Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Humpbacks – March 10, 2010

There is, all around us,
This country
Of original fire.

You know what I mean…

…Off Stellwagen
Off the Cape,
The humpbacks rise. Carrying their tonnage
Of barnacles and joy…
…They sing, too.
And for any reason
You can’t imagine…

They smash through the surface, someone begins
Shouting for joy and you realize
It is yourself…

…I know several lives worth living…

Listen, whatever it is you try
To do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
Like the dreams of your body,
Its spirit
Longing to fly while the dead-weight bones

Toss their dark mane and hurry
Back into the fields of littering fire

Where everything,
Even the great whale,
Throbs with song.

Mary today could be Rumi as she speaks of the fire of origination where joy bursts forth to spark our dreams into being. Our bodies and our spirit are best friends playing out in the waves beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing. But like good friends, they often argue with one another and compare themselves thinking they are separate. What if our joy is not in ultimate union with god, the whole of existence, or the giant whale, but in the union of loving our bodies and spirits, and hence loving all bodies and spirits. If we can love the whale, we can love the world, within, and without.
Have you seen a whale? What brings you the joy of fire that Mary speaks of?


  1. I have only seen a whale in captivity. I have seen films of the ones off the Alaskan coast. The whales look like they are having fun entertaining themselves as well as the onlookers and camera men.

    "...where joy bursts forth to bring dreams into being," resonates with me. Throughout my life there have been times when I would follow a spark and have energy to work through the night on something and not be the least bit tired or sleepy. It is like adrenaline enters into the picture and I feel I must go until my idea is completed. Perhaps it would be a wonderful way to reach a handicapped child with educational materials or and organized plan of using the right teacher at the right time of day with the child. At times I have totally redone a room over 48 hours from putting together cheap furniture (a lot of bookcases) to sewing curtains.

    I am having to slow the process down a bit now as the price I have to pay in pain is too great to accomplish in 48 hours, but I have learned that I can drop everything right where it is and pick it up the next day or two days. The exhilaration is only there on the first day but the drive to complete it as soon as possible is there.

  2. This poem - and all Mary's poem - have that joyous engagement! Reading Sally's comment reminds me of how little I now do, but only partially because I pay with body pain. Something else has happened, the joy spark is gone. I often say to myself that I am on a quest to locate my soul (it's one way to frame the problem).

    This reminds me of a section I love in the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, in which a character is reflecting on Thomas Carlyle's book, Past and Present:
    [Carlyle quote first] "Does it ever give thee pause, that men used to have a soul - not by hearsay alone, or as a figure of speech; but as a truth that they knew, and acted upon! Verily it was another world then...but yet it is a pity we have lost the tidings of our souls...we shall have to go in search of them again, or worse in all ways shall befall us." I LOVE that! The character then says, "Isn't that something - to know your own soul by hearsay instead of its own tidings? Why should I let a preacher tell me if I had one or not? If I could believe I had a soul, all by myself, then I could listen to its tidings all by myself."

    I am looking for the physicality of my soul, and I think if I were on a boat, and a whale surfaced nearby, and just made eye contact with that big eye above the water surface, I would feel my soul reflected there. T