Ice Cream with Sally

John's Beloved Grandparents, Sally and Warren (with Anna) in NY


I asked you, Sally, as ice cream dripped from the spoon,
If it tasted good.
“Are you kidding?” you said. “This stuff is the best.”
I lifted the spoon to your mouth.
A vanilla tear fell on your shirt.
But you didn’t see.

A faint spark
As if you’re straining
To remember
As if, for a moment
You do.

I lift the spoon to your mouth,
one more time.
You pucker around a peach.
Chewing, thinking,
or not thinking.

You are empty
And you are full.
I put the spoon down.

With you I am empty.
digesting this new awareness,
And letting it fill me.


When God is Absent

I can't resist putting up another Bloom quote. This one is nourishing:

"The day when God is absent, when He is silent--that is the beginning of prayer. Not when we have a lot to say, but when we say to God, 'I can't live without you. Why are you so cruel, so silent?' This knowledge that we must find or die--that makes us break through to the place where we are in the Presence. If we listen to what our hearts know of love and longing and are never afraid of despair, we find that victory is is always there on the other side of it."

An Unsaintly Moment

In Beginning to Pray, Met. Anthony Bloom gave this advice to a young person who had been praying for hours and hours at a time but felt that he couldn't bear to keep it up any longer:

"There are moments when you can tell God 'I simply must have a rest. I have no strength to be with you all of the time,' which is perfectly true. You are still not capible of bearing God's company of all the time. Well, say so. God knows that perfectly well, whatever you do about it. Go apart, say for a moment, 'I'll just have a rest. For the moment I accept to be less saintly.'"

Grocery Store Fantasies

So, I'm up at 6 on Sunday morning, and have been up for the past two hours because some kindly neighbor decided to set off fireworks at 4. When I heard the explosions I was in a deep sleep and imagined that somebody was trying to break in with dynamite.

So now I'm on the porch swing, listening to dozens of birds calling to each other, feeling oddly grateful for that neighbor. It was sweet (after the initial shock this morning) to wake with the day. And everytime I think of last night's dream, I chuckle.

So here goes: I was at a store which was something like Stanleys (a top-notch low cost North Side produce store) only this wasn't the Stanley's I know and love. Instead, it was a whole new Stanley's which was small but (get this!) featured every single exoctic pregnancy food I crave at unbeatable prices.

So I was walking through the store, chucking things in my cart. I might have been humming, "Yippidi do-dah, yippidi-eh, my oh my what a wonderful day," but the details are fading fast. I know, however, that the Stanley's of my fantasies had every manner of swiss milk chocolate, Elderflower Press, Salt and Vinegar Chips and Sour Patch Kids.

Although I blush to recount this dream, I must say, to my credit (if there is any credit left to be given) the dream had one odd twist: I came home and my neighbor Penny had left three cartons of broccoli on the back porch, with a note that said, "Just back from the Farmer's Market. First broccoli of the season. Help Yourself." So I nibbled a little of the broccoli and it was the sweetest, tastiest, I'd ever encountered. And then I thought to myself, "I can't believe I missed the broccoli at the Farmer's Market, and I already went this week. Is it okay to go twice?"