Monday, November 16, 2015

The Writerly Tarot: The Three of Swords

There is nothing equivocal about this card. It is sorrow, piercing and heart-rending. For though we process life in our head, our heart must channel the pain, and it does this physically. Viscerally. It is our birthright, heartache, and the Three of Swords is its avatar.

I am in no way surprised to see it this morning. It is actually a small comfort, to have the hurt named and pictured. These readings are meant for everybody who finds their way here, for the community of writers and readers and creative folk I am so lucky and blessed to be a part of, but each card is first and foremost a message for myself. Each represents a piece of my own life, my own process. But if there is one thing I have learned, it is that the personal is the universal. When you share the truth about yourself, you are sharing the truth about the whole of us.

And I am in mourning today, with the rest of the world, for Paris and her people. For all the lives lost in blood and terror, this week and all the days previous. For the fear that first shouts, but then creeps, and then eventually marches. How do I send my child into such a world? How do I tell her to open her arms to it when today there is only aftermath? The natural inclination is to pull the blades from our heart and stab them into something else. Someone else, some guilty person, for surely someone deserves this burden more than we do.

But no. No. We strive to move past pain, but we must learn to sit with it, our own pain and the pain of others. And then we must learn to walk around with it throbbing within us. Laugh with it. Love with it. Sorrow is a tide, rising and falling. Ancient, powerful, and as endless as the ocean.

How are we to respond today, to this freshly broken world? We do our work. We show up. We open to the whole of this morning and this day and this life. I believe that creative work is a particular kind of prayer, that it connects us to that which is bigger than us, and to each other, in ways that are profoundly spiritual. This I believe. And so this I practice, today especially.

In his poem "A Brief for the Defense," poet Jack Gilbert insists that "we must risk delight . . . We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil."

This week, risk delight. Go to the page or the easel or the wheel or the dance floor with stubborn gladness. A pierced heart is an open heart. Honor the wounded places. Do your work. And blessed be.

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