I Don’t Know How I Know This, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

I Don’t Know How I Know This

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Inside the uplift of death—that moment–

When the white doors open

You will fly out of yourself long enough

To fly back into yourself in one terrible

And freeing inhaling exhale.

Daffodils lose their vibrant trumpets

To the sunlight, irises curl in on themselves

And alliums drop their radiating, purple petals to the ground.

Cherry blossoms scatter their thousand, million pink pieces

Of exquisite beauty into a spring wind that rouses

The mind to start moving on those plans laid out in winter,

And you cannot help but stare, and weep with such joy the moment

Uplifts and white doors open, and you fly into yourself

Long enough to fly back out yourself in one orgasmic,

Eternal—breath-catching inhaling exhale.

And when the sidewalks become dusted

In deep pink—so much so you cannot see the gray ground—

White doors open and you fly out of yourself long enough

To never return to the state of unnoticing.

Every moment we build up and break down,

We dissolve, we sag closer to the earth,

Our muscles loosen, our jaws slacken,

And we become like fragile, spring birds long enough

To breathe into ourselves, long enough

To exhale one last time into the air—

Just strong enough to blow open the white doors

And get swept up into the uplift where all the trumpeting

Daffodils wait, where all the irises unfurl

Their sex to the sky, where all the alliums burst

Purple bulbs from their tall, slender stalks, like

Slow motion fireworks—

There you will stay long enough

To bloom the fragrance

Of a life well lived into the ever spring

Of God.

 

 

 


 



Cycle of Gladness, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Cycle of Gladness

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

All winter we shine our little fires

So that the sun may rest,

And we become the light

We need for each other.

 

Come spring, she blooms—

Speaks into our mind: “Thank you.”

And moves closer, warming the world

With her dazzling smile.

 

Come summer, she watches over us

So that we may lose ourselves

In the drifting, sleepy days,

And the evenings when she drapes

The sky with all manner of mingling

Pinks and blues.

 

Come fall, she slowly turns away,

Pulling cool covers around her shoulders,

But not before leaving the trees ablaze with gold,

And not before cherishing the gratitude

Rising from our hearts.

 

 

 


 



20 Alternative, Life-Affirming Activities to Do During Lent, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

20 Alternative, Life-Affirming Activities to Do During Lent

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

There is debate in both pagan and Christian circles as to the origins of Lent, and, as usual, both sides think they’re right.  We know Norse people put ashes on their forehead to protect them from Odin’s more violent moods.  And it’s hard not to notice that Yggdrasil, the World Tree, in Norse mythology, is an ash tree.  We do know Jesus never mentioned Ash Wednesday, nor anything even close.  It was a ritual adopted many centuries later.  We also know that, in most Christian denominations—both Protestant and Catholic, that it’s traditional to “give something up” for forty days. Some people fast from meat.  Other’s treat it sort of like a New Year’s Resolution and deny themselves chocolate, TV, fried foods, and the like.

I propose that Lent be a time of welcoming new things into our lives, of affirming people and things we love and new people and things we want to cultivate love for. The word, “Lent,” simply means springtime.  Why, during such a lavishly abundant time of growth should we refuse ourselves even the simplest of pleasures?  I truly believe that is not what Jesus wants.  I believe he wants us to enjoy “the kingdom of God,” and to share of what we have.  He fasted, yes, so the story goes, but he never said we should do it for forty days.  Early Christian Church leaders were all about encouraging the illiterate flock to deny itself pleasures, to self-flagellate, to perform outrageous acts of penance, and all manner of self-mortifications, while they sat back in their gold-gilded rooms feasting.  It almost became sort of a contest: who can sleep on a bed of nails the longest?  Who can pick the worst self-abusive behaviors for the glory of God?  The body was, after all, sinful.

Well, if we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine, then I say our bodies are sacred and meant to be treated as such.  In light of that, here are twenty suggestions for alternative, life-affirming things we can do for the next forty days.

 

-Commit to doing some kind of act of self-care.

-Accept and celebrate positive things about yourself and others in active, real ways.

-Do something creative every day and then throw a party after that time to culminate the resurrection of (or the evolution of) your creativity.

-Do something kind (and in secret) for someone every day—especially perhaps for those you may not “like,” or who are “different,” than you.

-Take time to expand your understanding of things like feminism, racism, gender studies, white-privilege, etc., and ways to get involved locally and/or globally to help the world.

-Send someone (the same person or different) an email every day with a silly joke or inspirational quote.

-Sing every day–your favorite song, a new song, a silly song, a made-up song—to yourself, in the shower, at work, while walking, to strangers, to friends, to family.

-Try a new food every day and/or share food with someone else.

-Make every effort to sit down with your whole family for dinner.

-Every time you catch yourself thinking something judgmental towards someone, including yourself, reframe that thought into something loving, positive, and compassionate.

-Donate your time and resources to someone or an organization that helps others.

-Read spiritual literature every morning and/or evening.  Or, at very least, read something other than online news—a story, a children’s book, poetry, a biography. You get the idea.

-Take time to learn about different faith traditions with the goal of looking for similarities and places your faiths converge.

-Eat breakfast and/or health(ier) foods.

-Take one little (or big) step towards your dream every day.

-Take a moment to breathe consciously outside.

-Take a moment to notice—really notice—a tree, flower, cloud, a loved one, your own amazingness.

-Throw away, or give away, one thing in your living space that you haven’t touched, noticed, used in ages.

-Inventory your life a little each day.  Ask yourself how you’re doing as a citizen of the world.  Be honest.  No shame.  Just objective self-reflection.  What are you doing well?  Where can you improve?  Are there any amends to make?  And so on.

-Go ahead and eat something you absolutely love.

 

The list is endless and as varied as you.  The point is, instead of Lent being a time of denying things we like and love, we make it a time of embracing what we love in mindful, attentive, fun, and thankful ways.

It might also be fun to have your worship community, your family, your co-workers, and so on—commit to doing one of these affirming activities together and then celebrate the revelations and resurrections of playfulness and appreciation that hopefully would result by doing such a shared ritual.

As the season unfolds, it’s OK to start up a new “Forty Days,” anytime.  It’s OK to celebrate the resurrection of anything that was lost and then found.

And, of course, it is the hope the cultivation of these positive things would extend far after Lent (or at least much longer than most New Year’s Resolutions); that they would become habits, so to speak, or perhaps, continually evolving spiritual practices.

You might be wondering what I have chosen to do this Lenten season.  As of the writing of this post, I have the flu, so I am not committing to anything that puts me in contact with anyone else until I am officially not contagious.  For now, I am committing to telling myself something nice about myself every day.  I also commit to send little messages of appreciation and inspiration to someone different every day.  Look in your inbox.

Have fun.

Happy Lent.

Jenn

 

opening flower

 

 


 

All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you. <3


 

 


The Darker the World Becomes, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Darker the World Becomes

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Winter, I am here.

I should be sleeping, like

The bears and bees, and somewhere

The bats.

 

Yet, I am awake.  And there is

Darkness, and there is cold, and there is

The silencing of snow, and yet,

I am here, awake, and as best I can,

A light, and as best I can—descending.

 

The earth has been compressed—

Seeds and all manner of growing things—

Are pressed deep into the cold ground.

 

I am still walking.  And through

Winter’s necessary darkness, I move,

And as I do, striding with my little light,

The darkness spreads, parts, like curtains,

And with every step, the darkness gives way

Illumined and warming towards spring.

 

This isn’t to say darkness is wrong,

This isn’t to say I am savior or enlightened,

It simply means I am awake, it simply means

I have a job to do, it simply means

My soul is in the right place, it simply means

The darker the world becomes

The brighter I will be.

 

 


 

 

All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you for your loving support.


That Stubborn Superhero, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

That Stubborn Superhero

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Out in nature, which is

To say, in us—it happens

This way:

 

The longest night comes

Filling what little day there is left

With thinly veiled darkness,

That, veil after veil, begins

To cover the day, like

A shawl thrown in slow motion

Over a lamp.

 

After the night has had its run,

It slowly—you’d better believe it—

Shrinks back to a more manageable size,

It contracts as the day exhales,

And with each exhalation, spring,

Moment by seemingly imperceptible

Moment—swells with such joy

It can barely contain itself.

 

And the light begins to coax the darkness

Into slipping away into time and to allow

Itself to grow its slow, wild warmth.

 

We have all gone through darknesses

That seemed to last forever—

At least—I have—when I couldn’t

Believe any light would ever come

Ever, ever, again, and that the abyss

Of not being able to see or hardly move

Would enshroud me forever.

 

If this has ever happened to you,

Or maybe is happening to you

Right now—believe it—spring always

Comes—little by hardly noticeable little

Darkness becomes less and less

And seeds of exhaultation can’t wait

To burst into flowers and tangible light.

 

I am not saying all darkness is bad.

There is a holy darkness, touched

With water and earth, where fireflies

Bedazzle the night, where love-making

Eases us into the sweetest sleep.

 

I am talking about the darkness

That swallows the will and chews it

Practically into nothing.

 

Just as too much light burns,

Too much darkness freezes the soul.

 

So, take my word for it—as someone

Who has been there and is taken there

Against my will every year—the swallowing darkness

Turns and slips away like a receding flood of black ink

Eventually, leaving gardens of survival,

Fragrant with honeysuckle,

And damp with laughter.

 

You’d better believe it,

Or if, like me, sometimes

That is impossible to do–

Pretend to believe it—or even if

That is too hard to do—don’t then–

Because its true regardless:

Never once has the night held captive

The day forever.  Day, that stubborn superhero,

Will break free of night’s weakening grasp,

And soar, ringing through the fields,

Leaving visible hope spreading

Over all the land.

 

tree hope


 

All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you for your support. <3



Of All Things Let Go, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Of All Things Let Go

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

morning snow 2

 

It’s possible to imagine snow

As time silently shrouding

Everything.  It’s possible

To think of snow

As the gradual smoothing

Of all the rough edges;

Sometimes you can

See Lady Winter draping shawls

Over the shoulders of the trees,

And, of course, you can see

Snow as burden, as the laying down

Of funeral blankets on flowers,

It is the great quieter of color

And the crumbler of fruit,

It is the world gone still and

More trudging, yes, and sometimes,

Go out and stand, allow

The cold kisses to touch your face;

Lift your arms and let them

Be blessed with that so uncommon

Feeling of being alive, and watch–

The snow falls from the unseeable sky,

Look– the crystal stars form

On your sleeves, each one

Bestowed with infinity—that alone is enough

To fill one with swooning wonder,

Notice too, how your breath

Issues its swirling ghosts

Of all things let go,

How winter absorbs them

Into herself as the prayers

That they are, and treasures them

Until one day, when she turns

Her great skirts and drifts away

Over the houses and hillsides

Leaving all that was let go

For spring to tend and encourage

With warm hands, their rebirth

Into the sun.

 

 


 

All donations go to medical bills and groceries.  Thank you for your kind support. <3