Tag: God

poem: goddess

In my dreams
there stood a goddess
with one profound power:
she could create
earthquakes
of self,
a complete destruction
of everything within the skin.

If you began to rebuild
out of the rubble
in a way that failed
to satisfy her aesthetic senses,
the ground would shake again
and the edifice of being
would come crashing down.

Each time,
the disintegration
would go further
until the spirit
was reduced
to lonely atoms,
drifting in silence,
searching for the perfect mate.

She grabbed me by the shoulders
and started to shake –
when i awoke
words
came tumbling out.

i have been taken apart so often,
i cannot remember,
what i was.

21 april 2016

compulsion

(published at 1:30 am, May 13th)

Every once in awhile, I am faced with a compulsion that I cannot deny.  Tonight is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

All I wanted to do was sleep – truly and deeply, that is what I wanted.  Physically I am in misery – migraine and eye problems, compounded by a whole host of other pains that have plagued me today.  However, as I settled into bed, my head hurting too much to sleep, I decided to console myself with the Psalms.  I started to re-read the 46th Psalm with my good eye and that started an avalanche.  I wrote a rosary cycle from lines of the psalm.  Then I remembered many hundreds (part of me wishes I was exaggerating on that, but there are at least a thousand) of poems and meditations and prayers that have been such a huge part of my spiritual life.  And, in a way, I have been shy about sharing the full extent of it here.  (Surprise!  Bet you didn’t see that as shyness since it has been spilling all over the pages!)

At any rate, I don’t want to beat those who are interested in art and the artist’s process alone with my spiritual thoughts and practices. Yet, these poems and prayers are an intimate and vital part of my daily spiritual life. Obviously, they creep into this blog here and there – but I realized tonight, I can do both sides of my life more justice with two blogs.  This one will keep talking about art and the business of making and selling it – and no doubt faith will play a role since it is what gets me through the day – but the other blog will focus on prayers and meditations, including those rosaries that I love so much and never really talk about to anyone else.

So here you go – my other blog.  The first post went out tonight, and within an hour I had twenty more blogs queued up.  I haven’t decided how much I will flood social media with these writings (again with the shyness), but I am sure they will show up.

Oh, and one more thing before I go: a note on capitalization.

see... pretty lowercase asha
see… pretty lowercase asha

I never capitalize my name  – asha fenn – because I like how it looks lower-cased too much.  (Seriously, no more deep thoughts on that one, it just looks prettier.)

However, in a lot of my poems – particularly those when I am in conversation with God or contemplating my place in the universe, I lowercase the “I” – and this is not a mistake.  Indeed, when writing on these subjects I am actively attempting to keep my ego in check and to think about myself differently than usual.  For a long time, while I wandered in the wilderness of my grief, everything was lowercased.  When I publish old poems here, I keep the original punctuation and capitalization – the same will be true on the other blog.  Quite reasonably, I can say that during those times, I felt small and unsure.  But, even now, when I am on my knees in prayer, the lowercase i feels more appropriate.  Feel free to disagree with me, but at least I’m warning you… this is a conscious choice.  Except when I mess up and leave an errant i in an otherwise capitalized essay.

Which happens more than I’d like.

What’s the saying, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most?”

An hour and a half of prayer

In eight minutes, it will be 2014.  This is how I spent my New Year’s Eve: praying with wild intensity for an hour and a half, and now writing about the results of my efforts.

The writing would have happened without this blog – and I fear I will offend people with this open confession of how prayer and faith helps me – but I remain eager to get this into words. And there is a reason for my madness.  Belief has helped me heal as much as I have from PTSD, depression and anxiety. My spiritual practice has become intertwined with my creative life, to the point that it would have shocked my teenaged self if she had glanced into the future.

This is how it worked tonight.  I spent forty five minutes basically ranting at God – trying to figure out why I am in the position I am at this particular time.  I detest the feeling of vulnerability and right now I’m drowning in my financial and social insecurity. The time spent without electricity over Christmas, freezing, reeking, and finding unexpected blessings throughout it all, reminded me how precarious this whole process of living can be. While there were some interspersed thanksgivings and “For the Love of God, Christ, what lesson can I learn from this?!” moments, the first session of prayer was a great purging of frustration, sorrow and worry into the lap of Christ.

This is not unusual for me.  Perhaps I have read the Book of Job too often.  Four friends serve as the primary confidants in my life, (well five if you count the dog, but he rarely offers advice and neither of the cats listen) and they hear all my troubles and travails – but God hears about them all the loudest and the longest.  For, really, the flip side to each of these rants is the desperate call for help and guidance.  Sometimes, like tonight, I am speaking out loud and at volume as though Christ is beside me in the passenger’s seat.  Other times, I pray with a pen in my hand.  Entire journals are filled with my beseeching. The line between journaling and prayer is fuzzy at best.  I have lost track of how many times meditation has turned to abject begging and then gone to stillness again.

Whether or not it’s in a traditional manner, I pray every day.  Indeed, I look at my work as a form of prayer.  The whole goal of creating is to turn the ego off long enough for inspiration to pour through me.  My main agency in this, from my perspective, is in the bloody-minded stubbornness that makes me practice my craft so I will serve those moments of inspiration best.

Faith, in a very tangible sense, keeps me alive. Tonight did not descend to the levels of despair and need I have suffered in years past.  Quite a few moments when my faith became the deciding factor for whether or not I was to continue breathing or take matters into my own hands leap into my mind.

(Happy 2014, everybody!)

Moreover, faith covers more than just the catechism. I was baptized in the Episcopal Church.  The language of Christianity works well for me, but I recognize that other people are drawn to different vocabularies.  I also use Buddhist meditations and practices, because they help keep this outrageous ego in check.  However, in times like this, faith also includes my relationship with myself.  Believing in God is somewhat problematical if you suspect God might be out to get you. Coming to balance terrible events and a loving God took some doing. During my journey as an adult, I have had to get remedial lessons on having faith in myself, in my own worth, in the work that I do, and particularly, in my value as a child of God. My progress in these faiths has been slow and uneven.  Allowing myself the same comforts and forgiveness and kindness that I would give to others still feels unnatural.

At any rate, after forty-five minutes, I arrived at my destination. I shared a meal with one of those four good friends, during which I found great comfort. In some ways, despite my personal drama, tonight unfurled like a wondrous blessing. I had several options on how to spend this Eve – two were taken out of contention because of the potential Clayful Evening at the studio – and yet I still received the gift of a (very) late dinner with a good friend.

Joyously, the gift of understanding made its way to me.  We laughed, as we always do, although this time no one choked on food or had their beverage spurt out their nose.  I must have been off my game, come to think of it.  However, she seemed to forgive me my failings even as we discussed them. By the time I returned to my car for the ride home, I felt soothed enough that I did not rant.

The second session of prayer became a time wet with tears. Nearly the whole time I drove, my cheeks were soaked.  This session was calmer, slower, filled with pleading and questions.  As often happens, I kept begging for guidance and discernment and yet I could not shut the heck up. Thoughts and images and memories flashed through my brain at a remarkable pace – I tried not to evoke anything, but my conversation wove what came in, mulled it over, questioned more and waited for the next impulse.

By the end of that forty-five minutes, I wept not out of sorrow or grief, but connection and gratitude. At some point, probably around Orrington, i took my heart out of my chest and exposed it to the cold and found it warmed. While my problems remain, indeed, some seemed more intractable, with a good resolution less likely as I prayed over them, my perspective on everything shifted the more I spoke.  The things that kept popping into my mind were pieces of advice given to me, instants of great learning and times when the world changed for me in a second. The difference between moving forward and full collapse can be one sale.  This has been the year for epiphanies, and perhaps another came to me tonight in the middle of that open need.

The instant I came home, I had to start writing.  For someone like me, this was about the best way possible to spend New Year’s Eve.  Over that hour and a half (and the interlude of companionship in between) I moved from angry and forsaken to calm and grateful.  Love for God and this life filled me, without any need to change or sugar coat anything about myself or my situation.  Having talked about my suffering, I had to acknowledge the amazing gifts I have received as well. The stream of kind texts from the other three people on my shortlist during my time in prayerful tears helped too. Even something like the power cuts from the ice storm highlights how wonderfully kind people can be.

There is something sacred in prayer – no matter what the answer, or if there is one, or how selfish the topic might be.  It is the process of ripping oneself open and staring at what is revealed – while continuing to have faith no matter what horror or disappointment or beauty or contentment is perceived. As always, I groveled for guidance and a way to improve myself – to make my passage through this world less dramatic, less problematic, and more useful. I begged for my heart to be stronger and my path made more clear.  I babbled about my imperfections, flaws and sins, articulating an obsessive list of things I have done wrong. I begged for forgiveness even as I felt oddly fortified by my own stubbornness.  For, in a near miracle, I did not take full responsibility for all the sins of the world.

This has been the first year that I have allowed myself to be angry, to realize that sometimes other people screw me over without my having done anything to earn it.  Maybe my dog helped me with that, by surviving a terrible attack when he was blameless.  Darwin kept his dignity even after the human of the other dog insisted my pup was to blame. The injustice of it slapped me into wakefulness.  Just because someone shouts something, or seems wildly certain of an insanity, does not mean the statement has merit. Countless people have told me the same thing, but this was the year it settled into my psyche.  I hear what is said to me, about me, but have finally learned that when another’s statements are analyzed and weighed in my hands, particularly when I am ripped open like tonight, I am allowed to say: this does not bear any truth given what I see in my soul.  I do not have to be a prisoner to someone else’s judgment.  Nor do I have to give credence to predictions of doom or dismissals of my work.  What a gift that is!

Tonight’s prayer helped anchor my spirit in a richer ground.  I am imperfect, vulnerable, hormonal and on steroids for the lessening paralysis of the right side of my face.  The mistakes I have made lie clearly before me, and yet, I have the strength to say that I am not a terrible person to be angry or frustrated or hurt.  I had the confidence to reject things that did not feel true when held in my prayerful hands.  By the time I started writing this blog, I had become overwhelmed with gratitude for how much I have changed and how blessed I have been.  I was giving thanks for the frustration and the chance to weigh truth and fiction with this level of confidence.

And, for a lot of people, these things would have been free.  The years of faith and prayer and seeking and delving deep into themselves for some kind of foundation on which to stand wouldn’t have been necessary.  Others can do this with pure internal dialogue, no higher power necessary.  I am not one of those people.  I need help – I need to rip myself open and beg and plead and my reward is this sense of gratitude and kindness and communion.

Tomorrow, my art will be joyous.

 

 

Pieces of loneliness – Prophet and prayer

Today i have done very little but write.

Yesterday, despite feeling wretched, i rearranged my living room again.  My desktop – my last fully functioning computer – had to be moved out of the Studio last fall so that it would not be damaged by dust.  For the past year, i’ve been trying to keep the integrity of a living room while making the space as writing friendly as possible.  Well, i finally gave up on that balancing act.  i’ve been doing too much writing and i am sure to do even more over the winter.  After i made a little writer’s nest for myself in the corner, i started writing. Until the wee hours of the morning, i was typing out more of the strange little story about a girl named Rosemary.  Unexpectedly, one of the main characters died – for some reason this disturbed my dog enough that he got up, huffed at me, and walked out of the room to sleep somewhere else – probably because surprise exploded out of me.  When i woke up this morning, feeling better but still far from good, i decided that i could spend the day being a writer – which means i could take it fairly easy physically.

At any rate, after i worked more on Rosemary’s story and wrote a few poems, i started editing Pieces of Loneliness again.  i have already put up two recordings of chapters – Orbit and Vacuum.  Now, i will present two more.  Pieces of loneliness work mixes fiction and non-fiction, poetic prose and essay. These two chapters show how these different styles work together. Prophet is completely fictional (i wish it were read by a man, since the main character is male, but hopefully you can put up with my voice reading it); whereas Prayers traces a day when i was making seventy-two ceramic intentions.

Alas, but audio files are too big to upload here, so i provide you with the links.

Prophet

Prayers

Here’s the link to my website, if you want to hear more prose.