Recycling the Rose

As a writer I am also a reader and vice versa. The circle is ever completing itself, the ouroboros eating its tail, the cosmos spiraling into itself and out again. Sometimes I remember that writers read and readers write.

I have a compost pile behind my iMac. It is made of my emotional upheavals. I shovel bits of them into my essays, thereby enriching the soil of what might be an otherwise stereotypical spiritual essay. We have all read enough of those.

Yesterday I wrote an essay about the mean streets of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. At the last minute I pulled it, but it went faithfully into the compost pile. So when I write, the memories of pale, baldheaded children will be straight up against the beauty of a dozen yellow roses. That is how it goes. As Leonard Cohen sings, “Everybody knows.”

And we all have a sixth sense of the nutrients that we need if we are to survive spiritually. In my case, I need lots of Vitamin Be and See. The compost pile of sorrow builds up— faithfully watered by my tears. That way I can write about little pink socks and lovely teas complete with chocolate.

My daughter’s name was Laurie. She was a brother to my son Rob for only seven years. Do not think he has no sorrow even though he can no longer remember the sound of her voice. I don’t miss her consciously; but do not think I don’t resonate with every loss on the planet because she is not here. Do not think your compost pile of sorrow is not softening your life with great tenderness and beauty.

That tear you shed, it’s gift is to leaven the bread of the soul. That sigh, that rage, that undeniable loss? They are all leavening agents. So although I may be writing about sunlight, I am always adding a bit of shadow to the mix. I know you deeply get this. You’re nodding your head as you remember something you felt guilt or shame about. It went into the compost heap. It will be used in one way or another. Life is smarter than you are; it knows all about recycling.


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