30 To lose if one can find again

Written late summer 1858 on the last sheet of Fascicle I – just one more little poem in this group and we sojourn onward! But today’s is a gem, and I am relishing this journey. Savor this one with me –

 

To lose – if One can find again –
To miss – if One shall meet –
The Burglar cannot rob – then –
The Broker cannot cheat.
So build the hillocks gaily –
Thou little spade of mine
Leaving nooks for Daisy
And for Columbine –
You and I the secret
Of the Crocus know –
Let us chant it softly –
There is no more snow”!

[Emily Dickinson]

Let me encourage you to spend a bit of time with these poems – often it takes several readings for me to absorb the full weight of her words, and even then I’m sure there’s more. That’s what I love about her poetry: it provides a challenge. Let yourself see everything as a metaphor, every word as an image – wander, play, experiment. Create your own adventure.

Love –

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27 Flees so the phantom meadow

Written late summer 1858. This one and the last were combined into one in an un-author-approved publication  in 1945 and 1960. But she transcribed them into her Fascicle I separately. This is a sweet one; a bit of commentary follows –

 

Flees so the phantom meadow
Before the breathless Bee –
So bubble brooks in deserts –
On ears that dying lie –
Burn so the evening spires
To eyes that Closing go –
Hangs so distant Heaven –
To a hand below.

[Emily Dickinson]

This is all about pining, that innate longing humans have for our true home apart from this world. Here’s a challenge – live like you’re already there. Bring Heaven to Earth, whatever that means to you.

Love –

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16 The feet of people walking home

First recorded summer 1858. This is ascendant!

 

The feet of people walking home
With gayer sandals go –
The crocus – till she rises –
The vassal of the snow –
The lips at Hallelujah
Long years of practice bored –
Till bye and bye, these Bargemen
Walked – singing – on the shore.

Pearls are the Diver’s farthings,
Extorted from the sea –
Pinions – the Seraph’s wagon –
Pedestrian once – as we –
Night is the morning’s canvas –
Larceny – legacy –
Death – but our rapt attention
To immortality.

My figures fail to tell me
How far the village lies –
Whose peasants are the angels –
Whose cantons dot the skies –
My Classics vail their faces –
My faith that Dark adores –
Which from it’s solemn abbeys –
Such resurrection pours!

[Emily Dickinson]

Things I looked up:
a crocus –

crocus

vassal – a caretaker of someone else’s land [from the days of feudalism]
pinions – a birds feathers, esp. the wings
larceny – theft
canton – we have many definitions, including a small community, a district of a city, or a certain type of flag. Mix those up, read it in context, and you get what she’s going for here.

Peace & light –

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13 There is a morn by men unseen

Written summer 1858. I was told that I sound a bit sad reading these – I’m not, really, maybe just reverent with them as I find my voice in reading her work. This one is a certainly a bit happier. Enjoy –

 

There is a morn by men unseen –
Whose maids opon remoter green
Keep their seraphic May –
And all day long, with dance and game,
And gambol I may never name –
Employ their holiday.

Here to light measure, move the feet
Which walk no more the village street –
Nor by the wood are found –
Here are the birds that sought the sun
When last year’s distaff idle hung
And summer’s brows were bound.

Ne’er saw I such a wondrous scene –
Ne’er such a ring on such a green –
Nor so serene array –
As if the stars some summer night
Should swing their cups of Chrysolite –
And revel till the day –

Like thee to dance – like thee to sing –
People opon that mystic green –
I ask, each new May morn.
I wait thy far – fantastic bells –
Announcing me in other dells –
Unto the different dawn!

[Emily Dickinson]

Joy –

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Breaking Up with Jesus

I recently realized that my first breakup was with Jesus Christ. Having foregone dating in high school because it didn’t seem important yet, my first real relationship was a religious one. Maybe that sounds weird, and a little incestuous in an impossible way, but it’s true. Christians will tell you it’s not a religion – it’s a relationship, and many would say they are in love with Jesus. Looking at this now, some seven years post-breakup, it sounds a little crazy.

So – what is a relationship with Jesus like? Really. I spent time with him every day, whether it was reading his word [The Bible], praying, singing worship songs, or just talking to him like he was my best friend, because, for a while there, I think he was. I know, I know, but take it easy, I was practically raised in a cult and didn’t have many friends because I was a prudish, shy, and intelligent teenage girl – a triple threat in all the wrong ways.

As I got older and gradually got exposed to the world around me, I started to think. Objectively. I started to wonder. Reading apologetics books that were supposed to help me defend my own faith, I wondered why defending it would be necessary at all, why people who believed in Jesus could be the only ones to go to this place called heaven. I started to think that heaven didn’t sound all that fun, that maybe I didn’t want to wear white and worship God forever and ever and ever. Among other things.

So, as is my habit, I researched. I secretly checked out atheist literature and read it like a pre-teen boy who just stumbled on his dad’s porn collection. Maybe God wasn’t as great as I thought. Maybe other people could be right, too. Maybe religion was something I’d held onto too tightly, and maybe I’d built my entire world around myths. Maybe I’d been in a strange, codependent relationship with Jesus Christ.

Maybe this is where it gets familiar – you realize you’re in a bad relationship, then what? After much deliberation, and probably a few tears, you end it. And then the void appears. That empty place where this thing had taken on a life of its own and formed your entire identity. What then?

Then you get to start building. First I became okay with not knowing – with having no idea of whether or not god exists or if heaven or hell are real, and I felt free. Then I started living in new ways – doing the things my “ex” hadn’t allowed me to do, trying things because – for the first time in my seventeen or so years – I could. Because no one could really tell me what to do anymore. And of course I wrestled with my still-Christian parents until I moved out a year later. And then maybe I did a lot of crazy shit. But I didn’t lose my grip entirely – I just slipped a few times.

Then I started to find balance. I realized I didn’t want my entire life to be a festival of debauchery, and that morals were good things, even if they’d been imposed on me for strange, guilt-inducing reasons. I realized that I didn’t need a specific set of rules to be good to people, but that – simply for my own sake – I would be good to people. Because that’s better for everyone. I discovered love in real-life relationships, and with time and effort and practice, I healed. And I moved on from Jesus. I found myself, which was something I’d been taught to deny for most of my existence. And I found out that I wasn’t the vile sinner I’d been taught that I was. I learned that I mess up, but so does every one, and that doesn’t define me and, I think most importantly – I learned to love myself. And I learned that I could be enough. And if you can learn that and be a Christian, more power to you, but for me – this journey of self-discovery, which is fundamental to existence, couldn’t, didn’t happen, until I broke up with Jesus.

Do you have a story of leaving a religion? What was it like for you?

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