What is this mysery?
Frozen piece of earth,
with lives huddled together on its slender finger turned toward Antarctica.
Who are these mysteries?
Long eyebrows and faces pressed together even in the streets, asking me questions and hesitantly demonstrating the English that was handed to them in high school.
Who am I amidst these mysteries?
…These were questions I asked myself as I drove for hours to reach Coyhaique, a city in Patagonia. I never imagined myself so close to the turning of the globe, to the tip of South America!
I was there for four full days and experienced the rich culture within the Chilean family of my friend and hosts. The past 3 weeks here in Temuco have been challenging. Trying to figure out communication, how to be me, how to thrive regardless of what goes on around me, all when I don’t know how to take out the trash or what the hell to eat…phew! Culture adjustment is a whirlwind: life with Chile up until my time in Coyhaique had been more of a wrestling match than a love affair.
Then I breathed some mountain air & sat in the fire light of an accepting and warm culture.
My soul exhaled.
When my soul exhales, I tend to write poems 🙂 Enjoy, dear ones.
The Taste of Human Hope
Life in Chile has a cheesecake flavor,
every bite silk against the tongue, chased by purple wine.
Housekeepers and brooms twirl in kitchens,
radios playing the tune of each caramelo swirl.
Mamás and Papás, grandmas and their babies tuck themselves into corners
while the whole thing stops for lunch.
Children bounce between gentle arms:
the community choreographs an artistic ritual of mild annoyance.
Birds with dry rubber bands in their throats ride updrafts to the base
of mountains bigger than I have seen before, as dogs nobody owns sniff my skirt hem.
Weak orange street lights draw lines in the evening haze,
dull silver knives massaging cheese and sweet sauces onto fresh buns.
Behind curtains cheeks are kissed, tables set with white clothes, tea cups, and small spoons,
weapons against the agitation of winter.
It seems that Chileans fight the frigidity I feel with sparks of loving invitations to dinner,
by tenderly cutting their salami and cheese sandwiches in half.
Tall trees frame the moon with crusty silhouettes. Under the clouds, in front of the velvet sky,
the star Love gave me winks mischievously.
I am a child yet she is my winter light daughter.
Let us lie in the arms of one another,
first born of each other,
as I stand amidst the cold night air
and you pin back the blackness.
Hugs & hope,
In all honesty, I am a little embarassed that it has been almost a month since I posted. However, I have been listening to some lovely lady voices (Naomi Shihab Nye, The Indigo Girls, Regina Spektor, Audrey Assad, to name a few) & now find myself living in the Southern hemisphere for a while. A city in central Chile called Temuco is my current home. It is terrifying and enchanting to be here but the journey and settling in process could not have gone any smoother.
In the moments when everything, from the city streets, to the food, to the curtains and the bed where I sleep seems foreign and I become overwhelmed, these words have been an oar I use to paddle my way forward*:
By the light of day and by the dark of night your God has not forgotten you || Quran Daylight 93.1
Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. || Psalm 116:7
Sometimes the most difficult of big journeys (or just big changes) require me to sit, to return to silence, and remember God is not mad at me. I am not in trouble. It is all a gift to be enjoyed. And most important, and most difficult for me to believe, it all has a purpose. I have purpose.
Silence is the language of God, everything else is poor translation. || Rumi
It is interesting the internal furniture that is rearranged by travel. Sunday afternoon (my 5th day here) an old sorrow surfaced, like pieces of algea that ride the tips of ocean waves. It evoked a poem and a deep ache inside, connected to other aches. Pauline Boss says that the answer to human sadness is human connectedness (I have been listening to a lot of On Being with Krista Tippett, obviously) and I wonder if that is because sorrow touches every experience we have. Sadness is an ultimately integrated space and our interactions with others, those sweet moments when we touch and are touched, must be the only remedy broad and complex enough to greet the ache.
My liberation journey continues, now on a new continent. Dirt and sky, both ancient and savage, keep me company as I wait, breath, live one more day….yearning for gratitude, aching for new Life inside.
You, dear blog readers, always get the roughest, newest poetry. I hope you enjoy:
In a country new to me
I looked down and saw, for the first time,
the face of a miniature Chilean:
round, chapped cheeks and almond shaped eyes with dark brown fans for eyelashes.
I asked the unanswerable question: how does loving a child
make adopting an entire culture
that much easier?
Tucked away from the wind in the afternoon
one of the unanswerable questions I find is:
Why fall in love so often?
Why are humans so quick to embark on such a painful journey?
What foolhardy resilience are we busy cultivating
that we jump off the cliff time after time (to pursue cultures, experiences, people),
falling into something new with the old still all around us.
I keep this one love like dried beans in a secret, quiet place in my heart
where it is dry and cool
and where I don’t look very often;
I don’t know why.
It hurts to look, yet
for the sake of the future loves
I will be found taking the moments made for a look:
a gaze that is long and loving,
though he will never know.
It is the release of his thoughts of me,
of the white woman who came and went
that simmers in me volcanously.
It is because he will never know, just as many who have loved me (of all genders and age) will never know,
that the purity and strength of their love was the fire under my feet.
Busy looking for what their love lacked,
they failed to see how love was all I needed
to keep healing, to move towards wholeness,
to walk the way of becoming just one step more.
I didn’t need anything more than what they had to give,
I couldn’t put a tidy bow or explanation on it because their love ran me out,
and what sense is that?
A whisper says, learn to not know
because love leaves us speechless.
The profound nature of my desire to make it right
beats against my chest;
a silent kick drum against the part of me where I loved him, where I hold those tender memories.
Now the space between us is a chasm and there is no use asking it to decrease in breadth
because what would I say?
Still there is no sense,
only Love, a butterfly perched on my lips, where I smile anyway.
*Naomi Shihab Nye, On Being with Krista Tippett, July 28, 2016