Night Vision

October 6, 2011

There are times, when darkness is all there is. When I hold my weary hand up in front of my face, there is nothing there…no light, no hope, no relief. I panic. I want there to be light. I want an answer, a reprieve, a savior. I hate the feeling of being immobilized and stopped. I have stuff to do, things to get accomplished, people to serve and lives to save. I cannot afford to waste my time in the dark, accomplishing nothing. And yet…there it is. It wraps around me like thick fog on a San Francisco morning. No matter how hard I strain to see through it, nothing changes….

So I have no choice but to give in, surrender to the stillness of it all. Waiting for light, knowing I cannot hurry it. Do I feel helpless? Yes! Then I start to feel acceptance; really what else is there when you cannot change what is.  I cannot force the sun to come up it does what it does of it’s own accord. I must wait. While I am waiting, can I rest? Can I rest enough to gather energy for what is ahead? Certain animals hypernate…maybe that’s what this is. Maybe allowing for this time of inactivity I am insuring my strength for what surely is to come. My willingness to sit in the dark is my offering to the light that is inevitable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tempest

September 6, 2011

Your breath flows through me

breaking every bone,

ending every sentence…

I’m falling up now, as through water.

Head, then shoulders

collar bones filled with sand;

Tiny stones splitting my skin.

and I’m sinking

sinking, sinking upward.

What a perfect manner in which to stow away an epic;

deep into a dusty corner on your lowest shelf,

along with all your classics.

The sea echoes in my chest

slow, undulating waves wash away the land.

Somewhere in the lazy, hazy days of summer

my ‘self’ slipped from me.

It was replaced with the callouses on your hands

with your humming in the shower,

your furrowed brow reading the morning news;

your favorite ice cream, your fears, your sleep talking

you, you, you.

and gone, myself, whom I’ve traded to have you

http://katevanraden.wordpress.com/


It seems that lately, I just can’t stop crying.  Pain is everywhere.  Sadness abounds, and grief is abundant. It just seems to be a very, very, very real part of life.  In fact there are days, weeks, months where it seems to be the central character in my story.  It isn’t that I have a sad life, or even that I have experienced an abundance of personal tragedy.  But there is, no doubt about it, a very deep well filled with heartache.

The funny thing is, I don’t think that this is a bad thing.  Not that I love to cry until I can’t see or breathe, nor do I look forward to the days that pain and sorrow fill my heart till I think I might actually die.  But I have come to believe that pain has a purpose.  It can, if I let it, become the doorway to compassion and kindness, love and tenderness.  As I sit with the hurt, and just let it wash over me, I am able to understand that this is part of what makes each of us human, and, that it is part of the richness of life. It makes it possible for me to see, understand and connect to the hurt in those around me.  And hopefully it helps me to sit with them in the midst of their pain.

There have been times when I have done everything I could to avoid the hurt.  I have tried to buy my way out of it, redecorate it, medicate it, sleep it way, sweat it out, and just plain pretend that it wasn’t there.  But it is.  The truth is, I live with a hole in my heart. I think we all do.  It comes from past regrets, choices that we would give anything to take back, unexpected loss, wounds inflicted by others, and the shadowy glimpses of what is no longer possible.  Some days the other part of my heart, that part that is whole, and strong beats louder.  And other days,the sound gets sucked into that hole, and I follow it right down into the depths.  I’ve quit trying to hide from it, because it is all part of the heart that is mine.  Trying to have one without the other is like trying to separate the waves from the ocean.

I am absolutely not a poet.  Never have been, and most likely never will be.  But years ago, sitting in my college dorm room, lonely, homesick and heartbroken, the one and only poem I have ever written came spilling out.  It seems that even back then, at some level far, far below my consciousness, I understood that pain was important.  Here is what I wrote;

Pain and love go hand in hand

One often leading the other

But the led need not struggle against the leader

For they both travel to the same place

They go to the clear, bittersweet pool of human experience

Where each may drink freely from one cup

Having once looked into such waters

one will never again settle for the cloudy, shallow pools of comfort,

which do not reflect, but simply swallow the reflection

When you seek love

look also for pain

and welcome it

that you too may drink deeply.

 

www.katevanraden.wordpress.com

Can’t Help But Think…We’ve Done This

by Kate Van Raden

http://scriptical.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/cant-help-but-think-weve-done-this/

As I spend the last 17 hours watching reports of the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunamis all over the globe, I can’t help but ask myself…have we done this?!

My immediate response to any emotion-filled situation, comes out best in verse:

3.11.11

We dance the way we’d like to think the world will turn,

Our shoulders sway above our hips, convictions burn

Our soles pound out the earth and shake the plates

Our spirits light bonfires underneath our fates

The mountains quiver, grasping tightly to their roots

The rabbits shudder coldly in their boots

Serpents coil down beneath the cracks

We nomads lash our legacies upon our backs

Grizzlies cower sheepish in their caves

The earth is weeping now in hurricanes and waves

The ocean tucks its skirts and heads for land

So the darkness now descends upon the son of man



Rain Again???

February 21, 2011

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“When we are mindful, we notice that another person suffers. The other person may be a husband, a wife, or a child. If one person suffers, that person needs to talk to someone in order to get relief. We have to offer our presence, and we have to listen deeply to the other person who is suffering. That is the practice of love–deep listening. But if we are full of anger, irritation, and prejudices, we don’t have the capacity to listen deeply to the people we love. If people we love cannot communicate with us, then they will suffer more. Learning how to listen deeply is our responsibility. We are motivated by the desire to relieve suffering. That is why we listen. We need to listen with all our heart, without intention to judge, condemn, or criticize. And if we listen in that way for one hour, we are practicing true love. We don’t have to say anything; we just need to listen.      “The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other.  When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”    –Thich Nhat Hanh

Thank you Quma Learning & Dennis Deaton

Morning Offering

April 14, 2010

Thoughts On Grace:
“I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.”

poem by John O’Donohue

THE BEE.

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry

Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.

His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

by Emily Dickenson

OPEN YOUR EYES

March 16, 2010

SMOKE

February 21, 2010

These bones, they’re haunted,
By night they creak,
Inside me there’s howling
each time that I speak…
I awake with a feeling
I’ve been far away,
And whoever’s been here
Has left it all grey.
They aimlessly wander
through each empty room,
Their foot steps echo
like steps in a tomb.
When it rains
I feel them peer out my eyes,
With long hollow gazes
surveying the skies.
I’m a mansion of ghosts
made of flesh, full of breath…
What do they wait for,

For life? or for death?

http://www.katevanraden.wordpress.com

The Un-Loving of you

February 7, 2010

The Un-Loving of You

by Kate Van Raden

I’m letting you go,
I’m giving you back,
Each bit of your self that I’ve kept…
I returned those eye brows,
and a few of your teeth,
I packed them and hummed as I wept…
I shipped off your thighs in a box with some fingers,
the larger ones only, for now…
When you asked for your shoulders
I blinked back a frown,
But I let you take them,
And some lashes I’d found.
Now, the chuckle was harder,
I was still using that
And without your soft hair,
I just can’t hang my hat
But I do understand that you need these things back
So I try to be gracious, although it’s an act.
The hard part is coming
And I know I’ll feel lost
with no way to smell,
Or to taste, or to talk…
See, I cherish your lips
still so familiar,
and your eyes that melt chocolate for me…
There’s a crook in your nose
that it’s not yours without,
and I’m starting to feel a bit empty…
At last to my treasures
high on a shelf…
to your voice and your skin and your hands,
I hoped I could keep these forever,
but your starting to list your demands…
I can’t bear to imagine the woman who gets these,
I break down each time at the thought.
They’ve been mine for so long,
I just couldn’t tell you
how I’ll go on when they’re not…
Almost nothing is left here
You’ve taken it all
so we’ve parted, I get it, I’ll go…
but I wonder if I could compel you
the compassion to leave me a toe…?
By: Kate Van Raden
http://katevanraden.wordpress.com/