Monday, June 09, 2008

Of Bridges and Violins and Words

Manhattan Bridge

Day begins to slip away on the Brooklyn Bridge. Eldest Child has run ahead with daddy. Youngest is at my side. We stop, countless times, to look at the water, the wires, the people, and now the Manhattan Bridge. The sky is a painter's palette dabbed with slate blue and powder blue and pinks. The Manhattan bridge (how many times have I passed it by?) is an arc of loveliness, a masterpiece of shape and color embracing the city. I have never see this bridge in just this way.

But today on foot I see you, Manhattan bridge. I see you, sky above, and river beneath and city beyond. And I feel a bit of the way I will feel just a few weeks hence, when I hear Sophia, little child, play Chanson de Matin (not Sophia, this link... but just a clip of someone else playing the Chanson... not nearly as achingly). Tiny Sophia too will be beautiful, leaning in, pulling back, touching the strings of her violin as if she were caressing velvet. Coaxing the sound into the air, into my heart. So, so lovely. The notes tumbling towards an end where they will become so thin and high that I can hardly hear them, yet can hear nothing else in the world. Until I feel I am completely broken and completely whole, completely empty and completely filled.

I have felt this too when I have tasted the intoxicating writing of Ann V. Or when I have seen the icy glory on my street.

What is this I am touching, tasting, smelling in the far corners of the world and right here at my feet? What is it, but the Divine, breaking in, oozing, enveloping, exhaling. Sometimes I am too weak and sometimes too strong to take it in. Make me, O Lord, this day, just right and ready. For the bridges, the sounding strings, the tiny child, the words, the weather... for You.

Manhattan Bridge at Sunset photo, by L.L. Barkat.


Ted's book club post Howe's Cave: Baptism

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love what you said, "Until I feel I am completely broken and completely whole, completely empty and completely filled."
It's this ache of knowing at once that I'm nothing and that I'm special, that I'm worthless and worthy of God's love. It's this how long question of the already-not yet tension as we anxiously await God's resurrection and yet work toward it everyday, laboring beside the Spirit as He breaks the future into the present in tastes.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Christa Allan said...

Between reading your words, then linking over to Ann's, I'm in a puddle of gratitude.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

I think you're channeling old Uncle Walt here: "But today on foot I see you, Manhattan bridge. I see you, sky above, and river beneath and city beyond." I love it!

I have another Whitman poem recorded. Someday I'll actually load it into podomatic for you...

2:33 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I love that sense of just being there, "in the moment," as the phrase goes. Those concrete, specific details that ground you in the universal. Thanks for reminding me to stop and savor those.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

LL, What you share is the architect's dream. To impact the human experience and spirit in such a way is the reward that many are after and few succeed at.

As you know, there's so much that goes into such an achievement, including in the case of the Brooklyn Bridge, lives lost in its construction.

To leave such an indelible mark on the landscape of urban architecture, human experience and spirit....ahhhhh

Thanks for sharing...

3:03 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Heather... yes, I think it's a tension I felt. This is both joyous and painful in its way. What things in life present such opportunity to you?

Christa... thanks! (Not a mud puddle, I hope. ;-)

Marcus... or maybe, just maybe, old Uncle Walt was channeling me. As for the Whitman poem recorded, I believe you. Really.

Ruth... I imagine there are more of these each day than we realize. Part of it is, I suppose, cultivating the time and attention to experience such moments.

Kim... and you are an architect, yes? My Eldest probably fulfills the architect's dream just about every day. She pays very close attention to buildings, bridges, landscapes. (Of course, sometimes, she's a tough critic; she has remarked, for instance, that our new public library looks like someone transported it from Florida and plopped it here--so clear are her ideas of what NorthEastern architecture should look like! :)

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God can realate in such beautiful ways. i am always blown away by how He will sometimes come up quietly and gently overflow the senses.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad Marcus said it first, but I too was wondering if you were channeling Whitman today.

BTW Marcus, which one?

I have really loved these last two posts L. (and the links).They have ministered to my spirit in numerous/just right ways. Thank you.


5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL, I don't have anything profound or meaningful to add, but I wanted to leave a comment to express how moving both your picture, your post, and some of the comments have been.

5:08 PM  
Blogger High Calling Blogs said...

From Real Live Preacher

Beautiful. And a bridge brings you to this. very cool.

5:22 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Nancy... oh, that we would see God in these things... too many times we miss His shadow or think it's something else altogether.

Kimberly... so glad to hear your voice. Sometime you must tell me more about what touched you. (I'm the curious type, see. :) Maybe it's the Whitmanesque feel. You always were a poet at heart.

Spaghettipie... that's okay. Waves and taps on the window are always welcome. :)

Gordon... sweet words from you. But really, I think you must understand, being a man who can find profound thoughts in door springs and other such surprising things. :)

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can add to this conversation is how beautiful a landscape you captured and yet how alien it appears to me.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Beautiful words, L.L.

To see God everywhere, and his glory everywhere. We need that sense of awe in this world, and to see all of life as genuinely a gift.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The presence you describe here, LL, brings so much meaning to all of life. And you are right, when I jumped over to Ann's blog, I felt the presence there too. It's being right where God has you in this moment -- this messy, difficult, beautiful, fleeting moment. Put enough of these moments together, and you've lived a really good life.

Blessings to you, my friend.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL, How touching and inspired! I love this.

These words reached into my soul: "Make me, O Lord, this day, just right and ready. For the bridges, the sounding strings, the tiny child, the words, the weather... for You."

Thanks for such inspiring words today.

9:40 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

i'm at a bit of a loss for words. your own speak of a deep abiding awareness of the beauty around you: of bridges, of violin music, of skylines.

Sometimes I am too weak and sometimes too strong to take it in.

yes. yes.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Shosannah said...

Just stunning.
THese words have captured that something beyond. That horizon of knowing, that speaks of God in nature, structure, music and the sound of a child's voice.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Yes, just right and ready to take it in. that is the trick, isn't it - not to be too weak or we are preoccupied with our own fear, or too strong for then we do not realize how much we need....

Just right - like the bears bed - soft and inviting - ready to rest in - ready to support us and let us sleep and dream, catching just a glimpse of perfection

11:28 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

How perfect that you would accompany such a stunning view of a suspension bridge with these ideas of tension and strings. Yes, I suppose we can find beauty in tension after all.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

I agree with Heather about your feeling of broken & whole, empty & filled.

I had the awesome experience yesterday of seeing my middle child grasp this kind of sense herself (two opposed emotions at once). I'll try to describe it over on my blog later today and link to you.

7:13 AM  

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