Look at the two browner fronds at the bottom, closest to the trunk--don't they look like a pair of wings?
I wrote this poem:
In the early hours of this feast
day of the Annunciation, I listen
for God’s invitation, but all I hear
is the roar of a motorcycle speeding
away after last call. The rustle
of the palm fronds in the wind,
the only angel wings today,
as I lay enfolded in the arms
of my beloved of thirty years.
As I wrote the poem, I thought about Beth Adams and the book on the Annunciation that she put together. I decided to send her an e-mail with the poem. My e-mail ended this way: "I don't like it [the poem] as much as the one I wrote for your collection, but as I wrote it, I thought of you and all the various approaches to the Annunciation, so I thought I'd share it with you. Wishing you many blessings on this feast day!"
She wrote back to tell me that she was touched by my sending the poem to her, and she wrote a bit about Mary, about the way that the Virgin Mary was more present in Mexico City, from where she had just returned from a yearly sojourn. She talked about the little shrines to the Virgin that she saw in Mexico and that she had once seen in the countryside of Quebec, but didn't anymore. I thought about some of the shrines that I've seen here in people's yards, something that I never saw in other parts of the U.S. South where I've lived.
Later in the day, Beth sent me a meditation that she'd sent to the group doing a quiet retreat at the Cathedral where she worships. She included my poem, which, along with the rest of her writing, moved me deeply. In both her e-mail to me and her meditation that she sent to the participants, she talks about finding the presence of God in the ordinariness of life. And she perceived my intention with the use of the word Beloved, that it can mean a human who holds us, but it also means the larger God who always enfolds us in love and grace, freely given.
I spent some time with her meditation and some time thinking about Mary and my relationship with her. When I was in college in the 80's, the issue of Mary made me angry, like the patriarchal church thought it had done its job by venerating Mary, and now it could go on celebrating the maleness that it wanted to focus upon. But in my later years, I see so many more nuances, both negative and positive.
It was a wonderful way to spend a feast day: early morning meditation/writing time, corresponding with a friend, exchanging more ideas, and inspiring each other. I feel so lucky to live in this time where technology enables all of this to happen in close to real time, so that this nourishment occurs on the actual feast day, not as we exchange letters through the paper mail system.
I also corresponded with my grad school friends, upon realizing via Wendy's comment on yesterday's blog that I had gotten my King Henrys and my Thomases mixed up. I wrote "I thought of Thomas a Becket as the priest who stood up to Henry VIII. How strange is that?" My friend wrote back,
Well, you only missed by a few extra letters after Henry's name...
And they both wound up dead thanks to a Henry.
Later, in a Facebook comment, my grad school friend corresponded with Wendy and me. Wendy wrote "I am now thinking about all the Thomases in my Medieval/Renaissance oeuvre. Thomas More, Thomas a Becket, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, and of the immortalization of A Becket by another Thomas, Thomas Stearns Eliot. That's a lot of Thomases. I wonder what that says about naming and doubting and historic/literary echoes. Might be a blog post, but posting on my blog might take a resurrection of some sort. I, too, am a doubting Thomas."
I wrote, "I hope for daily resurrection--for myself, for all the blogs that are so silent, for our hurting world, for all of us . . . I love the idea of all the Thomases"
My grad school friend wrote: "Looking at this list of Thomasas, I'd say that was a pretty dangerous name to have before the 17th century. It seems to guarantee a hideous death by warrant of the sovereign."
I thought of how wondrous it is that we know each other in all sorts of ways now. I know Wendy through blogging, but we've never met in "real life," however we define it these days.
I also spent some Facebook time with a different group of writer friends talking about southernness and ethnic identity. It took me back to the time when I first arrived in South Florida in 1998. I wrote, "When I first moved to southeast Florida in 1998, I used the term "southern" to mean U.S. southeast southern, Flannery O'Connor southern. I had several years of students from places far further south who engaged me in the use of this term, including one student an older adult, who argued that my use was insulting to people in South America. I don't know that I agree, but I have trained myself to change my language, just in case, and also to be more sensitive. Once challenged by my Latin American students, I couldn't use the term the same way."
We had an interesting discussion about whether or not a Cuban is Caucasian. I wrote, "But there is an outsiderhood, an exile status, but also an outsiderhood that could be hidden, if one wanted to pass. I'll go ahead and post this, with apologies if I'm going off track here."
I also wrote about Natasha Trethewey, "I know that Natasha Trethewey has been mentioned, but I wanted to mention her again--she does amazing work exploring the issue of race in both the modern U.S. south and past centuries--if I had to choose just one poet in this particular area, she would be my choice. As someone who has lived in the U.S. South my whole life, her poems make me gasp with new recognitions and connections."
The ongoing conversation and listing of poets was amazing, in its way--that quick assembly of poet possibilities, that discussion amongst far flung people.
It was a wonderful day, with writing weaving its way through the hours in such nourishing ways. It's one of the joys of technology, the way it connects us, the way that I can have these conversations even when we're not in the same geographical area.