Sunday, July 13, 2008

Have Some Terry Tempest Williams

My lord, if you've not read Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, you've denied yourself the full power and glory of being alive, of feeling this earth with your full existence. SERIOUSLY. It's a powerful book, deftly weaving a family narrative of illness with an awareness of ecological change in Utah--and more. So much more. Lyrical profundity. Grace. Intense intense intense beauty and pain and faith. But, I go for quotes on solitude that hit home with me at this writerly period in my summer.

“It is what sustains me and protects me from my mind. It renders me fully present. I am desert. I am mountains. I am Great Salt Lake. There are other languages being spoken by wind, water, and wings. There are other lives to consider: avocets, stilts, and stones. Peace is the perspective found in patterns…. We are no more and no less than the life that surrounds us. My fears surface in my isolation. My serenity surfaces in my solitude.”

Quoted from the Indian teachings of Samkhya: “If you consciously hold within yourself three quarters of your power and use only one quarter to respond to any communication coming from others, you can stop the automatic, immediate and thoughtless movement outwards, which leaves you with a feeling of emptiness, of having been consumed by life. This stopping of the movement outwards is not self defense, but rather an effort to have the response come from within, from the deepest part of one’s being.”

“We usually recognize a beginning. Endings are more difficult to detect. Most often, they are realized only after reflection. Silence. We are seldom conscious when silence begins—it is only afterward that we realize what we have been a part of. In the night journeys of Canada geese, it is the silence that propels them.

Thomas Merton writes, “Silence is the strength of our interior life….If we fill our lives with silence, then we will live in hope.”

And I also like this:

“Faith defies logic and propels us beyond hope because it is not attached to our desires. Faith is the centerpiece of a connected life. It allows us to live by the grace of invisible strands. It is a belief in a wisdom superior to our own. Faith becomes a teacher in the absence of fact.”

And this:

“What is it about the relationship of a mother that can heal or hurt us? Her womb is the first landscape we inhabit. It is here we learn to respond—to move, to listen, to be nourished and grow. In her body we grow to be human as our tails disappear and our grills turn to lungs. Our maternal environment is perfectly safe—dark, warm, and wet. It is a residency inside the Feminine.

When we outgrow our mother’s body, our cramps become her won. We move. She labors. Our body turns upside down in hers as we journey through the birth canal. She pushes in pain. We emerge, a head. She pushes one more time, and we slide out like a fish. Slapped on the back by the doctor, we breathe. The umbilical cord is cut—not at our request. Separation is immediate. a mother reclaims her body, her own life. Not ours. Minutes old, our first death is our own birth.”


kate smudges said...

So, just had to trot off and see if the library has this ... nope. I will have to track it down elsewhere. I love the quote from Thomas Merton on silence. Profound stuff.

Benjamin Vogt said...

They don't have it? For shame!!! It's in my top 5 books.

kate smudges said...

hat the library purchase it ... sometimes I wonder about the libary's acquisition policies.