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Posts Tagged ‘order & chaos’

poka dot, painting by Em made in Paint, © 2008 by Em. All rights reserved.




There is no such thing as coincidence.

My blog partner, QuoinMonkey, took off last Wednesday to Pennsylvania, one of the places she calls home. The trip was, in large part, to conduct on-going research for her memoir.

It turns out, though, that her brother J. had just gone into Intensive Care with an as-yet undiagnosed illness. He has been on a respirator in ICU since her arrival and is expected to stay there until the middle of next week.

Yesterday we ran a post by guest Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager, with monotype prints by her husband Paul. QM got much strength from that story.

One of the things that struck me from Laura’s story, both in the words and the imagery, was the idea that out of chaos comes goodness. Starting with Hope. In fact, Paul’s first piece was titled Swimming with Chaos, and his second piece Hope.

And so the image for this post, QM, is one that my youngest daughter had created. When I saw it, as I was searching for an image to use in this post, it reminded me of Laura and Paul’s story. It also made me think of you and your family, swimming in chaos right now, but holding on to one another, with hope and love.

QM, this poem is for you and your family: diddy, MOM, R3, all the others who come in and out of red Ravine. And especially for J.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.



Where Does the Temple Begin,
Where Does It End?

There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
    from the unreachable top of the tree.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
    as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some
    shining coil of wind,
    or a few leaves from any old tree–
        they are all in this too.

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
comes.

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold
fluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

     -by Mary Oliver, in Why I Wake Early



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The world is a messy place. My home? It is messy in spots, little corners, under the living room table, around the computer desk. It finds order when we clean. And returns to chaos again. I usually recognize an order to the chaos. I manage to find what I need. I’m staring out the window at a March snowstorm. It’s so warm that drips of icewater are clinging to the dusted oaks. The north sides of the trees are scaled with flakes. The south sides are completely dry. That seems orderly to me.

I was at Sears yesterday to repair a flat tire. I always buy the RoadHandler agreement and it pays for itself 10X over the life of a 60,000 mile set of tires. The gray rugs were covered with grease spots. The windows between me and the repair bays were spotty and smudged. But the TV area (I turned it off and did a Writing Practice) was neat as a pin. Cardboard box of Brew-Rite stirring sticks, packets of Sweet’N Low – Not For Resale, N’Joy Pure Cane Sugar in an orangish-red container, navy creamer to match, coffee pot with dialed clock, Craftsman tool brochures all in their places.

There was the familiar smell of Gojo, grease, and tire rubber, the clanking of iron on steel, and a sign that read, % of Jobs Meeting Our Commitment Time To Our Customer, with a dry erase board underneath. Empty. Devoid of a number. I wonder if tires are still made from rubber? So many things are plastic. The earth will never reclaim them.

I see art made from discarded tires. Tabletops, lampshades. A few hunks of snow drop on the deck, leaving BB hole footprints. The ice skating pond was a puddle a few days ago. It’s covered with new snow. But I wanted to say, that when I did the Writing Practice at Sears in my notebook by hand, everything dropped away. And it brought order to my mind. I spent most of the day dealing with the car. It can feel like a waste of time. But I made the most of it. And for an hour or so afterwards, visited with my friend. A few days ago, two female wild turkeys started showing up outside of her home. Out of the middle of nowhere.

Turkey in the Medicine Cards is about the give-a-way. Generosity. Not so much about giving time, energy, information, art, writing, away, like so many of us do. But about giving for the good of the whole. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a stand. But no need to push things over the edge. To become combative and aggressive. Because that’s how the world becomes a messy place. A flat tire? That’s life. That happens. There is no particular meaning to it. Bashing other people – that is a choice. We get to choose where we want to put our energy.

I get sad all over again when I see all the racist comments ping-ponging around. It’s on all sides. No one is immune. As soon as people are reduced to “us and them,” there is no going back. To be honest, I am sick of it. No one should be bashed because they are white. No one should be bashed because they are black. No one should be bashed because they worship at a different church. No one should be bashed. Chaos ensues. That makes the world messy.

I’m oversimplifying because I don’t want to get into details. Did I earn the right to say what I feel, to generalize in emotion? Probably not. But I can’t help but think, that every single snowflake is uniquely patterned, and falls with the same amount of grace. I walked out on the deck and took a few snapshots, pointed the lens straight up into the sturdy oaks. I thought of the Practice of haiku. The Practice of writing. And wondered if the world might be a better place if people made a spiritual practice of their politics. Instead of forcing them on everyone else.

I had no intention of writing about this. But for the last few days, it’s what has surfaced in my Practices. Should I post it for my Practice on messiness? I don’t know. Relationships are messy. Political relationships are messier. Emotions color the truth. They can also make it clearer, if people would only focus on the heart underneath. Turkey medicine. Unity. The good of the whole. It doesn’t mention winning by any means necessary.

What I see in front of me is kind of messy. But it’s an order I understand. A Taos drum I bought at the pueblo in the early 80’s. Rows of budding leaves atop the umbrella plant on the stereo case, lime orderly patterns drooping over the birch. Each leaf has its place in the order of things. Green prosperity candle. A bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Miniatures next to a bag of York Peppermint Patties.

Steve Almond’s Candy Freak, Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, New and Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples, a red and white Canon video recorder box. A 10” by 10” sign next to the CD player scribbled in my all-caps block print, each letter a different color. It says, I Love Lizzie, heart as exclamation point. I smile everyday when I see it. It’s leftover from her birthday.

Maybe I should make another sign that says, I Love Every Person On The Planet, No Matter Who They Are, and hang it from the snow crested oaks for everyone to see. I imagine people passing by will either smile and give me the thumbs up. Or shake their heads, turn to their friends and say, “What a fool.”



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – MESS

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