Magic Burning: A Marianne Poem

Always learning

Running free with the wind

To be possessed by your burning

Laced with magic

Churning

 


Note: The Marianne is a verse form that is written with a combination rhyme and syllable count. It was created by Viola Berg . The lines should be centered on the page. The Marianne is:

  • a poem in 5 lines
  • syllabic, 4/6/8/4/2 syllables per line
  • rhymed, a x a x a, with x being unrhymed
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My Book: The Awful Deed is Done

This is not a Christmas post, as it should be, but now I’m almost finished with an arduous project that has consumed untold hours and years of my life for no other reason than the simple fact that I wanted to answer an age-old and really rather incorrigible question tackled by some of the greatest minds — far greater than mine — down through the annals of history. The result is a book wrestling with the question of just what it means to be human, and now I realize, all too late, how foolish I was to begin this venture.

Once I began this journey, though, I could hardly give up on it without discovering what might lay ahead. And I can honestly say I’ve learned a good bit, so not all has been lost. And I’ve even managed to come to at least a partial answer for myself, so I suppose this is good, too. When I started I allowed myself to imagine the finished product would be something of interest, and even benefit, to others, but I now have grave doubts. Besides, for those who are interested in the same very ancient and very basic question of what it means to be human, perhaps it is better for them to make their own journey anyway.

I say this because for me the journey in and of itself has been as much a part of my conclusion as the bits and pieces of answers I picked up along the way. This is probably true of most ventures, really. You kind of tend to grow into whatever it is you’re after, or think you’re after, which may, of course, change over the course of the journey. Actually, this happens more often than not, and this is good. One would expect, for example, that if your goal is to become a better cook, then you actually grow into a better cook in and through the adventure of cooking, which can be rather hilarious at first, than you do by simply sitting and imagining what it means to be a good cook.

So does this mean I’ve become more human? Or even a better human? I would like to think so, but to tell the truth, I’m still digesting my own conclusions to the matter. At any rate, when I am finally completely finished, I will likely have it all printed up with a nice, glossy paperback cover — or, who knows, maybe even hardback! — then place it on one of my bookshelves next to truly great works, if I be so bold, all so I can look every once in awhile and see my name on the spine next to an important sounding title, maybe like, On Being Human: A Multi-Discipline Journey of Discovery. Yes, that’ll probably do!

And, hey, everyone needs an ego boost every now and then! Who knows but my children might be impressed … especially if they don’t actually read it! And it might provide a conversation piece with visitors, who will also never read it, and they may leave my humble dwelling with a slightly higher, though unwarranted, view of me. This, too, never really hurts anything, unless you let it go to your head. I’m not likely to do this precisely because I’ve read the damn thing too many times already. I know the texture, flow and content all too well. 

I don’t mean to sound too self-deprecating. I actually do like my conclusion. Perhaps I should just publish that in, say, small booklet form. The problem is, it might land in the hands of some far wiser individual, which means almost anyone, who would then question how it is I made it from point A to point Z. To answer this would, of course, require all the previous material, and I know s/he would not want to be so burdened, especially when s/he would do much better to simply read Plato and Aristotle, which is, by and by, almost always the case when you get into philosophical matters. Begin with Plato and Aristotle, then if you need to go further, stick closely with those who stuck closely with them. The rest has been (mostly) drivel.

At any rate, as I said, it is done. The awful, years-long deed it finished. Now, perhaps, I can return to what I do much better, for I am not a philosopher or theologian, an anthropologist or psychologist, scientist or mystic, no. In the end, I’m an ordinary man, who should never have approached such a daunting question to begin with, but now … now I can return to my love of reading and writing poetry, offering an occasional commentary on some current event, even penning a short story every so often, as well as continuing to enrich the dear relationships in my life, carrying on with my daily chores, and nurturing my over-active imagination at night when I lay my tired head to rest.

Promise of the Yawn of New Dawn

I look high up into the night sky to stars and moon above,

And try to imagine all of life gone by,

But the promise of dawning just yawning on far horizon

Turns my heart to enliven my soul…

Not too many years have passed to leave me harassed

By febrility, confining me to senility,

So there is hope beyond the scope of such time gone by,

Forming an allotrope to coming days

That will surely lead me in different ways than ere before

In an adventure for me now in store!

Boy

Take me back for lack of life now as I bow to youth gone by,

And let me fly up so high to build another empire in the sky;

To wrestle rough with vampires while I sound the battle cry;

To climb daunting trees taunting and haunting my dreams;

To play again on cheery days, or ones dreary and even eerie;

To camp under moonlit night looking for a bright meteorite;

To rush against the hounds of hell, amid the sounds of war;

To give imagination free reign in the vein of strong fantasy,

Where I belong to once more sing the song I so long to sing,

If only youth would wing its way to me to be again … a boy

Boy

Crazy Life: Homeward Bound

Crying tears into an everflowing river of fears,
We live at home wherever we are, not very far,
And we make our bed on what we’ve soulishly fed,
Clinging to dreams ere before they are dead

My best friend came to visit me one Saturday early in August not only to see and spend some time, but also to “rescue” me. Sadly, his mother had just died, following the death of his father a few years before, leaving their house empty. As an only child, he inherited the home, located next to his own, and he really was at a loss as to what he might do with the property … until he thought of me.

Steve graciously offered me the residence at an affordable (for me) monthly rent. From a strictly practical point of view, it was an offer I could not turn down, but from a psychological standpoint I was actually afraid. Just thinking about living in a “regular” home, especially by myself, frightened me and made me anxious. I wondered if I could do it … that is, if I would be able to make it.

My friend was far more confident. He point-blank said, “I know you can make it. I believe in you. You can do this, and a whole lot more… It’s time, Jonathan.” He continued with an apt analogy. “You’re like an eagle whose wing was injured. You needed time to heal, but now you’ve healed and, even though it might be kind of scary, it’s time for you to fly again.” Wow! I was dumbfounded.

Steve saw more in me than I saw in myself, and he imparted that assurance very poignantly and effectively, so much so that I began to believe in myself again. After his visit, I still had doubts and fears, but I also had real hope that I might actually transition out of the group home back into the big, wide world. Being cautious, though, I decided to try it for two weeks, during which the group home would hold my bed.

Well, the two week trial period went very well. I immediately fell in love with the home, and of course it was quite nice having my best friend and his wife next door. And I didn’t really feel alone, which rather surprised me. And, too, for the first time in over a year I had continuous access to the Internet, to private phone service (that I could use without asking), and I was able to prepare all of my meals, which was wonderful!

Too, the place was out in the country, much like the group home, where I was surrounded by goats, chickens, cows, dogs, birds and so much more. Needless to say, at the end of my two week trial period, I decided that I did, indeed, want to transition out of the Samson Group Home into an independent, private residency, specifically my friend’s parents’ home. And, thus far, this has proven to be a good decision.

On top of this, another group home resident ended up moving in with me, which provided at least two good results: 1) I have continuous, friendly company in someone I got to know very well, and 2) Steve actually receives enough rental income now to at least cover the expenses of bills and upkeep of the house and property, (with no actual financial gain, mind you … just enough.)

So as I bring this series to a close, I believe I will, from time to time, address different psychological/mental/emotional topics. Where my story of group home life is concerned, I’ve pretty much told all worth telling, (and maybe more!) If anything else of potential interest comes to mind, of course I will share it with you, my dear readers. Till next time, God bless you, keep you, and grant you peace.


For previous installments in the ‘Crazy Life’ series, see…

Crazy Life: Hanging in the Balance

Crazy Life: Meeting the Mystery of God

Crazy Life: Humiliating the Already-Humbled

Crazy Life: A Little Less Crazy? But Still Guilty

Crazy Life: Dreams and Dreams Again

Crazy Life: In Praise of MHTs

Crazy Life: Mind of the Prisoner

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part IV

It was almost like a Twilight Zone® experience, seeing Angela and my brother-in-law, Charles, for the first time in about three to four months. It was as if I’d been somehow severed from my past life. This was necessary, I believe, in order to begin healing and growing stronger mentally, emotionally, spiritually… Mind you, I was very glad to see my eldest sister and her husband; it’s just that it was like some tidal wave washing over me from my previous existence.

Sitting in the small chapel area of the Samson Group Home on that Saturday morning, I found it somewhat difficult finding anything to say. The ensuing conversation was a bit stilted, but happy nonetheless, and, to my surprise, my sister actually said I looked better … stronger, more relaxed, with good complexion. Her appraisal made me feel good and added to the sense of hope that had been growing inside me over the past weeks in my new residence. Evidently she could see something outwardly that I felt inwardly.

She hadn’t called or visited before in order to give me time to really settle in and begin my psychological recovery. I completely understood. I needed the time in that safe, secure, and structured environment apart from the outside world, and I needed this because, quite frankly, I couldn’t handle “life as usual.” I could no longer shoulder life as it had been — hours upon hours behind closed doors in self-imposed isolation, deep depression, fear, mania, frustration and anger, strained relationships… 

I had been living to write, which was my love and passion, but even this had become an unbearable strain. Consequently, I’d started to keep a journal shortly after I arrived at the group home, but quickly had to leave off on that simply because it caused to much anxiety … or, at least, it was one contributing factor. I’d also loved to read, but after moving into my new residence I found that I just could not bring myself to open a book. Even the very thought of reading felt burdensome … stressful. 

Yes, sitting there in the little chapel area, looking at my dear sister, carrying on an enjoyable (however stilted) conversation … it all felt so surreal. I wish I had words to explain just how detached from the past I’d become. I suppose it was as if I’d entered into some kind of cocoon, and maybe I had; after all, the cocoon is where the beautiful butterfly grows. And in a very real sense, I would eventually emerge from that cocoon, splendidly reborn … heartier, braver, sober-minded and far more tranquil.

Of course, my emergence from the cocoon would come much later. During that first visit with my sister and brother-in-law I couldn’t imagine ever leaving the group home. This is not to say I wanted to stay there for the rest of my life. No, I deeply desired to leave at some point in the future… I just couldn’t conceive of that actually happening. As I sat there looking at my sister’s radiant smile, listening to her encouraging words, it felt like I was looking and listening from across a great ravine … one without a bridge.

After about an hour, we hugged and said our goodbyes. Despite feeling somewhat detached, I was very grateful for the visit, and my spirit felt lifted. All in all, it was a very good (and important) experience. Really and truly, it came at just the right time. Looking back now, I can actually see God’s hand in that event. One might even say it was divinely orchestrated. At the very least, it was a taste of the outside world that I needed then, even if I didn’t consciously realize that at the time.

The next time Angela came, she came alone and took me on an outing, but before getting to that, I’d like to introduce you to some of the precious souls in what really became (in many ways) my new family. Until then, blessings to you and peace.


For previous articles in this series, go to:

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part I

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part II

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part III

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part III

Here’s to the moments when you realize the simple things are wonderful and enough.
~ Jill Badonsky, The Awe-Manic: A Daily Dose of Wonder

It seemed as if I’d been stripped of all the complexities of life … eventually, I mean. After I calmed down and settled into the routine of group home life, all of what felt like monumental burdens — all of the “important” things of life — seemed to roll off my back. This is not to say that I suddenly found myself in perfect condition, but just that my focus was turned to smaller, more ordinary, daily matters.

There was a time to get up in the morning, and I had to get up at that time if I wanted to eat breakfast. We had to take our medicines at around 7 a.m., and then day treatment began at 9 a.m. and last till 1 p.m. We had two home group sessions in the afternoon, around 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Each of us had an assigned daily chore. We had outings two or three times each week. Those who wanted to went to church Sunday morning.

Life was regulated and, all-in-all, simplified. As I shared before, I had no contact with family and friends during my first few weeks in the Samson group home. I also stopped watching the news … or caring at all about what was happening in the world. As odd as it may seem, and even pathetic, nevertheless I simply could not shoulder the burden of war in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Trump and the Wall, the economy, etc.

My prayers became very short, meditative, and inaudible. I never cracked open the holy Scriptures, nor did I even peruse devotional literature, not even the spiritual classics. Again, all of this was simply too much for me to bear mentally and emotionally. Point in fact, I had been trying to read an inspirational book my eldest sister gave me, but, despite being well-written, I had to put it down. For some reason, it caused anxiety.

My overall situation, though, was not bleak. During these first few months I began to see the simple beauties and graces of life and the world around me: the birds, different varieties of trees, the squirrels and foxes, the pond out back of the home, the opossums and racoons… Even the blue sky looked bluer and more wondrous, and in a turnaround from my past dislikes, I even began to enjoy the rain.

“Simple things relieve the eyes,” says Mehmet Murat Ildan. “Simple things ease the mind; simple things simple things create meditation; simple things are simply miraculous!” And to this I add my hearty “amen!” Never before did I realize just how precious life really is as it is seen and experienced in what we all too often call the ordinary and mundane, and even consider boring.

What an absolute fool I’d been, chasing vain and empty dreams when the priceless, multifaceted, awe-filled dream of life was unfolding all around me, day after day, in all of its regal splendor! But I had been like Don Quixote, charging windmills all of my life … all of my existence, I should say, because I don’t know that I’d really ever actually lived before this point in time.

Laura Ingalls Wilder so wisely said, “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Touché! So very right and true, and I finally began living this way, living out this pristine, pure truth … thankfully. And living this way eventually led to a “sea change” for me. But first, I did finally receive a visit from my dear and eldest sister, Angela, and her husband… 


For previous articles in this series, go to:

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part I

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part II