Another end of summer ritual and I fish out an old frayed stripey butcher’s apron in preparation. Three huge crates of battered pulpy but red and ripe tomatoes ordered for Saturday so we ( household and neighbours) can all do the annual bottling tomato puree jamboree. It is hours of back-breaking work, sorting and cleaning up the tomatoes, blanching, peeling, cutting up, boiling and simmering, taking foam off the top, reducing down to unctous dark-red thickness, then sterilising and heating Consol sealable jars, filling the jars, tapping for airbubbles, turning the jars upside down and letting them cool. Economically it saves us a fortune — I won’t have to buy tomato passata or cans of diced tomatoes until late next summer (January or February of 2014). We store jars on shelves, in cupboards and in rows in the garage, perhaps 60 or 90 large jars of ripe tomato puree. (I get roughly three meals out of each jar, luscious deep rich tomato puree for lasagnas, ragus, chilli con carnes, pasta sauces, etc.)
Lenten reading: more Flannery O’Connor, journals of Thomas Merton, the poems of Franz Wright in his struggle against addiction and alcoholism. Outside in the roads a grinding of gears, as tractors pull trailers heaped high with grapes for the press, fruit pallets stacked with golden pears and white fuzzy peaches, bunches of leeks crusted in dirt. A season of abundance that is passing, soon there will be no work on the farms and people calling to ask for slices of bread and milk for hungry children. What we have and what we take for granted, what we long for, what we do not need. Franz Wright:
Crossing briefly this mirrory still Galilean blue water to the heaven
of the affluent, the users-up, unconsciously remote
from knowing themselves
our owners and starvers, occupying
as they always have, to no purpose,
the mansions and the beauty of the earth
for this short while
we all meet and enter at the same door.
Lent, the season of doubt and uncertainty, who better to explore the contradiction than doubting mystic Simone Weil, discussed here? I add her Gravity & Grace to my pile of bedside reading.
If you say that God is inconceivable, then you are conceiving God as inconceivable. If you say that nothing can be said about him, then you say something about him, namely, that nothing can be said about him. If you say that there exists an inconceivable reality, then that is different from saying that there does not exist such a reality; hence you are conceiving the inconceivable reality as included in what there is. If you say that God is real, then you are conceiving him as real as opposed to illusory. Long story short, you are contradicting yourself when you claim that there is an inconceivable reality or that God is an inconceivable reality, or that God is utterly beyond all of our concepts, or that no predications of him are true, or that he exists but has no attributes, or that he is real but inconceivable.
Which is all very well, knotting my brain into a loop of sense and nonsense, but there are dogs playing on the grass, that ecstatic rolling and tumbling of happy animals at play, flame lilies reddening on my wall, red, purple, black, orange, pink, white, goose-green berries enough for all the birds in the valley. The gnarly tree leaning over the garden wall is clustered with overripe sweet persimmons, that deep pink-orange. My friend will be coming home after his successful open-heart surgery, there will be suppers and conversations. And just for today, free of eye pain, I am irrepressibly buoyed up with Love, agape and eros all entwined, the human and the divine, known and unknown.
Franz Wright again, hoping WordPress will not screw with the spacing that is so crucial in poetry, breathing spaces and fine line breaks. A poem ending on a pause, an ellipsis, confession of darkness amidst affirmation.
When I look at the bare fields in winter, the sunflowers are there.
When I gaze at the sunflowers I see the scarred snowy fields.
This is how you tell you are ready to leave
this beautiful and deadly place,
and return there,
While there is time
I call to mind Your constant unrequited
and preemptive forgiveness.
And remember You are not
and never were the object
of my thought,
was the object of Yours!
And I think I’m beginning to learn finally
what everything has been trying to teach me
for the past fifty years of forever:
total love for You–the mysterious gift of my life–
truly felt at each instant
and every day
of deepest recollection,
grace-filled apprehension, it
dispel all fear, as well
as the love that requires a response–
from others, other
And I have always failed, yet
always know IT was there–this utter love–
And so am ready with the speechless
universe all word
my sunflower. Dark morning thoughts -–…