For all the pain you suffered, my mama. For all the torment of your past and future years, my mama. For all the anguish this picture of pain will cause you. For the unspeakable mystery that brings good fathers and sons into the world and lets a mother watch them tear at each other’s throats. For the Master of the Universe, whose suffering world I do not comprehend. For dreams of horror, for nights of waiting, for memories of death, for the love I have for you, for all the things I remember, and for all the things I should remember but have forgotten, for all these I created this painting—an observant Jew working on a crucifixion because there was no aesthetic mold in his own religious tradition into which he could pour a painting of ultimate anguish and torment.
― Chaim Potok, My Name Is Asher Lev
Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.
Whatever your eye falls on – for it will fall on what you love – will lead you to the questions of your life, the questions that are incumbent upon you to answer, because that is how the mind works in concert with the eye. The things of this world draw us where we need to go.
― Mary Rose O’Reilley, The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd
Public Domain Image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?
Has a way of wilting
At the strangest,
Most unpredictable hour.
This is how love is,
An uncontrollable beast
In the form of a flower.
The sun does not always shine on it.
Nor does the rain always pour on it
Nor should it always get beaten by a storm.
Love does not always emit the sweetest scents,
And sometimes it can sting with its thorns.
Give it plenty of sunlight.
And the flower of love will
Neglect it or keep dissecting it,
And its petals will quickly curl up and die.
This is how love is,
Perfection is a delusional vision.
So love the person who loves you
And abandon the one
Who only loves you
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
Love’s absence ailed me. I could not imagine loving my husband. He was a superior and I did not know how to love and be subservient together. Nor had he ever thought of me as a human being, let alone a woman. For no reason had he ever softened towards me, I had stirred him that little.
Stories set the inner life into motion, and this is particularly important where the inner life is frightened, wedged, or cornered. Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up, and for our trouble, cuts for us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that lead to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives as knowing wildish women.
I thought home needed to be tall and luminous, a glowing building with a luxurious setting. Status. What I failed to understand is home is not where I place my head down at night or the color of my furniture. Home is the people I surrounded myself with, the ones I break bread with. The keepers of my secrets and my fears. It is to be loved and to give love without inhibitions.
We are our ancestors. The spiritual umbilicus is apparent to all. The dead look upon us with the pure love of a mother’s gaze. But the dead love us even more because of our flawed flesh and eternal confusion. The removal from form allows for total and complete unconditional love. We carry our dead with us like helium balloons. There is no breaking the umbilicus.
― Tanya Tagaq, Split Tooth