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Posts Tagged ‘little mouse’

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting, and they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire . . .

Loud rush of wind.  Tongues of fire.  We have to resort to metaphor because inspiration is an experience that transcends language.  A tremor of the soul.  The evidence of our senses no longer holds.  We don’t know why or how, but we know it is true.

I deal in truth.  Come on, so do you.  Well, OK, a lot of the time the depth of truth I’m dealing in is which item on the Thai menu is best or whether it’s time for a new computer.  But most days I’m also looking for truth that makes a difference: selecting the ideal diagnostic test or best treatment course for a patient; figuring out how to respond to my Grandson’s shenanigans; choosing just the right words in time of crisis.  Different truths seem to beg for different methods:

The Consumer Reports Method: You look at various tests and evaluations, you compare the different options, weigh the characteristics of each, and you decide which suits you best.

The Angie’s List Method: You trust other people to give you an honest opinion, you take their word for it and follow their recommendations.

The Scientific Method: You start with a null hypothesis, you formulate an alternative hypothesis, you perform experiments that can prove or disprove your hypothesis, AND other researchers performing the same experiments get the same results, so that your truth is reproducible.

The Spiritual Method: You get touched, breathed into, shaken and blown away by God.  In other words, inspired.

So how did I get here?  Part of the answer is in Keith Peterson’s poem How Long Did It Take?  When he tries to identify the inspiration for a poem the search connects him to something he read a few hours ago, then to memories and events of the past 40 years.  To his whole life.  To forever.  That is literary inspiration.

I would say literary inspiration is just a subset of all creative inspiration, which is a subset of everything that inspires us to awareness.  Inspiration is what connects us to this universe we inhabit.  I call it God.  You probably know some other names.  It may transcend language, but what I do know is that sometimes I have suddenly become speechless in the presence of an overwhelming sense of love and presence.  A sense in that moment that everything is right.  I imagine God, being everything – inside, outside, all – and being in essence and totality love, is continually in the act of wooing each complex molecule and synapse and electodynamic of my person to enter more perfectly into that love.

How did I get here?  Inspiration. The breath of spirit that enters and makes alive.  Ongoing, continual, never beginning nor ending. Not some sudden apocalyptic storm of electrons in gray matter, not some mystical visitation of otherness. Just that perfect enticement, subtle and often unnoticed.  Just forever.

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little mouse
(evidence)

Listen, it’s there again,
bone tremor like a footfall
on deep moss after midnight,
not my ears that hear, my heart
feels it.  Not my eyes,

they’re closed, but light enters
like sun filtered through miles of leaves
to find earth’s one white
petal.  You want to see
a footprint, count the round toes, claws

flexed or full extension.  You would sniff
the imprint, scribble genus . . . species,
publish your theories and turn up
your nose at mine.  Can you write me
an equation for hope?  A hand

hovers above my shoulder lightly (un-)
touching.  In the domain of mice
all large things are death.  Why
am I convinced my life depends
on the one thing I can’t prove?

© 2011 Bill Griffin, little mouse, Main Street Rag Publishing

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part 2 of 2
(part 1 posted 5/26/2012)

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Linda’s sister Jodi is a National Park Service ranger in the New River Gorge.  In addition to some of her jobs like cultural and historical interpretation, wildflower walks, and storytelling, she’s also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School: she teaches people visiting the backcountry to Leave No Trace.

Is it really possible to leave no trace of your passing?  Whether it’s an afternoon in the Greensboro Arboretum or ten days on the AT, can you really return from a place with no evidence you were ever there?  In years past the NPS and other outdoor organizations had less ambitious slogans:  Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires; Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute; Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints; Pack It In, Pack It Out.  But no trace at all?!  Even if all six billion of us recycled, composted, and travelled everywhere we went via shank’s mare, just the act of breathing in and out sends billows of carbon dioxide like a blanket into the atmosphere.  Leave No Trace — are you kidding me?

I wrote this poem, little mouse (trace), with my son and daughter in mind.  At different times one or the other of them has taken extended wilderness treks with me, and we’ve struggled to practice the best stewardship over wild places that we can.  (Margaret’s famous quotation upon reaching a road crossing with a refuse bin and over a pound of garbage in her pack:  “Trash cans rock my world!”)  But the world I want to leave them is not one with a few nice paths through the woods free of candy wrappers.  It’s not just the expectation that a few hikers will know how to erase the marks of their stay when they break camp.  It’s more like some crazy hope that all of us, every one, will retain an acute awareness of our traces right in the very places where we live.  That we’ll regret the unavoidable scars we leave on the earth.  That we’ll celebrate together when we can heal one.

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little mouse
(trace)

I want to leave the earth and climb
the snowbank cumulus, kick
my boots into the billow, lean
against my sassafras stick and rise.
Rain licks the slickrock clean

of my prints, greenbriar weaves
wild drapery up the wall, hickory sprouts
through the sidewalk.  I want to leave
no trace of my passing, no more trail
than the cursive of a slender tail

in dew.  Morning sun drinks that cup
and learns a word I never spoke,
someone’s new word for love.  I
want to be no more I but we – creature
loam bud feather; let roots translate

the phosphorus of my dust to fruit.
If you look for me a wren calls.
If you listen the poplar turns to honey
in the sky.  Drink deep this cup.  I want
to leave the earth to you.

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[from little mouse, Main Street Rag Publishing, 2011]

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