Surely you know that time of night
when fireflies, tired of their own pulse,
float right into the mouth of a net,
when cicadas begin to sense they are
nothing more than husks for the chorus
that fills them. Surely you have seen
a child slough his trunks and run naked
through a sprinkler, crying out with joy
as you call him to bed. Aren’t you always
calling the name of what you love most
back to you, over and over, pleading, Please don’t
make me ask again, and asking again
until he comes?
By James Crews
So the skin is the greatest organ of learning (Montagu, 211), even in a spiritual sense. Our language still betrays these connections. We are ‘grasped’– we ‘grasp’. We cannot grasp what does not grasp us. Or we ‘grasp’ only in a grasping, violent sense. Those who keep alive their bodies, their feelings, their skin as levels of communication will find it difficult to fall victim to an abstract ‘grasping’, but will constantly retain bodily thought.
In touching we experience the world and one another. In today’s ecological ethics the skin and the sense of touch associated with it become unusually important. ‘As I touch, so I am touched’ (Meyer-Abich, 252). Experience of self and experience of nature coincide. The Western self bids farewell to manipulation and exposes itself to new experiences.
The most intense form of touch takes place in love. Unadorned skin also allows love to be experienced again. A French feminist has said: ‘We have so often used cosmetics to please him that we have forgotten our skin. Outside our skins we remain far from ourselves. You and I far from one another.’
From the first day to the last day, touching (*the healthy kind) is experienced as assurance, confirmation of the self and healing.
-Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, I Am My Body: a theology of embodiment
I sewed red thread into an old tissue last night. A tissue that was used by someone in our community almost a year ago. The day we wept tears that could be weighed in pounds. The day the floors of the Carlson’s home were littered with these white, crinkled, soft papers. When I picked them up they were still wet with the memory of what was–the death of 2 babes in our small, young community. Last night they were dry with memory of what was and continues to shape our identity.
Yet a new day has arrived and we’re caught. Between death and coming life, coming life and death. How dare God bring a couple and a community into this tension! It is a crosspiece that causes our heads to strain with injury to look up to the heavens with confidence and rejoicing, but how can we turn our heads away from the precious life that may be born tonight?
We are caught and this is a story we carry. This is the story I sew red thread into a small, seemingly insignificant tissue: declaring the life that surges through us even still. I too carry new life, several women in our community are carrying new life, which severely contradicts last year’s barrenness.
We are caught because in our Christian tradition we are asked to remember. And, not to remember in passing or glibly, but to feel, taste, smell, see and hear the past, which only makes our present moment more poignant and eternal and sacred.
Bring this new child into open skies, kicking and screaming with a demand for life. This is my prayer. May this new boy demand life and find it, may his parents be seeped in joy as they remember their first boy and make room for their second.
We catch and are caught today, something only brave souls see and experience.
A new video by Vincent Haycock using Florence and her song, Lover to Lover. He wanted to explore her acting capabilities, my I would too. The ending is the best.
First Birth, by Sharon Olds
I had thought so little, really, of her,
inside me, all that time, not breathing–
intelligent, maybe curious,
her eyes closed. when the vagina opened,
slowly, from within, from the top, my eyes
rounded in shock and awe, it was like being
entered for the first time, but entered
from the inside, the child coming in
from the other world. Enormous, stately,
she was pressed through the channel, she turned, and rose,
they held her up by a very small ankle,
she dangled indigo and scarlet, and spread
her arms out in this world. Each thing
I did, then, I did for the first
time, touched the flesh of our flesh,
brought the tiny mouth to my breast,
she drew the avalanche of milk
down off the mountain, I felt as if
I was nothing, no one, I was everything to her, I was hers.
A genesis between words on water,
he and I
Speaking, experiencing, drawing out
a baptismal life
We spoke of metaphor,
but knew not of you
Rising to meet us
kicking and bantering and sputtering
about a future birth
The three of us,
as mother, father and
For a shadowy fall day, Bon Iver’s Holocene (Acapella).
(If anyone knows where to find this download, let a sister know)