Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day~Rainbow Lava, the Communion of Saints and the Phil Tree

 

Here’s an illustration of accidental art, or how nature and technology (which comes from the Greek, techne, meaning to weave) blend together to create a surprise. My friend Mary Batinich took this picture just a few years ago while visiting from Minnesota. I should say that she took the original version of the picture, for my printer enhanced it, as autumn light leaving the leaves enhances them by revealing their normally invisible true colors. As we walked up the trail from my Waterfall Pilgrimage holy spot at Latourelle Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, it was deep twilight. We took pictures of each other at a place in the trail where the ancient Mt. Hood lava wall formed a slight indentation and we could huddle as if in the opening of a cave. The rock was gray, and deepening to dark silver with evening light. On the day she returned to Minnesota, I made prints of the pictures for her. This image was last, and the gray lava revealed latent colors of amethyst, emerald and pink sapphire ~ a gift from the fact that my printer was running out of ink. By the time I noticed the warning flash, the print was done. I scanned it back into the computer and now it’s my favorite picture of Mt. Hood lava on my way to my favorite waterfall in the Columbia Gorge, with the sweet memory of the process that allowed hidden colors (of imagination and machine) to reveal themselves. Below is another marvel of accidental portraiture taken decades ago by a visitor from North Dakota who wanted to photograph the summit of Mt. Hood. In the lounge of Timberline Lodge, he turned from the window facing the last five thousand feet toward the snowy summit of the mountain whose ancient name is Wy’East, and when he spoke to me he said, “Don't move.” He went home to the prairie with a double vision mountain. Because I love to pray with my eyes fixed on the Sacred Mountain, it's an honor to be photographed with a double vision of it, as if symbolizing the fusion of the inner and outer Mountain of God. 

 
Do scroll down (or choose from the archives) to read my first All Souls' Day entry, a tribute to Phil, my beloved soulmate and spouse who returned his body to Earth, light and the stars and his spirit to Everywhere in God when he was 37 years old in 1985. The Witness Magazine where my poetry often appeared in those years gave me a memorial tree for Phil, who was my priest Presenter at the Philadelphia Ordinations. His mother, my mother-in-love, Betty Campbell was my lay Presenter. They were both tall and lovely in their bones and made impressive bodyguards as well, for one built closer to the earth in elfin form such as me. Betty followed Phil in 1988, and his father, Doug Campbell, in 1993. Below their images are poems for all three, tops in my personal corner of the Communion of Saints across the dimensions.

First, I'll quote this passage from the Dedication page of my website,
finished in content but not in design. The dedication is at the top of that page
overlaid on this image of sunset coming over the Cascade Mountains with that
white volcano Mt. Hood that I love, taken from my backyard, though the mountain
is still sleeping . . .
“This Web site is dedicated to The Right Reverend Daniel Corrigan,
1900-1994— Champion of All Forms of Justice,
Hero of Just Causes, Prayer-full, Grace-full Activist,
Truth-full and Loving Human Being—
Thank you, Dan for knocking down unjust walls
and helping me and so many others over the barriers.
Administering Holy Communion are new priests among those later 
referred to as the Philadelphia Eleven. Left to right: Merrill Bittner, 
Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Emily Hewitt and Marie Moorefield.
At the altar stands one of the three ordaining bishops, Daniel Corrigan 
top left, with Bishop Antonio Ramos who came from his Diocese of Costa Rica
to stand in support of some of the ordinands with whom he'd attended seminary
in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and and especially to offer support to his three 
brother bishops who were taking such a leap forward from custom by ordaining 
these women to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church, an act which would 
bring tremendous criticism from their colleagues and countless others:

Bishop Daniel Corrigan, retired bishop of Colorado,
Bishop Robert DeWitt, former diocesan bishop of Pennsylvania
and Bishop Edward Welles, retired bishop of West Missouri.

Read about the event in historical context in this entry:

Dan Corrigan was the bishop who ordained me to the priesthood on July 29, 1974, 
Feast of Saints Mary and Martha. Below at the 25th Anniversary Celebration at the 
Church of the Advocate, we follow little children representing the colors of humankind, 
holding hands as they dance down the aisle behind the drummers who established a 
joyful rhythm in the liturgical procession. After communion, the black Gospel choir 
sang sacred hymns of thanksgiving and I broke into spontaneous dance.

Twenty-fifth anniversary liturgy, procession and post-communion dance.
 
Eleven women risked their ministries and lives as they knew them by stepping forward to meet the bishops and present themselves for ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests. Renowned Civil Rights activist, Bishop Corrigan ordained the eldest, former space scientist Jeannette Piccard, and the youngest, Alla Renée Bozarth, at that time known as Sister Alla Bozarth-Campbell, a last name which she shared with her husband Phil Bozarth-Campbell until his untimely death in 1985. Bishop Corrigan was then 74 years old, Dr. Piccard was 79, and Dr. Bozarth(-Campbell) was 27. 

Alla writes, “Decades later, when Bishop Corrigan was in his nineties, his wonderful wife Elizabeth told me that even though he was struggling with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and unable to read prose books, he continued to stand at their Santa Barbara home windows each day facing the Pacific Ocean and then turn to face the surrounding mountains, while he read my poetry aloud as prayers. Knowing this made me happy beyond words. . . . I was grateful to know that portions of my poetry, straddling the lines between logic and sensory aesthetic centers in the brain, could serve my beloved ordaining bishop in this way as prayers of thanks and praise. After his death, Elizabeth and I had several telephone conversations during her first year of initiation into the sisterhood of loving and beloved women bereaved of their transfigured spouses.

“Russians call the death of the body and its holy return to the earth the transfiguration of the soul, and Dan’s soul had been able to sustain practice for its transfiguring birth into Paradise long into the development of the disease that afflicted his mind and body. What a privilege and blessing it is for me to have been part of their lives in the ways that Elizabeth reported to me before his physical death, and to remain part of her life afterward.

“I cherish the memory, among other things, of her telling me that as his physical disease progressed, having forgotten how recently he’d told her, every ten minutes or so during his waking hours he would say to her, ‘I love you.’ What a wonderful thing to hear, what a wonderful thing to say, making sure by so many moments of tender declaration that these words would be the last words she would hear of his voice on Earth.”

Dancing My Way Up

Resting up for death is not my choice—
I’d rather spin like a dervish, attired
in the crimson and purple silk vestments
of the ancient High Priest before
the Holy of Holies, a layered gown long
to the ground, bordered with dried pomegranate
rattles and golden bells, cascading rows of gold bells,
and bells on bare feet, and when I feel it
coming on, I will wear my way in sun
or holy water of rain or dark night
and find the right-feeling grass on which to turn
toward the light and dance my way into heaven.
 
Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequency of Light





The Phil Tree Pictures and Poem 


Here’s the Phil Tree as a baby, and not many years later,  
large and protective of birds, flowers and fountain, 
then as Enchanted Bottom in Love from "Midsummer Night's Dream,"  
and wearing golden earrings on his dear donkey's ears:
 




The Phil Tree

In memory of Phil,
the tree was shorter than me
when I planted it nearly twenty
years ago, a gift from The Witness Magazine,
often visited by my poetry.
My gardener had advised me which tree
to choose. “Your husband was long and lean
and shaggy, right?”
“Right.” "A weeping sequoia, then."


At first, the young tree faced the mountain,
feet spread wide for balance, belly forward, 
as if pretending to be falling over backward in awe,
arms outward in wonder and joy.
 
I once took a photograph of Phil
standing in exactly this position
on a hill in San Francisco, mouth open
in delighted mock fear of falling backward
toward Union Square and the Bay.

The Phil Tree is a weeping sequoia, then,
and extending himself lovingly   
and protectively toward earth,  
weeps only tears of love and awe. 

The next summer, he had spun
to the south somehow, raised his arms
and was clearly conducting the creatures’ chorus.

The third summer he had pivoted
completely around toward the house
and placed his arms in invitational dance position,
asking me the question through my windows
whether I’d like to come out into the garden
and join him ~ "Wanna dance?"

Sometime after that he began to play his guitar.

A decade passed and birds began to perch
on his ears, which at first seemed to be two more guitar necks
carried over his back, but had become more and more a part of him.
For several years he worked as a one-tree band, playing a guitar
(twelve string no doubt), with a classical Ovation and a folk stringed instrument 
slung behind him, while a contraption held a harmonica up to his mouth.
Later, it morphed into a flute, and his beard grew long beneath it.

Visitors began to say, regarding the twenty foot tree,
“It’s a bunny!”  This was a happy allusion to the Easter animal,
to which I smiled in acceptance, but I knew something else was going on.
While rabbit ears serve as antennae, perhaps to heaven,
the Phil Tree was developing a double hump on its back
where the two guitars had formerly hung.
One hump might have been a back pack befitting a woodsman,
but two humps suggested that Phil and his tree
were growing their wings.

Protective limbs now reach down to curve
over a young ailing tree rose called Neon Lights,
and cradle the pyramid rocks and waterfall
to guard the gathering of all manner of birds
from the neighborhood cats and coyotes.
This is angelic work, I believe.

And those long ears pointing through the sky
hold a constellation of crimson and gold,
feathery singers swaying in the air to that music
he still makes by means I no longer can tell.
What I see is the secret pleasure of play,
my paramour wearing donkey’s ears
to woo his Titania (me) with Bottom’s dreamy seductions,
and I hear that Midsummer Night’s Dream of Mendelssohn
throughout the day, humming to me from Paradise
that Songe d’une nuit d’été!
                                               
         Alla Renée Bozarth
 The Frequencies of Sound
 


The Family
 
In the boat below are Phil’s dad, Doug Campbell Sr., Phil, Alla under the pink hat and Phil’s mom, Betty Campbell on Burntside Lake in the North Woods near the town of Ely and the Boundary Waters between Minnesota and Manitoba north and west and Ontario north and east. The lake party picture is followed by Betty walking in her beloved woods at Camp Van Vac where the family has enjoyed long summer vacations since Betty’s and Doug’s children were children. These pictures are from old family albums. Our dear family friend Diane Sundell took the picture of us in a boat on Burntside Lake, and Phil's older brother Doug's godfather, Bishop Fred Putnman, took the picture of Betty walking in the woods around the lake. Trust me~ Everyone in the boat is grinning. We had a great catch and were looking forward to getting back to the cabin so Betty could do her magic, frying northern pike and bass with bacon like she did with trout . . .We thanked God for our place in the food chain and dug in.
 

I discovered the true story on which the poem below Betty's picture is based 23 years after my father died when I tackled my closet and archives during a storm of spring cleaning and decided to go through all the files, including his. I hadn't opened it in decades. Among other treasures, I found a handwritten  letter on the back of a map from Betty to my father, thanking him for his hospitality toward Betty and Doug during our wedding week in Oregon. (Along with other loving ideas he manifested, Papa had taken them to the beach to coo and cheer with him as they surreptitiously drove past our honeymoon motel!) On the car trip back to Minnesota, Doug was eager to stop at some choice rivers in Montana for a trout fishing side trip. The rest is in the poem and the facts, though shown in a poetic light, are exactly as Betty reported them to my father. What joy for me to discover this buried treasure so many years later. I wrote the poem and sent it through cyber space to Betty's family so they could read it while sharing her table together in the family house (which until recently has stayed in the family through three generations) on Mother's Day. The last poem is for Doug and speaks for itself.
 
   
Betty Learns Fly Fishing and Meets the Archangel of Angling

Up past her knees in the trout stream, a leak long poked in her waders,
leg soaked, unable to keep up with her husband jubilantly bounding
a mile ahead—she stopped to contemplate which of these
was the greater misery. ~~ Her first time angling.
What kind of a cockeyed sport is this? she thought.
Look at the man. I think I’ll hate him for a minute.
The wetter she got the more her nose ran
its own streams down her cold chin.
Her flimsy feminine hanky was in the river.
She was ready for it to snow on her next.
She hadn’t moved for two minutes
during this silent soliloquy.
Suddenly, from downstream, a very elderly fisherman,
arms up to hold his gear high, came gliding across the rocks,
his face luminous with the radiance of a person living his bliss.
He approached without slowing down or missing a stride,
and she said apologetically, “I’m a tenderfoot, but I’m trying to learn.”
“I’m an expert,” said the Ancient, and grinning with a wink, leaped passed her.
Well, I guess I didn’t impress him, she deduced with a shrug of her spirit and brow.
She turned in another direction, opened her eyes to take in the light
on the water. Before sound, she felt presence, turned again.
Here came the old fishing wizard, looking into her eyes so hard
from a shrinking distance she felt the strength
of intention before she could see him clearly.
“This is for you,” he bellowed over the ruffling water,

In a second, he was there, took her hand and opened it,
tucked a small object into it, winked again and leapt on.
She looked down in wonderment.
A pale pink and milky peach stone rested in the hollow of her palm.
The first smile of assurance slowly opened her face.
Everything cleared. Into the river rainbow fish drew her,
she never knew such happiness.
 
                  Alla Renée Bozarth         
The Frequency of Light, copyright 2012

                                                                  Who is this Man?

What a tremendous thing
to be in a boat with a man
like that, whose face and
presence are a benediction!

Everything that comes from him
comes from a calm center,
a sureness, a place of knowledge
that cannot be divided from wisdom.

Fishing by his side on a lake
in the steady gaze of the sun
is a gentle grace confounding
all reason. He’s a man

and more than a man.
This frightens me
and pleases me greatly.
Wind becomes him, trees’ leaves

throw themselves under his feet.
Greenwood glistens more, grass dances
in his path. I will learn without learning.
It is enough to be with him.

   Alla Renée Bozarth

 The Book of Bliss, iUniverse, 2000
 and This is My Body~ Praying for Earth,
 Prayers from the Heart, iUniverse 2004


The following  is a tribute poem to my ancestors
  represented by Villa and Will:

Villa and Will

When Villa Wiard married Will Little, my generation was four constellations 
away, unborn, a mere dim, distant indefinable scent in the air beyond the farm, 
the scent of the future that came along once in awhile in the springtime.
My ancestors Sarah Standish and John Wiard had married eight generations earlier~
Sarah the granddaughter of Myles Standish, who may or may not have been
the only Roman Catholic on the Mayflower, and John the descendant of my Breton archancestor, Johannes Wiard, who fought with William the Conqueror at Hastings.
Villa’s mother, Rovilla, was French Canadian, hence the French name.
Of Great-great-Grandpa Little, I know very little,
except that his people hailed from New York. 

Will Little courted and married Villa Wiard back in Illinois,
and their daughter Alice Delphine would grow up to become
the most educated woman around, a tiny intellectual
who was also a rural teacher and midwife,
widow and mother of four, her youngest child my grandma.

This was almost a century of generations and miles 
from the big buzzing lights of sin city Chicago, where I went 
from my mountain town in Oregon to receive 
higher education at the university and in the sweaty workout rooms 
of The Holy Ghost Honky Tonk Gym and The Gospel Blues Temple of Christ.
From there, the Black Madonna would patrol the streets to gather in the needy 
for hot soup, hot singing and smooth clean sheets for safe sleep.
It was one of the few places where people would not be robbed
of the lie that we live in a safe world, that lie being a necessary possession
which some of us mourn the theft of, for we needed it badly and still do
and can hardly adjust to going on without it, because now we have to know
how unsafe everyone here is, not yet being dead.

Imagine that it’s taken me more than half a century to realize
that when Grandma would say to me across her tiny kitchen table
in her little green house beneath the tall trees, “Baby, I am proud as can be
of my ancestors, and especially of being an eleventh generation direct descendant 
of Miles Standish who came to this land on the Mayflower,”
she was telling me that I was a thirteenth generation heir of the pilgrim legacy.
And incidentally, on my grandfather’s side, seventh generation Osage Indian.
  
Though Miles Standish was hired as a military organizer to set up the colony,
he came with the Pilgrims, and lacking  Puritan restraint, he shared
their spirit of new beginnings and their freedom to invent themselves.
And so I inherit that spirit of independent autonomy and occasional anarchy
for the common good that motivated those early modern immigrants.
Before them, it’d been mostly quiet of newcomers on this continent since
the human ancestors of the people who already lived here had immigrated
from the other direction sixteen to twenty thousand years earlier.
The Asians, the Europeans and then the Africans all came here with their own 
songs of lament and joy, love and supplication, their own pipes and drums
of thanksgiving prayer.

We sons and daughters of global immigrants, whether they came here
kidnapped and enslaved or freely, still all sing on the same stringed instrument 
built into our human throats. It’s our common birthright to sing. 

We all know how to clap and dance and ride the sound pitches 
on our own breath swings through the air, and we all pray as we choose 
and survive this way, or if not by making the sounds, by listening and 
carrying on inside and saying our own Amen in our own ways.

Being a descendant of pilgrim people makes me the same as everyone else
since the beginning of the Great Migration out of Africa
before the coming of ice, when the call was strong to see how big
the world was and how far we could go before it invited or forced us
to light ourselves down and say, Home, if that happened, or at least,
Stay for awhile and explore.

We all arrive wherever we light
with our songs and souls intact or in shreds,  
depending on the journey and how strong we are in body and spirit
and what help we had or did not have on the way.

Raising our voices to meet angels’ choirs allows us not to mind so much,
or at least not all the time, the fact that we can’t be safe till we’re dead.
The music of everything keeps us all going anyway, because it lightens 
the spirit and clears the mind for when we have to decide 
how we’re going to respond when life and death happen. 
We respond in an instant, sometimes, without thinking.
 
The singing helps us forgive ourselves for what later might look like
bad choices and moves ~~We did the best we could with what we knew
or believed and had at the time. We couldn’t know the pain and trouble
our moves would lead to until they presented themselves~
Then we sing again, to give ourselves mercy and firm resolve
without violent judgment against ourselves.

At home again in Oregon, when I visit The Holy Ghost Honky Tonk
and Gospel Blues Temple of Christ* in my mind, I come up singing every time,
dancing around my kitchen without touching the walls,
thinking that Miles Standish and all would never have imagined
such a sight, such a sound, such a rhythm, such a person,
or that their own blood runs in her veins and does such
strange and marvelous things.

*My names for The Chicago Urban Training Center and Jessie Jackson’s 
Operation Breadbasket, where I attended regularly, learned, cried, clapped 
and danced in the aisles.

   Alla Renée Bozarth
My Blessed Misfortunes
    Copyright 2012                              
 
                        ~My Grandma~ 
My grandma (Papa's mama) was my best friend
through childhood. In the same private archeological
dig in my closet (see "Private Archeology" a bit past
midway on my  "St. Valentine's Eve~" entry:  
that brought me the treasure of Betty's letters, 
I discovered a story on ancient yellowed paper~
a story the Grandma had written about her first 
year as a teacher in 1915 when she was 18 years
old. Her one-room schoolhouse was filled with students
from kindergarten through high school, one of them
as old as she was. She lived in a covered wagon
connected with a boarding house. Here's my rendition 
of her true story: 







My Grandma~
Alice Delphine Williams 





 Meetings of Mind       

"Poetry is the one place 
where people can speak 
their original human mind.”
             Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg was a Gemini.
Ginsberg, the neurotic Manhattan ad man,
Ginsberg, the saintly beat poet, setting San Francisco
and the West Coast of time on a burning bush fire.

In high school he heard his bulky, grandmotherly
teacher, sitting in an embroider-collared black dress
at her desk, read from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself
with exultation, and he fell all at once in love with poetry.

My large, white-haired, bespectacled grandma,
the proven archetype, sat in her rocking chair
and uttered like an ancient Greek rhapsode
the ecstatic and sublime words of Whitman, Dickinson, 
Yeats, Poe, Shakespeare’s King Lear,  Browning, Byron,
Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, took me to Milton’s  
Paradise, and all from memory, the divine utterances
she knew by heart.

Then one day, my Celtic grandmother began,
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed 
by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging 
themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning 
for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night  . . ."
[from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”] and I heard a resonant 
howl in my soul. It could have made her tiny house 
shake off its foundation.

Grandma introduced me to the Whitman of our time,
and my life as a poet began. Seven years later, 
I met the man, gentle and alive with his prayer beads 
and bells, chanting his mantra songs, incense curling 
around his ears, as we sat in a circle on night-stained 
grass beneath the half moon.

“Allen, this is Alla,” the host said, 
and he lifted his wine glass like festive Pan 
meeting Artemis in the wilderness, or Dionysos 
finding Ariadne, abandoned to solitude and pregnant 
on Naxos and ready for an uplift of wings.

“All praise, fair goddess,” he said with a flourish
and bow, a Russian Jew metamorphosed
to a poet past places and times, including them all,
acknowledging my Russian rootedness along with
his own among the dark roses.

Blessed, I stayed and chanted the sacred wordless prayers
of song in the company of poets until morning past dawn.

Now he has gone to join the transcended masters,
and I am aging alone, along with the rest 
of all mortal kin, but still here.

Cleaning out my father’s files twenty-some years
after his death but able to look at them for the first time,
I find a story written by my grandmother about her first 
teaching job in 1915 when she was 18 years old. 
A one room schoolhouse in rural northern Illinois, 
her students five years old to her own age. 
She called it, “Up from the Pit.”
Her students were bright and willing, except for one,
a large fifteen year old named Albert, 
who loomed over her.

Whenever she began a poetry lesson, Big Albert 
commenced his merciless tirade, scoffing, complaining, 
ridiculing, whining. She tried everything to win him over. 
Not even Whitman could move him.

One Friday she forgot to pick up her paycheck 
on the way home. Her landlady wanted the rent money, 
and insisted that Grandma trudge back for it after supper. 
Thinking to save two of the three miles’ journey
by cutting through a corn field, she was grateful for 
moonlight on the chilly fall night. 

She followed the fence line, but did not see a fifteen foot 
open pit straight ahead. Down she went, rolling the slope 
to the bottom, where she hit water. 

Terrified of what might be in there, she clawed 
at the weeds on the slope side and dug her boots 
into earth, screaming for help and cold to the bone. 

Presently, a male voice responded, and following the map 
of her sounds, a familiar face soon appeared in the wide 
opening above her. By moonlight she could see
that it was none other than Big Albert, come to help 
or taunt her. 

And taunt her he did, laughing and teasing 
for fully five minutes, until she sobbed in rage, 
“You fiend! Get me out of here now!”
Albert had her right where he wanted her, 
down in the pit and helpless.
“Okay, Teacher, I’ll get you out on one condition—
that you never again try to teach me poetry.”

“Yes! Fine! Now get me out!” He bent down the long 
supple limb of a young tree growing on the edge of the pit 
and she grabbed it to pull herself steadily up 
as she climbed the slippery cone, until he could reach her 
and haul her all the way out. 
Her enemy had become her savior.

He’d been there down the fence line setting traps.
As he walked her to the school’s business office 
and back again, she said, “Albert, I’ve tried so hard 
to make you like me. Why don’t you?” Surprised, he said, 
“Teacher, I like you fine! You’re a good teacher, 
you make me want to learn. I just can’t get that poetry, 
and it makes me sick trying.”

After that, when it would come time for poetry lessons, 
my teenaged grandmother would give Albert a wink 
to cue him to go outside for a smoke. He’d grin 
and she’d nod in consent and out to freedom he went. 
 
There’s Albert now, on the schoolhouse stoop, lighting up 
a home-rolled stogie, and . . . there’s Allen Ginsberg, 
just in from the future, emerging from a field of tall corn 
and . . . sitting down beside him to ask for a smoke. 
I see them greeting each other,
the light between them, and their conversation begins . . .
Oh, Grandma, everything’s going to be all right now.

Postlogue: 
"You're a poet? . . ."
"Um hum. . . . Why?"
"Oh, I don't know, 
I guess some people were just
born unlucky. . . ."
"Have you ever read any of my things?"
"No, no, I can't say that I have."
"Too manly for poetry?"
"Yeah, that's right." 
"Well, I wrote a poem last night
while you were sleeping."
"Oh, you did? . . . Well,
you just keep it."
 Jimmy Stewart to Claudette Colbert in  
        It’s a Wonderful World, 1939
                                                
                  Alla Renée Bozarth  
          My Blessed Misfortunes 
                    Copyright 2012

Mama and Papa
As for my parents in the Great Communion, 
I write about them extensively with dozens of pictures 
on my website, which will ultimately be completed, 
and also a little bit in the Interview here, and in more 
detail in my book, Womanpriest which can be found 
in the chronological listings below the Interview:
http://www.interviewwithallarenéebozarthaboutwritingandpoetry.com/Here's this, though, about my grandma's sister
Aunt Martha's garden, and their generation
of my  family on Sunday afternoons. 



Great Aunt Martha’s Grapes



In the summertime, Grandma and Grandpa

loved to play cards with Aunt Martha and

Uncle Tom on Sunday afternoons.

I watched and drank lemonade and honey.



One Sunday afternoon, it was Uncle Tom’s

turn to be “Dummy,” which meant

he had to leave the table and go play with me.

He said he’d show me Aunt Martha’s grapevines,

full of fat purple fruit and huge leaves.



“Pick one, Baby,” he said, and with one tug
it was free and into my open mouth.
Oh! What sweetness! What flavor! What glee!
Two more stuffed in, and then I said,
“I want to pick Aunt Martha some.”

Good thing I had my pink plastic purse
strapped across my chest for such things.
I filled it until it would barely close.

After awhile, we went back inside.
Uncle Tom sat on the couch
and spat in his spittoon, and
told how Baby had loved
the good grapes, ripe to perfection.
Grandma poured more lemonade.

I forgot about my gift to Aunt Martha.
It must have been some days or weeks
later when Mama noticed my pink purse
turning purple. What she thought
when she opened it she did not say.

In later years, she said I once collected
the best, ripest grapes from the vineyard
for a very special family communion wine.
It was a Sunday to remember.

                                   Alla Renée Bozarth

My Blessed Misfortunes
Copyright 2012
 



To end today’s celebration of the Great Communion, 
three poems from Love's Alchemy followed by an 
image of Sacred Sunset Mountain— 


    You Have to Practice for Paradise
     
You have to practice
for Paradise.

The music of sweet
forgiveness,
the colors of love,
the poetry of gratitude,
the dance of pure bliss.

And the food! the food
that needs your soul’s
palate at its highest
pitch of receptivity
to be sensitive to such
delicate, deep flavors.

You can’t keep postponing
your real life.

You can’t keep renting
your experience,
giving yourself only
in half doses,
a provisional presence,
a bit player
in your own existence.

Give it all you’ve got
every day.

You must empty and cleanse
your glass each time
to be able to fill it again
with everything fresh
and new.

Let go of attachment
and no longer identify
with merely your ego, your body.

Don’t dismiss Reality
just because it’s too weird
to be true.

Go deeper to where the meaning is,
where the mystery lives.
You can only describe it
in as ifs.

Real bears don’t speak English.
Real angels don’t have feathers or faces.

But we draw them
by our own lines of connection
to be able to relate beyond ourselves
and understand ourselves and them
through them and with them.

A fairy tale almost always
has the facts wrong, but
if you insist
on just the facts
you may miss the truth.

Listen to the Mystery
call your name. It will be
with love, love and forgiveness
and faith in you. And love~
Mysterious and True.

           Alla Renée Bozarth
               Love’s Alchemy 
                Copyright 2012.


   All the Way Home

We waffle and wobble
our way through life,
for we don’t see any signs
forbidding us, saying
No Waffling! or, Wobbling Not Allowed!

It’s a balance kind of thing.
But we cannot be expected to have balance,
for we live on a planet that got knocked
off its course and wobbles and tilts
its own way through time.

One moment of decision
after another, moment by
unconscious moment. And
once in awhile a moment opens
into an eternity of meaning,
an infinity of depth,
and we know the soul
has become involved,
engaged, made a choice,
not waffling or wobbling
but definite, clear.

And those steady moments
are what see us clear.

In a moment of conscious
clarity I choose to be here
and then to be not here
but Elsewhere.

I do not choose to torment myself
with unconscious indecision
that the body expresses
as more suffering.

The suffering is to give us time
and to get our attention.
I have had enough and more than enough of that.
I choose all of my life, free and clear.

Ambivalence outgrown, I am fully alive and in love
with creation. When Nature says, Well done,
it can move me whole from here to there.

And this is a decision
of an awakened soul.

I do not want to be sabotaging my direction
by making secret, untrusting decisions
behind my own back.

Let this choice hold
and hold me true to the course,
from the darkness at noon
to the brightness of midnight,
then Beyond.


            Alla Renée Bozarth
   Love’s Alchemy
    Copyright 2012

 
    How the Heart Becomes Pure

I know
the fractures
of the heart,
those burnt‑
open places
where the light
breaks through.

There are some
among us brave
enough and true
who are the pure
of heart and they
do not blow smoke
through these openings
to seal and darken them.

By Grit and Grace,
by Grace and Grit
they grow through
the fires like melting
gold, they survive
their wounds and grow
strongly into themselves
and graciously
beyond themselves.

They seem never to age,
and also to be very old.

To befriend such souls
is to be blessed past measure
and deeply encouraged—
our own timid hearts made
stronger, larger, lighter,
ready to open, becoming love
with or without love.


Pure and free to the end,
they endure.

They are always
beginning.

They are always here.


            Alla Renée Bozarth
                Love’s Alchemy
                 Copyright 2012
                                               

Mt. Hood, from the top of my hill before 
winding down the road into the hollow 
and up again to Wisdom House in Bear Haven 
and the Garden of Rosa Mystica.


Trees, birds, flowers, Mt. Hood and dawn images are mine, 
top image is by Mary Batinich, Mt. Hood in Alla's eyes is by
John Jarman, black and white communion photo of the Philadelphia
Ordinations is from Time Magazine, color images of the 25th
anniversary of the ordinations at the Church of the Advocate
are by Carolyn Prescott, boat picture of the family on Burntside Lake
near Ely, Minnesota was taken by Diane Sundell, and
the beautiful image of my mother-in-love Betty Campbell in Minnesota's
North Woods was taken by Bishop Fred Putnam, a family friend.                              

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