I wanted to go to the beach, to sit and look at the ocean and feel myself come back to life.
Alas…I went to work, and then to the library, and floated among the stacks in the basement looking for a book that would be as wide open as the ocean. I left with G.K. Chesterton‘s Everlasting Man, Madeleine L’Engle‘s Penguins and Golden Calves (a discussion of icons with the backdrop of a trip she made to Antarctica…at the age of 74) and The Ordering of Love, an exhaustive collection of her poetry.
I went to Panera Bread and sat out on the patio with some iced tea, letting my winter-in-the-library skin bake in the sun like I was on a boat deck, and I loosed the moorings.
Didn’t even touch Chesterton, because I became lost in L’Engle’s poetry. Brilliant. She says, “Poetry, at least the kind I write, is written out of immediate need; it is written out of pain, joy, and experience too great to be borne until it is ordered into words. And then it is written to be shared.” I share the former reason with her…I’ve found poetry to be a portal leading out of myself when the weight is too much to bear. I don’t share mine often, but I probably would if it was like hers.
She’s my new hero, Madeleine L’Engle. She seems like she’s embraced life and her own humanity in all its heartbreaking, sensual, victorious glory. I’ve never read much of her, but she’s written over 50 books and I can’t wait to get to know her more.
My favorite from the day, The Samaritan Woman at the Well, paints the Incarnation in imagery I’ve never seen before.
The Samaritan Woman at the Well
The waters are wild, are wild.
Billows batter with unchannelled might.
A turmoil of waves foams on the ocean’s face
wind-whipped the waters hurl
the rivers rush
fountains burst from the rocks
the rapids break huge boulders into dust
the skies split with torrential rains
waters meet waters
the wind and waves are too tumultuous
no one can meet them and survive
In this wilderness of water
we shall all be drowned
the ocean cannot be compassed
I weep, I die
Put my tears in your bottle
the water is in a cup
(O Lord open thou our lips)
Is it any less water
because you have contained it for us
in a vessel we can touch?