Tuesday, June 30, 2015


She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!

Simply just being - together. Slight winds wafted through pool side wisteria, while we sat waiting, watching, listening.  Watching the dynamic tension of circling hawk suppressing neighborhood birdsong, listening for the punchlines of silly priest jokes, waiting for the just right moment to fill our plates of shared friends' foods bounty. These are the moments to remember, being in the presence of people with good humor, good hearts.
In her coughing, slightly tipsy voice she confessed an uncanny obsession. Lord Byron's poem kept coming to her consciousness in some connection to me. "She walks in beauty..." From depths of memory I could complete the next line. Darrell and I sang this together in high school choir, an acapella performance, led by a man we loved and revered, blended with other voices still innocent of adulthood. She blamed her Irish roots of mysterious intuition and I accepted the mystery, a gift.

There must have been a hasty, college kid review written for Lord Byron's poetry in my earlier years, English Lit, UNT, circa 1970's.  Here is my current reflection:
She walks in beauty....beautiful words, beautiful imagery....on the surface it describes a
woman who possesses both outer and inner beauty...a worthy, far reaching, timeless theme, something you and I and others aspire to be. 

On a personal level, I notice the particular contrasts between light and dark. I'm borrowing phrases from a book I'm reading by Sue Monk Kidd (Traveling with Pomegranates) to describe my reaction, "The irony is that I had to go on an elaborate journey to figure this out.  So much of my growing older seems to be about paradoxes.  The reconciliation of opposites.  The bringing to balance."                                                                              

So I view my darkness as disease and the light as goodness, blessings that surround me.  In the darkness, "the cloudless climes"  obstructions/distractions from daily life fall away and I am given clarity to see all the goodness, "the starry skies".  So I have been "mellowed" to see "tender light"  that might ordinarily have gone unnoticed in "gaudy day", or normal activity.  So I notice all the good that people carry in them and care to share - bringing flowers, replanting dead pots, baking blueberry muffins, book shopping, destination driving, sending cards, encouraging messages, simply just being - together.  Besides the goodness in people, there is also evident innate purity in nature for those who observe - flourishing plants, effects of powerful floods, circling hawks, birdsong restored, light effects at certain times of day and night, chameleon geckoes, mama ducks and their babies, squirlish antics, and more.

Ironic that being in a shade greater of darkness and a ray less of light, keeps a balance that reveals nameless grace.  The goodness is there in the smiles and kindnesses of friends, family and even strangers.  So in my inner dwelling place there is a fullness of good thoughts, comfort, love, peace in my heart.  Would I know this so deeply without "the night"? I love this poem and I'm glad she brought it out of my distant past into my present. Remembering the scripture that was read by Ashley at her father, Don Bigbie's funeral, the one shared in letters between Don and a friend Mark.  It has stayed with me as a God sent message, coming at me repeatedly from various places. The poem carries the same message.

2 Corinthians 12:9New International Version (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Deep thoughts by Susan Green. On Gilda Radner's birthday.

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