April Moon: day 4

Sacred

What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

Oh, this is a lovely word. This has layers upon layers.

A hymnbook – of which we must have had more than one copy, since I remember it being both small and red and large and black, and being both in the revolving bookcase and on top of the piano – with gold lettering on the spine. Sacred Songs and Solos. Greeting it like an old friend when it showed up in Huntingtower.

A pious-eyed Victorian woman with abundant auburn curls and hands clasped across her prayer-book (I have a specific picture in mind; it is entitled “Our Father”).

Noticing how it is an anagram of scared.

Remembering how Havi had a whole sequence of Wishes that included I see the secret holiness of everything. Enjoying the consonance: secret sacred secret sacred secret sacred

Reading On the Road, and discovering that, while it is very much the Urgent Thrusting Phallic Man Book that I feared it would be, it is also about the secret holiness of everything. Then I got on to Ginsberg, and particularly Footnote to Howl. And went back to St John of the Cross, and walking alongside the park at sunrise, and suddenly everything was trembling with the sacred.

(Those deep pink blossoms I noticed this morning, when I was pretending it was day 3: the sunset light has caught two or three branches, and they glow around the edge. There. That’s what I mean.)

And this:

“Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb.” – A Tree Full of Angels, Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.

Walking my head around the wonders I already knew: Maundy Thursday seven years ago, sharing pasta and sardines with my best friend, in a narrow little hostel in La Rioja, and suddenly understanding the point of the Incarnation: that God has become part of creation, which is sufficient for redemption alone. God said that it was good, and became part of it to prove it. The rest of it need not have happened, but was always going to, because that is the way the world works.

And, understanding further, a different walk and on my own this time, west through a pine wood towards Yarmouth, that what was sacred because God made it is sacred beyond all imagining now that God has become part of it, and that every atom of this universe and every other one is suffused with the divine, and that there is holiness in all of us and in all of creation, if only we can see it.

The sacred is secret, but it does not always stay that way.

April Moon: Day 3

Home

What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

I sit at the dining room table in this house that isn’t mine, and watch a woman walk by with two greyhounds, and a tree, foaming with pink blossom, swaying in the April wind, and I think about home.

(Where is it?)

Home, they say, is where the heart is.
(Where is it?)
I have left my heart all over the place.
Careless, but better than the alternative.
(Pack it up, put it in a cardboard box and take it to the next house. Remember to take it out again. Otherwise, in ten years I might find it in a still-sealed box, labelled in marker pen: Kathleen’s heart & other last-minute things from Guildford. This has happened before.)
Actually, I think it may have gone on ahead of me.
Wait for me, heart. Wait for me, home.

I know a man who has designed a board game that follows the twisting twining journey through life and based on your responses to various dilemmas will work out what home means for you. It gives a different answer every time. I played it once. We laughed a lot, though I’m still not sure about home.

An Englishwoman’s home is her castle. I must get someone to see to the drawbridge.
I remember when home was huge and full of secrets, standing on the lowest rung of the fence, or kneeling up on the just-made spare bed, watching the road as far as the bend in the corner beyond which was not home, waiting for the next guest. Home was never so much home as when someone was staying.

Home is the place where the people come.
Home is the place where the parties are.
Home is the place where you can find a place where no one will disturb you, unless you want them to.

April Moon: Day 2

Lent always leaves me feeling like a wrung-out rag, worn very thin. I have a post somewhere about how this may well be deliberate; today, however, it’s an excuse for lateness.

Juicy

What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

This feels like a particularly un-Lenten word. In fact, I am led back to Shrove Tuesday, squeezing tangerines to make crêpes suzettes. Tangerine juice is a lovely vivid orange colour, in a way that plain orange juice isn’t, and very sweet and very sharp all at the same time.

Which reminds me in turn: my uncle gave me the most fantastic lemon squeezer for Christmas: pottery, with a cup underneath to catch the juice, and painted in a bold pattern of black and orange and blue. It has, though I’m not sure why, something of a sombrero feel to it. I love it. It makes me smile every time I look at it. I would like to have more kitchen utensils like that.

What else is juicy? A juicy steak, juicy gossip. I have gone vegetarian for Lent. (Oh, but I could tell you about the bacon sandwich I am going to have on Easter morning: it will have thick bacon, lots of it, with a rind to it; white crusty bread cut like doorsteps; butter; and brown sauce.) Juicy gossip: well, one always wants to know. It’s a horrible feeling, being out of the loop. But not always good for one. Actually, I’d like to do away with the word gossip; it’s one of those weaselly irregular nouns. I take an interest in my peers’ lives. You want to know what’s going on. She gossips.

The alarming concoctions one of my colleagues makes; the last one she brought in was bright Kermit green and contained (so far as I can remember) kale, kiwi, apple juice and grapes.

We never had much fruit juice when I was little; it was mostly squash. Pa got tomato juice sometimes, though, and I liked that, with a slug of Lea & Perrins. I remember him seeing if he could make it by putting tinned tomatoes through the blender, and it wasn’t the same. I think there can’t have been enough salt in it.

We did have fruit, though, apples and raspberries, and, at Christmas, little citrus fruit. I still do this sometimes: removing the membrane from a clementine segment, very carefully, to leave all those tiny glistening cells holding together and, working from one end, nibbling them off and eating them one at a time. I get bored after about a centimetre, of course, and put the rest in in one go, but it’s very satisfying up to that point.

Juicy: it feels extravagant. Luxurious. Decadent. Not for the likes of us. Except for when I feel like it.

April Moon: Day 1

The magnificent Kat McNally has come up with another prompt project. Since I realised a few days ago that the fact that my Lent is not being as satisfying as my Advent is at least partly due to the lack of reflection (also, I think, it’s meant to make you feel a bit scratchy and inadequate), I’m in.

Courage

What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

I started off feeling somewhat ambivalent about courage. It is, I would have said, associated for me with a bottled-up, high Victorian, stiff-upper-lip, no-honestly-everything’s-fine attitude that has served me poorly for half my life at least. I thought of the Cowardly Lion; but I am more interested in mermaids at the moment.

Then I remembered how it was almost my word for this year, and thought back, and brought to mind: a painting entitled Go Bravely On; a pub that can be seen from the train from Leighton Buzzard to London (Euston), which has TAKE COURAGE written in huge letters on the side; how being brave enough to admit to wanting something has, more often than not, resulted in my getting that thing.

And, thinking now, that over the past few months courage has not been about keeping quiet and carrying on regardless; it has been about admitting to my weak spots, and my fear-locked secrets; about asking for help when I needed it; about not being perfect; about not trying to be perfect. It has been about trusting that people will accept me when they see who I am. Even when I’m [fill in the blanks as appropriate for today]

Very soon indeed, now, it is going to be about brushing my long-cherished project’s hair, and sending it down the road to the shops all by itself; and since this feels more or less sending my soul out to burn, it is going to need a very great deal of courage.

Here is a very early memory – my father, quoting The Tempest: “Coraggio, bullymonster!”

Courage, please, for me and my bullymonsters.