I never did exactly get around to creating a room to call my own -- a door to close, a screen with bamboo accents to hide behind -- but nonetheless things have been quite busy as usual here at The Little Office, where I have returned to researching saints. This week the focus has been on Teresa of Avila, a woman of great creative powers, as well as a love for Jesus, and also did you know she was a forerunner of mental prayer? A brillant lady full of strong feelings about the need to restore order (and weekly flagellation) to the convents, along with decalceation (a fancy word for the taking off of one's shoes--who knew?). She also was known to levitate during mass, and she often communed with angels, along with her very own beloved invisible Jesus (sort of like a transparent blow-up doll Savior), which from the sound of it she was having rather deep interpersonal connections with.
She was also a writer, at one point heading off in solitude with quill pen in hand for five years. Imagine! And I was feeling guilty for leaving my husband/children for a few weeks to cloister myself from the slings and arrows of sunbutter sandwiches, Chex Party Mix, and the ever-present for a spot (back handspring... Mom?). But since of course Teresa had no husband or children, five years of cranking out the pages was a piece of cake, or make that a golden lance with a spearpoint an angel jabbed into her so many times she began ecstatically moaning (just what is it about saints and self-mutilation, anorexia, and torture?).
As you can see, there's been a party going on this week in the inner sanctum, and that's only the half of it. Stay tuned for some new poems that will leave you with a keen understanding of why the smartest women of the 15th century headed straight for the convent.
In the meantime, I leave you with some words from the great Teresa herself:
To reach something good it is useful to have gone astray. Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul. I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.
Like Anne Sexton, the business of words often keeps me awake. My favorite tulip? Queen of the Night. My poetry books are Blue Positive, What the Truth Tastes Like, and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, and (forthcoming) Reckless Lovely. I also wrote a book of 366 writing prompts, one for every day of the year, with Kelli Russell Agodon: The Daily Poet, curate Beacon Bards, a 2nd Wednesday of the month poetry reading series at The Station in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood, and serve as poetry editor of Crab Creek Review.