A Harvest Calls

When the winter stole my song, all the lovely bits of me blew away
and the night chained the dirt of my soul to the earth,
a forest of dead leaves and berries cloaked my blood.
So I wailed into the mire, a sort of siren sob for ice and snow, but no.
The season remained anchored to an epoch, bored by all my ire
and, instead of relenting, carved notches in my throat,
binding my voice to memories of long ago, whispering secrets stored in lifetimes past.
And so I listened.
And the notches cut deep, freeing waters dank and tired.
They ran in rivulets down my neck and into the valley hardened by hope’s abortions,
flooded all the flotsam jamming up my flow and washed old corpses out to sea.
And I listened more
as the ice and snow melted down into my core, warmed by embers unseen.
Then a new song gripped the heart of every screenplay refusing tRuth,
wringing out the lies, peeling back the armor ancient,
fucking the mindlessness out of every habitual, knee-jerk bullshit
reactionary presentation.
Stripped, disintegrating but the truest hum emanating.
Out past the dirt and mire, through the cracks in my grave…
a harvest calls,
a song is freed,
and these feet remember the dance.

j. ruth kelly, 2017, all rights reserved

The Church of May

You leap beyond all
despair and hopeless falling.
Fiery woman, live;

no spire reaches
past your own sacred lightning,
flaring out fierce love.

Stomp and squeal delight
against a night of constant
yearning. Your love’s dance

blurs us past façades,
awakens all our hoping
towards sun’s warm call.

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved, 2016
Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved, 2016

“May” is one of my daughter’s nicknames. On this day, pictured here as blurred trees and a church held steadfast against our movement, Marion drove us around to see some of the more lovely parts of Pittsburgh. Our trip to see her began with her trademark spontaneity and abandon when we drove up to her home. She leapt up and out the front door into the 1am cold night air and squealed with joy and then down the stairs, doing little run/skip/dance moves out into the street to reach into my car for a huge hug. And that is the best of the “Church of May.” She reveals, at her most fiercely loving moments, what we’re all made of and what we’re all here for … no matter how dark the time. We are the sacred, spiritual, divine-as-love.

 

 

A Gentle Sun

shining down on,
welling up from,
spilling over,
flowing…
all these breezes,
all these meanderings,
all these lightbeams
telling love,
sculpting a new story
one you feel at the outer limits of
all you thought you’d be and
all that life has wrought of
your holdings and releasings…
beyond the gates of rightness
a river’s journey shapes the story
and we can make it all about the loss
or we can shape the meaning and vision
by love, for love, of love…
as all these leaves and lines settle ‘midst a gentle sun’s sight
revealing the creator within and beyond our worst night.

photo by j. ruth kelly, 2015, all rights reserved
photo by j. ruth kelly, 2015, all rights reserved

The Peonies Reaching

Make me like the peonies reaching,
ripening and revealing shimmers of light,
born of darkness, from disintegration in a long story’s night
whose tale suggests only seclusion unending and a crushing fate…
until,
until the bursting out upon the day,
until the unfolding from haunts of burial entombing,
until all my songs release fragrance
sweetened by a holy undoing,
whose whispers in moonlight of a sun behind the night
birth soul beyond the doom,
holding sacred sway over a mysterious teaching.

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, 2015, All Rights Reserved
Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, 2015, All Rights Reserved

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, 2015, All Rights Reserved
Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, 2015, All Rights Reserved
child of life, visiting grace on me for a season

Universe Twirl

Yesterday turned out to be one of the longer dances with life and universal rumbling tango twirls as I focused mainly on staying steady on my toes. It was beautiful, something I would not have predicted. Exhausting. Just life, mainly. But there was this girl…

almost 18…

she was in the backseat behind me, quiet. Rolling with the latest spin in the dance of our day. Her guitar teacher hadn’t been there. Door locked. Next? We’re taking my niece somewhere. Been an emergency kind of day…

quiet. Her silence was palpable.

And then BAM, crash, slam. “Mom! You have to stop. We have to help! Call the police…” She tends to command scenes when they qualify as such, without thinking or calculation. It just happens and this half-smile grows on my face every time.

The small pickup truck in front of us went from humming a straight trail along the path ahead to quietly careening off the road with no provocation, straight for the telephone pole. Full frontal impact and resulting crunching smash. I pull into the doctor’s office parking lot adjacent to the wreck, scanning for risk of fire, seeing none. The girl in the backseat is out of the car and running towards the truck. That’s my kid. Slow down girl. Life’s dangerous. Gulp. I’m calling emergency response and she’s helping the 86 year old grandma out of the car. Someone’s grandma. Not hers. But might as well be.

They’re talking. She’s holding her hand. Then she’s taking her cell phone and calling family for her. “Hello…first off, your Grandma’s ok, ok? Everything’s fine. But…” But the truck’s not going anywhere ever again. And I’m watching the universe spin a story of instant care. Passers by have stopped and are directing traffic. My daughter is bent over, inspecting for injuries and the police, emts and firemen haven’t arrived.

I’m not needed. Except as guardian of the girl on scene and as an observer privileged to witness love unfolding. This girl wasn’t aware of the world around her. She was focused, disinterested in any attention. Behaving like someone born to respond. And I’m in awe, now the quiet one.

The official responders arrive. And they’re appreciative, not shooing the girl away, making their way around her ministrations and determining the grandma’s not injured beyond the tear-inducing shock and pain from airbags deploying.

She’s “the girl” here because I’m watching her become all she is apart from me and yet not apart from me. I’m in no hurry to say “my daughter” because this is a person the world receives apart from any realization of me and she’s a wonder I like to witness and acknowledge apart from the blinders motherhood can be. All I could do in the aftermath was sit with tears of appreciation. She’s going to be just fine, Mama.

I had to leave her there on scene. That girl. Willful. She refused to leave before the grandma’s family arrived. So, knowing her to be cell phone armed and surrounded by emergency care workers, I finished my rescue of my niece, shaking my head as I drove off. She would be where I told her to be and all would be well.

But she wasn’t. She was ok. But across the street at a radio station sitting quietly with the woman and another passerby. And that passerby sat marveling to me about that girl. She’d left to call the family again, making sure they knew where to find their grandma. I just smiled and acknowledged the wonder of a girl, fearless, instantly concerned and eager to provide comfort.

And I waited in the car. Later the girl supreme told me the grandma said she had restored her faith in young people. Youth. Girls.

But she didn’t tell me until I had nudged her, mentioned the wonder of her unfolding response myself, suggesting maybe she should consider emergency response work (gulp). She had little to say. Mostly quiet again. Except to let me know that one thing about restoring faith.

Sometimes the universe puts us into these amazing twirling dance days of happenings orchestrated for the sole purpose of that one thing…to slam us into an appointment with faith.

Imagine that. And a girl. She makes my heart sing.

child of life, visiting grace on me for a season
the girl of a universe twirl…

Not Your Business…

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Quote by biographer Agnes de Mille in “Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham”

The world experienced a unique expression of vitality in the active life of someone I loved from a young age. And sometimes I circle ’round and ’round the conundrum in my mind created by the somewhat immature conflict over why it is I can be so very glad he did what he did when I don’t share in the basic premise of his beliefs, that we have all sinned and fallen short. But I land on this quote and find the conundrum is only in my mind.

The soul makes sense no rational thought can fully comprehend.

The one who had such a profound effect on many, and died this past Friday, was very much a “Christ-in-you,” highly religious person but oftentimes with an undercurrent of Zen flow. John was more like a highly believing inspiration. And it was a challenge to fathom that combination of Zen Christ-likeness. And in retrospect, I cannot fathom except through this quote.

“There is a vitality. A life force. A quickening.”

And in this one man, it was contagious. It came through and was received by many as a call to Christ. And when I walked away from what I had embraced of the semi-fundie world I formerly resided, that which came through was not completely lost. Love remained. Acceptance remained. The same soulful transaction took place but my “receptors” had changed. This is not true of everyone I’ve encountered from my past life. Their channels are clogged with judgement and fear. His were not.

We often, if not always, translate who we are by the sometimes ancient, sometimes recent code of dependency, particularly dependency on beliefs or thoughts we are either intentionally or unintentionally embracing. And in that translation, the world either rejects or embraces us. Or is ambivalent. John mostly experienced hearty acceptance and he embodied what is best known of Christ, beyond the ultimate sacrifice. He loved regardless of ________.

I have no stomach for sin-fixation or a basic premise of need for a savior. But in the celebration of John’s life, the undeniable reality shines through all the confusing mental riddles. He translated the life force we all partake of and that translation imparted hope, strength, a desire to live outside of fear and in love. Both in and out of the realms of semi-fundie confusion. He said often “You are the Your Name Here expression of Jesus.” And many were blown away by it. It set aside the “WWJD” fixation and required a personal expression of Christ. In my view, both in and out of that particular flavor of Christianity, it is the purest form of Christian practice, evoking the highest possible walk of integrity within the structure of that religion and it has my high regard.

And so today I came across this quote again from a source supreme. And I found peace in the words not because they solved the riddle as much as because they pointed me to the reality of soul, of life force and of how it is we can receive the best from those we may not totally agree with and we can receive because there is that life force nourishing us within and beyond all belief systems.

“Keep the channel open.” He was able to keep the channel open through his faith in Christ. And not many, in and out of Christianity, have found a way to keep that channel open. His life and passing into the next grand adventure reminds me that we don’t know what we think we know. “Christianity is bad because it…” The truth is, when we are sick within, whatever we embrace will be corrupted by that sickness until we face it, heal it and translate life anew. Whether we’re heavy into our atheism or our religion or…

Keep the channel open…accept who you are without denying how you’ve fallen short (we all do, whether we believe there’s this thing called “sin” or not) and…

stay in love.

New What?!

Things I’ve seen, been touched by, moved by, otherwise disturbed or encouraged by in the past month and 8 days…

…grass growing up from the cracks, carving inevitability across sidewalks of “progress”

…hearts reuniting after months of estrangement and breathing a sigh of relief in the refreshing flow

…lives suddenly torn away from each other by the oddest, most revealing turn of events (with some lingering unfortunate confusion)

…overhearing two of my children conversationally saying “I don’t think you realize how much I love you…” (!!!!!!!!!) (they were dealing with relationship strain, beautifully, and the one who said it first was NOT the female. that’s the kind of argument you like to overhear…)

…the news of a beautiful 23 year old in India dying after the most horrifying example of inhumanity

…the proclamation of Newtown, CT “We choose love…”

…realizations of love as a conspiracy in spite of all the tyranny and violence suggesting otherwise

…renewal of faith in fate (married passionately to free will, of course)

…free-falls into grace

…a shimmering color-filled halo around the moon with barefoot laughter and kids dragged out of bed to watch (on holiday)

…a string of “coincidental” encounters speaking purpose bigger than my own designs

…a cat fight (or 2?) o.O

…friendships strengthened

…concerts calling a symphony of diversity

…paradox making meaning

…the release of singing 5 minutes of my life as a musical

…brewing schemes for more good wickedness

…recognition (the annual one) that “new” year is a great concept, allowing us the opportunity to reflect and review our lives, and wish others all the best but it’s also just another day…

And that’s the stuff I can share…