Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day the Second

Snow Day Number Two. The house is warm and secure, but parts of it are what you might call ‘broken.’ It needs so much work. Essentially it is solid, but I see the places where restoration needs to happen, where cracks and shifts show me what it needs. Brokenness is sometimes just a pain in the ass, but it can also be beautiful. As I sit and look out over the snow-touched landscape of the mountain forest outside my window, I see the beauty in the brokenness of the big hornets’ nest falling apart in the cold winter air. I see it in the psychedelic vibrancy of the top part of a glass Victorian gazing ball I once had on a stand in the front yard. Now the glass ball sits atop the glass table on my snowy deck and captures hints of the shapes surrounding it. I notice the shards of a broken cup, pale green and cream colored with strands of peat-brown. I remember when an old boyfriend of mine, a man I almost married, bought me that cup at the local Arts Center. There were tiny insects—not ants, more like candleflies or termites, but not quite those either---all over the larger, deeper pieces of pottery on the table with the cup. There was something haunting and curiously compelling about their presence, there in the sharpening air of late autumn. I think now too about the brokenness of memory, or its potential brokenness. Who can say when a memory’s life becomes broken? Perhaps it never fully does. I do know that the courage a person with such a memory can have is more powerful than many other things that are, or seem to be, fully intact, whole, and undamaged. The way such a person asks kindly and respectfully for the favor of a phone call for information, over and over even after the information was acquired and written down in two places, can begin to break my heart. I think of the patience that question entails. Its asking implies that that question has already, perhaps, been asked and not acknowledged or responded to. It does not harbor irritation or anger in the context of that. It just, quietly and lovingly, asks again. There is something about that echo that reminds me of the grace of prayer. I am not sure if I am thinking about the listener or the one who is praying, or maybe of the Voice of God and the one receiving that Voice. Maybe it’s a dialectic of both. Maybe the asking and the answering are so closely connected that they can become almost the same. I don’t know what that would look or sound like. Maybe that coming together would obliterate the need for asking, but maybe not. Maybe the asking would carry its own grace, its own respectful, adoring petition for inclusion in the heartbeat of relationship. There is, inherent in all of this, a sweet brokenness that, paradoxically, is not truly and finally broken at all, at least not in any sense that keeps out what needs to get in or keeps in what needs to be released. This Lent, living into that heartbeat seems to be what I need. I don’t know how to define it or describe it more concretely or adequately. It wants to come to live in my heart, and I want to let it. That’s all I seem to need to know for now.

©Laura Sorrells 2015
all rights reserved

Saturday, February 21, 2015

This Nest

This nest is a shadow slipping away from itself into the body of the world.
This nest is the back of a pirate’s head, stern and foolish in its seadrenched tousle of cloth.
This nest is the wing of a raptor, tipped with sky and the shouts of smaller creatures on the forest floor below.
This nest is the punctuation of weather.
This nest is a whirlwind, mute but full of consequence.
This nest is an acclamation, a bow to the magic of work in the night.
This nest is a cave, silent until you go deep enough to hear the sound of waterfalls.
This nest is a knot in the archetypal tree of life, puzzled by its own antiquity and size.
This nest is the way a well looks suspended in air and soft with the deficit of shallow mud.
This nest is a big velvet curtain with a heavy tasseled cord to make it move.
This nest is a wooden barrel waiting for the warm rain of April.
This nest is the head of a bear, asleep in a place no one knows to look for.
This nest has the bold but fragile determination of wax across the lip of an envelope, waiting to be disturbed and even broken.
This nest is a witness to the work of dry days in midwinter.
This nest is the shift of a clenched fist into an outstretched palm, offered sideways as a salutation and a nod.
This nest wants to be a bonfire but settles for claiming the bodies of fierce and dangerous creatures who carry the sting of flame.
This nest is a saint, a relic of patience.
This nest is the cousin of the mountaintop it frames against the silver winter sky.
This nest is some kind of promise, a paradox of stillness hoarding strength.
This nest is a cloud heavy with repentance and ready to shed its burdens into the waiting boughs of leafless trees in Lent.
This nest has a language made of scents and shapes, of the flavors of treebark and basil, of the song that the eaves sing in high winds.
This nest knows things about the land that no one else does. It might be waiting for the question that will make it hum like a harp or a banjo.
This nest is the cape of a journeying hero, ragged from the clutch of foreign caverns.
This nest is a sheet of lightning, waiting for the chance to be a fork.
This nest is a boulder stuck in the cleft of a rushing river, eager to make friends with stranded paddlers.
This nest is the head of a giant, used to the way things look in thinning air.
This nest claims its own sovereignty but still does what the stormwinds say it should.
This nest knows the syllables of three seasons and hopes to learn the language of the fourth.
This nest is not a compromise or a loss. It lives with being torn apart and shredded. A little bit of its sleeping heart will hang around like a hologram in the space above the forest when it falls, even if the textures of its walls have long since crumbled. Its brokenness is part of the horizon’s memory palace forever, one of those subtle claims that nature has on time, a bookmark inserted in between the pages of an empty wordless book shaped like a circle.
©Laura Sorrells 2015
all rights reserved

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About Me

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or