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Reteaching Loveliness

And now it is the holiday season – a time, for many, of profound joy; a time, for many, of profound sorrow. It is a gift in many ways. For while people this time of year seem to speed up, time itself seems to slow down. Darkness, like a comfortable acquaintance, arrives early and lingers long. It is a time to reflect upon the year behind us and consider what is our work for the year ahead. Bearing these things in mind, I want to share with you something from the poet Galway Kinnell who, besides the poem below, also shared these words, “Nobody would write poetry if the world seemed perfect.” The world is not perfect, and we are not perfect in it. But as imperfect people in an imperfect world, may we see the blessing in the duality. May we care for each other in our highs and lows. May we ever learn to reteach loveliness, and to learn it again when we forget it of ourselves.

-Arwen Careaga

Saint Francis and the Sow


The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

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