Maya Angelou Crosses the Threshold

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Ask Me Who Maya Angelou Is

 

and I’ll tell you.

She is the rich purple plum

in my throat that oozes voice

when silence seeks to silence me.

 

She is the gangly parts of my soul

that don’t quite fit into a room,

and shouldn’t, reminding me

that I am much bigger than I perceive.

 

She is the woman, parceled out

in pieces, all over the world’s hardwood

floors, then somehow strung back together

into a silk significance nobody could

have imagined.

 

She is the poetry of what one life can become.

 

– Gina Marie Mammano, in remembrance of Maya Angelou

 

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Looking through a glass, clearly

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“I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.” – Christine Valters Painter, Abbey of the Arts “Monk Manifesto”

When I was younger, “the sabbath” meant a flurry of volunteer activities, getting up really early in the morning, fulfilling church and family obligations, and then, finally, when everything was done, done, done, resting. The idea of “rhythms of rest and renewal” weren’t a huge part of the lexicon. A couple of weeks ago, I tried something. What would it be like to wake up without an alarm, when the body felt the fingertips of sun tapping the shoulders? What would it feel like to move throughout the day by absolutely no sense of obligation, but rather, the nudging of my own whim and imagination? What would it be like if the rituals I created were not only someone else’s, but also my own? What would it be like to live out a “rhythm of rest and renewal”? Sound irresponsible? Actually, it ended up sounding ultra responsible – to myself. To empty my cup, wash it clean, and then refill it with fresh water, metaphorically, sets me up, and everyone around me, for that matter, for a brighter, truer me. I can see more clearly through my own glass. That, to me, is sabbath.

“The Search Withholds the Joy From What Is Found” – Wendell Berry

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I had a friend stop me in my mental tracks the other day and say these words to me. I swear I was ready to run out the door and have it tattooed on my forehead immediately. The nest of the conversation that held these words was the tangled struggle many of us have as we try to “figure things out”, untie the many knots of the universe, and ourselves.

“Wow! I love and admire you so much, but you seem to spend so much of your time wrestling with so many things” was the gist of what my friend said to me. And then came Wendell Berry’s wise words from his lips: “the search withholds the joy from what is found.”

What have I already found? Can I make a list? Can I enjoy each ribbon of knowledge or experience without tangling them all up into a knotty stew? Can I slow down and enjoy some gratitude for the things I already know? The things I already feel? The things I’ve already experienced?

The answer is, “yes I can”. And, I can continue to search, but may it not take up so much of my life, so much of my time that it “withholds the joy from what is found”.

Internal Rest: A Poem

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Internal Rest

 

 

Like waking sleep,

it is taking inside the day,

whatever comes,

 

like the dream gleanings

of the night,

 

but open-eyed.

 

It is where wonder

is born,

 

gladly accepting

whatever comes into view,

 

whatever enters the holy space

of unknowing,

 

whatever drifts, shimmers,

draws, seeps, illumines,

 

comes delivered as

a surprise package

to your soul.

 

– Gina Marie Mammano

The Threshold of Negative and Positive

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I am looking at a line of trees. Sharp shapes in shadow, fringed and filled in with light. Negative and positive space.

When I look at the beauty of both negative space and positive space, I am taken by surprise. The darkness brings delineation. Line. Shape. In this case, trunks of tall, tall trees in shadow. The leafy tufts themselves are also part of the positive space, but add a tinge of color, a softness. It is the light that is the negative space. White with hints of blue. It appears to hold the space for the line drawings of trees. Both seem necessary. All positive space would lead to nearly pure darkness. All negative space would be formless light. I, too, am trying to understand, or dare say, accept my own positive and negative spaces. The parts I see, the solid, chirping fingers on the keyboard. The internals that sing when I move towards love. The open spaces in myself that I don’t know about yet. The lulls in wisdom. The terrible stillness that somehow leads to peace.

 

May I, this day, embrace my positive spaces, and accept, with open heart, my negative ones.