Saturday, January 23, 2016

suffering, a monkey garden, and some rules to live by

Six kids can be easier than the biological three.  They would play all together, Anna Grace directing like a circus ring leader, then they would pair off.  Circus, pairs, circus, pairs...

There she was, standing in the kitchen of our house that sounds like a playground.  My eleven-year-old wonder was pigtailed and poised, giving her speech on the cause and effects of tornadoes when my eyes brimmed with happiness.  How is she herself?  What a miracle, this person.  I later read Ann Voskamp's exposition on the beauty of life and gratitude in suffering and it took my heart swell up a notch.  What a beautiful, terrible world we live in- a holy experience indeed.  

I just finished Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street.  With respect and admiration for such gorgeous prose, I treasured this little book that mixed joy and sorrow in a stew of beauty. 

My favorite excerpt from the chapter "The Monkey Garden:"

"There were sunflowers big as flowers on Mars and thick cockscombs bleeding red fringe of theater curtains.  There were dizzy bees and bow-tied fruit flies turning somersaults and humming in the air.  Sweet sweet peach trees.  Thorn roses and thistle and pears.  Weeds like so many squinty-eyed stars and brush that made your ankles itch and itch until you washed with soap and water.  There were big green apples hard as knees.  And everywhere the sleepy smell of rotting wood, damp earth and dusty hollyhocks thick and perfumy like the blue-blond hair of the dead. 

Yellow spiders ran when we turned rocks over and pale worms blind and afraid of light rolled over in their sleep.  Poke a stick in the sandy soil and a few blue-skinned beetles would appear, an avenue of ants, so many crusty lady bugs.  This was a garden, a wonderful thing to look at in the spring.  But bit by bit, after the monkey left, the garden began to take over itself.  Flowers stopped obeying the little bricks that kept them from growing beyond their paths.  Weeds mixed in.  Dead cars appeared overnight like mushrooms.  First one and then another and then a pale blue pickup with the front windshield missing.  Before you knew it, the monkey garden became filled with sleepy cars. 

Things had a way of disappearing in the garden, as if the garden itself ate them, or, as if with its old-man memory, it put them away and forgot them....

...This, I suppose, was the reason why we went there.  Far away from where our mothers could find us.  We and a few dogs who lived inside the empty cars.  We made a clubhouse once on the back of that old blue pickup.  And besides, we liked to jump from the roof of one car to another and pretend they were giant mushrooms. 

Somebody started the lie that the monkey garden had been there before anything.  We liked to think the garden could hide things for a thousand years.  There beneath the roots of soggy flowers were the bones of murdered pirates and dinosaurs, the eye of a unicorn turned to coal."  

 If you are an artist (read: if there is breath in your lungs), I have found Momastery's Three Rules for Surviving a Creative Life right on the money.  Read the article, but in short it is simple: 

1.  Create

2.  Call it good!

3.  Rest

Amen and Onward! 

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