Today’s Word from Karl Olsen
Our friend Carrie Newcomer, singer/songwriter/writer who has appeared here in concert a couple of times, has a podcast on her website. She has a wonderful way of comprehending and engaging the world (along with her friend Parker Palmer) and I thought I’d share one of those with you today. It comes with an extra blessing at the end—a song she wrote to go with a book by a friend of hers. The Story of AND.
So, give it a read, take a listen and enjoy—and approach this world of paradox, differences and contradiction with the spirit of openness and discovery and collaboration. Just enjoy the journey.
This is the next in my series of readings from my Until Now: New Poems book of poetry. I’ve been posting these readings, but now at planting season, I wanted to share this one with everybody.
My friend, Hester, gave my friend, Krista, who then gave to me, heirloom seeds for a strange and delightful gourd plant. Hester loved gourds, which she grew with a passion. Krista thought they were curious, beautiful, kind of wacky and eccentric, which immediately endeared them to her. When I saw her audacious plants vining over the chicken yard fence I stared in delight. The hanging gourds were precisely, exactly, the shape, color and weight of white chicken eggs. They looked like something out of a Dr. Suess book or straight out of Narnia or Oz. Hester explained that in years past, farm wives would put one of these eggs in the nests of brood hens, encouraging them to lay more eggs to fill out the clutch. I shook my head and thought about how the luminous creator of all things must surely have a wonderful and quirky sense of humor. Think about it, the platypus is basically a critter made of left over parts, the possum is kind of an animal that was taken out of the oven half-baked because the evolutionary postman showed up at the door with the genetic material for foxes. And totally don’t get me going about the graceful and glorious giraffe that will never be able to buy a turtle neck sweater off the rack, OR the way male hippos spray their poo to impress female hippos OR the ridiculously awful voice of the otherwise ostentatious peacock. But most of all if anything implies a cosmic sense of humor it would be us, the bright and brilliant, bewildering and beautiful, dangerously and delightfully clever, totally middle-of-the-food chain human being.
On days when I am so deeply discouraged and disturbed about the serious nature of our worst actions as a species, I look at my bowl of dried egg gourds and remember that we are also built of better stuff than that. We are not just shadow or only light. We are complex, curious and both/and. Which has caused me to many times shake my head and say “love is simple, but people..well, people are complicated.” But I find hope in a belief that at heart of a contradiction is an open space. At the intersection of a paradox is possibility. If I can step back long enough for reflection and recognition, the”both/and” is waiting, and in that open space is the possibility of creating something new.
Rabbi Sandy Sasso wrote a lovely children’s story about the word “and” which is the most used word in all the scriptures. In the story a collection of opinionated shapes learn to work together, the find the in-between space where we can create something new. Sandy and I wrote a song together to help illustrate the story. The story was written for children, but I think there is much in the story for we now grown children to ponder. What new might be created if we hold difference in life giving ways. What could happen in that connecting space where “us or them” might become “you and I.”
Click HERE for a link to The Story of And by Rabbi Sandy Sasso.
Click HERE for a link to Carrie’s reading.
And Click HERE to find the song on Trinity’s website.