Tag Archives: Saints

Newest Grace

I can’t think about anything but the Super Bowl right now. Sure, we just elected a new mayor (at last!), and I have to make a sweet potato/turnip casserole for the party. And then there are the sundry Sunday chores to do around the house. Yet, I cannot hold a sensible thought beyond the game this afternoon. What has happened to me? I used to have my head straight. Now I’m a Saints fan.

Emily doesn’t care about the Saints or football, for that matter. Not really. She pretends to go along with the tide of enthusiasm, but I know she’d rather dither in the garden with a Bee.

# 896, c. 1864

Of Silken Speech and Specious Shoe
A Traitor is the Bee
His service to the newest Grace
Present continually

His Suit a chance
His Troth a Term
Protracted as the Breeze
Continual Ban propoundeth He
Continual Divorce

Maybe when she wrote “Breeze” she meant to write “Brees”? Maybe not.

How like a Bee is a man. Or how like a Bee is the masculinized Emily. What is it, Em? Are you the flower? One of many visited by the inconstant bee, who “marries” and “divorces” lightly and often. Or are you, Emily, the one whose shifty heart refuses to remain fixed on one love? The poem does not tell us where she stands in the scene. Nor does the poem tell us what we are supposed to think of a bee whose affections are so unreliable.

The bee is a “traitor”, guilty of pretty flattery (“silken speech”) and offering false footing in relationship (“specious shoe”). Yet he is present to grace continually. That appearance of the word “grace” holds my attention. It is the only wholesome word in the poem. The only inspiration to rise out of the wretched mass of deceit and betrayal and divorce.

Grace. The bee is the agent of grace at every moment. I am still struggling with grace. How to explain it? The best I can do is to describe the space or movement around grace. Grace exists in a spontaneous burst, unsolicited and unanticipated. Grace descends from Heaven, touches us and is gone. We can’t ask for it and can’t hold it. It is the only real gift from God.

Emily says that grace, this ephemeral treasure beyond measure, may come to us by specious means. Do not judge the agent of grace. He may appear as a corrupted form. Untrustworthy trickster, unfaithful, unreliable. No one you’d introduce to your friends. Yet he may bestow the only gift worth having. We may not understand the container that God chooses to deliver grace. That is not ours to evaluate. Nor can we refuse grace if it comes to us by way of a character we do not admire. It would be hubris for us to decide what is the proper form grace should take. Our role in relationship to grace is to receive it. Allow our soul to be pollinated by the visitation, and let it go.

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Pigs Can Fly

Well, it’s official. Now anything is possible. Pigs can fly. And the New Orleans Saints are going to the Superbowl.

Here are Emily’s thoughts on the subject.

#572, c. 1862

Delight — becomes pictorial —
When viewed through Pain —
More fair — because impossible
That any gain —

The Mountain — at a given distance —
In Amber — lies —
Approached — the Amber flits — a little —
And That’s — the Skies —

This poem came to hand last evening as I listened to the car horns honking all over the city, my neighbor Ivan shot his homemade cannon into the bayou, the street outside my house filled with the dazed and the dazzled, the long-suffering and now joyful. Last night before the game I said that I wasn’t sure what scared me more: That they might lose. Or that they might win. A loss to the Vikings would be crushing, but if the Saints won then they’d have go to the Superbowl. Then what if they lose that? The anxiety and pressure around this potential high point might kill us. It occurred to me that it might be easier to back off before we got there. Boy, I’m glad no one was really listening to me. Still, I have flutters of nerves around what comes next. The delicate balancing point here is to say that this victory, the step before the Superbowl, is both great and good enough. Even if they lose from here, the Saints have still shattered the curse that has been hanging over their heads for 43 years.

There is something a little frightening about reaching a long dreamed-of goal. A lot of responsibility comes with the joy, which is fragile and requires protection and vigilance so that the weight of ordinary circumstances does not snuff it out. When there is so much farther to fall after a dream dies, then it might seem better to strangle it in the cradle to get the disappointment over with early rather than later. After all, the pain of disappointment is more familiar and seems to fit better.

Consequently, many people choke when they find themselves within reach of what they said they wanted. It’s an understandable weakness. Yet, there is nothing sadder in the world than someone who backs down from his own joy. And nothing more noble than the one who steps in to claim it and love it.

Let’s savor this joy a little before succumbing to the old anxiety. Perhaps in these days, we can absorb a healing tincture from this new sense of what is possible. Sometimes just claiming happiness can change a person.

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Happiness Level Eight

Last night over dinner, Geoff required that I assess my happiness level—on a scale of one to ten—over the Saints’ victory against the Cardinals on Saturday, the NFC championship game. We agreed that giving it a ten was too much, as a rating of ten signifies absolute Nirvana, merging with the Universe in a state of such pure ecstasy that I leave my body. We’re not there yet. Working backwards from that, we’d have to say that assessing my happiness level at a nine has to be saved for when (if?) they make it to the Superbowl. So we settled on scoring my happiness at level eight. That seemed reasonable. Then I wondered: Why do men always have to quantify things? Scores, yardage, happiness levels? They’re obsessed with math. It’s unwholesome.

My contribution to the mathematics of the current season of miracles was to point out that Drew Brees’ birthday was January 15th, right smack on that solar eclipse. As a Capricorn native, he also has Pluto transiting his sun, so this is a period of sublime transformation and self-mastery for him.

When I first saw Brees I dismissed him as a Dudley-Do-Right. Too sweet, too clean, too good to be true. Not interesting. Since then, I have seen a real animalistic quality erupting out of him. He is exciting when he gets his back up. (Always dissed for being short, Brees more than makes up for the lack of height with an abundance of grit.) Often when he runs, he looks like an Angry Dad. This is not the self-indulgent, Prima Donna Quarterback hissy fits. No, Drew Brees is the Angry Dad, coming on the field to say: “None of us is going to do well if you keep screwing up like that.” It’s the non-egoistic, all-Capricorn sense of duty and responsibility and enforcing the law within the family for the good of all concerned. A leader you can trust.

Add to that Jupiter, the planet of expansion, abundance, great achievements—just moved into Pisces. This is very nice for Piscean Reggie Bush, speaking of which . . . Reggie Bush! Goodness gracious! Talk about the Drama of the Gifted Child! Finally, the most expensive, narcissistically wounded and over-anticipated player is emerging from the weight of too-high expectations and running forward instead of backward. We were very pleased with Reggie on Saturday.

So I believe the signs favor the Bless You Boys. I’m not looking into Brett Favre’s chart because I don’t want to know. I’ll only confuse myself with too much information. Focus, focus, focus! We just need to get past this Sunday . . . and then maybe a nine on the scale? Don’t think . . . focus.

Emily sends a poem today, but I’ll be damned if I can see how it connects with anything else on my mind.

#547, c. 1862

I’ve seen a Dying Eye
Run round and round a Room —
In search of Something — as it seemed —
Then Cloudier become —
And then — obscure with Fog —
And then — be soldered down
Without disclosing what it be
‘Twer blessed to have seen —

Em is still working with the matters of sight and darkness. She will be for a while. Psyche’s journey is not yet complete. Here Emily tells us the dead don’t give up what they know. Or what they seek. They possess a vision sharpened by urgency as life slips away. So they can “see” things no one else can. Emily has seen them seeing. The only problem is the dead and the living may only glimpse each other over this line. At first the poem suggests a vain search, clouded, fruitless. But then the one who searches ends with a blessing. The dying one found what he or she was looking for but can’t tell Emily. One approaches that doorway alone. Peering through may reveal some insight but nothing that anyone else may know or see.

Only the dead know what they know. Their journey is solitary. Emily can see that much, but even the poet with her enhanced vision can’t cross over that line with someone else. It’s a vision that benefits only the seer and can never be translated.

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