Zuraw

Zuraw bowed deep and low.

It was the honored way to begin his daily meditation with Marilyn. Every morning before the sun rose, Zuraw would gently lift his recorder off the shelf. He had a fine stand to hold it.

Zuraw walked around the neighborhood on trash days and picked up what he called his “lonely lost ones,” things that didn’t matter any longer to some but were precious to him.

This “lonely lost one,” the stand, was small and gold, a perfect fit for his green plastic recorder with tape wrapped three times around to hold the mouthpiece on. It always had to be three. Three was the perfect number, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as he was taught in his youth. The stand cradled the recorder with loving arms.

Zuraw imagined the stand once propped up a photo of a passionate and deep love. When that love broke, Zuraw pictured in his mind the photo being gently removed from the stand with one hand, a match lit with the other, and the tip of the fire kissing one corner of the photo.

In his mind Zuraw could see the blue flames licking up the face of the photo turning it to ash. Then the same hand that once held the fire, lifted the stand, not wanting to leave any bit of memory of the sourness of love gone bad, and placing it in the paper bag stained with grease from that night’s Chinese take out.

Recorder in hand, Zuraw slipped out the window, going through the door would make too much noise and might wake the others. He met Marilyn in their usual place, across the street, in the park, under the tree.

The city street was still quiet. The buzz would begin in an hour or so, just enough time for Zuraw and Marilyn to complete their daily ceremony.

Zuraw found Marilyn waiting. Marilyn was a fire sprit.

Now, one would assume a fire sprite to be small and quick and a bit mischievous. Some days that was true. Today, however, Marilyn was sleepy and decided that an elephant was much more to her pleasure.

Zuraw loved Marilyn and always wanted to share her with others, but no one could ever seem to see her. He would point out exactly where she was, the tracks she made, whether it was moose tracks or ash trail. Using his finger, he would outline her exact shape and ask people to step more closely and give her a sniff. Of course Zuraw would only ask people to sniff Marilyn when she took the shape of a grape flavored iris or cup of rainwater.

But no one but Zuraw could ever experience Marilyn. That was all right with Zuraw. It made her much like one of his “lonely lost ones,” but one he would never throw in the trash.

Zuraw bowed.

Marilyn lifted her foot and tapped the ground in acceptance.

Then Zuraw began to play.

When Zuraw first moved to the city from Costa Rica and began his morning concerts, some residents complained. So he moved from the apartment to the front steps. Then from the front steps of the apartment to across the street, in the park, under the tree.

Not everyone complained. Even three years later, a few residents would still grab their morning brew, open their windows and sit on their ledges waiting for the sunrise to be welcomed by Zuraw’s melodies. Not one of Zuraw’s audience would ever start their day blue listening to his music.

Marilyn’s eyes closed and Zuraw smiled. He knew he chose the right song this morning. When Marilyn was big and lumbering he knew she needed to sleep, so he chose a simple tune, a lullaby to ease Marilyn’s mind. The day would proceed much better that way.

Swaying to the music, Marilyn eased herself down bending first her hind legs and then the front, gracefully lowering her silver wrinkled body into the sweetly dewed grass.

Zuraw swayed with the wind curling through the trees branches. And Moe, leaning back against the window ledge from across the street, watched the steam from his coffee rise and sway into the new dawn.

From all accounts, it would be a good day.

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Author’s Note:

We meet Sunday to write.

I started a group for writers at my church, A Church of the Holy Family, ECC. We meet every Sunday afternoon from 4:00 – 5:30. Hence the name, Sunday Afternoon Writers.

Everyone is welcome. Sometimes it’s easier to explain what we don’t do. We don’t come to critique our writing, red pens in hand.

We come to write – whatever we want. I supply a prompt. Writers choose to use it all, part of it, or none. We write for half an hour and then we share. If writers prefer not to share, it is honored.

There is a presence when everyone writes in the quiet, without noise, without talking. There is an energy and a vitality that feeds the soul. And when we share, we are sharing a part of our hearts and our lives and that is deeply honored.

This is what writing is all about.

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My piece above is from last Sunday’s prompt. I supplied the photo below. Unfortunately there was not artist given on the Facebook page where I found it. If you know, please comment below and I will add gladly add the attribution for this lovely work.

We each started with a small piece of paper without seeing the photo. The first thing we wrote was the name of a color. Then we passed the slip of paper to our left. Next we wrote a name from our childhood and passed the paper again. We repeated the process writing down a place, an ice cream flavor, and a feeling/emotion. One last pass to the left and we turned the paper over to find this photo:

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We then wrote for half an hour.

These were my words: blue, Marilyn Zuraw, Costa Rica, Moose Tracks, blue

Harlot

After sunset, as azure deepens into cobalt, I lay
myself down on a wrought iron table, a weathered

appointment to my backyard. It is a quiet wild place
with a simple narrative. Urban born coyotes, at times,

in the distance. Rabbits, always rabbits, ignored
by my dog. Once, an owl. And recently, doves. My gaze

above through undulating branches of ash catches
a clear spot, a free  peek at the universe. The afternoon

storm carried away July’s rage that christened our day,
yielding a healing baptism of breath. Cool flows over my

bare arms, down my legs, around my feet. I would prefer
to guide each button until undone, dropping my livery

into a puddle around my ankles leaving me unembellished.
But modesty, even in shapeless darkness, is pressed here

in the suburbs. A red hot star, the color of harlots, of
Magdalene misunderstood, a flashback to the burn

of midday, catches my eye with a blink. What does the
color red have to say about a soul seven times released?

Are there demons I walk with unaware, each one’s
diminution a step closer to the Sacred? Sanguine flowed

from His veins mapping a path. In my bittersweet days
I gaze into a mirror and see the Divine, leaving demons

behind. In my face and yours I caress Brilliance and in
the night sky I am remembered, exaulted in a crimson flash.

My Child, A Lament for Peace

My child,
Never forget you are
a child of the Beloved,
rocked in her gracious arms,
held safe under his gaze.
You are a child of the Beloved.
Not one of you turned away.
Not one of you held closer
than the other.

My child,
You are sisters and brothers of
one another, one family in the Beloved.
The earth does not belong to you,
its land and fruits, all gifts to be shared,
gifts to be tended,
just as the Beloved nurses you.

My child,
you are a child of the Beloved.
Not one of you more precious,
not one of you more cherished
than the other.
Mother and terrorist,
teacher and gunman,
oppressed and the oppressor,
rest in the lap of the Beloved
swathed in forgiveness,
all made whole.

My child,
do not forget you are a child
of the Beloved, compassion
and grace rain down upon you
with boundless, unselfish passion.

My child,
Child of the Beloved,
in gratitude,
be a mirror of your Beloved.

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Author’s Note:

I struggled for a long time with how to write this poem. What form it should take? What exactly did I want to say?

I am a first grade teacher. Sandy Hook.

I live in Aurora. The Aurora Movie Theatre Shooting.

I live in Colorado. Columbine.

I am a United States citizen. 911.

The rest of the world has experienced terrorism for millennia, much longer and more intimately than I have. These current killings – Gaza and Ukraine – brought me back to the empty page.

I don’t know if it is due to my recent study of the Gospel of John with Fr. Scott Jenkins at my church. If it is the Celtic kirtan chant project I am involved in, with Macushla introducing me to the Irish lament. My recent immersion into Mary Magadlene, giving voice to her story in a monologue I wrote and will be performing later this year. Or my satsang friend, a mother, with a daughter in Israel and another friend, a mother, whose mother and father live in Palestine. It must be combination of all of these events and people that kept me from sleep this evening, muses that finally led me to this poem.

The insanity of killing one another must stop. I don’t know how, but I think it is summed up in a quote I read earlier this night from an Israeli. In response to a call for prayer from the Book of Isaiah, he said rather eloquently and simply:

“AMEN to Shalom over ego.”

I wish you peace this night and a blessing of surrender of ego.

 

 

Here is one of Macushla’s songs, “We Are Beloved of God.”

 

There, then

When the day rests, not just slows down,
but kicks off its shoes and leans back,
silences everything inside itself to allow
only a gentle breeze to kiss my face,

there, then
I feel You wrapping
your gentle breath around me.

I touch You. Not aureate icons shining
gold or marble statues chipped smooth
by artist hands. Not drunken hues dripping
from canvasses, but the soul of You.

There, then
it is just the two of us sheathed
in midnight blue of your eyes.

I hear your voice on leaf tipped branches,
in green gardened earth, through flowing
currents. A wordless welcome, a fall so
deep into You I forget myself and linger.

It is there and then
I know I am yours and You are mine.

Midsummer’s Fever

The monsoon has moved on. The wind
is stilled. Leaden scarves blown from

evening’s facade unveil a keen indigo
backdrop of lucent stars flickering in

approval. The cool edge of rainstormed
nights has softened to a mellow flush.

I know what this means. Soon swelter
will make its entrance without remorse.

Days will simmer and nights will swoon,
not as lovers impassioned, but indifferent

consorts consummating their roles in
midsummer’s fervor. We will groan with fever

and sleep uneasy until once more, day pares
down and eventide spreads politely obliged.

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Author’s Note:

Our summer heat is finally arriving. They say it will be close to 100 degrees tomorrow. Almost, but not quite a record. The monsoon and cool weather has made for green grass and lush gardens this year without the need for too much extra watering. A summer blessing for this dry, hot state of Colorado. As always, I will welcome the fall.

Petrichor

Did you hear it last night, the midsummer
monsoon swamping the cracked dry earth.

Did you notice your room alight, thunderbolts
flashing a declaration of might ever greater

than ourselves. Night storms darken our
hearts with shadowed worry, fears of what

morning’s illumination will bring. I reach
for your hand in the fury of the storm, holding

fast your to warmth, strength endowed. We
wait patiently for the scent of rain on cracked

dry earth after the clouds move on. It is not
hard rock earth forms to harbor safety but

the fluid that flows from the vein of God
baptizing us with promise. It is the scent

of dust after the storm that purifies the day,
a scent of hope that all will be well.

And it will.

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Author’s note:

Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɨkɔər/) is the scent of rain on dry earth, or the scent of dust after rain. The word is constructed from Greekpetros, meaning ‘stone’ + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. It is defined as “the distinctive scent which accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell”.

A very special thank you to my friend, Gary Sedlacek, for bringing this word to my attention this morning. It was just what I needed for my poem, one that had been lingering for a few days on an almost empty page. Thank you, Gary.

Today

I feel the need today to open our hearts.

Yes, that means sacrifice. But understanding we are all in this together, that we are all created by One, makes me think that the way we have handled things isn’t working. The more we think we are “right” and fight to be “right” and to keep the stuff we’ve sold our souls to prove we are “right”, we strangle our ability to see each other as sisters and brothers.

I have a dear friend whose daughter lives in Israel and is running to bomb shelters at least twice a day. I have Palestinian friends with family also seeking shelter daily. All the while both sides are fighting because each side thinks they are “right.”

I’ve had children in my school who came to this country with their families seeking refuge from the horrors of their homeland. I think of my grandparents, one set from Poland, the other Yugoslavia, coming to America to escape war, hunger, and fear. Today, these children crossing our borders don’t care about being “right,” they want to be safe.

What is the poem on the base of our Statue of Liberty? The New Colossus is a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

I read a quote recently reminding me that Jesus started out as a child in exile. He asked of us one thing.

          But remember the root command: Love one another.”
                                                                      (John 15:9-16)

Love one another. Three simple words, but, oh, so hard to do. That means not to judge or condemn, explaining in case we needed the explanation. Just love one another. Period.

I wonder about why we always turn to war as the answer. Wasn’t it Einstein who said the definition of insanity is always doing what you’ve always done and expect something to change?

Maybe I’m naive and simple minded. Yes, it means letting go of ego and the physical stuff that the ego gorges on. But maybe, just maybe, if we stop focusing on that ego, we could see more clearly what we are doing not only to the souls who walk this earth, but Mother Earth herself.

Love one another. I wish we could just try it for a day and see what happens.

We can start. That’s how change happens. One person at a time, and that person is our self. Start there. Just one day? Not loving the “stuff” that defines us, but the Spirit that resides in each of us, no matter what we name the Spirit, it’s One and the Same.

At our end that’s all that will matter – our self. Not the stuff. So let’s one day take care of that beautiful soul that is us and recognize and uplift and care for It in others, too. Maybe, just maybe it will catch on.