Within One Flower

Life and Death WM

Those horrible shows,
loathsome portrayals,
at our worst.

The glory of ugliness,
violence, hate, death,
only self.

Others as objects,
to be groped or killed,
mostly both.

I sob.

 

Those horrible souls,
our human leaders,
real people.

Hurting others, self,
compassionless works,
for power.

“For me! For mine! Us!
But not for those ones,
they are evil!”

I ache.

 

Is this how it is?
Is this how we are?
Imperfect.

Fallible. Hateful.
Doomed in disregard.
Abhorrent!

Is this our essence?
Must we die hating?
Our nature?

I sigh.

 

Nature replies, “Look!”
Extravagantly,
life springs.

Glorious joy speaks,
we’re naturally,
beautiful.

Greens, purples, yellow!
Abundant red & blues!
Colors sing!

I hope.

 

But, death, pain, win-lose,
storms, quakes, heat, eaten.
Our Ecosystem.

Colors sing and fade,
joy comes, goes, returns,
life and death.

This is how it is.
Good, evil, hurt, joy.
Love and hope.

I see.

 

Within one flower,
budding, wounds, and death,
and rebirth!

In each life is love,
suffering, trauma,
and deep loss.

Grief, joy, grace each come,
brokenness wants Hate,
it will call.

I choose.

 

Just like the flower,
fiend and saint within,
Choice abounds!

Inside one human,
pain, healing, joy, love,
I can dance!

Within one flower,
both bud and wilt charm,
beautify.

I can, too.

___

Photo: Life & Death, 2017 © Tim Graves
Poem: Within One Flower, 2017 © Tim Graves

 

 

The Joyous Dance in the Now

Dancers WM

I want to be like the leafless trees.

No, not the post-fall autumn trees,
but the aging branch-challenged.

I want to lose my leaves,
become less virile and firm,
more twisted and pained,
and still dance as each season passes.

I want to rejoice at life as it is,
not as it was or will be but as it is.

___

Photo: Dancing, 2017 © Tim Graves
Poem: The Joyous Dance in the Now, 2017 © Tim Graves

 

The Colon Tiger

As Maggie drove me home following my procedure, I gulped water and munched on the snack of fruit I’d packed for this moment. Relief washed over me like baptismal waters. To be sure, the anesthesia contributed to my high but it was fueled by pure emotion.

Indischer_Maler_um_1650_(II)_001
By Deutsch: Indischer Maler um 1650 (II) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For weeks I’ve experienced just-beneath-the-surface anxiety about my second colonoscopy. My first, three years ago, resulted in the removal of my right colon three days later. I was physically healthy then, too. I anticipated a clean bill of health and ended up out of work and recovering for months.

And, so, my anxiety before my second colonoscopy was about more than the dread of the prep. What if my healthy-self was not so healthy again? Had I run my last run? Would I be pulled out of work — work I love — to tend to my health? Was my body silently betraying me as it had seemed to three years ago?

Rational analysis of the events of three years ago (no cancer, aggressive treatment, full recovery) might lead to the expectation that I’d be munching fruit en route to pizza following my second colonoscopy but…

We experience life through our emotions.

Though my self-talk had me convinced all would be well, my emotional interpretation lies in wait for a time of weakness. It was like a patient tiger stalking prey. I was first aware of the pouncing emotional tiger during my 24-hours of fasting prior to the procedure.

My growling emotions exploited my hunger.

I re-felt all those feelings of three years ago as my growling tum begged for solid food. The fears, the dependency, the drug-induced paranoia, the physical weakness, and a profound sense of mortality scratched and clawed at my rationality.

The tiger’s irrationality clawed at me during colon prep, too. I cried over stupid shows and yelled at the dog. The morning of the procedure I picked a fight with my wife over an inconsequential matter. In hindsight, I can even see the tiger of previous emotions impacting my reactions to unrelated matters weeks ahead of time.

Our past experiences influence how we feel in the here and now. I worried not because it was a productive emotion but because I am my past experiences and emotions. Though my awareness of my past emotions can help me prevent them from controlling my behavior, I will never be fully free of my past. The absence of a right colon is part of who I am.

I’m more empathetic. I can hear the fears of others facing medical concerns more deeply. I feel with them in ways that I might otherwise not. That stalking emotional tiger doesn’t just claw and scratch. Sometimes it’s more like A.A. Milne’s Tigger who pounces out of the shadows joyfully knocks me over and licks my face. Even in its power over me, my emotional tiger loves me and helps me to love others more fully.

I would never have chosen the events of three years ago but I do not regret them. I think I’ll keep my colon tiger.

Related Posts

God Hides God’s Face From Me! May 20, 2014
Unnatural, May 21, 2014
Out of Chaos, May 27, 2014
No Big Deal, May 29, 2014
Mortality, June 3, 2014
Wiped Memories, June 6, 2014
Perseverance, June 10, 2014
Scars, June 19, 2014
Embracing Emotions, July 2, 2014
An Unexpected Onion, January 14, 2015
One Year Ago Today, March 28, 2015
The Long & Short of It, March 29, 2016
The Colon Tiger, October 19, 2017

Runner’s Bliss

 

 

Hidden UnderneathWM
Hidden Nature © Tim Graves

 

running urban.
retail, noise, traffic, distracted drivers.

concrete, loose gravel, strewn trash.
watch out. don’t get hit.
running urban.

running rainy.
spit, drizzle, cool.

cool air, damp air, rain-filled air.
trust your feet. drop-fogged glasses.
running rainy.

running secrets.
pathways around and beside.

beneath, tucked away, nearby.
allow the ahhh. it’s for you.
running secrets.

running urban.
running rainy.
running secrets.

hidden nature.
runner’s bliss.

 

 

Wholeness

My wife had an outpatient procedure. The first time I accompanied her to one of these procedures, I was left in the curtained prep and recovery area when she went into the surgical unit. And I stayed. And I fretted. Alone, beneath fluorescent bulbs I cried. I worried. I played out the worst in my head. I barely resisted dumping my panicky feelings on my daughter via text.

This time, I wandered downstairs, bought an apple, and found the hospital’s Healing Garden. The warm summer sun warmed my spirit as I wandered the Healing Garden and chomped on my apple. As I admired the floral symphony, I wasn’t alone this time. The Holy Spirit touched my worries, acknowledged them but reminded me of the love that flowed through doctor’s fingers, nurse’s skills, and anesthesiologist’s watchfulness.

 

Tiny PerfectionWMSunburstWMJoy IncarnateWM

On a Summer Balcony

On a Summer Balcony

Breeze moves across bare legs,
knees remember long pants,
and toes yearn for socks.

The heat, so bright,
ignores the shadows,
on the northside.

Summer voices surf in on the breeze,
reminding the shadows that the sun,
will expose its secrets soon enough.

But for now the cool shadows,
are only pierced by rattling dishes below,
and memories within that do not forget.

 

White Trucks

There is a white pickup truck near my home. I see it when I walk the dog. It catches my attention when I take my morning runs. The racism oozes from this particular truck. The truck sports a large window sticker bearing these words: “White Trucks Matter.”

No. This is not funny.

Humor has a way of revealing our beliefs, convictions, or values. Our laughter-disclosed feelings are sometimes those things of which we are not proud. A self-aware and moral response to revelations about ourselves can lead us to personal growth and change. Noting what we find funny can be an impetus to lessening unconscious ways in which we act in racist ways.

Sadly, the owner flaunts his racist values. Though you and I may not post racist signs on the back of our vehicles, we have a lot of growing to do. For those of us who are white, a willingness and awareness of our privilege is critical. Whether revealed by our humor or not, failing to accept the existence of our own privilege, denying systemic racism and privilege which benefits us, is no less offensive than “white trucks matter.”

___

Additional Information

TEDx Hampshire College: Jay Smooth – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU

On Racism & White Privilege
http://www.tolerance.org/article/racism-and-white-privilege

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, National SEED Project
https://nationalseedproject.org/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack

White Privilege: Let’s Talk, United Church of Christ
http://privilege.uccpages.org

 

I Sent Her Away

The child, without affect, and the mother with earnest tone showed up on my churchstep. Cardboard (begging) sign tucked beside baby. Lots of words spoken quickly. Perhaps well-rehearsed. Perhaps not.

Rent due. No job. No money. How much is your rent? $500. More words. Many words. Diligent and speedy words.  Let me see what I can find out. I’ll be right back.

I return with little. Empty hands really. Have you tried FISH? Helping Hands? More words. Rent. No job. No money. The air filled with earnestness and (only later I perceived) panic.  Give me $300. No job. No money. Diapers.

FISH can help with diapers. Words. Fast. Eyes. Brown eyes yearning. For cash. Brown eyes yearning for relief. Quiet baby in stroller. No affect. No gurgles or babbles, smiles or cries.

I don’t have money for rent. You can come back for a meal on Tuesday. Too little (I know). More words. Begging words.  Desperate words (though I didn’t realize it until later).

I’m sorry. We have no money for your rent.  I’m sorry.

You’re not sorry. You didn’t give me any money.

Moments after she leaves, I run to catch her with a one time rent referral in hand. I stop at the door with still-little but something. Very little. A slight hope. But it’s not rent she really needs.  Cash. Words. Fast words. No job. No money.

Two big men got out of van. She gets in. They are gone.

Sigh.

Nagging feelings. Cloud hanging. Piecing together, a member gave her food. Another gave her cash. She’d set up shop at edge of parking lot with that cardboard sign and sad, emotionless child.

But it’s the tone I missed. It was the bursting with desperation I failed to grasp.

The child, without affect, and the mother with earnest tone left behind horror in my mind. The desperation. The two big men in the van. The dull child.

She was in need. Desperate words. Earnestness and panicky words. Pleading brown eyes. She needed help but I fear it was not with rent.

And I sent her away.

___

Related

The Blue Campaign, Department of Homeland Security
National Human Trafficking Hotline