Monday, January 31, 2011

My Graces

"...if your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem
."
The Sisters of Mercy
by Leonard Cohen


Two versions of this by Beth Orton from the documentary I'm Your Man exist on You Tube, and neither of them will arrive at or appear on this blog. It could well be that I am not savvy enough to manipulate around whatever the obstacle is or...someone doesn't wish to share it. Likely you know the tune and the words.

In the center of some unrelated task - boldly carving a path to empty a bookcase that has been semi-unreachable for a shockingly long time - the need for, the noticeable absence of, a grace-filled, embracing moment of pure love sweeps in and leaves me flattened. There is no extraordinary sorrow, no recent loss, no tears, no apparent cosmic shift. One moment is occupied with busy hands and the next admits an ache that might have appeared without name, if not for Cohen's knowledge of this state.

So I speak love to myself, I enumerate appreciations. I still the noisy flailing of my mind to let my heart be heard. I grow narrow in my thoughts so the voices of lack have no room to navigate.

To see myself in this light is a new skill, practiced repeatedly, still imperfect. Compassion, forgiveness, love without qualifications are not my habitual responses to moments when emptiness looms. However the Sisters of Mercy are interpreted, they are my imagined Graces, dwelling within. They bring their comfort, their song, their staying hands against grief. I never dreamed restoration could be home-grown.

21 comments:

Vespersparrow said...

You've taken the Sisters of Mercy in through your skin, into your cells, Marylinn, and they will never leave you now. The Graces will be with you for the asking. You may not always know when you need them, or don't think you deserve their care, which is the cherishing of the self, but if there is no perfect way to soothe, console and accept tenderness from your own hands, there is hope for it, it has taken root in your heart forever, though you may occasionally need to ask a friend for reminders. And you, you see, have become one of the Graces to us. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - What loving, affirming words. Thank you. And what I may lack in experience I do make up for in hope. xo

Penelope said...

Thank you Marylinn for this beautiful reminder.

Elisabeth said...

I've long resonated to these words, too, Marylinn. we need more mercy in our lives. I'm glad you found space for some however alien the thought.

call me any name said...

I will take these careful and tender words with me today to think over. Thanks.

RachelVB said...

I had a good friend tell me a while ago that the "things you are looking for in other people you already have in yourself."
I may have said this somewhere before, but it's the new flag I carry around with me wherever I go.
It's hard to reflect the compassion that we feel for others back on to ourselves. But we have it in us to do so.
And Melissa is right. Friends are there to remind us - our loving allies.
xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Penelope - You are so welcome. Wishing you a day full of grace.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Elisabeth - The words may once have been abstract, sung about someone else. As we grow into our true selves, which I hope is where I am, they have more personal meaning. We do need more mercy in our lives, in our world. Thank you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Call Me Any Name - I am happy to have offered words worth carrying. It seems clear to me that, under varying circumstances, we are all in this together, all needing the same things. Thank you. Wishing you gentle days.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Our loving allies, for which I am so grateful. If our postings never said anything else, they are vehicles that allow us to support one another as we tell our stories. We learn so much from each other. xo

Pam Morrison said...

I recently came upon this poem by Derek Walcott. It rang true, and so I believe it probably is - even though that loving encounter is often so elusive. I like to think this joy awaits us all. Px


The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

susan t. landry said...

marylinn, pam with the walcott poem, everyone: this is such an important discussion. thank you for it.
this, as follows, by Rumi, may be something everyone else knows already, but i heard it read yesterday for the first time, and thought about it a lot afterwards, thought how pragmatic the message is. i may not put a lot of credence in the part about the "guide from beyond," but i do like the theme of learning from all emotional states that enter our home/consciousness.

Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Radish King said...

This was the first poem I ever memorized. Thank you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Pam and Susan, for what you have added requires a blended reply.

Thank you both for the poems, for your ways of seeing into the heart of this and amplifying the voices.

I do not know either of these poems and find them true and touching. Pam, I have had time to become reacquainted with myself, though I still have much to learn about being a gracious hostess. Susan, Rumi describes what may be my most difficult lesson, welcoming all states, all situations and knowing they arrive bearing gifts.

I hope other readers stop back and see these, carry them into their days. They will stay with me. Thank you.

Antares Cryptos said...

Speaking of name calling, can I adopt you as my honorary muse?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - You are so welcome. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - As long as there are no public events at which I must appear and nothing else is expected of me, of course. Thank you. I hope consistency isn't a requirement.

Antares Cryptos said...

Muses grace us with their presence at their own discretion. :)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - Then we're good. :)

Melinda said...

Thank you for (yet another) reminder to start my day. . I've come to think of moments like that as my own version of church. Leonard is often part of my "church"!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melinda - Mr. Cohen's lyrics speak to me the same way. Where would any of us be without reminders from messengers throughout the universe?