Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2: Searching for Grace, Joy Harjo, "Grace"

Searching for grace is difficult.  Because grace isn't something that can be found.  Grace is something that just happens.  Unexpectedly.  And it can take any form.  A cup of water on a scorching July afternoon.  A neighbor shoveling you out from a snow storm.  A song on the radio.  Or just a moment of quiet in the middle of a busy day.

I often labor under the belief that grace is something that can be earned.  It isn't.  Grace is something that's given freely.  Call it what you want.  God's love.  The Holy Spirit.  The Muse.  It's simply a gift.

Tonight, I'm not feeling grace too much.  I'm tired, anxious, sad.  Ready to go home after a long, long day.  I have another hour to kill in my office before I can do that.  Once I'm done with this post, I'm going to work on my Christmas poem.  I'm not feeling particularly inspired.  But I have to get started on it.  Poetry is about grace and inspiration, but poetry is also about hard work.  If you read a poem that seems absolutely effortless, I can guarantee you that poem is the result of a lot of sweat, tears, and perhaps anger.

The poem below is about grace in its many forms.  It feels effortless and beautiful.

But Saint Marty knows better than that.


by:  Joy Harjo

for Darlene Wind and James Welch

I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horizon of snowbanks. The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences, crashed our thermostat dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time.So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us, in the epic search for grace.

Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a season of false midnights. We had to swallow that town with laughter, so it would go down easy as honey. And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams had found us with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80, we found grace.

I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.

I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw. We didn’t; the next season was worse. You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south. And, Wind, I am still crazy. I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it.

Not the Grace I'm talking about...

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