Thursday, April 18, 2013

seeing how I sit apart . . .

Seeing how I tell a friendly acquaintance -- who has jumped up and thrown her arms around me upon seeing me, who is sitting now amidst the chatty others -- that I'm here to write.  Seeing how I gesture down to the quiet end of the benches, claiming a space there . . .

You would think I had something I was dying to say.

(Do I have something I am dying to say?)

So much already has been said.  So many words cascading down in a roar that drowns out every other word, every sound and meaning lost in that roar. 

Lately I keep seeing behind my eyes one of the imponderable cataracts of this world.  Niagra.  Victoria.  Roaring and pouring down in a kind of static destruction.  And all of us clustered around with our tourist grins and blind cameras.  A roaring that erases everything, where only the separate smells of things remain disparate and trackable.  Everything else, sound and form and time lost in that everlasting fall.

I have no words to give a world like this.  The best I can give is a patch of silence.    An open circle somewhere.  A quiet room, swept clean.  Which is what the world needs more than more words poured out and roaring.

I have come to accept (haven't I?) that I can't change anything by saying again, again what I see.  For example, the catttails this afternoon, ravishing as I rushed by.  Seed heads fluffed out fully, each seed precarious and readying for flight.  Readying to begin again.  The engines of creation.  The light (of course, always, the light) shining through that haze of seedy down.  The future held there by habit just before the wind scatters everything. 

Anyone driving down Highway 30 saw that, if they had their eyes open.  Anyone.  What good does it do to say I saw it, too?  So I see cattails gone to seed.  I see salmon berry petals.  I see the prickles on a stem.  I see the serried file of spores on a fern frond.

Anyone can see that much. Anyone can.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

inadequacy, from five directions

There is no excellence in mothering -- only adequacy.

The best thing my daughter ever told me:  "Mom, you are one of the most adequate people I know."  She tells me this again now, laughing over the phone, and it lightens my heart and grounds me more than a gusty, "But you are so wonderful!" ever would.

We disagree though whether adequacy and excellence are different things.  She tells me it's like long distance running, that it's the stubborn adequacies that get you there.  She says my idea of excellence is a sprinter's idea.

Later I'm  telling my own mom how things go these days, approaching a full year of adoption.  How I think I've got it figured out and then I know I don't.  My Youngest is full of certainty and vehemence.  I recognize this vehemence as one of his superpowers.  But like invisibility and infinite elasticity, vehemence can be hard to live with.

In all of us I hear a ratcheted stridency, ready and waiting the moment he begins to insist and insist.  In me, I hear it most of all, a rising argumentativeness.   "I know, I know," says my mom when I tell her over the phone.  "I know too well.  I was never able to just step back and say, So why does it seem that way to you? Why don't you tell me about that."

"But that's the thing.  I thought I had learned to do that.  I had been proud that I didn't feel I had to argue with the older children," which makes us both sigh and laugh.  "But this time, it doesn't work.  All those techniques I learned, do nothing.  I step back.  He just says the same thing over and over, in a kind of frenzy, louder and louder.  And insisting on things he knows almost nothing about.  Things he has just asked explanations for."

And sigh and laugh again.

So I took him aside and said, "Look I'm concerned about all this argumentative stuff.  What can we do?  I can't think of anything that will fix it, can you?"

My Youngest, who has liked and latched onto the idea of code words, suggests immediately, "We'll say Peaches!"

"Beaches?" I ask.


"Okay.  Hmm."

"No, Oreos."

"Well, let's think about it."  I'm a little reluctant to have Oreos be the code word for polite behavior since that's a word used already to color-code certain societal norms disparagingly by skin color. While the kind of peace and cooperation I'm hoping for has got  to come in every color under the sky.

The next day I have a story for him,  "Here's the thing.  When one of us realizes that it's turning into an argument, we just need to go back to the safe place where we're going to keep our love, okay?  We're at the beach and you and I have spent all day there ... building sandcastles ... flying kites ... collecting sand dollars ..."

"Where's Young in this story?" my Youngest asks about his older brother whose acceptance he seems to prize more than anything I can offer.

"Young has his own place with you and with me.  But this place is just for you and me, where we keep our love safe.  And now we're sitting down to a huge picnic.  Everything we want.  Fried chicken.  Watermelon.  And I'm going to say, I like peaches.  Because that's what I'm bringing to the picnic.  You don't have to say anything.  Or you can say, I like Oreos, because that's what you're going to bring, or I like peaches, too, or I like pizza, or raspberries or anything."

"What if I say, I don't like peaches?"

"Hmm.  I don't think that will work.  Because we don't want to keep anything delicious out of our picnic, do we?  So it can be anything but it has to be something you like." 

He thinks this is brilliant.  I think I am brilliant because all that day it works.  And our home feels warm and joyous.  Like I realize it often used to feel in the years before without me ever being aware of that wonder.

"Because you used imagination, which is your powerful gift," says my mother.

"Until the evening," I tell her, when after we look at pictures together it is time for bed and I nudge him up with my fingertips lightly on his back.  But he budges not.  He leans back against the nudging.  I say, "Come on, now.  It's time to go," and nudge more consciously.  He weighs his whole, not inconsiderable, weight on my hand and, as I would with any of the older children, I push with real briskness so that he has to lean the other way and stumble forward onto his bed.  He swirls around, his face full of rage, his fists balled up and swinging.

"What?  Are you going to hit me?" I ask him.  This grievous fierceness hitting me like lightning out of a blue sky.

He shouts.  His face works with anger.  "Right," he yells.  "Just play volleyball with the Stupid Boy Ball."

I say, "It's time for bed.  Get your pajamas on."  I walk away.  And go sit in my own room, feeling again inadequate.  And tired.  And inadequate.  Again.

And then I hear bare feet pattering down the hallway.  There he is, in his pajamas, "I think I need to make peace with you," he says and burrows in for a hug.

"I think you do," I say and feel comforted, despite our inadequacies.  This is the first time he's initiated this kind of peace-making, instead of simply responding to mine.

I still don't know what I'm doing as a mother. 

But then I never really have known what I'm doing as a mother.  It hasn't stopped me yet. 

I take heart in my unknowing from one of my favorite poets, Wislawa Szymborska, who said in her Nobel acceptance speech, (though probably she said it in Polish) (and certainly she said it of poetry and not mothering) that the seat of inspiration is not knowing:

I've mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It's not that they've never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It's just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don't understand yourself.
When I'm asked about this on occasion, I hedge the question too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners - and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know."

I am in that continuous "I don't know."  I will probably never get out of it.

And inspiration keeps cropping up in unexpected places:  the safe-place/storymaking  idea from something I heard Leonard Cohen did to calm a riot at the Isle of Wight.  Speaking to the oversized crowd who had already tried to burn the stage beneath Jimi Hendrix, Cohen climbed up to the microphone, still rumpled from sleep, two o'clock in the morning, while the embers were still glowing, and began, in his halting apologetic way,
When I was seven years old, my father used to take me to the circus.  He had a black mustache, a gray vest, and a pansy in his lapel, and he liked the circus better than I did. But there was one thing that happened at the circus that I used to wait for. I don’t want to impose upon you … but there was one moment when a man would stand up and say, Would someone light a match so we can locate one another? and could I ask you, each person, to light a match so I can see you all?
It's the pansy in the lapel that captures me and pulls me into the story. This story that taps into  that necessary sense of wonder to seize the imaginations of the wild children in his unruly audience.  That little poem that channels their desire to play with fire.  That identifies a spot of safety in a scary world.

I can do that much.  Tell stories.  Keep asking for enough light just to see where we all are out there in the dark.

My Youngest, like all his older siblings, keeps surprising me with his sweetness. Surprises me with the generosity of his responses.  I can't pat myself on the back for his sweetnesses and unlooked-for graces.  And if I can't congratulate myself for the way he keeps trying to get it right, his readiness to love and to respond and to forgive, if I'm not to blame for his goodness, neither can I  take credit for his stumbles.  Only for mine.

And even then, so much in me, in both of us, is rooted in earth deeper than I can ever know, lit by invisible energies.   No wonder sometimes we get it wrong.  So wonderful that sometimes we get it right.

Monday, April 15, 2013

days of kindness

". . . What's more important?  Uniting Spaceship Earth?  Or raising your own family?

Dr. Bronner's son recalls getting that answer from his father when he complained once that we was hungry.

I thought I wanted to look at Dr. Bronner and Leonard Cohen as mystic and socially conscious poets (of rather varying degrees of ability, not to mention sanity) who do what they need to do to find a popular medium to carry their im/mortal words to a wider audience (soap labels, LP covers and live musical performance).  

" . . . the precious ones I overthrew for an education in the world . . . "

But like everything for me, instead it boils back down to this battle between being a good partner-good parent and doing good work.

And I don't know what to say.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

poetry lives

I give you this clip just to break you into her heavy south London accent but then you have to listen to this:

All these ways of speaking truth that cannot be my ways of speaking it.  But I think of this when I'm walking down the street -- not even of Portland, where it's easy to believe every fifth or seventh stranger is muttering words like this, with just this passion, just this naked blaze -- but even here in my small and dwindling badluck town, where I watch the soles of feet lift and fall, the feet of all these children who once were cheered for first fearful steps now who walk all unapplauded.

The poets will always be reborn.

Friday, April 12, 2013

stories of my family: Art & Life

I am burdened by the stories of my family.

Snatching from the air just two that swirl around my head:  My wicked many-greats grandfather who is casually referred to  in travel books to the south of France as "the cruel Simon de Montfort."  My not-so-many-greats aunt, Fanny Mary aka "the magnificent Mrs Bernard-Beere" who trod the London stage with Bernhardt and Kemble and had her face emblazoned on biscuit tins and cigarette cards, not to mention appearing full-figure on the front page of the Illustrated London News.

Or my greatgreatgreat . . . great-grandpa de Montfort, a tall, muscular, and handsome man with a magnificent mane of hair and a winning, straight-talking manner, who was famous for his "conspicuous monogamy," for his unbreakable word, for his devout faithfulness.  And notorious for his ruthless slaughter of the Cathars, a utopian proto-Protestant rural people in the troubadour country of Languedoc.

He and his wife, Alix de Montmorency, my many-greats grandmother, in an age when marriage was more a merger of political interests, would not bear to be separated from each other.  She and the young children, one of the youngest a boy who carried a bit of the DNA that now is mine, lived in castles on the edge of the fighting, close enough that Alix would regularly roust up reinforcements and supplies and march at the head of the troops to bring aid to her darling and doting husband.  I don't know what that growing up may have been, but one son at least, Simon Jr., grew up determined to live his adult life with no authority bearing down on him ever again and set about with such steel purpose that he forced the Magna Carta on the king, thus breaking the ground for English democracy.  That wasn't my line, though, which instead wandered off into Britanny, then East Anglia and lost itself in obscurity.

Allies spoke of their father, Simon the elder, in glowing terms: fearless, straightforward in his dealings and leading by example with no breath of hypocrisy.  But he and Alix, as united as they were, were not kind to those outside their recognized group:  she taking time to persecute the Jews in Toulouse while her dear one gouged out Cathar eyes and lopped off arms and noses and upper lips, sending defeated men home to their heretic villages with the bloody faces of living skulls. Poets' eyes that had gazed skyward on starry nights.  Hands caressing lute-strings.  Lips that had sung,  
I go to her with joy  
Through wind and snow and sleet.  
The She-Wolf says hers I am 
And by God she has it right

It was my line cut them off.

On the other hand, my tragedy queen half-aunt was the daughter of an alcoholic landscape painter (my great-greatish grandfather) and the Other Woman in a menage a trois from which my  great+ grandmother fled, preferring handcarts and sagebrush and out-in-the-open polygamy.  I've read the letter our shared forefather sent his other emigrating children, a heart-wrenching scrap of good sentiment explaining why they ought never, never to succumb to the devil drink and to forgive him if they can.

From all accounts, he lived the rest of his life in happy dissolution, painting his landscapes for people who would pay, a boon companion of Charles Dickens.  He was content to be known not by his own name but as the father of the famous Mrs. Bernard-Beere, who was Thackery's goddaughter and who kept her second husband's name through all her subsequent marriages.  She played some great parts, but usually picking up after Sarah Bernhardt or Ellen Terry had moved on to other roles:  "a conscientious and painstaking artist," "one of the finest emotional actresses on the English stage," "an actress of some merit," "not a powerful actress but a picturesque-looking woman who dresses characteristically in rich aesthetic gowns and artistic ornaments."  She was a lifelong friend of Oscar Wilde, appearing in his plays and producing later plays of his when she formed her own acting company, touring Europe, America, and Australia.  She is noted for the first "disastrous production" of Sullivan's The Foresters.  She had no children.

There is a reason I gravitate to these stories -- they act out for me my own central battle. 

On one hand, the successfully fond and cooperative marriage, found handfast with a blinding anti-poetic bigotry. 

On the other hand, the domestic sacrifice made for the sake of art . . .  all those second-rate, third-rate landscapes and now-forgotten performances.

Aunt Fanny Mary, who remembers her now but me?  Well, some scattered someones obviously, who mention her in passing. But did she really choose art over life, or did she just live the life that lay before her?

As if these were immutable sides to choose from.   As if  Greatish Grandpa's bohemian lifestyle or Great-Aunt Fanny's aesthetic gowns could have been a stay against artistic mortality.  As if I didn't have other happily married foreparents who managed not to ravage any countryside whatsoever, nor slaughter poets.  I trust, no matter how deeply I indulge in fervent monogamy, I am not in any grave danger of sudden uncontrollable bouts of eye-gouging and arm-lopping.

So does there have to be this battle, this wall, this false choice between faithful family makers and serious song makers?

If I could just think of anyone who lived in kindness with their children and mate and wrote with excellence.  Okay, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Gaskell. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, if I stretch the idea of excellence a little, and then a little more.

Surely there are others.

I do wish though I could have descended from William Blake.  Who may have seen angels swinging from the trees and, in his middle age, was fond of taking the air in his garden all Adam-and-Eveish without even a fig leaf,  his sweetly complacent Catherine by his side with only her knitting for cover, surprising afternoon callers.

So he was a little mad.

At least he managed to write well and live in domestic happiness for 45 years, until he died.  Catherine believed he visited her regularly through the intervening years until she too passed, calling out to him that she was coming.

They had no children, though. So I can't be descended from them.  I can't count Blake among the writers who managed to live with and love their families successfully.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

imaginary postcards

I'm sending you imaginary postcards.  Turn this over and you will read . . .

Everything tugs at everything, everything points to everything else. And that is why I return again to this modern psalm. For me it maps out the territory of praise -- our lives as praise, our work as praise --

#23 from the Book of Mercy, by Leonard Cohen

MY SISTER AND I BEING ESTRANGED, I parked my trailer at the furthest limit of her fields, the corner that is left, by law, to the poor.  Her hundreds of cherry trees were blossoming, and on the road to the great stone house that they lined, a lacework of petals.  It was a Saturday.  I reclined against a little hill, a shoot of wheat between mysteeth, looked at the blue sky, a bird, three threads of luminous cloud, and my heart would not rejoice.  I entered the hour of self-accusation.  A strange sound trembled in the air.  It was caused by the north wind on the electric lines, a sustained chord of surprising harmonies, power and duration, greatly pleasing, a singing of breath and steel, a huge string instrument of masts and fields, complex tensions.  Suddenly the judgement was clear.  Let your sister, with her towers and gardens, praise the incomparable handiwork of the Lord, but you are pledged to the breath of the Name.  Each of you in your proper place.  The cherry trees are hers, the grapes and the olives, the thick-walled house; and to you, the unimaginable charities of accident in the Corner of the Poor.
I'm sending it to you like this, on the back of an imaginary postcard, though the words are not mine believing you will hear what I am saying.

It may seem to you, my Imaginary friend, that I'm fobbing you off with quotations from other sources, keeping all my own words locked up.  And maybe I am.  But this is not a helter-skelter scatter I am giving you.  This is my thesis, just without all the interconnecting tissue of furthermore, therefore, and thus we see.  I am talking about something else but really I am pointing more intimately.

And then the next day I will send you . . .

. . . on which I've written nothing except . . . 
"In praise of my sister," by Wislawa Szymborska
My sister doesn't write poems,
and I don't think she'll start writing poems.
She is like her mother who didn't write poems,
and like her father, who didn't write poems either.
Under my sister's roof I feel safe:
my sister's husband would rather die than write poems.
And -- this begins to sound like a found poem --
none of my relations is engaged in writing poems.

There are no old poems in my sister's files
and there aren't any new ones in her handbag.
And when my sister invites me to lunch,
I know she has no plans to read me her poems.
Her soups are excellently improvised,
there is no coffee spilt on her manuscripts.

There are many families where no one writes poems,
but where they do -- it's rarely just one person.
Sometimes poetry splashes down in cascades of generations,
creating terrible whirlpools in mutual feelings.

My sister cultivates a quite good spoken prose
and her writing's restricted to holiday postcards,
the text promising the same each year:
that when she returns
she'll tell us
all about it.

I haven't sent you this one yet . . .

by Sofonisba Anguissola
. . . but I'm thinking about it.  
Thinking of you.  
Wishing we were there.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tower of Song

Of course, just because anyone can cover a Cohen song, doesn't mean anyone can do it as well.  Just because his nothing-special gravelly voice fools anyone into thinking anyone can do better, doesn't make it true.  Some versions, though full of all kinds of passionate sincerity . . .

. . . completely miss out on the self-deprecating humor that makes a song like this a reason to rejoice in the idea of growing old.

Because in his seventies, Leonard Cohen woke one morning to the fact that his friend, a woman he trusted as business manager had embezzled most of his retirement savings.

And what does he do?  What would you do?

 Go on world tour, of course.  Which as some reviewers have commented, could have been pathetic, considering the necessity, but turns out to be one great big party . . .  [Click here to play]

Not to mention, offering real answers to the mysteries of it all.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dance Me to the End of Love

Don't you love how this is an old picture come to life?  And "raise me like an olive branch, be my homeward dove" --  isn't that the best kind of love, the safety after storm, the cradling ark, the promise of peace despite destruction.  One of the things that fascinates me and delights me is how Leonard Cohen, still living, writes songs that can become anyone else's song. His own revisions seem to allow this:  

Here's an early video version that is more weird Maya Deren experimental film dreamscape, bizarre and jokey, sung I think a whole octave higher than where he will settle a decade or two later . . .


. . . or better by far, this gorgeous, heartbreaking and for me, definitive video version:  

I can't tell you how much I love these old couples.
Dancing before the icons of their own wedding photographs, keeping faith.
Their careful and aching embraces in contrast with the easy spins and dips of the newlyweds.

It captures some of the beauty in loss, some of the persistent rapture despite terror of his original inspiration.  Cohen says he wrote this song after hearing about the quartets of prison camp inmates made to play while their companions were marched into the crematorium.  This is the creative transformation that turns horrors into a stubborn claiming of beauty and comfort within pain even to the last terrifying moment.  This video, in contrast to his earlier one, is more tragic but more full of hope, so that "raise the tent of shelter now though every thread is torn" becomes the wedding canopy and the sky of ragged clouds overhead, both still valiantly carrying on over long love and unavoidable grief. And everything returns to the place of making and unmaking, "through the curtains our kisses have outworn" where weary souls rest amid "the children asking to be born."

It reminds me that song, dance, poetry, and drama all had their birth together.  We have divided them up again, only to keep trying to put them back together again.  Which maybe is what creation is all about -- light from darkness and then light shining in darkness, light encompassing, fulfilling, comprehending darkness though the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Monday, April 8, 2013

end this night

Or endless night?  Which do you hear?

I think it matters -- a plea for sore-needed help (which is how Cohen wrote it) or a fatalistic resignation (which is how it is misquoted with a disheartening regularity).   Which is your own last resort in the animating narrative behind all your choices?

meanwhile . . .

#23 from the Book of Mercy, by Leonard Cohen

MY SISTER AND I BEING ESTRANGED, I parked my trailer at the furthest limit of her fields, the corner that is left, by law, to the poor.  Her hundreds of cherry trees were blossoming, and on the road to the great stone house that they lined, a lacework of petals.  It was a Saturday.  I reclined against a little hill, a shoot of wheat between my teeth, looked at the blue sky, a bird, three threads of luminous cloud, and my heart would not rejoice.  I entered the hour of self-accusation.  A strange sound trembled in the air.  It was caused by the north wind on the electric lines, a sustained chord of surprising harmonies, power and duration, greatly pleasing, a singing of breath and steel, a huge string instrument of masts and fields, complex tensions.  Suddenly the judgement was clear.  Let your sister, with her towers and gardens, praise the incomparable handiwork of the Lord, but you are pledged to the breath of the Name.  Each of you in your proper place.  The cherry trees are hers, the grapes and the olives, the thick-walled house; and to you, the unimaginable charities of accident in the Corner of the Poor.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

creatures of a higher order

Are we?

Have you gathered I am working my way through an obsession with Leonard Cohen?  As a present personification of what it means to be an artist. Maybe that's it.  Or not art, not that pastime of the rich and idle.  What it means to be really human.  This protest against the disappearances of time  that is Hiroshige's art and Szymborska's poems and Julian's shewings and songs like this.  These things, some of which we've taken to calling art, but which are really all our stands against desolation, the gardens we grow and small dances we dance.  Or maybe just as a solemn testimony to the power of solemn testimony.  The committment to be a voice singing brokenly from any broken hill as here he sings to the people of Warsaw, Poland, in 1985.

Do you remember what was going on then there?
Do you feel what is going on now anywhere? 

Faithfully unfaithful, wading through indubitable doubt, here he still sings to me and you if you are listening.  But the comments on YouTube are full of  flaming f-bombs quarelling over who has which bit of trivia correct, whose taste in music ought to prevail.  Mixed through it all, a kind of breathless and maybe blasphemous hero-worship.  When our response ought to be a singing of our own.

Are we creatures of a higher order?
Are we of good will no matter what side we're on?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"People on a bridge," by Wislawa Szymborska, by Hiroshige

A strange planet with its strange people.
They yield to time but don't recognise it.
They have ways of expressing their protest.
They make pictures, like this one for instance:

At first glance, nothing special.
You see water.
You see shore.
You see a boat sailing laboriously upstream.
You see a bridge over the water and people on the bridge.
The people are visibly quickening their step,
because a downpour has just started
lashing sharply from a dark cloud.

The point is that nothing happens next.
The cloud doesn't change its colour or shape.
The rain neither intesifies nor stops.
The boat sails on motionless.
The people on the bridge
run just where they were a moment ago.
It's difficult to avoid remarking here:
this isn't by any means an innocent picture.
Here time has been stopped.
Its laws have been ignored.
It's been denied influence on developing events.
It's been insulted and spurned.

Thanks to a rebel,
a certain Hiroshige Utagawa
(a being which as it happens
has long since and quite properly passed away)
time stumbled and fell.

Maybe this was a whim of no significance,
a freak covering just a pair of galaxies,
but we should perhaps add the following:

Here it's considered proper
to regard this little picture highly,
admire it and thrill to it from age to age.

For some this isn't enough.
They even hear the pouring rain,
they feel the cool drops on necks and shoulders,
they look at the bridge and the people
as if they saw themselves there
in the self-same never-finished run
along an endless road eternally to be travelled
and believe in their impudence
that things are really thus. 

poem by Wislawa Szymborska
painting by Hiroshige Utagawa
attention by Emma J

Friday, April 5, 2013

in our rags of light

that is to say:

from the fifty-first chapter of The Shewings of Julian of Norwich
Revelations to one who could not read a letter.  
Anno Domini 1373 :
". . . The lord sits solemnly in rest and in peace; the servant stands by, before his lord reverently, ready to do his lord's will.  The lord looks upon his servant full lovely; and sweetly and meekly he sends him to a certain place to do his will.  The servant, not only he goes, but suddenly he starts up and runs in great haste for love to do his lord's will, and anon he falls in a slough and takes full great sore.  And then he groans and moans and wails and writhes, but he may neither rise nor help himself by no manner way.

"The place that our Lord sat on was simple, on the earth, barren and desert, alone in wilderness.  His clothing was wide and long, and full seemly as falleth to a lord.  The color of his cloth was blue as azure, most sad and fair.  His cheer was merciful.  The color of his face was fair brown with fulsomely features; his eyes were black, most fair and seemly, showing full of lovely pity; and within him, a high ward, long and broad, all full of endless heavens.  And the lovely looking that he looked upon his servant continually, and namely in his falling, methought it might molten our hearts for love and burst them in two for joy.

"And yet I marveled, beholding the lord and the servant aforesaid.  I saw the lord sitting solemnly and the servant standing reverently before his lord, in which servant is double meaning, one without, another within.  Outward, he was clad simply as a labourer which were disposed to travail, and he stood full near the lord, not right in front of him, but in a part aside, that on the left.  His clothing was a white kirtle, single, old and all defaced, dyed with sweat of his body, straight fitting to him and short, as it were a handsbreadth beneath the knee, bare, seeming as it should soon be worn out ready to be ragged and rent.  And in this I marvelled greatly, thinking: This is now an unseemly clothing for the servant that is so highly loved, to stand before so worshipful a lord.

"And inward, in him was shown a ground of love, which love he had to the lord was even like to the love that the lord had to him.  The wisdom of the servant saw inwardly that there was one thing to do which should be to the worship of the lord.  And the servant, for love, having no reward to himself nor to nothing that might fall on him, hastily he started and ran at the sending of his lord to do that thing which was his will and his worship.  For it seemed by his outward clothing as he had been a continuing labourer of long time.  And by the inward sight that I had both in the lord and in the servant, it seemed that he was anew, that is to say, new beginning to travel, which servant was never sent out before.

"There was a treasure in the earth which the lord loved.  I marvelled and  thought what it might be.  And I was answered in mine understanding: It is a meat which is lovesome and pleasant to the lord.  For I saw the lord sitting as a man, and I saw neither mete nor drink wherewith to serve him.  This was one marvel.  Another marvel was that this solemn lord had no servant but one, and him he sent out.  I beheld, thinking what manner labor it might be that the servant should do, and then I understood that he should do the greatest labor and hardest travel that is.  He should be a gardener, delving and ditching, swinking and sweating, and turn the earth upsidedown, and seek the deepness, and water the plants in time, and in this he should continue his travail and make sweet floods to run, and noble and plenteous friuts to spring which he should bring before the lord and serve him therewith to his liking.  And he should never turn again until he had made this meat all ready as he knew it pleased the lord, and then he should take this meat with the drink in the meat, and bear it full worshipfully before the lord.

"And all this time the lord should sit on the same place abiding his servant whom he sent out.  And yet I marveled from whence the servant came.  For I saw in the lord that he hath within himself endless life and all manner of goodness, save that treasure that was in the earth, and that was grounded in the lord in marvelous deepness of endless love.  But it was not all to the worship until this servant had prepared it thus nobly, and brought it before him, in himself present.  And without the lord was nothing but wilderness.  And I understood not all what this example meant, and therefore I marveled from whence the servant came."

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