Tag Archives: Spirituality

The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam: Featuring Beth Murch!

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Brant Rant

If you think of broken-hearted people swilling whisky and smoking cigarettes in an embittered fashion, apparently, you are not alone!  Come celebrate Valentine’s Day with me, the Perpetual Spinster, at The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam. Or, you know, don’t…I’m used to being alone. WAH!!!

The Deets:

Who: Beth Murch (me!)
What: The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam
Where: Rockling’s Tap & Grill, Brantford, Ontario
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Why: Because misery loves company?
How: By crying into our beers and sharing poetry

Event’s Facebook Page: The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam feat. Beth Murch

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Some Spiritual Teachings Occur While Purchasing Ketchup

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“Daughter,” he says, “I want to ask you about your hair.”
His statement implies an exchange of words and ideas,
But instead, he runs his fingertips along my dreadlocks,
Skimming scarred and wrinkled hands through twists and knots,
Searching for treasure within Medusa’s nest of vipers
Handling each snake as an evidence of salvation like a Pentecostal preacher.
“Have you ever been to Jamaica?” he asks, his accent ripe like mango, full like blooming hibiscus.
“I have not,” I reply.
“But you are one of us?” he prompts.
“You mean Rastafari?”
He waves his hand, dismissing me, clucking his tongue, all while my white girl hair is wrapped around his wrist.
“Rastafari” he says, “You can call it that if you like. Some do. Some don’t. Do you need a label? Don’t you know better than to believe what is packaged and sold to you?”
I have no idea how to respond.
He laughs. “I am not used to wimmin who keep their thoughts to themselves.”
I smile. “I’m not used to being a womyn who keeps her thoughts to herself.”
He chuckles, leans towards me, and whispers, “Be proud.”
I gaze into his kind eyes, and nod.

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This work, “Some Spiritual Teachings Occur While Purchasing Ketchup” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

NaPoWriMo Day 18

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18/30 Prompt: Write About Being Somewhere Sacred

You never drew a breath.
Your lips,
Perfectly pouted for a lifetime of kisses
Remained sealed.
I anointed you with the only precious oils I had available –
Sweet almond, lavender, and lemon.
I did not have silk, velvet, or brocade,
But I used the Winnie-the-Pooh receiving blanket
Someone gave your mother
At her shower a month ago
To wrap you against the kind of cold
That was inevitable.
When I placed you in her hands,
She caressed you with the respectful, humbled passion
Of a worshiper adoring the feet of a saint’s statue.
You were as quiet as an icon.
We stood with hushed devotion,
As if waiting for you to weep tears of milk
Like the ones that seeped through your mother’s hospital gown.

Someone should pray,” she whispered.
Since there was only the three of us in the room,
And you had chosen to keep your secrets,
I was the one who put my hand on your head
And prayed,

Heavenly Father, we entrust this child back into Your loving care…”

 

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This work, “Untitled” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

NaPoWriMo Day 15

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15/30 Prompt: Write About Swimming

The preacher told me that to go to Heaven,
I had to be baptized.
I had to step down into that concrete tub
Filled with tepid water
That contained all the sins of the people dunked before me.
Several times a year,
I watched them line up to descend into the baptistry,
Awkward with bathing suits silhouetted underneath their white gowns
Which would float like the bells of jellyfish
As they descended into the tank.
Blooms of The Saved
Floating
Caught between the currents of water-soluble salvation
And the polluting debris of iniquity.
I chose to stay upon dry land.

The rabbi told me that to become Jewish,
I had to immerse in the mikveh,
Which is no different from a baptismal tank,
Except that it contains water from a “living source”.
I read stories about how beautiful conversion to Judaism was,
But I was only ever made to feel worthless.
I tried so hard to wear the right thing,
To eat the right thing,
To pray the right thing,
But I was only reminded that I never measured up.
Those purifying pools reserved for those done menstruating,
Those done with being Gentile,
Were always denied to me.
I did what Lot’s wife could not,
And I turned my back.
I chose to stay upon dry land.

I told myself that I am a daughter of the earth.
My flesh was formed from the cracks in soil.
My bones emerged from damp sod.
My hair was spun from the grasses of great plains.
My soul is a cactus,
And I am able to flower and flourish with very little moisture.
There are prickles on me here and there,
But I was here before the gods of men,
And I will be here long after.
I chose to say upon dry land.

The desert told me that to be myself,
I had to revel in a monsoon –
Because even cacti need their thirst quenched.
One night, I stepped nude into Lake Huron,
With only the moon to bear witness.
I swam beneath the soft caress of the planet’s womb-water,
Feeling the sediment of eternity cloud around me
Whenever my toes touched its rocky spine.
I opened my eyes.
I opened my mouth.
I opened my legs.
I spread wide my fingers and toes.
I drank deeply of that ancient liquor,
Swallowed up fish, sand, mysterious plants, drowned garbage,
Filled my belly with the hurt, the longing, the joy, the sorrow
Of millions of years of history.
I sucked up every oil spill, every gill net, every lost sailor,
Until I could not contain any more,
And then once I saw the wrinkles on every lake bed, the secrets of every ocean floor,
I spat it all back out again.
I emerged from the water cleansed,
With my thirst satiated.
I know now, that on my own terms:
I have no need for dry land.

jellyfish_0
Image Courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/hubmedia/318410466/

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This work, “Untitled” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Leave Kriti and come here to this holy
temple with your graceful grove
of apple trees and altars smoking
with frankincense.

Icy water babbles through apple branches
and roses leave shadows on the ground
and bright shaking leaves pour down
profound sleep.

Here is a meadow where horses graze
amid wild blossoms of the spring and soft winds
blow aroma

of honey. Afroditi, take the nectar
and delicately pour it into gold
wine cups and mingle joy with
our celebration.

-Psapfo, “Afroditi of the Flowers at Knossos”
(translation by Anne Carson)

Sappho in Fragments
Actual fragments of Psapfo/Sappho’s poetry
Is this your picture? Please let me know and I will credit you!

The Secret Language Of Trees

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(For David Kraemer)

Circle ‘round, Children
As I tell you about the secret language of trees
An ancient tongue that existed long before you and I
A means of communication that will outlive us all

There are those who will tell you that trees are plants
And that plants have no souls
And that plants have no thoughts
So to believe that trees can talk is foolish
These people have forgotten the Old Ways
They stopped listening to the songs that Earth sings for them
Their ears are plugged up and their hearts are hardened
They have sat so long in buildings constructed of poisonous materials
Staring at computer screens
Gasping stale, recycled air
Growing hydroponically under florescent light
That they forgot the taste of spring rain
And the crunch of pine needles under their feet

Learn the secret language of the trees, Children
So that you can teach the Old Ways to those who will still listen
For 370 million years, the trees have been speaking
It is time for us to start hearing them again

Trees are as blood and bone as you and I
Their trunks and branches are skeletons
Their roots are hands
Every leaf is a strand of hair
Drops of sap, resin, and latex
Are the sanguine proofs of wounds
No different than a face burned by winter wind
Or a scraped knee

This is why we ask the trees permission to harvest their bounty
Carving into their sides to drain their fluids is piercing them to collect their essence
Shaving their bark is peeling off their skin
Plucking their fruit is pulling out their eye lashes
We leave them offerings to thank them for their generosity:
Placentae, feathers, shells, bowls of honey
For we know we cannot live without their sacrifices

Like us, trees need community
Beneath the ground they wrap around each other
Embracing eternally
Supporting growth through protective touch
Like a man who bears a woman’s weight
As she clings to his neck and then squats to birth his child
A tree planted alone can be brutalized by harsh weather
But trees planted together in a grove stand back- to – back and side – to – side
Taking the brunt of wind, ice, and driving rain for each other
Learning to sway and dance to the contributions of Sky
Nodding in harmony to the heartbeat of Earth

And, just like us, trees make love
Creaking and groaning
Stretching out to caress each other
Their dangling catkins rising over the female flowers
Who open wide, ready to receive pleasure
Stimulated by the soft stroking of the wind
Leaves shiver and the tree climaxes
Pollen bursts forth in a spray of delight
And the flowers take the pollen deep into themselves
Creating seeds that will ease from their bodies
Bringing forth new life

These are the ways of love, Children
We find someone who speaks to our hearts
We lean into them and rub up against them
We ache to be so close to each other that we become one another
Uniting our bodies and starting new life from sighs of arousal
The trees feel no shame in longing
We should also feel no shame

The linguistics of trees is not difficult to decode
We have merely allowed other sounds to overpower their conversations with us
The presence of trees has been so constant for humans that we take them for granted
Favouring the loud honking of cars, the grinding of gears, and chugging of engines
To the slow and breathy speech found in forests, fields, and arboretums

Trees want to share their secrets
They have been holding stories and knowledge inside them for so long
That they yearn for someone to lean against their sturdy trunks
Take off their shoes to feel the rich, loamy press of Earth against their feet
And to hear what they have to say

Trees know the magic for turning air and light into food
They hold the answers for changing carbon dioxide into oxygen
Breathe in, Children, breathe out
We are alive because of tree respiration
Trees have the wisdom to let go of the parts of themselves that no longer serve them
Allowing crisp, brown leaves and withered twigs to fall away
In order to enrich the soil for newer, better, stronger growth
From this decomposition, the trees thrive
And the tiny tendrils of their children creep forth
The promise of immortality born from death itself

Trees can call to rain, seducing reluctant clouds to release their drops
Cooling the air and filling the streams so Life may continue
They know how to calm the wind, soothing the angry blows from Sky
Urging gentleness from tempestuousness
The trees wish to guide us on our journeys
And so they give us directions through the lichen and moss
That adorns their creases, cracks, splits, and scarred faces
Trees are spiritual leaders
Acting as oracles and housing Spirit in their shadowy groves
Hiding faeries, sprites, seekers, and ascetics
Encouraging us to seek the Divine by keeping our feet on the ground and stretching towards the heavens
They have seen gods rise and fall and false prophets fade away
Long after our temples have crumbled into dust and ashes
The trees will hold the truth of Creation
Whispering prayers through trembling leaves

A tree may live several thousand years, Children
If you plant a tree today
You could reach across many generations
To lovingly place food into the mouths of descendents who are so far removed from you, they no longer remember your name
You could give the children of your children’s children’s children’s children
The mahogany frame on which they will make their bed
Or the cedar that they burn in their fires

In this manner, the trees hold onto the Old Ways
Even though we have become distracted
And forgotten our purpose
They hold the truth for us
Keeping it safe
Until we are ready to take it back
As long as we care for the trees
They will care for us

This is the secret language of trees, Children
Keep it in your heart as you kneel upon Earth to plant
Feel it in your stomach as you hunger for bread
Rub it across your brow as you sweat and ache
To bear seedlings across your back is to carry all of creation
If you bow under the weight
Remember the sacred, swaying dance of the trees
And know that you too will stand tall again

Tree Pic

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This work, “The Secret Language of Trees” by Beth Murch,  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.