Each line in the Prayer of St. Francis describes that which I aspire to be: a person who spreads love in the face of hatred, and inspires abundance and faith during times of drought and doubt. When I decided weeks ago to dissect the Prayer of St. Francis and write an essay about each line, I didn't anticipate becoming an invisible love interest within the poetic prayer. Right about the time that I should have been sharing my insights about hope in the face of despair, I was being smothered by my own brand of sadness. Unable to crawl out from my own despair, I neglected the blank page.
The source of my despair was a murky conglomeration of events whose sum formed a low-hanging cloud obscuring my vision and silencing my voice: Anthony Bourdain killed himself; my long labored-over book was rejected by a favored publisher; a family member whom I've known my entire life won't speak to me; and the contents of my childhood home are about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Also, my favorite sweat pants are too tight.
Writing usually helps eject me out of a funk, but I couldn't do it this time. My brain was stuck in the mud and in a state like that, I simply could not find a way to offer hope to myself much less anyone else. Inability to write myself out of the mire only compounded my despair.
There's a café in town called Sunbird. The decor is a comforting combination of reclaimed wood, tinned tomato cans as herb pots, and in the center of the hubbub, a seating arrangement comprised of a yellow velvet-upholstered sofa, a large round coffee table fashioned from a tree stump, and a collection of candy-colored mid-century modern chairs. The effect is youthful but comfy and welcoming. On a day that I had designated to work, I went there instead. I ordered (quinoa porridge with coconut milk, dates, mint and cashews) and found a spot near the window. While I waited for my breakfast, I paged through a short stack of literary journals with titles I didn't recognize. Some were rich in bold, brash photography, but one in particular -- a collection of essays and poetry called Comestible -- stood alone. Stark in detail and void of ads, each page is an unvarnished offering from writer to reader.
The candor and vulnerability present in every piece reminded me that sometimes life on Earth is beautiful and sometimes it's sufferable; expecting it to be different is the real mistake. Also, though our creations will be flawed, we should share them anyway. Doing so is a reminder to self and other that we are alike more than we differ. To create is to live, and to share what we make is to offer hope and healing from the inside out.
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