Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Belmont, North Carolina 12.10.93: Leaves and Falling Creation

Sitting now on a bright fall day on the back porch—except that the leaves are still mostly green, if tinged yellow and red, and so block the sun, making it cool down here.

I think of that marvelous passage in Walden in which Thoreau speaks of leaves. He notes the etymological link between “leaf,” lapsus, “lobe.” In creativity, in creation, all falls to something else. The body and its organs, as he notes, its lobes, are leaves—lapses—as the matter runs into what it must become to support this kind of life.

This links us so intimately to all created matter that it calls for utter compassion for all created things. Yet I thought this morning as I meditated how hard it is for me to have compassion for myself.

What I can forgive and understand in others, I cannot in myself—that so much of my tortured and defensive and self- and other-crucifying behavior is the suppressed cry of a much abused small child with alcoholic, immature, flawed parents. That I go through life sucking at its tit for love and feeling unsatisfied.

And I wonder, consequently, how much I truly love others, have compassion for them. Until we love and accept (and forgive) ourselves, can we love anyone else?

What made me think all this was looking at a dead and leafless branch of the redbud tree. How exactly like a skeletal arm and hand upraised it appears. How sad it makes me feel to see the tree die. As if a part of me is dying . . . .

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