image of himself,
drawing all things to all,
til God in-all-ed is all.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

let's go back

I take one bite of what the café calls a cornetti, and it does not lie. I bite into the sweet butter of something freshly baked that tastes exactly like a café counter in Italian morning rush hour. No city wakes up like Rome, blinking and bleary-eyed, even the streets take an hour to open their eyes. I take another bite; there's no mistake: I am munching on March in Rome.

As I cross the street, the statue of whatever that L'Engle-ian, eschatological beast is on St. John the Divine's campus refracts the light of the spring morning into a distinctly Mediterranean key. If you squint, you can spy cypress and stone pine trees. I look up between bites, dipped in apricot jam, and the statue is a reminder the the world is woven of angels.

Film, my friend was saying, in this café yesterday, is a medium of memory.

Or wait—was I saying that, later, in the metallic, tinny air of the midtown diner, over milkshakes and fries? The essence of a weekend is good conversations, compounded, weaving together into a mesh of thoughts. The events are re-lived through their lens.

Living has this texture: the memories of sunlight, of angels in the courtyard, of trees in March, of the smell of blooming trees blending with baked goods in the fresh sunlight. It's the layering of Amsterdam Avenue and Via Magnia Grecia, apricot jam, flaky bread, St. John the Divine weaving in and out of the narrative, threading all the disparate beads together.

Film captures the valence of memory in living. Human stories are never just pictures—images always contain in them the memories of seeing them before, of finding in them something familiar we have seen in another place.

Theatre captures the immediacy of living, it's risk and danger. Theatre captures the knife-edge of being a person who is always in the grasp of decision. As we watch a play, we know, that even though the story is pre-scripted, although the actors follow a plotted-out trajectory, they could, at any moment fail. We sit in the theatre and watch them succeed, and their bravery reminds us that we may succeed, too.

There's nowhere like Rome in the spring. Except the Hungarian Pastry Shop and St. John the Divine, a black, unfinished diamond sparkling in the Mediterranean Manhattan sun.