What We Don’t know We Need

One of the prayers in our morning liturgy gives gratitude for the renewal of each day. Among the fourteen phrases thanking God for our numerous blessings, one thanks the Divine for “providing for all my needs.” Whenever I recited this blessing, I would get to that line and acknowledge that my basic needs are met and so much more.

One of my teachers opened my eyes a bit wider by suggesting “all our needs” includes the stuff of life we say we need like a “hole in the head.” In other words those frustrations, accidents and devestations that befall us that we certainly don’t ask for and would never in a million years say we needed.

I acknowledge this is dicey philosophical territory. Does someone actually need a cancer diagnosis? A viscious frenemy or relative? Or, God forbid, the loss of a loved one? No. No. No. But really horrible stuff happens — to all of us. Six plus decades playing this game called Life and I recognize the painful experiences that have surely formed me and demanded of me growth and healing. I’ve railed at God plenty for “giving” me what I not only didn’t ask for but said up front I did not need in the least. Guess what? I got some of those too. Accepting them has brought insight and ultimately understanding.

The verse “who provides for all my needs” is followed by “who guides us on our path.” Perhaps this is intentional. When we’re shunted onto a painful path a little Divine guidance just might light the way.

Lost in Space

I took a non-traditional watercolor class this spring semester and loved it. Part of our first week’s assignment was to sketch something — fruit or vegetable — from 12 different perspectives. These sketches served as weekly warm-up exercises using a different technique or color experiment each time.

By the final class, I wanted to do something completely different. Why not use grey, black and white?  And some leftover ultramarine to set off the color scheme.   Somehow the color choices made the onion pop against the background, reminding of a lost planet that might have been called Allium.

The Worst Thing We Ever Did — Chelan Harkin

The worst thing we ever did

The worst thing we ever did
was put God in the sky
out of reach
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
pulling the divinity
from the leaf,
sifting out the holy from our bones,
insisting God isn’t bursting dazzlement
through everything we’ve made
a hard commitment to see as ordinary,
stripping the sacred from everywhere
to put in a cloud man elsewhere,
prying closeness from your heart.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The worst thing we ever did
was take the dance and the song
out of prayer
made it sit up straight
and cross its legs
removed it of rejoicing
wiped clean its hip sway,
its questions,
its ecstatic yowl,
its tears.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The worst thing we ever did is pretend
God isn’t the easiest thing
in this Universe
available to every soul
in every breath.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
~ Chelan Harkin, in poetry book ‘Susceptible to Light

Big thanks to my friend Rhona for sharing this with me.