Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Beauty and the Beast" with Shoes

I love this movie--the Disney version.  The music, the characters, the animation.  I like the message (as my grand daughter explained--I like the Beast best because he learns how to love and that's the most important thing).

And we were cuddled together on the couch watching the movie which was great for two reasons: most important was the cuddling, but a close second was that it gave me a chance  to rest from running up and down the slope in the backyard without admitting ...well, you know, granma not so good at the whole running up and down thing anymore.

And yet, and yet, Belle misses her whole town as she walks through the morning bustle with her nose in book.  Everything. No freshly baked baguettes, she doesn't see all the little kids clustered around their frazzled mother, sheep nuzzle her while she sits by the fountain and reads and she seems unaware of their soft noses, their lanolin greased wool.... (Though I guess missing out on the sheep aroma might be on the positive side of the ledger.)

Belle is wearing shoes and doesn't touch the ground.  She wants more than her little provincial town; she knows "there must be more than this."

There is, of course, and she finds it: enchanted castle, a prince hidden inside the body of a beast, danger, courage, and true love.

I still tear up at the ending, when all is lost and unexpected grace and the power of love bring that leap of joy, the fairy tale twist that breaks your heart.  The Beast is brought back to life because he has learned to love and because Belle has learned to see beyond appearance (though he does turn into the rather boring handsome prince).

So what?   Why do I (over) analyze this beautifully animated, happy ending Disney movie? I think it's because I've spent so much of my life nose in a book, a head full of dreams, and feet that don't touch the ground.  I love words, the play of them, the sounds, the elusiveness.  Imagination: dragons that ride the wind, Frodo destroying the Ring, glittering unicorns glimpsed in the night.  Remembering.  My babies. The taste of grape Popsicles. My dad carrying me in from the car when I pretended to be asleep.  My mother reading to me, on chapter of the Bible everynight (except of course the "begats."  We skipped those.)

But so much is lost.  I read while nursing my babies.  How many times was I so lost in a book, in writing, that I didn't see anything around me, didn't hear what was said?

And yet--here I am.  Writing about being barefoot on the ground. Imaging this piece finished.  How to end it.

Wondering what you will think.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Small Things that Have No Words

This is the 5th blog I've started since April.  If you're reading it, well, I actually finished it. I hope you're reading it because I'm getting tired of me and my apparent inability to finish anything I start writing.

  I found my raggedy old Golden Book of Prayer's for Children the other day.   It's missing the covers, some of the pages, and is well embellished with my five year old's artwork.  (I loved to draw angels.)

But I found the page with my favorite prayer, which is by that prolific writer anonymous.

Dear Father, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds,
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words.

Small things that have no words. Even at five I knew the world overflowed with small things that had no words.  Kittens, especially kittens in the rain, babies like my brother who could only cry which hardly counted as words, the mice no one wanted, stray dogs...the world was full even then.

"Thy beasts and singing birds." Well, there was never a shortage of (ant covered) dead birds lying around and we killed animals for our dinners.  The chickens that came from the store in those days looked like chickens and had eggs inside them.  Pickled pigs feet were a dead giveaway on their origin.

I didn't put it into words exactly, well-raised little Christian girl that I was, but I had the strong sense that  Father was a bit behind in his work.  It was with an aching hope but very little optimism I said my prayer.

Time has passed.  I'm 59 years over the age of five.  I've learned enough to know that if the grass hurts when I walk on it, there's nothing I can do. Kittens die in the rain, at the hands of budding serial killers, and at the pound--and there's nothing I can do about it and I can't adopt them all.  There's always a poet dying down the road and there's always a lovely young body having a pint of pus removed (J.D. Salinger).  Someone's celebrating a victory and someone's child just got blown into a puzzle that can never be put back together again.

There's love of course which puts our broken pieces back together again and again. Which gives us hope in this world which is so notably lacking in tenderness.

But my prayer gave me another gift, one which has never tarnished and has given broken wings to grief and flamed this world with beauty.


The rhythm, the beat: Dear father hear and bless. Ta dum, ta dum, ta dum.

Thy beasts and singing birds.  Not animals, BEASTS.  Beasts and singing birds.

What words can do.

Guard with tenderness small things that have no words.  Small things that have no words....

Small things without words are given a voice.  There may be no tenderness for these small things but the prayer gives them a voice, gives the frail wishes of our hearts a shape and a being.

Words can be powerful

The world lacks tenderness and small things hurt and die.  But with words we can hope, we can imagine, we can be entranced with beauty, seduce and be seduced by.


We may fail words but words do not really fail us.

Small things that have no words.

But we do.

Amen. Amen.