Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Communion

[image: from Bodhi Zendo: Buddha under the cross - Bodhi tree in a mandorla. The Mandorla symbolizes the coincidence of opposites:
temporal and eternal, finite and infinite, human and divine, earth and heaven.]

This morning - I'll take it. The sun is bright, spring is really here, pushing out lime green leaves everywhere.

First thing, I had a post from my neighbor Cindy. I suppose the most elementary neighborly thing there is is supporting someone when something special happens in their life. In this case, her daughter, Lauren, is having surgery next week, and we were asking if chocolate would be a good treat to bring. Peppermint patties, it turns out. I love them too, and that gave me a warm feeling. We look forward to taking her some of them. Surgery is a big deal.

What is this kind of intimacy we call "being neighbors"? Sometimes you don't feel it. This winter seemed very long. Pain and depression that seemed to be related to cortisone sometimes had me isolated. It is true, after all, we are individual life forms, out here on our own. And very vulnerable

But maybe connectedness is more true.
[Here, I couldn't think of more to write, and left this in draft.]

Easter Sunday
What a gorgeous Easter - I don't remember it ever being so sunny, and everything in bloom. The saucer magnolias have had an unprecedented run this year, and are still holding their big pink cups to the sky. Bushes are veiled in lime green dots. Another neighbor is using our oven and my mother's big Mirro aluminum roaster to heat their enormous ham. Their cat (one of the Mu's) waited for them, stretched out on our concrete stoop in the sun.

I myself awoke happy and full of creativity. Wrote haiku as I cut daffodils. Wrote a poem about a Samurai during the sermon and read it later for Nancy, who has recovered from her daughter's death last year, and was wearing carved turquoise beads that illumined Fellowship Hall. While dressing this morning I conceived a book, a novel to be called Penelope, to bookend with Joyce's Ulysses. It would be a day in the life of a woman who, like his wife, has to manage difficult people, and wait. If I get a transplant, maybe I'll feel like writing it.

Later, while the mixed choir sang an Alleluia, the children in front (Rising Voices), I conceived another poetry collection, to contain the poems I wrote last year influenced by learning to paint. I thought how interesting it would be to give those poems to the artists I know and see if they related to them. It would be called "With a Limited Palette." I could pass it out in manuscript, nothing fancy. Sitting there in church, I took a Neurontin and then a Tylenol, because my upper back hurt alarmingly (I am getting PT for this, but seemed to set it off with gentle exercise yesterday). And that was okay.

It was also okay with me that my friend Hap is getting hip surgery this week. He and I talked about the joys of anaesthetic. We are among the lucky ones who get to get old. It was okay, too, when our friend Jean, who is over eighty, told us she can't come to Tom's birthday party - Gini can't come either. We have decided to hold a second party to accommodate everyone who can't make this one. Actually, we love to hold parties. Our screened porch is a wonderful place on summer evenings. Sherlock likes to join us there - he likes a party and all the attention he gets.

During flower communion I recalled the moment when William, one of the children passing out flowers, stepped firmly on my sore toe, and I yelled "Jesus Christ!" It is not often you hear that yelled in a Unitarian church. . . . I am fond of that moment in retrospect, and I thought about how I feel connected to that kid, who is almost grown now. I remember him getting lost at the Labor Day Retreat years ago. Long before that, I was in a support group with his father, who also happened along to hold me while I cried after I was in a traffic accident. Years before that I sent William's grieving mother a sympathy card when she had a miscarriage. Since then, she had the two boys. She and I have sat and talked intimately about what? I don't know. There is a kind of pleasant, easy talk you have with people at camp, out in nature; and then you feel connected after that.

In Fellowship Hall today I also met an 18-month-old boy named Emerson, who stood proudly on nice, grownup shoes, and whose shy smile revealed many beautiful little teeth. All the old ladies at the table, we oohed at Emerson - really for his mother's sake. We overwhelmed him, so he hid his face in her skirt.

I feel connected horizontally, you could say, to a number of people in church, by which I mean connections that go back in time. In a spiritual community, connections are also vertical, perhaps. . . . whatever that means. Transcendent.

The church is just one of the nets I live in. We have been in our neighborhood, which is really a small town embedded in a big city, for over 25 years. My neighbor Cindy's cousin used to live across from us on Aldrich Road. I once wrote a poem about him and his wife walking their beautiful dogs - I used to see them mornings from my ivory tower on the second floor of our Cape Cod, where the trillium I planted still blooms. So it goes.

When you're sick, you spend a lot of time alone, and you can get to feeling isolated. That is a delusion. We are connected in the past and the future with people all around us.

Another delusion: we think we are nobody, we think we will die and be forgotten because we have not accomplished anything major. But being remembered is not about making the anthologies or getting your photo on a restaurant wall. This morning, getting dressed, I considered wearing my Christmas cat socks, and that made me remember Jean Levinson, our friend who died last year. She would have worn the socks, though I didn't, just lamented, "Why don't I have any Easter socks?" I decided to look for some. There it was, Jean's influence, her playful eccentricity, lives on.

When I got home from church I checked my e-mail. By what seems like a coincidence, I had this in the Tricycle Daily Dharma, from Lama Anagarika Govinda's Buddhist Reflections:
. . . out of the organic connection with the past, there grows an understanding of the present and a meaningful shaping of the future.

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