The Blessing of the Interim

“Sunset Glow over Leifeng Pagoda.” Photo by Hu Xiaoyang

I’m sharing a poem today that Tee, one of my besties, sent to me two weeks ago. “In the Interim Time,” written by Irish priest-poet-philosopher John O’Donohue (1956-2008), carries a timely message.

Corona times are challenging in one way or another, and many of us want to get past these moments so we can get on with our “normal lives.” But what if we can’t or, more importantly, shouldn’t return to our normals?

We fight and fret trying to hang on to what is old when something new is being born. Donohue’s poem shows us there’s something we need in the “interim,” something hopeful, and something that prepares us for the new.

In the Interim Time
John O’Donohue

When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here in your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

from To Bless the Space Between Us (2008)


About the image: The postcard above was sent to me in 2011 from Jiayi, a postcrosser in China. The card shows a view of the West Lake in Hangzhou.

Snapshots from Madrid: Restaurante Chino

One of my friends, Cy, is in Madrid this month. I lamented about her being unavailable the whole summer for “artsy play dates,” so she’s compensating by sending photos of her experience. Am I letting her off easy? Probably… 😉

Cy photographs when something catches her eye or moves her in a particular way, and she typically shoots an angle I don’t expect. Although most people would expect photographs that immediately speak to Spanish culture, I was not surprised that the first photos she sent were shot inside a Chinese restaurant. This is not about the food though. Cy loves Asian cultures and much of her recent scholarship focuses on dislocation and Chinese literature.

View from inside Restaurante Chino, Palacio Oriente. Photo by Cy

She writes:

It never ceases to amaze me that I can find good, authentic Chinese cuisine in Europe. I have been studying Chinatowns in England, but this is is not a Chinatown restaurant. While there are several Chinese-owned businesses in Spain, there doesn’t seem to be a distinct Chinatown [as we find in New York and London] in Madrid. The family-owned restaurant in Madrid is very good and the prices are excellent. I have found the fruit and vegetables to be market-fresh.  There are loads of menu choices and special order options.  

Cy’s Meal–chicken, ginger, leeks, and vegetables in broth.  I’ll pretend the chicken is tofu.  😉  Photo by Cy.

I’m sure Cy and I will have a nice long chat when she returns about the history and presence of the Chinese peoples and cultures in Madrid.

I’ll be sharing “blurbs” from Cy’s experiences every Friday, so tune in next week for the next installment of “Snapshots from Madrid.”