Hope and faith
Tunes for a Monday Morning: trouble & woe

Leaning into the light

Paige Bradley

On the day after the U.S. midterm elections, which brought us both good news and bad, we storytellers just have to keep on going, and keep leaning into the light....

From Linda Hogan's beautiful memoir, The Woman Who Watches Over the World:

"To open our eyes, to see with our inner fire and light, is what saves us. Even if it makes us vulnerable. Opening the eyes is the job of storytellers, witnesses, and the keepers of accounts. The stories we know and tell are reservoirs of light and fire that brighten and illuminate the darkness of human night, the unseen. They throw down a certain slant of light across the floor each morning, and they throw down also its shadow."

Rune Guneriussen

Rune Guneriussen

"As time has passed," Hogan reflects, "things in me have been burned away and I see my life more clearly, more cleanly, than I had ever seen it before. And in that vision of my past, my history, my body, I also saw that there was something inside me that had survived and not merely survived but had done so whole and nearly intact. The hurt child raises itself and doesn't just walk but swims and flies. This child sees that life may never be easy but may be beautiful...

"Fire, like pain, like love, is a power we do not know. Yet from the ashes of each, something will grow. No one knows if it will be something beautiful and strong. But in our lives it is sometimes the broken vessel, as writer Andre Dubus calls it, that spills the light."

Bruce Munro

Bruce Munro

''How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence," asks Barry Lopez, "when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse.

''There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.''

Bruce Munro

Bruce Munro

Words: The passages above are from The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir by Linda Hogan (WW Norton, 2001) and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez (Scribner's, 1986); all rights reserved by the authors. This post first appeared on Myth & Moor in 2014. A related post: "The beauty of brokeness." 

Pictures: "Expansion, New York City" by Paige Bradley (U.S.), and light installations by Rune Guneriussen (Norway) and Bruce Munro (U.K.). 

Comments

I love this idea of "leaning into the light" despite whatever dark obstacles and forces lie on the road ahead. The light haunts our conscience, our hearts and our spirit in the most powerful way. In today's world, when ambition on the part of the Corporate world and the political seems to cut like an interstate through the landscape of our humanity, there is still the inner voice that sings, that humbles and reminds us we must salvage what we can from the damage and draw strength from those elements to rise and redirect, to reflect on what can be done to bring back the light. Thank you so, so much Terri for this post!! It inspires and comforts, it is simply so beautifully human and the photos ,too, so breathtaking!!

The Topography of Ambition

It's the road that cuts through everything
sparing what little it can
of grassland and woods, the personal property
of farm and heart.

Yet, somewhere en route, the regrets
keep drifting in. Their exhalations spent
like milkweed over stalk or bush. But in one tree
the conscience sings. A vocalist with an old guitar
strumming an old ballad

about love and sacrifice, the moan of sea gulls
( after a storm) and a fisher girl stooping in the tide
to scavenge what's ever left.
_______________________________________
Take care
Wendy

Hmmm, yes, I like the idea that looking with our inner fire and light, is what saves us.

I remember this post from before, and am so glad to reread it now. Especially understand more fully Lopez's lines: "One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse." A bit of hope came with a line sent to me by a long-time believer who said, "I've told you like a zillion times ..."

I am a Zillion

I am a zillion times old, and still my body (as Eduardo Galeano shouts in my ear 'tuned down' ... the one I used to call my 'bad ear) is a fiesta.
I am a zillion times told, "you are a storyteller (leave the other tasks to others who relish them and stress you) ... write the stories."
If I am a zillion times old, and been told those same many times how can I not believe there's something wonderful to share out there, there, there, there a zillions times out there.

LOVE the words and especially the art installations! Thank you for sharing. xxoo e

Just gorgeous, especially that last image of the stopping fisher girl (we stoop to conquer?) and the moan of sea gulls. Just gorgeous.

Jane

Rupture


The little stuff, fingers of pain,
constant running nose, the cloud
covering a part of my eyes,
interrupt of rain, cold,
that old memory of you
not speaking but trying to see
what was once so bright and young.

I have learned with age to accept,
but acceptance is not enough. My goal
is now to lean into age, clasp
the old gratefully, step eagerly again
into the dance, open my arms to what comes,
turn rupture into rapture, an old cup
chipped but still holding water,
the cracks now lined with gold.

©2018 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Hi Jane

I have learned with age to accept,
but acceptance is not enough. My goal
is now to lean into age, clasp
the old gratefully, step eagerly again
into the dance, open my arms to what comes,
turn rupture into rapture, an old cup
chipped but still holding water,
the cracks now lined with gold.

Wow! Those opening lines are so true -- acceptance is a challenge but I think even more essential is finding a way to work with it underscored by grace and gratitude. You put it so beautifully in this poem -- the need to take one's present existence, pain, struggle, limitations along with joy, growth, enlightenment, and turn it into something positive, something that allows you to celebrate life and whatever stage one is going through. This one speaks to me deeply as I have just passed another year, reflected on another birthday. Thank you Jane for writing and sharing this. As always, it inspires and enriches me a both a person and writer.

Take care
Wendy

Thank you so much Jane!!

Your kind words and beautiful commentary are so deeply appreciated! I am glad you enjoyed the poem. And yes, in life I do think we sometimes "stoop to conquer" through humility, strength and challenge. We need to bend down sometimes to see what really lies ahead and what really matters

Many thanks for this!
Take care
Wendy

I find Terri's posts and so often your words, dear Wendy, inspiring, leading me
to deeper concentration on the subtle nudgings of grace. I try, but then--as my children would joke--I am very trying. But every once in a while the gold between the cracks shines through.

Thank you for helping shine that gold.

Jane

Thank you for this piece, Wendy. This is one that will stick with me- the fisher girl in particular. <3

Oh Jane. This one is absolutely beautiful and how I hope to age myself. Thank you.

Thank you for this post, Terri. Living amidst contradictions and paradoxes is exactly what life in America feels like these days. And since entering my 40s, I'm also recognizing more personal contradictions and paradoxes. Opposing wishes and hopes, multiple identities in conflict. I suppose they've always been there, but I think I can see them more clearly now, which doesn't necessarily make them any easier to live with. In any case, thank you for the reminder that turmoil doesn't have to be disastrous, and that our great power is our ability to lean towards the light. Sending you and your loved ones extra love in these difficult times.

Hi Edie,

So glad you enjoyed the poem! I deeply appreciate your kind words and interest in my work. That means a lot!!

Take care
Wendy

Hi Edie

"the reminder that turmoil doesn't have to be disastrous, and that our great power is our ability to lean towards the light. "

Amen to that perspective! I totally agree, we must keep leaning toward the light, it is our hope and our salvation.

Take care
my best
Wendy

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