Monday, October 22, 2007

Needles of Bronze

Red Leaves on Stone

Today, in my little woods, I lay back, tired. So many things on my mind.

The breeze was light, mischievous and persistent, disrobing the pine above me. I watched. Time stood still. A bronze shower of dead needles drifted down— parachutists come to blanket the ivy, bent on coming to earth in a glorious display of flight and landing.

I opened my notebook. The page fell to the wrong day. Or maybe it was the right day. I couldn't be sure. On that day, I had written about my mother. For it was her birthday. And I had said of her birth...

Who knew the pain she would face. Who knew that she would bear me, that I in turn would bear my sweet daughters. And would anyone, having known both the depth of sorrow and the height of joys, have chosen for it to go any other way?

The words of Job came to mind, and I wondered at them...

Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night that said 'A man-child is conceived'....Let the stars of its dawn be dark...because it did not shut the doors of my mother's womb, and hide trouble from my eyes. Job 3:3,7,10

Then I picked up a bouquet of needles. Bronze, beautiful in their dying and falling. I poked them into my cheek. They were still sharp. Sharp as the dark green needles I harvest in winter for tea. Their razor edges, their sharp points urged me towards the day, this day of both joy and pain.

Red Leaves on the Rock photo, by J Barkat. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Lynet's I Am Not Resigned

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Blogger Craver Vii said...

I can appreciate the complexity of the bittersweet reflection. Honestly, I can. Then why am I snickering? It's the thought of watching as the trees are disrobing. I'm not looking; I promise... tee hee.

Good grief! Did I really just say that?

12:33 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

Haha . . . Craver, that was funny. :)

Beautiful picture! It's stunning. I love looking at it.

I also love your thoughts about who would have known all that would happen in your mother's life on the day she was born. I guess God is the only one who knew, and He counted creating her a blessing!

2:48 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... And I can appreciate the humor! Really, though, it is amazing how frail the pine looks without all her needles. Like she has lost her cloak.

Christianne... yes, that's my spouse's handiwork. A photographer at heart. While mine are always a bit more utilitarian. As for the question of our births, or even our loves, I've often thought about this strange mix of pain and joy. How unavoidable it is.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL -- I was struck that you actually put the needles to your face to feel their sharpness. Such a vulnerable place. But the pain that strikes where it hurts the most often brings the most joy in its redemption. I'm feeling that today.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

So often when I read what you write, I read it a second time, sit back, relax my shoulders, take a deep breath and sigh, "yes". I know that I understand what you have said. I can feel the needles, the joy and the pain.

So I thank you again for sharing you life with your words.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

That's beautiful, LL. It's funny, actually -- I've been working on a post that sort of relates to this. We'll see if I can finish it and get it up.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Joyismygoal said...

pretty picture thoughtfulpost

11:05 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

move over annie dillard.... here comes laura barkat! :)

that wild place is doin' something to ya! very contemplative and thought-provoking sentiments... they made me 'pine':) for lost things in my life....

it is a strange mix, this life and journey.... and i dare say, it wouldn't be as meaningful if it was any other way.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Christine A. Scheller said...

Ah, yes, the path that leads to now. Would we have taken it, had we known? I'm not sure. Would we have taken any path had we known.

I love the descriptions in the first graph too.Parachutists come to blanket the ivy--- Lovely.

Yes, move over Annie Dillard.

9:58 AM  
Blogger TO BECOME said...

I took it for reality and I felt pain for you in my heart. I guess by reading some of the comments it was not real but I know the sharpness of the pine needles were quiet sharp indeed. Have a good day. connie from Texas

11:44 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I quoted C.S. Lewis in my last post that also had to do with pain:

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

I recall that when God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden, that He said to Eve (and her female descendants) "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

That last part is interesting. I'm still sorting through and learning its meaning.

11:33 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

Trouble, pain...someday we will leave it all behind.

I was thinking today about how His power is made perfect in our weakness (His promise). There days I just don't want to go on, the days I want to just stay in bed (but even that offers little solace.) As I walk through my trouble and face my fears, he is building in me His perfect power. The first step is a killer.

Wondering if anyone can feel the height of joy without the depths of sorrow? Tragedy and beauty are the only things that seem to touch our souls.

I think Charity understands when she said, "the pain that strikes where it hurts the most often brings the most joy in its redemption."

11:55 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Good post and comments. Been a busy week and I havent' blogged much.

Yes, that has to be a very low point to not want to have been born. Better to come to that place in which we by grace can look to God for his redemption in everything. As in Job's case, there's really not only always hope, but only hope and a sure one at that, as we trust.

To accept the pain and agony can mean to end up going through it with a truer sense of closeness to God and to each other.

4:47 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Charity... isn't that interesting. It didn't even occur to me to put those needles on my hand or arm. But then maybe I was naive in thinking they'd be softer than they were. And isn't that how it is with pain... we think sometimes 'oh, I could do that, suffer this' and then we step in and we realize how very difficult it really is.

Susan... thanks. It's nice to know someone understands me. :)

Lynet... yes, let me know when you do. I'll be sure to check it out!

JoyismyGoal... your comment makes me think again how the odd things of life often go hand in hand (pretty/thoughtful; joy/pain)

Blue... lost things? Sounds like a story there.

Christine... I love your second question... would we have taken any path we'd known?

Connie... welcome. And mostly I write of real things here, even if others find them a little doubtful (no names mentioned, Craver).

Kim... that's a great quote. I remember they put it in Shadowlands. And what a prophecy it became.

23... like chiarascuro perhaps?

Ted... a low point, yes. But not unheard of for people to feel this way in the midst of pain. I guess we live moment by moment more than we'd like to think (though I venture that spiritual maturity can lengthen and broaden our view).

2:39 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...


It's here.

Mind you, I'm a little worried that it's too depressing. I ended up posting it partly because it was too painful to edit and I just wanted to get it out there (eek).

7:39 PM  

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