Two Poems of Wonder

This week, I’m sharing two little poems of mine (and I don’t claim to be a poet.)  The first is from a recent excursion with my parents to Rhododendron Sate Park, here in New Hampshire.  The second was written a few days later.  To all poets (official and unofficial) out there: Please share your observations, suggestions, and advice for improvement – thank you!

(Photos taken by my father.)


In the Rhododendron Forest

Rhododendron State Park, New Hampshire, forest

Embrace me in your beauty, Lord!

As I am sheltered, here,

within the blossoming bower,

let me know your love.

Thick leaves arching overhead,

on wild wood from tangled roots

in forest golden-brown;

white petals glimpsed through latticed-light

above, or fallen whole upon the ground.

Resting here in the quiet,

I wait for you, my Lord

and you do not disappoint…

I see you in the peace and hear you in the joy,

I linger in the loveliness within and all around.

 

When I’m come through this long and winding

wonder-passage of shade and green,

out into the brightness of the other side,

Embrace me in your beauty, Lord!

Your heaven’s delight of endless awe

surpassing earth’s imagining,

beyond the twigs and moss of time,

beyond

the loveliness I leave behind

that’s yours, O Lord… not mine.

Rhododendrons, flowers

© 2017 Christina Chase


My Life Is

wheelchair, forest, New Hampshire

 

My life is small,

tiny,

a grain of sand,

gritty and glittering;

a drop of dew,

globular weight and wonder,

cool and wet upon the green palm of time,

until…

it slips

from its leafy mooring,

form shattered,

essence absorbed

into the wider deep…

seen no more… but known.

 

My life is a wonder-passage,

a winged seed in flight,

a caterpillar taking up

the promised glory

bite

by little

bite.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo Credits: 

Embracing Beauty, © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

Rhododendrons, © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

Into the Woods, © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

You’ve Gotta Sing Your Song

barbershop quartet, Concord Coachmen

My father sings barbershop.  Yup.  Even worse, he’s a baritone.  What does that mean?  Well, in this four-part harmony, the lead sings the melody, the tenor takes the high notes, the bass takes the low notes, and the baritone gets the leftover bits and scraps.  To make the specific “barbershop sound”, sometimes those odd bari notes sound downright terrible.  Hearing him practice singing his part alone can be an exquisite irritation.

But, sing it he must.

As one of the members of his barbershop quartet reminded him, “You’ve got to sing your song.  Your part is your song.  It’s not anybody else’s, so you’ve got to learn it and make it yours.  Don’t worry about what other people are singing – sing your song.”  This is very good advice.  And not just for singing harmony – but also for living life.

We are all part of this world, this life, and God has given each of us a specific song to sing.  Just randomly making up our lives as we go along will not allow us to become part of something greater than ourselves.  The song given to us is suited to our distinctive talents and abilities.  I am unique and my song isn’t like anybody else’s.  Of course, there are many similarities to others’, for we humans share many things in common.  There are only a finite number of notes, after all – but with myriad combinations to make unique sounds.  We need to cooperate with God, thoughtfully, to find those combinations, discovering our true songs and striving to excel at singing them.

Sometimes, someone’s true song can be beautiful on its own – but, when others join in with their complementary songs, the sound of that first individual becomes deeper and richer than it was by itself.  And, then, there are those songs that just shouldn’t be sung all by themselves.  (I, a bit odd with my crippling disability, am certainly no good alone.)  However, what sounds awkward and aberrant when alone gains belonging and importance when joined by community.

The fact is that there is no barbershop harmony, there are no magical barbershop chords, without the odd and sometimes jarring song of the baritone.  In conversation with my father last week, we both recognized how this truth can be a lesson for everyone: we sound better together when we are true to our own songs.  A tenor can’t sing the bass’ part and a lead isn’t going to sing a baritone’s part for him.  If you are true to the song that is given you and sing it with heart, then you have done your part and done it well.  And if your true song seems pointless, weird, or lacking, then you must seek out others who need your song – who need it to make the music complete.

Maybe this little life lesson that my dad and I stumbled onto will make me better appreciate, and even come to love, the baritone part of barbershop being practiced all by itself.  Maaaybe

© 2017 Christina Chase

Beauty Hunger

I have always been drawn to beauty, as bees are called to nectar and deserts thirst for rain.  When I was an atheist, I found delight in the beauty of the natural world – which I would never have called God’s Creation, but only Earth or universe.  As a believing Christian, I now experience the beauty of the created world in a more personal and exquisitely intimate way, with true joy, as profound gift and Mystery.

life of pix,, tulips

 

Our Creator does not create with rigid rationing, but, rather, with generosity and full exuberance: 1000 seeds to bear one fruit tree, 1 million spermatozoa to bear one human being, 1 billion rocky planets to bear one earth…

Continue reading

Brave

I feel very brave posting this.  Three and a half years of blogging here and I have been careful not to show pictures of myself straight on.  In fact, you’ll only find two.  Yet, here I am sharing a video of myself.

Why?  Right now, I’m really not sure!  A video of me reciting one of my poems with no makeup and no video touchup software?  (That would have to be some pretty awesome touchup software…)

But… there is something to be said about showing your wounds…

Being a Christian isn’t about standing on a soapbox yelling out quotes from Scripture or pointing at people “in sin” and warning them that they better change their ways.  Christianity is about Christ – and Christ is about love.  Christ is love incarnate.  So, if I want to share Christ with others, then I must not only love them in my heart and my actions, but also share with them my love – which includes my suffering.

When St. Thomas doubted the Resurrection, Christ came before him and showed him his wounds, let him put his fingers right into them.  We all have wounds.  We all have sufferings.  And we shouldn’t be afraid of them or even ashamed of them.  I am not proud of my defective gene (you won’t see me in any kind of SMA pride parade or whatever) but I am not ashamed to have a defective gene – or to even call part of me defective.  For that is the truth.

By sharing the truth of who I am – all of me – I hope that you may come to better know my love and, through that love, to know Christ.  God doesn’t make junk.  Everybody is sacred – every body is sacred.  And, sometimes, it is through our wounds that the glory of who we are is made known.

Now, remember mercy…

© 2017 Christina Chase

Different Women in 2 Works of Art

How connected are you to your background, how intimate with your landscape?

I love pretty things.  I’m very much of the “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”[1] sensibility.  The turn of the twentieth century is my favorite time period with its lovely style of dress.  And that is probably one of the reasons why I love the art of Frank
Benson and have a copy of this painting, Summer, in my room:

New England, women, seashore, painting

Summer, Frank Benson

This New England scene of sun-bathed softness and breezy lightness pleasantly soothes me.  Even the colors match my summer decor.  But… in recently looking long at the print and studying it more closely, I found that I started to like it less.  There’s something about the expressions of the women in this impressionist painting that does not touch or move me at all.  I cannot imagine myself in that place with them because I don’t feel like they are really present in that place themselves. Continue reading

Cancer and Perspective

For my aunt’s cancer, angiosarcoma, to be removed from her body, her nose had to be removed.  After a year and a half of surgeries, nearly torturous radiation sessions, and more surgeries, her “new” nose is left permanently disfigured and dysfunctional.  At least, however, she had the knowledge that the cancer was gone and her life was safe.

But, the cancer has returned.

What looked like a bruise near her jaw is actually cancer.  And it, too, must be removed.  I imagine that more radiations… and uncertainty… will follow.

My poor aunt!  I feel awful for her and can’t even imagine what she must be feeling and thinking.  How will she get through this?  Where will she find the strength, the wisdom, the grace?  I find myself asking the same questions that I had when she first told me of her cancer on Christmas Day, 2014.  And my prayer for her now is the same as it was then.  Here is what I originally wrote – about my aunt the artist and about having divine perspective, even in the face of cancer:

Perspective   (click to read)

© 2016 Christina Chase

What the Assumption Teaches about the Human Person

Do you see this person as beautiful?

popes man riva

Vinicio Riva, disfigured by neurofibromatosis

I have previously written about the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – but, in this reflection, I focus upon what the dogma teaches us about the human body.  And about the beauty of everybody…

The Dogma of the Assumption declares that Mary, the very human mother of Jesus, now lives bodily in Heaven for eternity, by the power and special grace of God.  Yes, she is in Heaven not only spiritually, but also bodily.  For, in order for a human person to be completely fulfilled, the soul needs the body as much as the body needs the soul.

The Holocaust

The Assumption was declared Dogma in 1950, giving an official mandate and explanation to what Christians have believed since the beginning and publicly celebrated in the earliest centuries. We may wonder why it took so long for the universal declaration to be made – but, we know that all things happen in God’s time.

The proclamation came forth just after World War II, a terrible period of history when millions of human beings were systematically murdered, having been stripped and gassed, their dead bodies heaped in piles like cordwood. The graphic images of this massacre and desecration horrified the world – and the Catholic Church took action. With the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Universal Church, founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, gave us a powerful reminder of the dignity and destiny of the human person – body and soul.

Sacred Matter

Our bodies are sacred, not like some kind of prison from which the soul has to escape, and not like some meaningless shell that we can do with as we wish. We are creatures of both flesh and spirit – body and soul as one person – and we believe that our souls will be reunited with our glorified bodies at the end of time, through the salvific power of Christ.

Therefore, it is right and just to respect human bodies. God loves what He has created. The human body is created by God and is not to be profaned, mutilated, abused, murdered, or desecrated in any way – for every human being is intimately and infinitely loved by God and destined for perfection, body and soul, in heavenly glory.

To fulfill this destiny, we need only to seek it through Christ, in the mercy and love of His Sacred Heart.

Loving As Christ Loves, Seeing As God Sees

Perhaps, you have seen someone as deformed as Mr. Riva, or perhaps you know someone who is much less deformed – as I am with my severe scoliosis.  Maybe one of your loved ones is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, severe autism, or brain injury.  You may have a friend, coworker, neighbor, or family member who is a grave sinner, someone who seems to you to be far from the ideal of a human person, who may even seem to you to be inferior or cursed in some way.  But, did Christ not love the lepers?  Did he not sit and dine with the sinners?  And did Christ not do these things because he loves human beings, so much so that he was willing to give his life for humankind so that each person could be redeemed to the beautiful eternal destiny that he saw waiting for them?

We know that human beings come in all physical shapes and sizes and in all levels of physical and mental abilities.  Some of us have twisted or missing limbs and some have faces so scarred or disfigured that they are hardly recognizable as human.  Far too often, in our society, we don’t even recognize human beings in the first stages of life as human beings.  But, make no mistake about it, whether small and weak, whether impaired in cognition, babbling and drooling, whether aged and decrepit or delayed or deformed – we are all human.  And if we are truly going to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption, then we must remember that everybody, every body, is beautiful in the eyes of God, who sees each of our particular heavenly glories….

What would happen if we saw each other that way? What if we truly remember that each human creature we encounter, whether mentally disabled, physically deformed, or mired in sin, is exquisitely beautiful in the eternal eyes of God? If we could see the heavenly glory that God intends for each one of them – for each one of us – we would be blown away by the intense radiance of that beauty, the eternal destiny of every human being redeemed and resurrected by the power of God’s love.

And then, maybe, we would love one another as God loves us and we would experience something of Heaven on Earth.

Pope Francis kisses disfigured man

© 2016 Christina Chase