On the daily work of living.
There is an obscurity so obscure that it is no longer even dramatic. There is nothing unusual or heroic to celebrate in this way of being, because there is nothing to point to: no award, no arrival, no legacy. All of it is nothing, only ordinary work. And who doesn’t dream of freedom from this?
Except. If the people you love are in it, too, how will you continue to love them except by connection through this daily toil? The grind, my father calls it, and he is right. It grinds us from our husks, makes of our once-proud autonomies something else, something worth offering only because it is transformed.
This is what makes it possible to say here, take this bread. Dearly beloved, it is the body I surrender, for you.
The italicized opening line is from Thomas Merton’s essay “Renunciation,” in New Seeds of Contemplation.
Commonplace reminders on being.
Golden yarrow, fledgling web, congregations of clover refusing to quit. These dishes again, and the pot left soaking overnight. Pan, too. Basket of laundry, ever renewing, and this list. This ache in my temples to remind me what I took for granted just last week, like the fluttering chest and sore neck. Sleeping cat in the chair, beside a small collection of beach rocks, at least one of which is concrete, gathered how many years ago? By still-dimpled hands, with calm assurance reaching up, saying Here. Hawk on streetlight, coyote in yard, dog panting on rug, legs splayed forward and back, trail of pawprints between the door and where she is now, looking up. This trio of men at the park in boxing gloves and sweatpants and the youngest must be at least sixty-eight. They run in circles, punch pads and one another’s gloves, punch trees and the trees hold still. One among them is the coach and when he’s not cussing a blue streak he’s shouting, C’mon, that don’t matter! Whaddya doin?! No, look! Up, up, up!