This Elemental Body: A Blessing Poem
~Christa Mastrangelo Joyce
Bless this body that is a mountain
full of cracks and the etchings of time.
Bless its resolute power, its fortitude,
and intent to weather every season.
Bless this body that is a river
full and long, willing to be held
in the banks of life’s edges, flowing still
over the sharp edges of every challenge.
Bless this body that is the wind howling
and pushing, disrupting the marginalized
edges of the world’s still and unmoving
parts. Bless its persistent, winnowing efforts.
Bless this body that is of fire, the Agni
of transformation, burning down and making
space for new. Bless its passionate heat,
rising and claiming with its sharp brilliance.
Bless the time this body has taken to be
of every element; has become like each visible
and unseen part of nature, like every great
and flawed creation.
Bless this body in its steadiness,
and in its mobility too. Bless its motherhood,
its creating and nurturing; and, then too,
bless its destruction.
Bless the construction of every cell and atom,
every breath and heartbeat. Bless the song
that emanates from it and bless the long-held
silence. Bless the delirious joy that bubbles
like a stream, and the sadness that flows deep
into its crevices.
Bless this body, that it may know it is all.
One of my first loves was poetry. The language of poetry is that of the disruptor, making real out of the unreal, and allowing metaphor to speak for the unspeakable, deeply felt experience. So when I read Tom O’Donohue’s book of poems, To Bless the Space Between Us, a book that combines blessing and poetry into a rich vision of all of life as connected to something bigger than our individual human experience, I felt called to write my own blessing poems. Recently, this one came after a restful and deep Yoga Nidra experience with Kate Powell. She reminded us that we are of, and connected to, the elements — earth, fire, water, and air. In that moment, I remembered that, as the New Year begins, it is all too easy to fall into the “get it all together quickly” trap. I have spent years feeling both excited and guilty at the prospect of endeavoring to make myself more, or better, or different. The impetus to grow is a fruitful and important one, I believe. Yet, falling into the trap of getting everything tidy and packaged at once can be depleting — mentally and physically.
As each new year begins, I find it important to remember for myself and for our community, that we are part of something bigger—much like the elements of nature, by and large we grow ever more interesting the longer we’re part of this beautiful world. Nature takes it time to do its thing, revealing a plan that can be both illuminating and terrifying, often over decades. What happens to the beautiful human creation of us if we keep showing up, shifting bit by bit, to steadfastly walk toward growth, toward future, toward the unfolding of us?
I think back to my post in December that harkened to the words of Anne Lammot: “Here’s the true secret of life: We mostly do everything over and over. In the morning, we let the dogs out, make coffee, read the paper, help whoever is around get ready for the day. We do our work. In the afternoon, if we have left, we come home, put down our keys and satchels, let the dogs out, take off constrictive clothing, make a drink or put water on for tea, toast the leftover bit of scone…Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly…You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags.” We are not rags; we are part of the grandeur that is this elemental world. Keep showing up for yourself, friends. The wonder of the work of you may not reveal itself by the end of January. It may not even reveal itself by the end of this year. But life has shown me that indeed it is revealed: crevice by crevice, inch by inch, drop by drop, we unfold.