Sunday, April 12, 2015

a place in the family

There’s a slender lavender cloud hanging in the sky of dusk here. The hornet’s nest, still sizeable despite its collapse in the snow this past February, seems to have taken on some of the purple-ish hue of the cloud. When I get up to let the cat out I can’t even see the purple cloud from that angle. When I sat down again the cloud was almost gone, its edges already blue and deeper than its heart.
The feeling of silent accompaniment has been powerfully present the past few times I have gone walking at the church property off Griffith Road. There was that one evening about three weeks ago before anything had started greening up----I felt the accompaniment so distinctly that I called out “Hello?” several times. I was walking the Stations of the Cross but did not finish them. Then on Wednesday of Holy Week I went out there again but didn’t even kid myself about finishing all fourteen stations. At least I know how many there are now. Tonight I walked around the little memorial garden, pausing at my mother’s marker, and took some pictures of dogwood blossoms coming apart. I felt the accompaniment strongly. I attributed it to the fact that I was near Mom’s grave, and that could have been it. But the feeling grew. Finally I went down to the pond, the one I call Snake Doctor Pond because of the hordes of dragonflies that gather there in summer. I noticed a single Canadian goose in the middle of the pond, seemingly perched on top of the water, with its neck drooping over so that it appeared to be sipping from the pond’s surface. I think there is some metal contraption out there that has some sort of function. Probably that’s what the goose was perched on. But the goose was so still that at first I thought it was some sort of decoy. It didn’t move for a long time. It didn’t make sense that it was a decoy, but it was so perfectly still, with that arched neck. So I took some pictures of the corner of the pond with its brassy golden light turning into glitter on the water. When I turned back the goose had moved its head up so that it was peering at me. I coughed and the goose kind of flinched but only a little. It reminded me of a lone goose I saw on Holy Saturday at the monastery in 2012, that liminal and intense day. I had just read the Mary Oliver poem Wild Geese when I saw that goose perched on a fallen sapling in the pond shallows. I mean that I had been sitting by the pond reading it in Mary’s Best Of Her Poetry volume two.  "Announcing your place in the family of things. " Tonight my mind felt much calmer and quieter than has been usual lately, especially for a Sunday. No anxiety, no angst, no worry, no fear. Sundays sometimes present me with that stereotypical diffuse anxiousness that I suppose many people have right before the work week starts back up. I thought of a couple of things----again of the Eliot lines, “But who is that other who walks beside you?” from The Waste Land. I think of how I looked those lines up at the monastery a week ago yesterday, in the little retreat house library. I looked for them in The Four Quartets for some reason first and ended up rereading almost all of the Quartets.  "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.I had forgotten how much I love those poems, especially Little Gidding. The next morning, which was of course Easter, Father Tom Francis began talking about The Four Quartets at the final conference of the retreat. I think it was in the context of talking about transfiguration. Fire, rose, heart, shirt of flame, be still.
The other thing I thought about tonight at the pond was a scene in the Franco Zeffirelli miniseries Jesus of Nazarethwhich I have watched one and a half times since I bought the series on DVD just after Ash Wednesday. I keep skipping back to watch scenes of healing, conversation, and challenge, to see Robert Powell’s handsome English Jesus look happy to hang out with the little kids, to listen to him rage at the Pharisees and draw one small circle carefully in some sand. He puts a little dot in the center of the circle and looks up to speak to the people about to stone the adulteress. I am being avoidant in not watching the Passion scenes again. At any rate, the scene I thought of was at Gethsemane, when Judas approaches Jesus. Jesus says, This is your hour, Judas. The hour of shadows. I found myself trying to recall if those lines were in the Gospels. I still don’t know those texts as well as I might. There is poetry there, though, even so. No allegory necessarily, just words that hold sound. Maybe a kind of paradoxical nod to the darkness, calling beauty into it. Beauty was of course already there, but it needs speaking to sometimes very deliberately.
I still kind of feel the accompaniment, even here at home. The sky is dark now, the lavender cloud subsumed by the night. The mountain is the same color as the forest. One roseate manmade light winks halfway up it. That in turn reminds me of something I read in a book about the mountains and forests around and on the Qualla Boundary, how there are these mysterious lights that move and appear in a ghostly way, like foxfire about to become airborne. I think of the place at the convergence of those two rivers where I stayed this summer and of watching the geese navigate the green and silver water as the river currents came together. I have always felt a heart of gentle sacredness in that place. The geese seemed silent witness to that, reminding me of my place in that family of things, of how it is no place and every place. A body, an accompaniment, one quick light, a cloud becoming sky.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

the secret changes

My pilgrim heart
waits for you
in the middle of
its own unrecognized
silent compass.
Your wordless psalm
lets me pray along
with it, all of us
alive together
here in the secret
changes of faith's
transfiguring night.

©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