Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sacrament

Your throne is draped in white.
Your seat, this home from home 
full of soft light, 
of slanting shadows.
This tiny corner of a spinning planet,
this space in which you find me, draw me,
sit me down, make me still, 
create a cord of love and silence stretched between us 
taut as the string of a can telephone 
down which words travel.  
Here am I, still for one moment, held,
transfixed, transfigured in your heart all full 
of slanting shadows 
and soft words, this quiet corner 
that is the center of the spinning world.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Hollow Woman

I would be hollow.

Hollowed rather--perfect passive
tense--perfectly active action--
pain in limb and line and listing:
murky mind muddling to mountains,
cliffs of fall to find clarity
scattered in scraps and crumbs on the carpet.

And I would be hollow, empty
as the Heavens are empty, hollow:
filled with frightening secret spaces,
infinite spaces

where Love may dwell.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Grace

A gravel truck swayed
down the road (potholed, uneven) and as it
bumped round a bend too fast one handful of crushed
stone fell from the pile, scattered
over the roadway and
it was not gravel any more

but lace

on a dancer's skirt, grace,
spray of flower, sweep of sea
or the way my lover's hands touch me
in passing.  Beauty winks
from her shadows, red light blinks and

here's my turn.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hashtag Blessed

There have been so many Christmases I've battled to get through.  So many Christmas Eve Masses I've sat wondering what I was even doing there, why I was still trying to believe, celebrating a salvation I felt I couldn't possibly be included in.  Crying on the way home in the car.  Dreading having to see friends and relatives, make eye contact, talk to them, pretend.  Begging God to work a miracle for me, raging at Him when no miracle came.

This year wasn't like that.  Yes, I was anxious.  Tired.  Periodically cranky and impatient.

I was also full of joy and peace, those Christmas cliches.

Cliches are so not-cliche when you find them real suddenly.

And miracles, miracles are slow, I find.  Comprised of tens of thousands of hours of sleep, dabs of toothpaste, meals eaten when you'd rather throw up, appointments kept in sweat-stained pajamas, and small white pills faithfully swallowed.

Hundreds of thousands of prayers.

Depression is not gone.  It's in my cells, my physical makeup, right there with my nose and hair and nice ankles and adult acne.  I have to do a hundred things a day to keep anxiety at bay: pray, eat, rest, breathe, take pills, pray.

But there is also joy.  There is peace.  I get to make some of my own decisions these days, and finding I am able to choose to pursue joy and peace, even on the hard days, instead of being wholly subject to the whims of my brain chemistry, is an incredible gift.

What I'm trying to say here is that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't just a mirage any more.

I want to thank those of you who have prayed for me these last six years, since my 2009 breakdown.  And those who've supported me in other ways: emotionally, spiritually, financially, by watching Doctor Who with me and taking me on hiking trips and making me write and acting with me and hugging me and fasting.  You know who you are, I hope.

I love you.  Thank you.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Not Meryl

Here's the thing: I'm not going to be Meryl Streep.

Or Tatiana Maslany.  Or Idina Menzel.  The woman who gets to act for thousands of people, to connect with thousands of people and make them see something wonderful.  I'm never going to be her.

I'm never going to be the world-renowned classicist, either.  You know, the one everybody defers to on the matter of Greek accent marks and their effects on pronunciation.  Not happening.

I'm not going to be the amazing musician, the famous blogger, or the eminent novelist.

I'm not going to be that super holy lady whom everyone goes to for advice and asks to be their kids' godmother.  

I'm not going to be the housewife who makes her own soap and bone broth and fresh bread on Saturdays.  

I'm not going to be an Etsy sensation.

I'm not going to be a great apologist or theologian.  

In all honesty, I'm probably going to keep being what I am: the uptight, holier-than-thou, antisocial grammar nazi with dirty hair and a smattering of education, who stays up all night and can't pay off her student loans.  Who loves her life and also occasionally, paradoxically hates it at the same time.  Whose eyes are always bigger than her ability to cope.  

Who adamantly refuses to believe that there isn't some bigger design and purpose guiding her life, even when it doesn't make sense.

Here's to Not Meryl Streep.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Silk And Purple

I used to say I hated makeup.

It was not strictly true.

I hate feeling like I'm wearing a second, artificial face on top of my real face.  I hate feeling like I have no choice in the matter--like I am only beautiful when I am made up, like I am not good enough without it.  And I hate walking down the street and seeing six different young women and girls with the same face, all carefully powdered and daubed to fit the narrow stricture of what is beautiful this month.

I don't like the notion that anyone has to change who they are or fit a fictional standard in order to be acceptable.

However.

I like being able to cover up my PMS breakouts with mineral foundation, if I feel like it.  I like being able to pull off a subtle smoky eye and feel subtly edgy and mysterious and feminine.  I like merlot lipstick, plum mascara, lavender liner.  I like that there are so many different words for the color purple, and that I can wear them on my face.  I can even wear them all at once, if I want to.

My point is this: eighteen-year-old, non-makeup-wearing Clare had excellent reasons for choosing not to wear makeup.  Twenty-eight-year-old, makeup-wearing Clare has excellent reasons for choosing to wear it.  And thirty-eight-year-old Clare may (and I hope will) have new, different, equally excellent reasons for choosing to wear it, or to not wear it, or perhaps even for preferring teal or magenta to the visual perfection that is purple.

And here's the secret: none of these reasons have to contradict each other.  I don't have to throw out eighteen's reasons any more than I have to imagine thirty-eight's.  Purple and teal can be beautiful side by side.

I am a moral absolutist.  I believe in moral absolutes.

I also believe in a tremendous amount of grey area between and around the moral absolutes.

For instance, I believe that if the universe and everything in it was made by a loving creator--by Truth, Goodness and Beauty in the form of a Person--then everything in that universe must be on some level good, true and beautiful.

Including my face.

I also believe that if, on any given day, wearing purple mascara helps me be the best possible version of myself, then I should wear purple mascara.

When I believe that I am beautiful with or without makeup, then I am free to choose my makeup-wearing habits based on what will make my little life the best, brightest, and truest act it can be.

When I believe that I am loved, entirely and unendingly, regardless of anything I am or anything I have done or not done or will ever do, then I am free to--

Well--

To do anything.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What We Do

Sometime in every twenty-four hours, there is a morning.

Every morning, I take out my phone, open the little app that makes lists, and review my list of things to do for the day.  The first item on it is to review my list, so I tick that off right away.

Sometimes, for me, this doesn't happen until three o' clock because I'm not able to get up until then.  Sometimes when it happens I haven't been able to sleep at all, so it is not so much a new day for me as an acknowledgement that the previous day is over and anything not yet ticked off from its list is going to have to roll over to today's.

Sometimes I just use yesterday's list and change the date at the top to today.  My app lets me do that.

Regardless of how happy or productive or responsible or well I have been--regardless of my own messed-up internal clock--the changing of the light and the clock on my phone and the number of people awake in my world force me to accept that it is today.  I have to clean my slate and start over, because I am a person and that is what people do.

The same thing happens at the beginning of a new week, year, school year, month, and so on.  There are all these little starting points built into the fabric of humanity, and it doesn't really matter which were put there by us or God.  They are there, and they are supposed to be there, because...

Well, here's a thought experiment: imagine if there weren't any starting points.  If the world was like the inside of an airport or hospital or twenty-four-hour department store, where the day never ends and hours don't count.  (I won't say a cave because I have a feeling that hours do count in the darkness.)  If the failures and mistakes and disappointments and sins never got wiped clean, but just accumulated, till the very weight of them was heavier and more unbearable than the glare of fluorescent lights, and the list got so long you could never hope to tick everything off.  Imagine that hell.

But instead we have mornings, natural, created or fabricated.  The lights come on, people wake up, and you brush your teeth and put on pants and some mascara because hey, it's a new day, a new list, and you get to start over, because you are a person, and that is what people do.