~ home spirit
October 2, 2018
Evening lounges across the harbour,
stretching off to the purple blue
horizon. Sailboats, having stripped
their masts lay scattered on a glassy
sea, like so many chess board pieces.
My island yawns before me in a Techni-
colour dream. Its image burning bright
green from clouds mirrored in the sky
+ blazing just for me. “When will I
return to my father’s land? Now that
I’ve grown accustomed to the life of
creature comforts, fast cold drinks,
and other such substance.” But closing
the blinds on these words, I let the
dry seeds of my desire burst forth.
To stand barefoot in the grass while
hanging clothes out to dry. To relish
the purity of perspiration amidst a
playful whish of breeze. To know
a type of friendship with fly swatters,
and the readiness of hand-fans cooling
the heat of an airy kitchen, brimming
in jovial yellow light. To be just off
the pedestrian path, a stone’s throw from
colonial poverty’s sultry trail. Where creaking
hand-carts of sun-dried wood and crusty
metal get pushed and pulled along roughly.
To hear wailing street merchants
peddle organic wares – straw brooms,
leathered-belts, concocted bottle drinks –
melodic in tones of brimstone and thunder.
To gulp greedily a glass of limeade dull in
touch when sticky doldrums land. To seek
out the Indian mystic fruit bomb by its tongue
round scent ~ rosie-green mangoes hanging
pendulously close ~ to pluck. To grieve such
taste-filled enchantment, as little lizards dart
lightening fast through the house.
August breathes along narrow roads. Shifting
past jutting hills, green creased river valleys, darkly
yearned for forests. To distant views of cresting
white horses, breaking on wind-tossed beaches.
Each scene anoints my eye and tangles my hair,
making me giddy for cooler mountain air.
From those heights I hope to find, a peace for
which I pray. Growing once more whole, whole
of eye and whole of limb - supple yet strong –
like arching sprays of a cherry coat plum.
Graceful daylight fades as my gaze roves southward.
Surfing over mad capped gingers, towering tulip trees
and fern lacy acres. Roaming through thick miles of
sugar plantations ending at the sea. This island dream
lingers on the evening tide where I cast me net
~ where I built me a bonfire at its tender wish.
Written by Hannah De Lisser
Art for Living and Praying
August 23, 2018
I’ve been reflecting on my upbringing – how I was raised – the culture, family and experiences that shaped how I grew up. It was idyllic up to a certain point, and then after that certain point, everything changed. I was not equipped to handle what occurred and became a sort of child hermit.
Emotional faults were entrenched into my psyche while I built up a fortress in hopes of never being that vulnerable again. I had to be a rock – I had to show the world I was strong…that evil hadn’t won. Sigh. Oh, the foolish things that grownups heap upon children, just because they themselves don’t know what to do and are hurting just as badly – possibly even more.
How sad it is, that a moment of trauma sent my life spiraling out of control, making it difficult to develop – or grow naturally – into a healthy human being. Yet, it is remarkable that without guidance or even example, I was stamped with a spiritual persona. I was marked by a nature, that prayed interiorly, without knowing it; and a nature deeply sensitive to things that move the soul – beautiful things like art and music. To say that I love music and love to dance would be an understatement. My family often says that the knocking of spoons is enough to get me dancing. This is only half true, because if the knocking is not rhythmic…I won’t dance.
Although I suffered from all kinds of learning issues – I was in remedial reading up to age of 12 - I loved literature and had a natural attraction to poetry. But there was a problem with my early exposure to poetry. On one side, it was viewed as such a high art form that people didn’t speak about it as if they were normal (to be frank, they were downright weird in their manner of speaking about poetry). The other side of my exposure to poetry were that people hated it – and this was more common in my environment. Even at school, none of the students in poetry class enjoyed it. They would make fun of the teacher – Mrs. Muir – always egging on the class-clown to disrupt every single class period. Our poetry class never lasted a full session, because Sister Martynella – the Head Mistress – had to be called in. Even now I can remember feeling sad that the class ended prematurely. I was unquestionably drawn to poetry, but my interest was thwarted for decades.
Now, forty years later, Blog Central allows me a safe environment to explore a facet of myself, under a nom de plume. I don’t know how successful I will be in this reflecton, but I want to say that poetry helps me respond to life and prayer - the mysterious, the beautiful, the helpful, the puzzling.
To begin with, is writing poetry a help or a hindrance? I admit, it can be both, for the inspiration to write comes as mysteriously as a breeze – out of nowhere. And the moment I take pen or pencil in hand, there is no telling what will come forth – or how much time it will occupy. It could be a few words; a few lines; a full-length draft. Inspiration may also come from pondering something: a problem; a delight; a fragment of scripture; an impulse during prayer.
Of course, this last one tends to be problematic if it’s during my 30 minutes of Mental Prayer. Alas, not being a perfect Carmelite, I do on occasion interrupt my silent prayer and start writing (mea culpa). What might be of interest however, is sometimes the interruption is a spiritual gift and I feel it would be impolite of me not to respond to this touch of beauty. (May the Lord forgive me if this is wrong thinking)
Thankfully, not all poetic impulses interrupt my prayer. It is just as likely to happen in response to misery or being handicapped by fear and too much solitude; or a lack of social adeptness. During the dark years of my life, writing poems became a kind of release from the crippling thoughts I had about myself and the past. I would write poems in secret and destroy them - lest anyone should see them.
Now the process of writing poems is allowing me some measure of greater interior freedom. Often it untangles the mind, giving me a kind of space for therapeutic order. If that sounds a bit hokey – maybe I should say it differently. Writing poems allow me to function in a way that is necessary for me to be me.
Did I find myself by writing poetry? Is it a kind of therapy where I can soothe the savage beast in my breast? Is it perhaps a means to enter into prayer? Is it a way to discern the gift of prayer? Is it simply my charisma – something as natural as the colour of my skin? Is it a self-seeking and self-indulgent past time? I can answer “yes” to all these questions.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve come to ponder life and prayer through poetry. The down side of writing anything – but especially poetry – is that it takes me away from daily chores as I delve into the mystery of something that catches (or has caught) my attention. The inspiration may have occurred while I was reading, praying or attending Mass. It could be something as ordinary as being distracted by light glistening in a drop of water clinging to a crystal glass. Or perceiving a queer luminosity suddenly spreading across the evening sky.
More and more frequently it is a memory from childhood – filled with pleasingly plump fragrances of exotic trees and fruit – carried along a carefree breeze. Where economic poverty mingles with contentment in a way only a poem could express. And the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures that fill my brain fuel wordless praises sung from a heart now more grateful than sad.
Written by Hannah De Lisser
May 18, 2018
Ah. Such joy! Strewn across the sanctuary!
White lilies, blaring their trumpets in
a brilliant white chorus; continuing
for days and then into weeks.
Now their nodding drooping heads are
covered with quantities of bright yellow
pollen. And having spent their beauty
And mingled their fragrance with the
sacred incense, they were sent forth.
Dismissed, to line the walkway up to
the church – an honour guard of
curious sentries – with strong stems and
robust green leaves raised high.
One by one they depart, in the arms
Of the faithful, perhaps to be planted
In a garden amidst later blooming
companions who, upon seeing such
Stalwart witnesses will rise up and finish
the Paschal Tide…in like form.
Written by Hannah De Lisser