It was the way you glanced in her direction every so often
To see if she was looking at you
Then acting surprised when your eyes met
And you’d give her that sly half smile
Or sometimes it was the way you didn’t look at her
As if she didn’t exist
Except as a ghost wandering through your thoughts
That you were trying to ignore but failing to do so
But mostly, it was because you never got angry with her
Even if she kept you waiting or asked you to do something menial
Your half lidded gaze and movie star smile, tuned directly to her
Revealed the truth in your words, “As you wish.”
The inspiration for this poem comes from Sadje’s What Do You See #177. This picture actually has one of my favorite Bible verses in it (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
“What is love?” is a question that has been asked by philosophers, poets, scientists and theologians. I know this poem doesn’t even come close to answering this question. There are so many different types of love as well.
The best answer to this question, I think, comes from the movie, “The Princess Bride.” Wesley’s response to all of Buttercup’s requests was, “As you wish.” This obedience to her, said with a look of utmost adoration and worship, was the basis of my understanding of love, especially romantic love, for many years.
Is this an unrealistic definition of what love looks like? Maybe…probably… but one can hope!
Outlined in the stillness of a winter afternoon window
The grey sunlight, a filter of contemplative conversation
The quiet, a prayer shawl wrapped around your broad shoulders
I am drawn to this same space
Of whispered wants and hopeful haunts
I wonder what wish leaves your lips
And almost miss the sigh of your Amen.
Your blacked out form leaves
And I am left listening to the shadow of your footsteps in the hall
Reminding me that in this sacred space
God sees what I cannot.
One of the “perks” of working in a church is that I can pop in whenever the mood hits. Our church is usually kept dark with only the light from the candles and windows illuminating the sacred space. Sometimes, when I go in for a visit, I notice that someone is already there. Most times, I would leave to allow them some privacy. Other times, I stay and share the space with them. This past week, I even saw our new pastor praying in the quiet of our church as I passed through.
Sadje’s What do you see #169 meshed beautifully with this poem. The picture reminded me if the “all-seeing eye” or “eye of providence,” in reference to how God sees all. There are several scripture verses that talk about God seeing in ways that humans cannot (1 Samuel 16:7) and God watching over everyone (Proverbs 15:3, Psalm 33:18, 2 Chronicles 16:9). Inevitably, this also reminds me of the Police song, “Every Breath You Take.”
Whether you believe in God, Allah, YHWH, Buddha, Gaia or whoever you call your higher power, being “seen” (and not in the stalker sense) seems to be an innate need that we all have. Isn’t that why we blog and post and tweet and snap and TikTok? What matters more though – who sees us or what they see?
I used to be a lot bolder than I am now. My hand would be first one raised high if there was a need for volunteers. I was the friend who would go up to the person you liked and bring them over to talk to you. If I was interested in you, I would be the first to make eye contact. I was confident and had no issues making that known.
While I don’t think I am any less confident now, I don’t have the same need to be bold – I don’t have the same need to prove myself. My hubby knows I love him even if I’m not looking at him. All my friends are in relationships and don’t need me to make connections for them. I still volunteer a lot, but now, I wait and see if someone else will step up first.
Being bold also seems harder as a parent: having to think of consequences and how that would affect, not only me, but my family. Plus, there is less time to be spontaneous which (to me) is an aspect of boldness.
One place that I can still be bold, is in my writing. If you’re reading this, I’m making eye contact with you! 👀
Yes, it’s true – I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I am a big fan of chocolates but this day just seems so superficial to me. I am especially not a big fan of kids bringing in valentines to school. At least at my children’s school, they make all the kids bring in a valentine for each kid in the class. Gone are the days of worrying that you wouldn’t get a valentines in your shoebox mailbox. Maybe that is where my aversion to this holiday comes from.
There is just something so artificial about this day. Why are kids – who have no notion of romantic love – even celebrating this day? Why are we forcing them to proclaim love (or even friendship) to kids who may be mean to them? Plus, all that pink and red and white paper and glitter that will just pollute the earth. And the candy and sweets! We still have Halloween candy and now more comes in.
One blessing of this pandemic, for me, was the chance to stop and be more thoughtful about what I was doing and why. I’m now looking at what my family is doing and asking that same question. What are we doing and why are we doing it?
Ubers honk as they make their way through crowded city streets. Buses slowly rumble past. Delivery bikes ring bells of warning. But in this corner of the street, only the divine laughter of a fortuitous meeting can be heard.
It started off as the dance of strangers trying to occupy the same space. It could have become a “West Side Story” type tango, but a smirk of good humor turned the would-be spectacle into a delicious salsa of dialogue. Understanding swayed in the gentle arms of laughter. Commonality cha-cha-chatted with disparity, a note-worthy syncopation that made the conversation a harmony amidst the city’s melody.
The new friends did not wear Pollyanna’s rose-colored spectacles of previous generations. They knew this relationship must be protected, like amber sealing off a cut in a tree. What insects caught in the resin, could be analyzed later, but for now, the enjoyment of this opportune meeting – whether through kismet or serendipity – resounds in the city streets.
The past few weeks have definitely been roller-coaster of happenings, bringing with it the ups and downs of emotions. Physically – it’s been all up – I completed a January Step Challenge with my running group, She RUNS this Town (formerly known as Moms RUN this Town, but changed to the pronoun for inclusivity since not all members are moms). My team won 1st place which was totally awesome! We were consistently getting over 20K steps a day – well, not me, but my teammates did which is amazing! I’ve started the Taji100 (100 miles in February to support veterans) and am currently in 3rd place in my age group for my state.
Emotionally – it’s been mostly down – my good friend suddenly lost her mother to COVID, we’ve also had numerous COVID infections at our church which has made my work there difficult, we’ve had several good friends also come down with COVID and now my daughter is sick with strep throat (thank goodness it’s not COVID!). I am trying to be like that tree with the cut, letting amber flow out to seal it off and trap whatever insects (aka stress) caused the cut to analyze for later.
February is Black History Month in the USA so this photo of two Black men talking to a white man really captured my interest. As you might know. the issue of racism is still very prevalent here in the USA, as evidenced by the killing of Ahmaud Arbery (which I’ve written about here and here), George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people in 2020. Now, some Americans are in an uproar about Critical Race Theory (even erroneously thinking that Black History Month is part of CRT) which takes away from actually addressing the issues of racism and working towards equity and yes, friendship – or at least, respectful connection – between people of different ethnic backgrounds.
Diversity is a strength. Being empathetic is a strength. Being able to laugh in the midst of trying times is a strength. Can we find strength to be the harmony?
This adorable photo from Sadje’s What Do You See # 115 inspired this double nonet. I thought the form lent itself to the idea of a meeting between two different entities.
Writing this poem made me think a lot about other encounters I have had in the past years and how they’ve changed. Making small talk with a stranger used to be so easy, but now, this act seems “risky,” fraught with suspicion and caution. Do I strike up a conversation with the unmasked person in line with me? How do I do that if they can’t see my smile behind my mask? How do we signal to each other that we are open, “curious with gentleness” – that we want to get to know them and not to judge them? Tenderness and compassion seem to be in such short supply lately. When will we realize that we all share in a similar struggle?
Sometimes, I am dragon in the picture – strong, fierce, fighting for what she believes is right, triumphant in her accomplishment. But often times, I am more seen in the “traditional” view of the dragon – the bad one that needs to be defeated, the one causing chaos and trouble, the unreasonable one. I look at all the Disney movies where the “bad guys” are actually women – mothers – and wonder about the families of origin of those story writers.
What is it about a strong woman that seems scary? That make people want to contain them? Tame them? Dampen their greatness? Simone Biles – Serena Williams – Hillary Clinton – they have nice teeth and no spiked wings, I haven’t seen them sitting on any rooftops….so what is it about strong women that make people want to vilify them?
It was an insignificant birthday, the number unknown to the people attending. They weren’t supposed to even realize that the cake meant more than the sugar, eggs and flour it contained.
She had labored in the kitchen alone, with only her mixer and baking pans for conversation. The clanging and banging and whirring making the sounds of happiness if not the feeling. The last minute idea to make a lemon frosting twisted her mouth – tartness was as close to bitter as she would allow herself to get.
She searched for the stool she used to reach the cabinet above the refrigerator. She only used it once a year. The rest of the time, the stool was hidden so as not to remind her of this day. The year long amnesia allowed her to have a reason to procrastinate.
But soon the stool was found as the smell of freshly baked cake wafted through the kitchen. Her guests would arrive soon and she still needed to let the cake cool before smoothing on the lemon frosting. Hurriedly, she placed the stool by the fridge, stood on it and opened the cabinet, pulling out the jar from it’s abode. She stepped off the stool, care overcoming speed, and sat down.
The jar was smooth and cool despite the bright glow emanating from inside. She saw her reflection on it’s curved surface, then adjusted her eyes so she looked inside, seeing each individual light bouncing against the glass like fireflies conscripted for summertime entertainment.
She took a deep breath, grasped the cork top and pulled. A pop sent a shiver down her spine. She quickly covered the glass mouth with her hand. She couldn’t afford even one escaping. She brought the bottle to her lips, lifted her hand up a fraction and whispered her birthday wish into the jar. She slammed the cork top back on and again peered into the jar, marveling as the wish unfolded, brightened and began to bounce off the transparent walls.
“It’s better this way,” she said and quickly returned the jar to the overhead cabinet for another year long exile.
This beautiful photo from Sadje’s What Do You See #77 inspired this story – one of many that popped into my head as I was pondering this prompt. Being that my family is in the midst of birthday mania (5 out of 6 people in my family have birthdays within weeks of each other), I chose this story of a different kind of birthday.
Turning a year older has never been a big deal for me. It’s been mostly an excuse to have a party and be with people who I enjoy being with. In my family, we’ve toned down the material aspect of birthday parties and have instead focused on celebrating the person and honoring how that person wants to celebrate their special day.
This would be the 2nd year that my family has celebrated their birthday the “pandemic way” – no party, no special outing, nothing except a cake, a balloon, and dinner of their choice. We didn’t even plan a “birthday drive-by” which was all the rage last year (this was when friends would drive by the birthday person’s house with birthday signs and lots of honking). We were lucky enough to see my parents and in-laws during this time since they are all vaccinated, but the feeling of having a big celebration just isn’t there.
We still have a long way to go before this pandemic is over. When we can go about with no masks and hug people and eat face to face, that would be the time to celebrate. Until them – mask up, keep your distance and get vaccinated!