Many of us have come through a rough year. In this experience we discover how to stay awake, be aware we are still here, acknowledge we HAVE come through, and comfort ourselves. Comfort is always a personal activity made up of childhood, family memories and deeply personal and interior connections. The person who has wronged or harmed you cannot be your comforter but you can learn to comfort yourself. Sometimes it’s better to make new ways to parent ourselves through to kindness. And practice interrupting the negative and ruminating thoughts with lovingkindness however that looks.
Comfort wears something soft
you saved from the goodwill bag,
with a bit of raggedy velvet at the wrist.
Comfort sings a lullaby
or the blues. Maybe she lived
in New Orleans before she came here.
Comfort turns you into a one-note crooning
Southern woman with a voice
full of rain and dirt.
Comfort IS dirt. Good dirt.
Things grow here.
Comfort is rain so hard
you can’t hear your thoughts.
The air blows in fresh
and riverlets happen up
all through the yard
washing everything downhill.
Comfort is seeing 5:00 a.m. on the clock
and knowing you’ve slept all night.
Comfort is dog fur,dog breath, dog warmth
and dog smell. How they connect you
to the Earth they never left
just when your heart is taking off on bat wings
into the darkest part of the cave.
Comfort reminds you there are
people who are saner, kinder, simpler, funnier
who love you and who still come around.
Comfort is reading Rumi and Hafiz,
the old Avila Hotsprings
soaking out weary joints since 1907.
Comfort is Monday coffees by the beach,
and dolphin sightings. Comfort is
and seeing your face
again and again, my friend.
If you are chilled
there is a quilt here for your knees.
See, I have laid us a carpet
of poppies and mountain sage.
Shall we see what compassion has hidden
in the pantry?
Please, my friend,come on in.
This poem was published in an earlier version in If &When Vol. 1. 2013. I wrote it at one of the Veteran writing workshops.
Please let me know if you would like to come to a Writing and Stillness workshop in January..
Roslyn Strohl 2-10-2013 copyright.
It is an honor and delight to have this poem published in If & When journal vol 2 . available in July.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
At night we watched
that dash of fallen sequins
tumble from the sky
that blue black blanketing
the quilting gone awry,
a passage to heaven
a rip in the firm flesh
sharp as the shrapnel
through the dome
the skin and bone
of my grandfather’s head.
Or the inside flash
of my son’s night brain.
The comfort of darkness
is a trillion eyes of grace
needled across the night
when all the little stars above
hold still, don’t fall.
Recently my brother in law passed away. He was just 59. He died of ALS and frontotemporal lobe dementia. It was his sweetness that remained as his essence, as his mind and body slipped. I was honored and silenced to see this, and to watch his daughter tend him nightly, feed him,leave him feeling safe. I want to draw attention to this kind of dementia, but I want also to honor my neice of 26 who mothered her father. Here is my tribute.
The Soul’s Midwife
Coming in to this Earth body
Thick dark hair flowing
Mouthing her first wails
Leaving the warmth
of her Mama’s body,
her brown eyes found his,
green like the ocean
like a field in summer
looking down at her
falling in love.
Isn’t she beautiful? he said.
This is my daughter,
She is so beautiful.
He cradled her,
and sang his first lullaby.
Today, crippled in his Earth body
almost ready to leave
he looks up at her
face glowing with love
Isn’t she beautiful? he asks.
She is my daughter,
she is beautiful, he says.
She spoons his food gently for him
He opens his mouth like a baby bird.
His green eyes are full of trust.
He knows she will see him safely through,
midwife his soul’s passage.
This is my beautiful Jessica,
he repeats, like a lullaby that calms him,
She is my daughter.
A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist;
he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist.
This means that in order to be a good doctor a man must also have a good character, that is to say,
whatever weaknesses and foibles he may have, he must
love his fellow human beings in the concrete and
desire their good before his own.
– W. H. Auden
We are both the narrator and the main character of our stories.
Share a new perspective. Small group format. Offered monthly.
This month bring a 5 min reading of prior work to share if desired. No critique.
Where: Coastal Peaks Roasters, 3536 S. Higuera, Suite 150, San Luis Obispo
Times: Sunday,Feb10th, 2013, 12-2 p.m.
Other: Group will be lead by Roslyn Strohl, M.A., LMFT and Lani Steele, Ph.D. Both Roslyn and Lani have Veteran family members and experience in writing, teaching and mindful practice. Coastal Roasters donates the space. Food and coffee for sale.
In this quiet setting of a traditional therapy hour or hour and a half, you can reach a level of reflection and trust that reenlivens a belief in your own imagination and character. No fancy tricks, just deep presence and reflective conversation. From honesty with one self in a supported environment, courage and resolution can arise and become action.
The office is 20 minutes South of San Luis Obispo. Right by the office is a lovely walk along the Bob Jones trail ending at Avila. Close by, the Sycamore Hot Springs offer soaking pools and massage if you need to extend your reflection or self care.