– simple thoughts & writings &c. by Elizabeth Heimbaugh –

Bedtime Hymn

Messina, Italy (Landscape)

Infinite Spirit,
in the caress of the night
I call to You.

Redoubtable Love,
my heart is full to bursting
at the sound of Your name.

Perpetual Peace,
my tongue is tied up in praises
of Your impossible grace.

When the soul has lost her way
in pursuit of wild things,

You summon her home
in tones as sweet as honey,
as soft as rain

And rock her to sleep
again and again.

Revelation (Video)

Sometime in the spring, I recorded this short video of an old poem I’d written called “Revelation.” Text below. (Also here.)


A swallow landed at the landlord’s golden gate:
Svelte-seeming swallow, small begotten king,
A thing to glory in so many miniatures of spring

Sprung all to blooming in bedappling beds,
Heads of the hyacinth, so much overfed, looked longing
On high to the highriding Sun of whom they were sons;
They were blushing the flush of a mother,
They were hushing to hear the swallow their Brother!

Their Brother winged wide to the goldenwrought gate
Forespeaking the sounds of a highmountain place:
The trees were bowing their leaves to the song!
The swallow was sweeping the stone hearts along!

The swallow, oh swallow! – inviolable grace! –
Stood steady straight, straight steady stood, standing at the gate.

Encouragement

A few words of encouragement for a darkened soul:

The light will shine again and soon. Don’t despair because things are looking unclear. There is always a murky river to wade through before you reach the sea. It’s all right to have your doubts, but it’s too soon to throw away your whole framework of life just because a couple of things don’t seem to fit. The world is a mysterious place. Sometimes the answers find us long after we have started to seek them out; the waiting is hard, but only the lighthearted will find their rest in this life—so lighten your heart, unburden your soul, and leave the rest to God.

Volver a los diecisiete

Discovered this song recently and couldn’t stop listening to it!

Sky-Gazing

The stars come out each night to remind us of greater things. If we pause our daily toils and gaze at the sky, counting the stars we see, we briefly leave our regular sphere of existence and reach out to a place and a phenomenon that are beyond our grasp.

When we stop to consider the stillness of the night—in the country, especially, but also in the city—we remember, for a moment, some ancient connection that speaks to our souls and brings to life the flicker of order that pervades the universe and encircles us all in a great net of intricacy and quiet.

For those of us who desire a sense of meaning in our lives but fail to latch onto anything substantial, fail to be fed with something that satisfies—it is useful to send up our prayers, our hopes, our worries, and our doubts to the nighttime sky, reassured that our troubles will not be too big for something so vast and so deep.

For only when we believe that there is a vessel greater than ourselves—capable of holding all the cares and duties of life without bursting at the seams—can we relax our grip on life (which can sometimes become a chokehold) and lose a bit of ourselves to a way that is grander, more meaningful, more complete.

Simple Remembrance of Love

The burning of soul that one sometimes feels in the midst of prayer or praising God can represent the human desire for union with Someone greater, bigger, more full of love.

Often, it strikes me that I know so little as to be considered dumb in the life of prayer—for what was once a certainty dissolves into doubt and the order of importance of questions pursued—Who am I? Who is God? Does life have a purpose we’re meant to find?—becomes obscure.

The truth is, when it comes to knowing how to speak about something ineffable—the words are hard to acquire. It would be better, I think, to be still, to keep the mouth from opening at all—except that this is an impossible thing to ask, given how much the mind wants to discuss that which consumes it.

In the winter of one’s life—which is to say, when one has fallen into a period of coldness and doubt, and when the causes for being happy are hard to come by—it becomes important to remember what came before, in the times when life was bright, when the sun was warm on your face. For one’s job in such seasons is to overcome the sense of being lost, to eschew the belief in one’s inability to move or do or think—and recover, by means of recalling the good, an uncanny sense of purpose that comes to those who open their minds and hearts to possibilities of life and love.

In the end, what gives us strength is the simple remembrance of Love. If we can find the source of this Love inside ourselves—tucked in the corners of our souls—we have all we need to step into the light, prepared to fail sometimes, but also convinced of our ability to stand up again, unstirred from our purpose, which is, today and tomorrow and the day after that, to burn our lamps as brightly as we can and set the world aflame with a life devoted to beauty and truth and all that is good.

Letter to My Friend (Epistolary Series)

Dear ___,

Oh what I would give to know that you still thought well of me, too. Even a little sign, nothing out-of-the-way or out of line. Just a small gesture, simple but clear and something I could remember on a rainy day. The thing is, I always feel terribly sad letting the people I care about get away. It’s a curse of mine, and it’s a rather difficult one to bear. For an emotional sort like me, it’s hard to stomach the thought that you can’t care for the people you want to care about, because the circumstances no longer allow for it. It’s doubly hard to feel the thrust of caring in the absence of feeling cared about in return. I don’t mean to strike a note of self-pity—it’s not that. But I can’t find the words to relay what I mean. Maybe there’s a way to put it better. Let’s see:

I loved you once and was glad for the chance to have fallen in love. I never regretted it a minute—mostly because you’re a lovely person with a funny heart and a wild brain. How could I have helped myself? But the difficult thing is that I never knew if you loved me, or even liked me, in return. Sure, I could guess and imagine and read between the lines, but the trick of the mind is always a threat, and I can’t be sure except in the way I am sure of many other invisible things—which is to say, I make a choice to trust inside my heart. But sometimes it is nice to have a tangible proof, a sensible token of things. Just to anchor oneself in the world again.

And the thought of passing from memory, of fading from importance, is always a punch in the gut. I’ve said it before—that once the heart loves, it will always love, no matter the shifting shapes and forms; what has entered the heart will always have its place there. I still believe that’s true. But is it true for everyone? Or just for me? The clash of realities is hard to bide, and I don’t know how to clean up the mess.

In other words, I’ve had my say and I haven’t even managed to say a thing. But you will understand the meaning behind my bungled words. For in this awkward way, I have only tried to tell you that I am happy to have known such a person as you—for there is only one—and will always think of you with fond feelings in my chest. Don’t be worried, I don’t intend to say that I’m desperately in love and pining for the past. Or that I’ve erected a monument to you in my mind, before which I shed tears of regret for what might have been. Nothing of the sort, I promise. Rather, I just wanted you to know that I’ve always thought you’re grand, and I always will. So you’ve got someone in your corner, cheering you on, remembering with pleasure all your goofy ways and happy to pick up where we left off and continue our game of cards, taking turns revealing our hands, laughing about the littlest things, like an old pair of friends.

Sincerely yours,
Me

“Of all the things my eyes have seen, the best by far is you.”

Dappled-day

Dappled-day
Flower-fire
Ice cubes trembling
Birds on wire.

Dolphin-dreamer
Happy head
Children dancing
Time for bed.

Morning Routine

In the morning, at half-past five, Thomas goes to his window and looks outside. Very often, in summer, he sees birds flying from tree to tree, stirring their friends awake. When the weather is chill, the life outside isn’t so obvious, but Thomas knows that it’s there, for when he blows on the window with a puff of air, the fogged-up glass spreads into a funny shape and makes Thomas laugh like a child.

The reason Thomas laughs is simple to understand, if you have a child’s heart. For all children know that funny shapes on a window can turn into the most fantastic creatures when no one is looking. Once, when he was small, Thomas blew a puff of air that made a shape just like a bat—and Thomas was sure he heard the flap of wings and a tiny high-pitched shriek a moment after he’d turned his head.

Anyway, the point of me telling you all of this is just that I want you to see how training yourself to think a certain way—a way that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary—is a mechanism by which the most sensitive souls keep themselves alive in the bleaker times.

If you can begin your day by stirring up the signs of life, or recalling something that makes you laugh, you have armored yourself with a sturdy defense against the threats of habit and humdrum that otherwise tempt you into feelings of despair.

It is not hard to recover a sense of meaning in life if you loosen the grip of formal thought and let your spirit find joy in the little things.