Friday, April 29, 2011
Anne Sexton took it on herself and went through alone. Maybe she did. One cannot know such things despite appearances.
I said I would not act the part of a husband again. Live alone, I said to me, and liked the arrangement. The dying of a beloved, holding his hand when he goes—it's just hard. Know what I mean? Becoming a Beloved again after widowhood is more than my old friend, Doris, said of her choice to have an 80 year old man love her on weekends but never marry her. "I'm tired of washing men's socks," she told me. Granted, "socks" was no doubt a metaphor. But admitting the option of another marriage is more than that.
It's stirring the ashes of a fire that once burned. It's breathing those ashes. It's the dryness. It's the gagging and the tears. It's looking long into the empty furnace of the heart. It's the weight of the husbands forever after, the weight of their love. It's the presence. It's the wondering how the two of them are getting along in whatever realm follows this earthly one. Are they bound to one another, different as they are? Are they entwined like some spiritual rope? And if I add a third husband and he dies, what then?
Some things must not be said, but then again they must. They must be said, no matter the consequences.
The first husband told me, "death is not the worst of our fate." What is? Is it being left behind? That just sounds like self-pity, and I actually did like the freedom of aloneness. I liked riding the tractor mower and discovering I could fix the three-stage osmosis water filter underneath the kitchen sink. Widowhood's a complicated thing.
Then John Sack arrived in my life. I thought at first I would take Doris's approach. But too much about his presence felt like grace. He's an author; so am I. He's a former monastic; so am I. His is a contemplative spirit; so is mine. He lives simply; so do I. He wants to pray together; so do I. He wants us to read to each other; so do I. Both of us are septuagenarians. We feel that we've come home.
"And the days dwindle down to a precious few…"
Who will carry whom through? I wonder that, but it isn't enough of a wonder to turn me away from this risk of loving yet another time. So I rehearse. "I marry you, John…" (What might it mean that two of them are named John?) I marry you among these multitudes of souls, in this the beloved earth, for this moment and all the moments however many those might be. I marry you in surrender of control and acceptance of gift—mine to you and yours to me. I marry you in whatever brilliance and breath our God might be, in whatever magnificence and total love that is Divinity's self gift. I marry you in the commonness of our every day, the gentleness of touch, the stimulation of mind, the raising of spirit, the creativity of soul. I marry you with clouds for shelter, sunlight for witness, the moon to mark our transformations, God for the binding of our lives. I marry you for the culmination of this pilgrimage through the human realm and for the crossing of that threshold into what is More.
Let there be love. Let there be no end to it. Forever with all the beloveds for all eternity.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I don't want to walk the path of grief forever. Another dear friend who is grieving, having lost his wife only a few months ago, speculated about his own new and quite raw experience, and as I read his words I thought something like this: that the path of grief and the path of love cross and intersect, sometimes running as streams within each other. It is love, though, that finally becomes the larger stream, growing into a mighty river that holds the current of grief—now so imbued with love that it is transformed. It is a river of Gratitude. A river of Blessing. Grief adds depth and wisdom to love, and love sweetens grief. All of it turns into an ongoing presence of Life.
Before my first husband, Pat, died of cancer he told me that I must love again. The love must survive. Love was not so much the gift we gave to one another, but the Divine Gift that had been given to us and must continue to be given. "You are young," he said. "You must marry again."
Does that still hold true now that I am old?
Yesterday I visited Bennet who is almost 97. He sits all day long in his chair by the window at the home of his daughter, Sue. His face is smooth as a mirror. His nose hooks down toward his chin. His hand reaches out to take mine and his skin is dry and thin as parchment.
"How are you, today?" I asked him. "How do you feel?"
"I feel nothing." He told me. "Every day is the same."
"What does it feel like to be old?" I wondered aloud. "You are very old."
"I didn't know that." He looked at me. "They tell me I am, but I'm no different than I ever was."
Remember that old idiom: The more we change, the more we stay the same? I'm not sure of it. Though there's a way in which it is truer than it appears on the surface. Maybe it means that the more we change the closer we get to what is most constant in us, the still point around which the dance of existence whirls. The still point – this is what I think today – is love.
So, yes. I'm changing. Hopefully I will continue to change. Hopefully I will change wisely while love keeps its constancy. May all of us, as we age through the changes in our lives, grow ever closer to that stillness at the center where we each exist in wholeness and simplicity.
Dante put good words to it:
"But already my desire and my will
were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed,
by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars."
Thursday, April 14, 2011
As a writer I sometimes take a liking to some of my books more than to others. If those books don't get a fair shake in the publishing world I ache for them in a motherly sort of way. One of those "abandoned" books was a little meditation book titled FINDING STONE: A QUIET PARABLE AND SOUL-WORK MEDITATION.
Oh, it was published--initially by Lura Jane Geiger, who founded Lura Media Press. It was to have been her final publication before retirement. She really loved the manuscript, particularly the mediation about living life to the full. She called me and read my words to me over the phone:
I do not want merely to live; I want to engage life. I want to squeeze life like a tree-ripened orange, to carry life like a child. I want life to be my love. I want to breathe deeply and fill my lungs with life; let its blood rush to my head and out to my fingertips. I want to spread life around, plant it like seed, give it away as if it had no end, no limit, as if I were rich with it. I want to take life on like a warrior, to shake it, to wrestle, to tear it open to expose its heart. I want to weep with life, to tend its wounds, to run pure oil down deep into life's pain and sing while life heals. I want to be swept up in life's adventure, to go where life calls me, to climb mountains, explore caves. I want to refuse life nothing.
It felt to me as though she'd become a midwife for my work. But before we could bring the book to birth through the publishing process, Lura Jane found it necessary to retire. What a loss. But her top editor bought the company which became Innisfree Press. Her name was Marcia Broucek. Her design for the book thrilled me, and she published it to good reviews. It can be difficult, though, when a company changes hands right during publication of a work. The book can become a sort of stepchild after a short time. Besides that possibility is also the possibility that a small new company won't make it through the first few years. And, sadly, this happened to Innisfree Press.
A few copies of FINDING STONE remained in my closet, and I brought one out from time to time, sent it here and there to various publishers. But it had been published already, and had sold only a few thousand copies -- no matter that a few thousand were all that ever existed of the book, numbers count in this business.
After John and I found one another and joined our writing and publishing efforts in his long established but little used CYBERSCRIBE PUBLICATIONS, we began to explore the potential of E-publications on platforms such as Kindle, Nook, Sony, iPad, and others. As a result, both of us are launching several of our books for sale in that format. The first book I've launched is FINDING STONE. He's far ahead of me, with four of his already launched and a fifth in process. In defense of my slow pace: I need to enter/type most of my out-of-print books onto the computer before I can convert them to the appropriate format. I was still using WordPerfect and floppy disks when I wrote them. No longer do I have readable electronic copies. But the new manuscripts--those I have. Five novels and at least three memoirs. What if I decide to just skip the regular publisher and publish directly to the electronic platforms? Already Amazon.com is selling more Kindle books than traditional ones. Even while writing this thought, I know that I intend to send my memoir, DARK FLIGHT, to Ave Maria Press in hopes that they will want to publish it in the more traditional way. And even while writing THAT thought, I know that I'll attempt to keep the E-publishing rights in order to launch it in that format simultaneously with a trade-paperback edition.
Look us up! You'll find all my available books at Amazon.com. CIRCLE OF MYSTERIES (book and CD) and ALTAR MUSIC can still be purchased in trade paperback. Some of them are on the second-hand market. FINDING STONE and ALTAR MUSIC are both available on Kindle. Just search my name: Christin Lore Weber.
John's there also. John R. Sack (There's another John Sack and their books get mixed together sometimes. The other one was a Journalist.) Several of 'our' John's books remain available in paperback or hard cover. All soon will be available electronically as well. FRANCISCAN CONSPIRACY; ANGEL'S PASSAGE; WOLF IN WINTER; YEARNING FOR THE FATHER; and a short story: "Blood-Brother Bear."