Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Poem: Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

 Photo by Rita Bourland © 2012

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover

lest you miss chapter three

where all things deep and mysterious


it’s clear

by chapters seven through eleven

that clarity will come later,

you must refrain from judging too soon,

you thought you knew; it’s true,

the cover misled your view,

yet the final pages

reveal the notions you formed
before reading page one

were woefully wrong,

you judged too soon

before you knew

the truth behind the cover.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Heavy Boots

Oil Painting by Benjamin Hope

Heavy Boots

In the book ExtremelyLoud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, the main character is a young boy who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks.  Throughout the book, he uses the term ‘heavy boots’ to describe a feeling of overwhelming sadness, despair or loss.  It’s an incredibly descriptive term.  Sometimes we’ll say someone is carrying a heavy burden or there is a weight on their shoulders or maybe they have a heavy cross to bear.  Heavy boots brings to mind a feeling of being mired in concrete, unable to move forward, moored to the earth; stuck in a limbo of suffocating sadness. 

What do we do when we have heavy boots? 

Maybe we’ve had a personal disappointment that is weighing us down.  Maybe other people have let us down by their unkind behavior.  Maybe we’ve suffered a profound loss.  Maybe we’re suffering from depression.  Heavy boots come about for a variety of reasons that are unique to each individual’s circumstances. 

The beauty of this particular metaphor is that you can also visualize unlacing the boots and slipping out of their burdensome constraints.  Then you can picture yourself wiggling your toes, dipping them into a warm tub, soaking away the pain and watching the worries evaporate as steam rises from the tub.

I wish you a smooth path, where your steps can land lightly upon the earth.  May you move with a graceful, airy ease throughout your day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poem: It's You

 Photo - 1984

On January 19, 1982, I was 28 years old and gave birth to the first of our three sons.  He turns 30 years old today.  He is a gift beyond measure.

 It's You

You emerged from the cocoon
Strong, healthy,
Seeking love, sustenance,
Sleep, more love, more sustenance,
Slowly exploring your world,
Learning, listening, discerning
Your uniqueness,

Even then making moves
Toward independence,

An early interest in
Continued throughout,

From finger paints
To pastels,
Piano to trumpet,
Dr. Seuss
To A Wrinkle in Time,
Robin Hood
To Star Wars,
All part of your human mind,
Gentle soul,
Creative spirit,
The mysteries of the universe
With a keen curiosity.

How did you grow from a tiny seed
In me
To the person
I see today?

The greatest mystery of all
Is the greatest gift
Of all,

It’s you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Poem: At Last, I Thought, I'm Safe

Heart Sculpture - Rita Bourland © 2012
At Last, I Thought, I'm Safe

I built a wall ‘round my heart,
strong and sturdy,
bricks and mortar,
stacked so neatly,
and completely,

at last, I thought,
I’m safe,

but then my heart
felt discontent,
for while the wall blocked pain,
it also blocked the joys of life,
a loving hug,
a smile
and kiss,
a moment of bliss,
time with a friend,
 music and birds,
a child’s first words,
sun on my face,
a moment of grace,

with chisel and mallet
I chipped at the bricks,
made a small crack,
felt light creeping in,
feelings begin,
exposing my heart
to sadness and joy,
to life
once again.

The End

Monday, January 9, 2012

Changed by The Boy in the Moon

Photo by Rita Bourland - 2011
Changed by The Boy in the Moon

I just finished reading The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown and have tears in my eyes as I begin to write.  I was deeply touched by this book and felt compelled to share my experience.

The book was a Christmas gift from one of my sons.   He noticed I was nearing completion a few days ago and asked if I thought it was worthy of being among the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2011.   I paused before answering him because I was a bit conflicted.  The book was tough to read.
Ian Brown writes about his son, Walker, who was born with CFC, a rare genetic mutation that only about 100 people in the world share.  This mutation results in severe developmental disabilities.  Walker has chronic health issues and physical problems that include hitting himself repeatedly in the head.  He’s also prone to fits of laughter, moaning and crying.   He can walk but is unable to talk.  He is fed through a tube in his stomach.  He wears diapers.  At times he relaxes enough to be held and hugged. 

I lived with the Brown family through the pages of this book.  I went along with the father and mother as they sought out specialists, looked for a group home, cried for their broken son, suffered from ongoing guilt, exhaustion, anger and despair.  But they always held onto a deep abiding love for Walker. 

The reason I needed to write about this book came to light in a few instances this week.  

Our newspaper ran a story about a local center for the developmentally disabled.  Fifteen staff members were going to lose their jobs and the center was soon to be closed because of a lack of state funding.  I read the newspaper story and felt a tight grip in my chest.   Two weeks ago, before I read the book, I would have skipped past the story without considering the serious implications.

I went to church on Sunday.  As I was leaving I saw a couple, probably in their mid-40s, open the back of their van and push a button to lower a wheelchair to the ground.  They opened the side door and lifted their son into his chair.  Two weeks ago, before I read the book, I would have cared about this family but I wouldn't have fully understood the complicated, extraordinary measures necessary to participate in normal community activities.

On the radio today, there was a program about how people use humor to get through challenging times.  A man called in and shared a story about how his son keeps him laughing by playing practical jokes.  He said his son is 41 years old and has Downs Syndrome.  They will live together forever.  The father’s love for his son was palpable.  Two weeks ago, before I read the book, I would have been touched by this story, but today I listened with news ears.

That is what a great book does.  It helps us see with new eyes, hear with new ears and feel with new depth.  So, yes, this book deserves to be on the top ten list.  I feel expanded, curious and changed as I consider the things that make us human, unique, important and valued. 

Ian Brown has a quote about his son that I will carry with me, “All I really want to know is what goes on inside his off-shaped head,” he writes, “But every time I ask, he somehow persuades me to look into my own.”

I was persuaded to look inside my own and that is the reason I'm sharing this with you today.

Photo by Rita Bourland - 2011

Friday, January 6, 2012

Two Year Blogiversary

Two Year Blogiversary 

Two years of blogging today,
Who knew I had so much to say,
But it passed in a blink,
Like a sly, knowing wink,
Now I’m left with a blogging buffet.

Thank you for supporting my writing!