“Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Self-Reliance,” (1841), emphasis mine
I left my final class of the day saddened by comments made by one of the students. In our discussion about how two films define love, forgiveness, redemption, hope, and freedom, she spewed venom about love in a way that shocked most of the other students.
Sometimes it’s easier for a wounded individual to speak from anger than it is to confront deep pain, but, as an English professor, it’s not my place to “psychoanalyze” her or any other student. It is my “job,” however, to help her develop sound intellectual traits. But, because of her wound, she could not see the shortsightedness of her thinking.
I thought about my student this evening as I was reading through Anointed to Fly, a poetry collection by Dr. Gloria Wade Gayles. The words of “Heartwounds” [below] seemed to leap off the page. With incredible insight, the poem describes the persistent ache of a woman who [once] loved. I thought about my student as I read the poem.
Gloria Wade Gayles, Anointed to Fly
Some men have not learned that heartwounds
as deep as a woman’s need for love
do not respond to phoney curatives
of roses, sweetened words and
make-up passion in scented rooms.
They do not heal themselves
with the passing of time
which erases time only
but not pain and the memory
ugly reminders of flawed love.
Some men believe
women were born
to be irrational in all things.
It is that way,
they tell us,
with the pull of the moon.
They will not learn
perhaps cannot learn
that a woman’s heart
damaged by multiple wounds
I’m sorry this isn’t a happy poem, and that this #WordlessWednesday is kind of wordy. You can skip the poem and just look at the pretty picture if you wish. I’ve been practicing photographing roses, so you’ll see another rose photo soon.
“I root myself deeply in beautiful things and hold on tight for when ugly things try to take my beauty away.” —CHANTE MARIE
…as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.
Mary Oliver, “Roses,” from Felicity
Today was supposed to be easy–a “chill” day of finishing up a few projects and meeting with my students. It turned into a crazy-busy day, so I am all too happy to take a break and contemplate the pretty–and I have kid art to share!
Every spring, my son’s school hosts an amazing art fair, featuring the work of practically every student in the school. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably know that I absolutely lose my mind walking the halls and taking in the colorful spectacle. I have hundreds of pictures from each art fair. I wish I could share every piece on the blog, but there’s so much that I’d have to start a separate blog dedicated to children’s art–and it would take me at least three years to catch up! Of course, that is not a bad idea, but I’ll leave that task for others.
Since I am still “speaking in flowers,” I’m excited to share a sampling of the vases of roses on display at the art show held a couple of weeks ago.
There were several other vases full of flowers, but they were positioned low on the wall and I was not willing to contort my body to get the shots. 😀
The project is called “Primary Petals,” for which students created a vase full of flowers using water color, oil pastels, and markers. Through the activity, “the students learned about color families, explored new mediums, and focused on line quality by drawing spirals” [Description posted with artwork].
Based on the description of the project, I’m assuming the art is that of Mrs. Johnson’s students. [She was my son’s fourth grade teacher and her art projects are always sensational].
As I have been working through life’s challenges, I have been asking a lot of questions. The answers aren’t always immediate or acceptable, so it’s nice to put the challenges on hold and take a moment to enjoy the innocence and simplicity of children’s art. It’s good–every now and then–to just be, to learn from the roses.
“Roses” by Mary Oliver
Everyone now and again wonders about
those questions that have no ready
answer: first cause, God’s existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing
not going to the mall, not the Super
“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.
“Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell me?”
The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”
they said. “But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.”
Today’s Kindness Prompt: Visit, call, or write to a senior citizen.
This sounds like a kindness to them, but in many cases, you will soon find, you’re the one who’s benefiting most. Our seniors are wise and funny and full of history, experience, and stories. If you have children, take them along. This is a perfect opportunity to teach them to respect older adults and to learn that everyone has value.
Today is a holiday (in the USA), so start today. Take a break from the fireworks and hotdogs and give a senior a bit of your time.
After a certain age, growing older can be lonely and scary, particularly if family doesn’t live nearby. So be kind to our seniors. Stand in the gap, brighten a day, and become someone’s friend. In whatever form it takes, your company will be sincerely appreciated.
Be sure to make a visit, call, or letter a part of your life, not just a one-time thing. This week isn’t about random acts. This is about making the practice of kindness part of who you are.
If you’re starting with “Kindness Week” today, be sure to go back and look at the two previous prompts:
Note on the image: The roses above are from a senior (now retired) colleague’s garden. Along with another colleague, I had a brief visit with her recently. She had just turned 80! Beautiful roses grow in her front and backyard gardens; she excitedly shared them with me. I’m sure I’ll find an opportunity to show off more of her roses on the blog.