I went to church this morning. The wind whipped up Madison Avenue and it was a quiet morning with so many people traveling over the long weekend. The second reading was from Luke about Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. The devil tempts him to make stone into bread when he is hungry; and offers him all the kingdoms of the world; and taunts him to jump off a temple so angels arrive to protect him. You know that Jesus had none of it and so the devil departed from him... until an opportune time.
I love that last bit.
When we got home we had hot dogs for lunch and watched ice hockey and then, at noon, my husband came home from Afghanistan. We haven't seen him since Christmastime, and for me the time apart has been something like 40 days in the wilderness only I didn't have the faith to resist the devil that much. I wonder----I'm just saying (Liv's words)---if Jesus had two kids and no nanny or SUV, would he have had the strength, conviction and faith to endure 40 days without food and without taking all the kingdoms of the world? Last month, I would have taken at least one kingdom if that kingdom had school buses that weren't on strike, because the buses were on strike here in New York and was it very expensive, time-consuming and draining taking the kids to school all day and spending the rest of the day complaining and freaking-out about it.
Well the 40 days passed, we endured, if imperfectly, and when Mads arrived, the doorman practically wept for his friend's return, the children jumped for joy, the dog ran in circles and wagged his tail madly, and I went upstairs and fell asleep for two hours.
Later, alone and free, I walked up a windswept Madison Avenue with the wind pulling back my eyelids to . see a show at the Guggenheim and I walked home with the wind at my back and the new radiant blue light of the Empire State Building against the purple-orange twilight. This was my day. There was so much I could write about but I was in agony over what to write. To write every day for 40 days: to write every day, to write within the restrictions; to create the stillness and the prayer. This is another route home for me, for Lent. Is this a way to create the space to reach out, to connect with God? You'll see. I'll see too.
But now I was agonizing. I agonised over Jesus in the wilderness and Mads in Afghanistan and the nature of family, connection, space, temptation and art, war and beauty. But nothing was working. The devil was whispering. My kingdoms of indifference were looming. The dog was not walked and the children were hungry when I found the Valentine's Day card my 6 year-old son had been silently working on yesterday for his father's return. I read it. I know I'm the mother and hardly objective, but I also know that this is the kind of poetry I aspire to. This is the connection. And so I will leave you with that, until tomorrow... until an opportune time.
To Mads from Haakon.
On Valentine's Day when I
stepped in my class I lokte in
my Bag it was amazing
and then I took off my coat
and then I past out my cards
and put them in every single bag
and then I did my little writing
and then I made a card for my sister
and then I went to short play
I came back I went to my bag
and then I took 5$ out of my
bag and then I went to the bake sale. the back sale
you bring in some things now or before and then you
by them I bot a lot of them
and did I say maximum 5$
minamum was 50¢ → flip over
I love you.
The image is by Zarina, Dividing Line, 2001 (detail). Woodcut printed in black on Indian handmade paper mounted on Arches Cover white paper.