Thanksgiving as a collect

After cleaning the kitchen we scraped dough off the chairs and floor, put caps on all the markers, picked up all the smooshed cranberries and bits of turkey that covered the floor, put all the toys away, made tea and then sat down, each on our respective couches.

“what are you thinking?” my mom asked me from across the hall.

“if i should read or not.” i answered. i sat in silence, listened to a few songs and then picked up the only book that was in the room.

“What are you reading?” my mom called to me.

“prayers.” i answered.

“can you read some to me?” she called out from her couch.

i started with the collects, “Assist us mercifully, O Lord,” I began. “that among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may be defended by thy most gracious help.”.

I continued. “Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that Your words which we have heard with our outward ears, may, through thy grace, be so grafted inwardly in our hearts…”

‘say that one again,” my mom asked. I read a few more prayers before she stood up to go to bed. As she rose she asked me “What are you grateful for, Mikaela?”

“I guess this book.” i said.


 

Thanksgiving as a collect

One of the reasons I’m really grateful for The Common Book of Prayer finding me now in life is because I don’t have much to say ‘of my own accord’ these days. I find myself wanting to just be a human being and not be a Christian anymore. I don’t know how this will work. It’s not like I can simply discard the theological framework I have been living out of. I don’t want to adopt some other religious mindset, like a Buddhist mindset, or a unitarian mindset. I probably very much essentially still am a Christian. But the problem remains that I do not want to be a Christian. I just want to be human and that’s it.

My friend called me on her cigarette break from motherhood and asked me if I wanted to do a Francis Chan bible study with her. I politely declined. “I’m trying to get away from Christian things I think” I said. “Oh, that’s not good.” she said. I continued to explain myself, “I don’t know why Patty, I just can’t. I’m still going to read the Bible.” …”Okay, i think i get it.” she said. “i think i know what you mean.”

And while this is going on, I find The Common Book of Prayer to be okay. I can’t help but have a relationship with God, i realized. (more so it is very unlikely that God will at this point in my life refrain from reaching out to me)

No matter what decisions I make in the coming weeks and months about whether or not I will continue on in a church body, get involved in a church, whether or not i listen to sermons, whether i tithe or not, the fact is, i am. I live in a world I didn’t make, I exist in a family I didn’t choose…For these two reasons alone, I can justify reading the Common Book of Prayer. (after abandoning all other Christian rites) I still want to have a means to reach out to God. Maybe because part of being human is so intrinsically connected with communication. And if communication with people is so complex and difficult, maybe its normal to have something like a guide, by which to show me how I might (if I so desired) communicate with God.

 

 

 

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The art of failing

“Good art is incomplete. Never finish a piece of art.” –Mr. Jim


∇ This girl told me she spent a year working on a teeny, tiny drawing. She went to art school because she wanted to make gigantic pieces of art, but by the end of it, she discovered that tiny art was cheaper to make.  She spent a year working on this super tiny 4X4  canvas. After a year, she held in her hands a masterpiece; something she could be proud of.

I hold in my hands something too. it is a 9X11 certificate of withdrawal, which I stood in line for. It isn’t quite something that signifies accomplishment. It contains no brush strokes.  In terms of its worth, it doesn’t mean much of anything.

∇ In my inbox sits unanswered emails from Professors. You were tardy. I need to see you after class. Why didn’t you turn in your learning logs, did you even do them? etc. etc. I have attached an extra copy of the syllabus to remind you of the times and dates this class meets. email. email. You need to withdraw, even though I’m not supposed to tell you that.

Heart sinking. In the back of my mind is the Jewish wedding song, “You took this madness on yourself.” The sad song starts playing and I start to see my hand in front of me, held out towards the canvas. I’m making art. Tiny red markings. Red x’s.

The canvas fills up. F. ..C. ..D… F…. The light comes in through the window. I can see the lines of each little mark, dot and line connecting and stretching across the canvas to form a web of self-authenticated failure.  It’s not the fly that was caught this time, but the spider.

As I look at this piece of art, I see a picture that reveals the flaw to be unjustifiable. It’s not the system to blame this time, its not the corruption of mankind around me, not the actions of any other person, but me and me only who is to blame for this. This piece of trashy art which symbolizes my academic collapse. My beautiful transcript; my hope for an easier life, a brighter future: staring back at me as if it had just been regurgitated out of a vomiting pig. And down it goes, swirling down the garbage drain. Good-bye school. Good-bye classes which i loved, good-bye transcript, good-bye financial aid, good-bye classmates, professors. good-bye.

And just like that, the past three months of wasted labor are sucked down the drain. Vanity.

Vanity. All is vanity.


 

What I did learn, however, is that it’s impossible to please everyone. It’s impossible to focus on too many things. And although it’s not crucial to have a good home environment to be successful as a student, it definitely helps to have a place to live where you feel comfortable.

The good news is that I now am able to empathize with my dad more than ever. I figured out the reason why he would joke about poisoning himself when we were kids. It was because he felt like a total failure.

And it is somewhat inebriating in itself, (the very act of failing) to see that you have not created what you wanted to with what you were given: that you aren’t the person you want to be.  and wow, just wow…how easy it is to fall back into the same old shit.  it’s hard to accept responsibility after you fail. It’s easy to blame others and so hard to face yourself and to realize that your actions caused this.


 

The hardest part is realizing that even if there is a new beginning, there is another chance that you will fail again, that you may never get the outcome that you want. Nevertheless, come Sunday, I will be starting my new list of goals on this blank white space which exists on the flip side of my withdrawal certificate.

  • figure out what is worth it to me
  • help mom clean the garage
  • acclimate to being back in this weird town
  • unpack
  • get a job
  • save for a car

 

 

The art of guarding


Behold! A stranger
he knocks!

friendly
guised
an angel of night

the door is covered in shards of glass
but the stranger comes knocking
deceptive hands

strange, that he should come?
i alone, open up to him

here is my house
here is my heart
here is my home

Behold! such mystery
such wonder!
Oh to be held in the arms of another

Fainted
used
a stranger’s amuse

the kitchen is invaded with ants
they won’t go away
still i spray

strange, that he should leave?
i alone, behold the mystery
of a hollow shell
a person who was once becoming,
now sucked dry
and shrunk
taken captive by desires

a fleeting house i built
a temporary wall
built merely to fall

here, i stand
against the earth
against the tide
my soul rages with unnatural fires

what shelter once was
the stranger took with him

here, i am
a human being who has lost her strength
beneath a bleak night sky

no stars
no breath
no wonders

And what mystery once was is now defiled
gnarly fire
breathtaking desire

Behold! The wind
it comes at last

This is the art of sheltering

I feel the wind
like a mighty current
a ceaseless storm
a rainy night
a warrior’s cry
a phantom’s wish
a goodnight kiss
and all at once
pure love
pure desire

This is the art of sheltering

Behold! The trees
they come at last

they traveled from a far
they started small

carved
refined
shaped and established
a house is built around me

wood as cedar
smells so sweet

And I for once, stand enclosed
in warmth
in shelter

Behold! What wakens Dawn’s splendor?
it seeps in through the cracks in the wood
it awakens light in me

This is the art of sheltering