LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
A place in the heart
A poet friend that I respect posted a Charles Bukowski poem, alerting her friends on Facebook to the fact that: "it was her favorite Bukowski poem of all time."
Because its title: No Help For That immediately set the tone of the poem for me, I hesitated to tune into the poem, the way one hesitates before stepping off into oncoming traffic at a busy intersection's crosswalk. I knew where the alcoholic Bukowski was going, because I'm familiar with the vacant heart of an addict. I decided: I wasn't going there, not today; not with the restlessness and dissatisfaction, I myself, was already feeling. I waited till the next day to retrieve the poem and read:
There is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
and even during the
the greatest times
we will know it
we will know it
there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
we will wait
in that space.
I've known that kind of emptiness, a feeling that has a way of loitering around inside oneself, for so long, it becomes personified, taking on an uncanny resemblance to self, then clinging to one , much the way a shadow does.
My friend's Facebook page blew up with responses! Many liked the poem--giving it a thumbs up, some loved the poem tagging it with the symbol of a heart. ( We live in a sad age where words have lost their power, as modernity prefers to "sign" rather than speak or write.) All were, no doubt, quite familiar with the despair Bukowski wrote of and yet none seemed confident of the means to which they might rid themselves of the inhospitable feeling. It seemed as though they recognized the address of their own untenanted heart, but prefer to keep watch at its threshold rather than do something about it.
I offered the prescription that none-the-less helped that which ailed me and wrote: "I filled that space with God and He changed my life. For much of the time, I feel better now. And I'm a better person, a better writer... a better poet."
I got a variety of responses to my post, none more telling than this:
"Honestly, pressing religion on people is highly unappealing
and does nothing but reinforce the unpleasant feeling that
if I don't accept your opinion you will only persist. Which
is not the point of this conversation at all. You gain nothing
by quoting the bible to atheists other than driving me to not
want to enter conversation with you at all."
Our atheist friend's response was to my offer of: "This will work for anyone who
honestly gives it a try: 'Do not be anxious about anything, but
in every thing, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard you.' (Phillipians4:6)"
Always, I am looking for the meaning behind things. I watch how people behave and ask: Why? I interpret dreams. I record parts of conversations in my mind and then replay the sound bites, looking for clues. I study the words people use... holding them up to the light...turning them over and over.
There weren't many clues offered in that thread about the Bukowski poem, because atheists are locked inside the place in the heart that the pseudo-Beat poet describes; it is a kind of self-imprisonment that they relish. And God help anyone who offers them a key.
Interesting bunch of responses, but most did not resonate with me, perhaps because I think this is the kind of poem that one must just let BE, not spend time snalyzing it or trying g to solve the poet's problem. The writer, like John of the Cross and most recently, Mother Teresa, knew well the dark night or empty space. We cannot fill it with God, only leave it gaping open and allow God to fill it. We can not do God's "job", so to speak, but rather, let God's filling up of us overflow into doing that which God intends for us.
...an elegant response filled with the Holy Spirit Mel! Thank you. And yes...I was refering to the famed emoji. And yes about the beauty of our Catholic tradition as experienced through symbols.
11/5/2016 06:36:07 pm
Dear Evelyn, I think that you are absolutely very amazing. You are so highly gifted as writer and person who cares so much about people. In so many ways you are a very beautiful person who represents the love, charity, and kindness towards all. You are a Saint in more ways than one. I appreciate all that you write. I thank you dear friend for serving our Lord Jesus Savior. God Bless You always in all that you do. Sincerely, Stephanie Zito
11/5/2016 09:18:41 am
No amount of anything earthly will ever fill the God-shaped hole. It is infinite.
11/5/2016 09:17:44 pm
Thank you Stephanie!!!
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