Kathleen Hirsch | Blog and spiritual writings of Kathleen Hirsch
Blog and spiritual writings of Kathleen Hirsch including an archive of her columns for BostonGlobe.com and Cruxnow.com
Spiritual writing, Kathleen Hirsch, crux, cruxnow
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Hidden Away for a Season

This weekend, my street is hosting a yard sale.  Nearly every household up and down the lane is contributing old rockers, and mismatched sets of glasses, mini-fridges and used rugs.  Once this extravaganza of purging is over, most of us will retreat for a season — to lake or simply to our backyards — to weed rows of peas, watch for the red-tailed hawk, read a novel.  We will ease up, even if our lives don’t conform to academic schedules.

I tell friends that once I have submitted my grades and ordered my books for the fall, I look around for the nearest invisibility cloak.  An acquaintance used to refer to her “bubble” — the necessary month of detachment from school friends and gossip and subtle, omnipresent competition, in which she could remember the sound of the ocean, and think long thoughts by herself without smiling into the school years’ endless pick-up lines.

Summer has always promised a hiddenness that I value beyond measure.  In a beautiful new book by the poet, David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, the author offers delicious and wise reflections on words we use often without appreciating their laden-ness — the richness of nuance and suggestion that are there for the picking.

In his entry on “Hiddenness,” he writes this:

“We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early, and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with ideas that oppress ours sense of self and ours sense of others.  What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us doesn’t not care to be known by the ind in ways that diminish its presence.”

To this, I saw, Amen, and thanks.

Beneath the cloak of summer, I plan to let what is real unfold at its own pace.  I invite you to do the same.

Letter from Venice

Going on a journey is a lot like stepping into an orchard at harvest time. Our sacks are empty. Even if we have had breakfast on the way, we arrive hungry for the feel of something we haven’t known in a long time.

Several weeks ago, I travelled to Venice for the first time in 25 years. I was full of hope that the city would be as magical as it had been when last I’d seen it. I took my adult son, which only raised the ante. Would he love the museum-quality of its postcard views and narrow calles? How many churches would he endure? Would we have enough space to see anything in the Piazza San Marco amid the cruise ship crowd?

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Found Poem

At a recent retreat, I led a group in constructing poems from found phrases and the words of other poets.  The process resembles the ancient method of lectio divina, and always rewards the effort.  Try it.  

 

On Longing

 

God needs our longing

(It doesn’t have to be perfect)

and long work

(It can be brunt brownies).

 

Turning our lives into celebration

is not easy.

Keep a modest face,

hope for deeper acquaintance

with the rose –

from thorns emerge the whitest stars.

 

A few words

uprightly burning

is all that is needed.

 

The day you see this,

That day you will become it.

 

(Thanks to Mary Oliver, Sun Bu-er, Nelly Sachs, and Gabriela Mistral)

Finding the Poetry in the Prose

“Each of us is a citadel of metaphors.”

I believe it was the Jungian psychologist, James Hillman, who wrote this, and it’s as good a definition of a human life as I know.

We are in many aggregates of words.  Conversations, dreams, asides, and rants.  Temper tantrums.  Self display.

For many of us, the archive of our long trails of utterance is our journals.   At some point, what began as a vest-pocket monograph ends up a footlocker worth of pages.  Like a sand mandala, we don’t know what we are crafting, until one day we pause with an afternoon at our disposal, and open to the first page of the first one again.

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