When it's over, I want to say: All my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.~Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, died this week. Her voice resonates with me as often her poetry reflects a deep connection with nature and love's resilience as we travel this side of eternity.
This week, too, I watched a BBC Masterpiece Theater production about the Brontë sisters, To Walk Invisible. The film reminded me that art is not magically produced inside a perfect environment. Art is created alongside the messiness of life and feeding the dog. Amid heartache and dreary weather, self-doubt and loneliness. Charlotte, Emily and Anne often stole out to the lavender-tinged moor next to their home for walks and to work out their insecurities and longings regarding submitting their novels and poems for publication. When their works were eventually published, each wrote under a male pseudonym. For years, no one knew that their work was created by a trifecta of female genius. The sisters were hidden. Invisible. Yet they kept writing, and this gorgeous literature manifested inside a life of poverty and the disconsolation of a brother who could not transcend the demise and disease of alcoholism. I wondered what the Brontë sisters could teach me about not giving up on creating art.
I believe the sisters kept a rhythm that art requires. In between scrubbing the floorboards and kneading dough, they would break from their chores, light a lamp and write at the kitchen table. When Charlotte questioned their aspirations to continue creating poems and stories, Anne said, "Oh, Charlotte, I never feel more alive than when I'm writing." They sat on the sunlit moor grasses and recited their poems to one another, finding time to connect with nature. They remained amazed, taking the world into their arms. And now who doesn't know Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey almost two centuries later?
I want to keep a rhythm, too, as the Brontë sisters did. I will go to the grocery store and wash the clothes. I will take a walk by the sea, the color of sapphires. And then I will go into my study, light a candle and write. I will rub my fingers over the latticework of veins, like delicate blue vines, when I hold my husband's warm hand. "I will write about this," I say. "I will write about love." I echo Anne's words," I never feel so alive as when I write." Oh, God, keep me married to amazement, taking the world into my arms. Writing things down.