Last night, I took my son to see The House with the Clock in Its Walls, which was surprisingly good. My son has been talking about this movie since the first trailers came out. Jack Black is always entertaining, even in bad films. He has a similar kind of manic energy that Robin Williams and John Belushi had.
This morning, I went to two church services. One of my good friends invited me to the 9 a.m. worship at her church. She and her son play in the praise band. It was like a Christian rock concert, replete with lights, fog, and banging loud music. My son loved it. Then, I went to the worship service at my wife's church for World Communion Sunday. Different vibe, but still inspiring.
Now, I'm getting ready for the coming week. Something happened a little while ago that is sort of playing on a loop in my head right now. Can't turn it off, and it's bringing me down. The past (especially a fairly traumatic time from the past) has a way of popping up every once in awhile to haunt you. Don't worry. I'm not in harm's way. I just can't push it out of my mind, and it's making me crazy.
I know that I lead a blessed life. I know that. My health is pretty good. My kids are smart and beautiful. My wife just threw me a great surprise birthday party. I have jobs that pay the bills (for the most part). Lots of friends who care about me.
Yet, memory has a way of triggering the worst kinds of moods. I don't know if it's post traumatic stress or what. I have never had a positive memory trigger, been overcome and obsessed about the best times of my life. The births of my daughter or son. My wedding day. Being named Poet Laureate. No, my memory triggers fill me with panic and dread. They sit in the pit of my stomach, perch on my forehead. Caw and screech and growl. That's what I'm experiencing right now.
My sister is cooking prime rib for me tonight. Mashed potatoes. Dinner rolls. And tapioca pudding. My favorite things. I'm trying to push this wave of anxiety away and enjoy this family birthday dinner. It's getting easier. I spoke with my wife about it a little while ago, and she was able to make me less anxious.
Now, you disciples reading this are probably thinking that I'm a basket case. Confession: I frequently am. I can go from panic to self doubt to Hershey kisses to panic in the space of about five minutes. This is normal for me.
A year ago, I was also celebrating my birthday and counting my blessings. No panic involved . . .
October 7, 2017: Silent Film, Richly Blessed, This Little Light
The guards drew together instinctively, rolled their eyes. They experimented with one expression and then another, said nothing, though their mouths were often open. They looked like a silent film of a barbershop quartet.
"So long forever," they might have been singing, "old fellows and pals; So long forever, old sweethearts and pals--God bless 'em--"
Have to apologize for my absence last night. I was not bunkered down, waiting out a fire-storm. I was at the monthly poetry workshop I lead at the Joy Center in my home town of Ishpeming, right in the heart of the Upper Peninsula. There were lots of old pals and colleagues there. We wrote about ghosts, watched one of my favorite haunted house movies (The Changeling), and ate.
You know, I have realized this Saint Marty's Day that I have been richly blessed this year. So much good has happened in my life. If I were in a silent film of a barbershop quartet, the subtitles would probably be the lyrics of "This Little Light of Mine" or Pharrell Williams' "Happy."
I know I'm sounding very Up With People, but I have been very lucky this year, connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old ones. That has been one of the greatest blessings of being chosen Poet Laureate. I get to go places, read poems, talk about poetry, and meet wonderful people all over the Upper Peninsula.
Of course, there are still troubling things happening in the world--locally, nationally, and internationally. So much division and strife. These last couple days, there was a registered nurses' strike at the local hospital. Good people, walking a picket line to make the community a better, safer, healthier place. And, of course, there was Las Vegas this week. Donald Trump. Brexit. North Korea. There are plenty of things to worry about, and I'm not ignoring them.
However, for today, I'm going to watch my silent film, read the subtitles, hum a song.
Sing with Saint Marty: "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine..."
And a happy poem for this evening. I swear. . .
by: Martin Achatz
I had an omelet this morning,
With scallions and mushrooms and grated
Monterey Jack cheese. It was so good
I wanted to take a picture of it,
Wanted to fall on my knees, right there
In the crowded dining hall, and say
A rosary for it. I wanted to push
My way back into the kitchen,
Worship at the feet of Ruth, the aproned
Chef who had created it
In less than two minutes, scraping
Her spatula back and forth over
Her hot, stainless steel palette.
Watching her create that omelet made me
Believe in the Book of Genesis,
That God could create the world
In six days flat and then sit back
And view us like a National Geographic
Special on Sunday morning.
Seeing Ruth work, I couldn't understand
How people denied the existence of God:
Here she was, serving up two-minute
Breakfast miracles for everyone.
If I could serve this omelet
To the entire Middle East, the suicide
Car bombings, the need for guns,
Missiles, and armies would vanish
In a single bite. An Omelet Peace
Accord would take place, the entire
Planet joining hands to sing
Psalms and dance with timbrels and drums.
Yes, the omelet was that good.
When I go to church this coming Christmas,
While the congregation kneels,
Gives thanks for a baby
Served up with a side of hay
In a manger, I will give thanks
For scallions and mushrooms
And Monterey Jack cheese, for folded and melting
Frankincense, gold, and myrrh.
Two of the biggest blessings in my life . . .
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