The Inn of Great Happiness

What’s on my mind…as Facebook queries…is not independence. Or even Independence Day. This 4th of July what is on my mind is interdependence, loneliness and connection. Over the past few days I have been resting up, napping and sleeping long hours. Recuperating, in a way, from the marathon of workshops I have facilitated from last December. In between reading detective novels I have been listening to Brené Brown interviews on YouTube, as well as reading some of Maria Popova’s Brainpickings that have dropped into my email inbox. And in the way that things happen the themes of loneliness and belonging all coalesced. Hannah Arendt writes that loneliness is “the common ground for terror”. So, that “terror…ruins all relationships between men.” I guess she meant that to cover both genders and used it in the sense of the human race. That was how they styled the language in the 1950s and 1960s when she was writing.

Brown, in her National Cathedral sermon in January 2018, mentions that loneliness is so endemic that in the UK in 2017 it was recognised as a public health issue. Loneliness is a greater predictor of premature death than all the smoking, excessive alcohol imbibing, overeating and no exercise that are the usual warnings.

Arendt (and Popova) note that tyranical regimes and totalitarian regimes weaponise loneliness. They sow disconnection. Brown tells us how they do this – by dehumanising people, often those that we disagree with, by making them out to be somehow subhuman. That was what Hitler did. But we also do it, maybe not on the same scale, maybe in microagressions, but we still do it. And this dehumanisation of others is the the real public health and public discourse plague.

So, this 4th of July, that is what is on my mind. How lonely people can be angry people. They are certainly isolated and alienated people. It is a wonderful belief that we are all made in the image and likeness of Deity. But it is hard work to actually walk that talk, especially when the beliefs and actions of some are anathema. It can be hard work to discover where that divine spark is hiding. Yet, that is the work of being a human.

Poetry practice today is a mash up of Brown, Arendt, Popova, John O’Donohue and Rumi.

The Inn of Great Happiness

It can be awfully lonely
in your tribe
even if we all subscribe
to the same codes,
those screeds of belief. But

if we have not love
written into our tribal DNA
then it's all out of key.

It's good to sing with strangers.
It's also a good thing
to break bread and drink wine
with strangers.
It's a good thing to get together
even with the ones who really irritate.

Like Mom said, " Be polite."
Talk about the weather.
Ask after their health,
that of their family members.
Be Kind. Pass the cookies. Or more wine.

It takes some practice
this being human.
It's all about there always
being a room ready for
everyone passing.
Anyone passing.

So check your larder and linen closet.
Make sure some sheets are aired.
Plump up the downy pillows.
Have the instruments tuned and prepared.
(Don't disturb the cobwebs
because some spiders are guests there.)

Sing into the night
with strangers
as they become like family
if not quite like friends.
Sing into the new day's light
until they become our family,
blood of our blood, bone of our bone,
until it's not just pretend.
until we all comprehend
this being human.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Feature image Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

In Midwinter Tide

At Midwinter Tide

Christmas time can be very jolly. We meet, greet, salute and congregate. But not everyone. We consider the homeless, but there is also a legion of the lonely who are feeling excluded from all this collective jollity. This is a time of year when outsiders can really feel left out in the cold. Just like that wistful feral cat back in 2016, who finally came in from the cold last Christmas and became a fully fledged insider  and household member this year. Today’s Poetry Daily considers those who may not be feeling it this Christmas tide.

The cat who came in from the cold
Looking inside from the outside at Xmas
At Midwinter Tide

To those who have loved
and lost
whether by
omission or commission
and for whom
loneliness has become
like a prison
a life sentence
in solitary confinement

To those who have loved
and lost
those dear ones
those who once
lifted your heart
raised your pulse
bathed you in the warmth
of their company

At midwinter tide
all that loving and giving
is forced labour
a convict's pick axe
breaking stone to no purpose
but to underline
how much it feels

At midwinter tide
there is the sun
its piercing ray
into a stone made box
and out from the dark
dawn breaks
and wholly illuminates
to ancestral sighes
for the year's tide
has turned

We are all born
with such breathless hope
followed by our cry

The sun does this turn
year upon year
all alone
except for  those of us
who witness it
along with our thoughts
of those loved and lost
in yesteryear
all of of us
this company
of beloved ones

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image is of Newgrange illuminated at Winter Solstice found on Pinterest  and linked to