We are beloved companions on a mystic journey, sharing our solitude and holding the world in the divine prayer of love.

"Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory. Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance. And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation."
- from St. Clare's third letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sunset of the Yellow Years

June, 2003 of the Yellow Years--photo by Krista Karels
This morning I awoke to a voice in my head yelling over and over at me: "I can't do this any more!"
"Do what?" I inquired. "And who IS this, anyhow?" Total Silence. I continued to lie there, not moving, not wanting to disturb this ... whatever it was ... this awfully uncomfortable thing inside me.
By this time in life I know what to do with the uncomfortable things. Observe. Gaze. DO NOT MOVE FROM THAT SPOT! Look it straight in the eyes (or, in this instance, listen to every vibration) until it yields up its secret truth. Something has pushed it from its comfort zone out to the edge of consciousness. Don't let it fall into obscurity. The temptation to think of something else--to forget--to avoid--to fight with someone/anyone--to grab the Kindle and click onto the latest book--to focus on anything but THIS which is so obviously overwhelming.

I kept my eyes closed. I knew what to do: go to that place where dreams arise. I'd been dreaming something, hadn't I? Yes.

I make my way through a complete dark.
The Way has no delineation.
The Yellow Years are gone.
I must leave this yellow house.

Ah. The house again. The deconstruction. The re-construction. The color of the paint. The whole thing is a metaphor for a powerful and essential personal transformation. Suddenly I'm aware that "this" which no longer can be done or be in charge is the "old me." I'm no longer in my "yellow years." They were beautiful years of roses and song and dancing. They were years of intense creativity--of writing all the books. They were the John Weber years of romance and dreams coming true. We found this house in those years, a sunshine house on a hill. The yellow years were a gift beyond words. But even the most beautiful that this world has to offer cannot be enough. What does sunshine do, after all, but penetrate the earth to transform what is living but unseen within and make it grow? 

John Weber became ill in 2003, just before the lovely picture of the yellow house was taken. He died in 2008, and the yellow began to fade. With John Sack I am beginning to find a deeper self I haven't yet completely come to know. It seemed to come upon me suddenly, the requirement I spoke of yesterday when I said the skin needed to be ripped from the house. Even then I hadn't awakened to the passing of the yellow years. I haven't wanted to let them go. But the new self in me was becoming claustrophobic in this yellow house. (Can you know what I mean? Have you experienced this? It's such a paradox, don't you think?) But yellow is but one color on the spectrum, while brown contains them all.

I read a poem the other day by Lisa Ciccarello that may also have contributed to the intensity that drives such experiences to the surface. Let me share it:

Here is how I control my heart: I string each thought one behind the next, like beads. 

I wear the answers I am waiting to give. The jewelry becomes heavy as soil. 

My long blink is a scream & a yes. There are things I have to say, but they do not yet know the questions they must ask. & a blink is no word; if they misunderstand—

A heart is just soil. Ask anyone. A heartbeat is a blink. A long blink is a scream. A longer blink is sleep. All night I am screaming.

John Weber and I at sunset of the Yellow Years--taken by Krista Karels

Most Recent Book by Ciccarello

(Black Ocean Press, 2015)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

House as Body

Casa Chiara House in 2004
When workers found rot in the siding they began by tearing off the skin. We could feel the shuttering of the house from inside. We agreed to trash the yellow. Wasn't the sunshine on the hill enough? When the house stood naked they ripped deeper. We could hear the power saws and drills. The house became a tooth under the dentist's drill. The house became a body in an operating room. I opened Pandora's box to empty music through the tunnels of my ears. Outside now the pounding reverberated through skin and bone to heart and mind. Our skin picked up vibrations like drums.

A day arrived in three weeks of this that I didn't recognize the house in its new skin awaiting paint. I couldn't choose. It wouldn't have mattered what color the paint might be. The color wheel spectrum gives us options now that only Dante imagined before while giving words to Paradiso. For some reason I still don't understand, the house no longer could be yellow. Green, perhaps? Like leaves, like moss, like grass before it turns. A swatch of green on new siding--but no. It appeared artificial on what had always been a living thing: this hermitage.

We turned the color wheel and both chose brown. We chose earth, the lightness of it, the dark. We chose brown, and still I woke in the middle of the night wondering, worrying--where would the sunshine be if the house were brown? Not brown, the swatches say: Briar. Khaki, Smokehouse. Virtual Taupe, Cobble. Sable. Down Home. Angora. Poised Taupe. Otter. Van Dyke.

Years ago when my dear friend and soul-sister, Alla Bozarth, asked me about my favorite color, I told her brown. "BROWN????" The decorations in her home were Russian Red and gold and black, intense blues, silver in some paintings on the wall, purple, mauve, a feast of color. Over the years I worked to make my imagination more colorful.

But we will paint Casa Chiara Hermitage two shades of brown with white trim, and it will be as though wearing the simple, earthy garb of Francis and Clare. When I think that the house might disappear from view up on this hilltop, no longer the yellow landmark it once was, I remember that fifteen years ago I was not so comfortable with the yellow until it came to have a meaning beyond itself. Brown tones have that meaning for me already.

For all this, I realize I sound as though I'm making my "apologia." You're right. I'm not comfortable with any of this at all. All my life I've been in awe of people who build their own houses, choose the shape and size and form and colors they most like. I'll never do that! I proclaimed with (now I see) a rather arrogant and simplistic certainty. Be careful of such certainty. I've seen too often how certainty is toppled and crushed under the earthquake of reality. We fall back then into the all-inclusive brown, the humus of earth, the shadowland of self we call humility.

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