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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

from July, 2006

Life grabs you by the heart
Come play, my friend.
Come dance to the music
Ecstasy in love,
In hope,
Friendship,
And faith.

Yet even as its thorns prick the toes
You dance,
Whirl,
Laugh and revel.
Even as a teardrop of pain builds,
Creasing the corner of a shining eye
Falling into the oblivion at the countless beauties at your feet.

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I came across the piece below on a discussion board (HERE), I could not track down the source. I know little about Mr. White except that he is a priest in Baghdad, so I’m not sure what to make of him–yet human suffering is all one and the same no matter who you are and no matter what you do. The same fears, hopes, worries, and pains afflict us all equally.

Prayer for a person with MS
by Canon Andrew White
Lord they tell me I have MS and at times I am afraid;
my future, my family, my ambitions are all full of uncertainties,
my body will not function as it used to and I no longer feel in control;
at times, though surrounded by masses, I feel so alone.
In my fear will you enable me to trust you,
in my vulnerability may I know your power
and in my loneliness will you assure me of your presence.

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From the book “Don’t Be Sad” by Aaidh al-Qarni:

Do not despair if your feet stumble and you fall into a big hole. You will come out of it stronger than before. And Allah, the Almighty, is with those who are patient.

Do not grieve if you receive a fatal arrow from one of those who are closest to your heart, for you will find someone to pull out the arrow, treat the wound, bring you back to life and smile.

Do not stand for too long looking at the ruins, especially if they are inhabited by bats, and ghosts have found their way to them. Rather, look for the sound of a birdsong hearalding the coming of a new dawn.

Do not look at papers whose colour has changed and whose writing has faded, whose lines wander between pain and loneliness. You will find that these lines are not the best things that you have written and these papers are not the last thing you will ever write. You should differentiate between one who will read these lines and one who will throw them to the wind, for they are not merely beautiful words; they are the feelings of a heart that has lived these lines, letter by letter, the pulse of one who took them as a dream and felt the pain of their fire. Do not be like the heron, which sings its most beautiful song when it is bleeding. Nothing in this world deserves even one drop of your blood.

“He who sows the wind, reaps the storm.”

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There is something simply wonderful and magical about storytelling. If you want to see something truly beautiful, one of life’s simple pleasures, tell a child a story and see the wonder in her eyes. See the shine of her mind’s eye painting scene upon scene, hearing the voices and sensing the twists and turns of the story. And if you want to see something even more wonderful, ask the child to tell you a story. Then sit back and listen. Listen closely, sit close to the child, look deep into his eyes. Think to when was the last time you connected this closely to one so young. Then let the wonders of imagination and language work as the child spins his tale.

I was blessed to sit with two beautiful children the other day–my husband’s cousins, 4 and 8 years old–as we all three wove stories together. I first told a story, one I read in a story book by Rukhsana Khan. It was about a boy and Fajr prayer and as stories go, the Islamic moral or lesson was fairly obvious. I was afraid the eight-year-old would roll his eyes at such a didactic story, but he actually went along with it and when it was his turn, told his own story about generosity and sharing that was rather morally centered as well. The four year old girl told a typical fairy tale of dragons and the fight between good and evil, and I was amused to hear words such as “sneakily” and “visible” worked into her tale.

My mother used to read and tell us stories before going to bed, and it is one of the most memorable aspects of our family life. Her trademark stories about a family of rascally monkey children that coincidentally paralleled her five children have become a family legend, a source of inside jokes, and something to reminisce about long after the stories have ceased to be told. The tradition of story telling brings us together somehow, knitting our minds and hearts together as we turn language into a toy, teasing it out into enjoyable adventures and tales. It really touches me when my husband’s small cousin comes up to me and says, “Tell me a story!” and I wonder if my own son will do the same one day.

Storytelling has a way of getting to the heart in a way that mere telling doesn’t. The Qur’an is replete with stories of the people of old, “that ye may reflect” or “that ye may remember” as Allah tells us. The Prophet Muhammad would gather his companions and tell them of the prophets of the past, of righteous or ignoble people of the past and their fate. His companions would sit spellbound, absorb the lessons from those stories into their hearts, and use them to build their character.

I hope that I can build storytelling into my own family traditions. I would love to revive this oral culture and tradition and use it as a tool for living and learning……..“Tell me a story, mama…”

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Learning Not To Cry

Serb soldiers terrorize a family by dropping their three-year-old
down a well. Hours later, she’s rescued from a ledge. But after months,
the child won’t stop her day-long wails
.

                                    From a review of a book on tears,
                                    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, October 1999


Smart tears, fleeing down her cheeks’
soft slope, the nursery’s vintage terror hides
inside the skull you leave, its darkness riddled
with secret holes where drops fall
like palpitations, plinking far below, openings
the leering faces can slither through.
The ledge was smaller than her body
so even a puff of air trembles with
disaster. No wonder, tiny refugees,
such a constant stream of you rolls down.

 

In time, in the forest, power shifts and the witch
dies in an oven so hot metal sags. Gretel
saw her hair go up, black locks
above the straight orange screams.
And yet, they say, the crone survives.

 

 

At last the child sleeps, years going by
before she wakes to a kiss, or
to a foul breath — They say the way
to cease to cry is to feel something
else. So, savage tears, you shrink
back into her skull to become
the yellowed lens she sees through,
biding her time in the blue flicker
of nightly news, clicking
the channels — click click
the chamber mapped and loaded.

 

Jacquelyn Malone
Poetry
Volume CLXXX, Number 6
September 2002

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For my friend S.K. (if she’s reading), who is leaving me soon for new places and people, the following:

BRIDGING
by Marge Piercy

Being together is knowing
even if what we know
is that we cannot really be together
caught in the teeth of the machinery
of the wrong moments of our lives.

A clear umbilicus
goes out invisibly between,
thread we spin fluid and finer than hair
but strong enough to hang a bridge on.

That bridge will be there
a blacklight rainbow arching out of your skull
whenever you need
whenever you can open your eyes and want
to walk upon it.

Nobody can live on a bridge
or plant potatoes
but it is fine for comings and goings,
meetings, partings and long views
and a real connection to someplace else
where you may
in the crazy weathers of struggle
now and again want to be.

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