Second Coming

Watching the Second Coming Sun rise over  the Wet Mountains this morning, I thought of all the cultures that pray and/or orient the portals of their homes to the east. This universal, cross-cultural orientation eludes science and leads only to wonder and (teasing the agnostic) hints at the divine.

Second Coming Clouds

Second Coming Clouds

Time travelling back some six decades, I remember the camp song that we sang at breakfast: “God has created a new day / silver and green and gold / pray that the morrow will find us / worthy his gifts to behold.” It is a lovely song when sung in rounds. I find myself singing it today.

"L'atmoosphere" book of 1888

“L’atmosphere”
book of 1888

January 6, has come and gone, but I find myself thinking of epiphanies. In secular terms, an epiphany is an awaking – a moment of awareness or a flash of insight that turns your perception 180 degrees. In particular, I remember an epiphany that I experienced in 1976.

I was in a bad place. My first husband was long-term unemployed and depressed. I was substitute teaching days and completing my Masters at night. Our debts loomed. My husband’s family had loaned us money to pay the rent; my family had loaned me money for tuition. We were on food stamps. We had two, old VW Beetles – if any one of the two cars ran, it was a blessing. Childcare and all household chores were my responsibility. I was feeling stressed.

One morning when I had not been called to substitute, I headed to the university. On my way to the library, I passed the student counselling office. On impulse, I went in and asked for an appointment. The receptionist ran her manicured finger down the page of the appointments book and gave me a date some weeks distant.

I do not know what happened next.

When I regained my senses, I found myself strapped to a bed in the university health center. A nurse sat by my side. She asked me if I would like to talk to the psychiatrist. I could only sob. Once an hour, every hour, the nurse would return and ask me if I was ready to see the doctor. Just seeing her at the door would bring me to tears. The day passed.

Finally, the nurse said that it nearly time for the doctor to leave for the day. If I was unwilling to talk with him, I would have to spend the night. At that point, I remembered that my daughter was in daycare; I needed to pick her up. Spending the night was not an option.

I walked into the doctor’s office, sat down, and started to cry. The doctor looked at his watch. If I wanted to leave, I needed to talk. And so blurting and burbling, I quickly ran through the issues that were driving me crazy. The doctor looked at his watch. Rising and putting on his coat, he asked, “Well… what do you want me to do about it?” And with that, he walked out the door.

I flamed incandescent. I ranted and raved. Here I was paying money that I didn’t have and was expected to repay… here I was paying university tuition that funded the health service, and I was getting no service at all!

It took several days to move past the anger and understand the doctor’s comment. In terms of an epiphany, I moved from being a victim to being the master of my own fate. I would not play the victim. My life choices were mine to make. Bad choices would result in bad consequences.

The LayersStanley Kunitz

The Layers
Stanley Kunitz

My touchstone poem is “The Layers”  written in his late 70s by Stanley Kunitz, former Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. This poem sends a powerful message and reinforces my personal epiphany. We need “to live in the layers” (to learn from each layer), “not in the litter” (and not be brought low by past mistakes).

The image to the right is just a portion of the poem. To read the poem in its entirety, search The Layers + Stanley Kunitz.

Last night we had rain. Although I have lived in mountains long enough to know that winter is hardly over, the rain felt a bit like spring. Was it only days ago that I was wearing wire grippers (Trax, I think) on the sole of my boots so I wouldn’t fall on the ice? Walking through the snow, I was delighted, on my return, to see my readily recognizable tracks. I had left my mark! The image, that of leaving one’s mark, has stayed with me.

100_5326

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Writers’ Prompts:

  • Contemplate the rising sun. Describe what you see. What is your emotional/spiritual response? What is it about the rising sun that crosses cultural divides?
  • Write about an epiphany that you have experienced.
  • Take a look at Dubliners by James Joyce. In this collection of short stories, each leading character experiences an epiphany that changes his view of himself or his social condition. Choose one story and write about the protagonist’s reversal.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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6 Responses to Second Coming

  1. Brent says:

    This arrived just in time. Shared with others, received with thanks.

  2. Richard Pohanish says:

    …very touching. Thanks. Dick

    • timeout2 says:

      Thank you, Dick. I love reading “The Layers.” Not to be dark, but I’ve told Laura that I wantthe poemto play a partin my memorial service.Hopefully,we will learn from our past mistakes and move on.

      ________________________________

  3. Sherry says:

    I wrote about the morning sun this morning on my FB page Doris, if you want to peek at it. As to that jackass of a psychiatrist – horrible. We each have pieces of our past where we’ve been victimized in some measure and the best parts of our stories are when we realize that WE can make changes – when we’re strong enough, baby steps at first…and then slowly, our lives change for the better…..

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