Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Poetry Wednesday, Vol. 82*

Saint Francis and the Sow
Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.


If there is one lesson I can gather from reading some of the writing in this online world, is that mothering is hard. Difficult, draining, humbling, trying. Just plain hard. Mothering brings out the best and the very worst in us. It brings you to your knees.

Ruthie talks about how hard it is. And I completely agree. Angela talks about how it is an ever changing process. We shed the hard outer shells along side our children. Claire reminds me that my kids are not the only crazy ones. Molly, well, almost every single one of her posts is honest and uplifting and good for me. On this long list of mothers who help me there are so many other mothers, some online, some friends in real life, some people I have never met, that uplift and remind me that the slop I wallow in is right where I am supposed to be.

Lent has started, and I had big plans. BIG plans. The curse of the Internet is that you can peek into everyone else's house and ooh and aah over their super perfect amazing plans for Lent. I want to do the candle holder, the Lenten path, the dinner prayers, the toothpick bread thingy, the coloring pages, the, the, the, the. Oooh it was gonna be good and it was gonna be educational and it was gonna be spiritual and it was gonna be holy. Not just holy. Holy.

But last week, while cleaning up and taking down Valentine decorations (yes, in March), I removed all the art work and coloring pages from the little clothesline on the wall in our dining room and placed them on the table for the kids to sort through and keep their favorites. You know what? They didn't want to keep any of the Parables of Jesus coloring pages, they didn't want to keep any of the Sunday School coloring pictures. At first I was dismayed. But after thinking a bit, I realized I didn't want to keep any of those pages either. We had read the parables. We discussed them, we learned songs, verses and stories. Who needs a useless little coloring page that I had to force them to do any way? The coloring page is not a work of art. It is a bit of busy work, something they do while I continue to drone on with my seemingly never ending lecture about God, parables, good works, whatever.

I want them to enjoy the art they do. The art should mean something, should be beautiful in it's mistakes and triumphs. It should not be yet another chore to complete before Mom lets us move on with our day.

So I dropped the big plans for Lent. In my head I could not quite articulate why. We did fast from TV for the first week. And yes, it was hard. There were some grumblings from the children, maybe even some grumblings from me, but we made it! Other than that, we are just living our daily lives. My daily activities have changed with Lent, some of our meals have changed, but there are not big lectures, no big crafts, no cool toothpick thing in the middle of the table. A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon what I was thinking all written out for me. With thanks to Amongst Lovely Things, who sent her readers over to Like Mother, Like Daughter, and especially to THIS POST, where she discusses the kind of Lent I would like. Really, the kind of life I would like. It is terribly frightening and humbling to think that my children will learn just by watching me. By living life alongside their mother (and father) they will learn how to behave, how to treat others, how to live, and more importantly how to love.

All you mothers, friends, remember to love. A blessed time of preparation to all of you!

*I feel like after last week's post I have to include a disclaimer - this poem was chosen entirely by me.


Beth Hanna said...

I like the poem - yep, there is worth in ALL of us - even the sow! It's amazing how the poet can make her look so beautiful! God made us ALL beautiful - I need to tell that to someone today! Thanks, Kris, for picking the perfect poem for TODAY!

Molly Sabourin said...

I loved your poem choice, Kris. You picked it all on your own and it was perfect, beautiful. : )

And I of course so appreciated your reflections on Lent, motherhood, and the healing aspects of community (even an on-line community).

What, to me, is agonizingly beautiful about Lent is that it relieves us of any residual pride we have unknowingly been harboring - pride preventing us from loving as we should, or could. That first week, we fast with fervor- welcoming with open arms a new spiritual beginning. Then when our efforts are challenged and our energy runs out, fasting becomes a real honest to goodness sacrifice, an intense struggle to keep running (or yes, crawling) with perseverance to Christ and His Resurrection.

In that struggle and in the support of you all, I find glimpses of Heaven. Being healed can be painful. Thank you for your continual empathy, honesty and willingness to accompany me on this illogical, mysterious journey toward salvation.

Beth said...

Kris this is a truly lovely poem, the holiness of all created things bearing the mark of their Maker, and the necessity to often reteach a thing its loveliness.

And thank you again for the reminder that it is really less about the activities I plan in order to create an atmosphere of holiness and really more about what I demonstrate to my children, my husband, that will be the greatest teacher in their lives. Less words; more actions of love.

"It is terribly frightening and humbling to think that my children will learn just by watching me. By living life alongside their mother (and father) they will learn how to behave, how to treat others, how to live, and more importantly how to love." Beautiful.

Peaceful day to you.

Ruthie said...

Lovely poem and lovely post. It makes me cringe that my kids will learn from my example. That can't be good. Shall I send them your way?

Catherine said...

Thanks, Kris, beautiful post. We too are just marking the time through Lent without much fanfare. It feels better that way.