Friday, November 14, 2008

I am no Buddha, nor can I get me to a nunnery...

...though at times it is tempting to consider such an escape into the grace of a strict schedule spare of the demands of raising children and navigating marriage: cleaning, food preparation, ritual observance of prayer, the one goal of communing ever more deeply with God (who doesn’t backtalk, at least not 3D). Instead, I can overlay the home sphere with the awareness that reality has given my own temple: this 3-story cabin, the children in it, my husband, the feral cats, our acre of redwoods. There’s no holy removal from the elements—I mean both the four usual elements we speak of (earth, air, etc.) as well as the stormy emotionals. My friend Stephanie (mother of one, confidante-extraordinaire in our shared trackings of all things spiritual) calls it: the domestic monastery. I aspire to create such an overlay.

In the narrowed world of such a monastery, where one’s life revolves around carpool, subscriptions to literary magazines (procured through reading fees to enter written work in contests) provide lift. This week it was Calyx: Journal of Art and Literature by Women and in it I find this passage from a short but powerful prose mother/daughter vignette: After dinner I go outside to let the cicadas vibrate my skin. Sometimes I hum along with them, and if I hit the right note, it’s both good and scary. But I only do this when it’s still light out.—Claudia B. Manley, Of Love and Radishes, Vol. 24, #1, Summer 07 (which I was able to enjoy despite the rejection notice for my work that arrived tucked under the cover. Nothing to take personally—700 poems had been submitted to the poor judge).

So much beautiful work to read, so much to be inspired by, including our new icon of hope, President-elect Obama—consider the open letters to him from thinkers, artists, and writers circulating on the internet, such as the November 6th letter by Alice Walker, who advises Obama: remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. Imagine being the President and trying to balance your public life and your personal life...Makes me grateful for the tiny balance I’m trying to achieve between the quiet interior life of writing, and the slightly more public, boisterous life I am required, and love, to inhabit with my three little monks and fellow High Priest/husband.

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