Monday, February 4, 2008

Song of the Lotus, February 2008

At dawn I asked the lotus,
"What is the meaning of life?"
Slowly, she opened her hand
with nothing in it.

Debra Woolard Bender 2005
(published by permission Workman Publishing Company in the Smith & Hawken, Secret Garden Calendar, 2006: Month of April page)
First published by permission on Michael Garofalo's "The Spirit of Gardening" website, in the quotes section.

My above poem has been visiting my thoughts recently. Sunday morning, I awoke with stiches and thoughts forming towards one or more stanzas which would be a continuation. The finished piece could possibly be titled, "Song of the Lotus." Maybe not. "White Lotus" might be it.

The verse which follows, and which I wrote Sunday morning, comes from a dream I had several years ago. The dream seemed profound and beautiful, and has remained with me. In it, I was looking up into a dusk sky above my head. I gazed at seven or eight large ovoid bodies, still, pure white living objects (or beings, although, not with bodies like ours). These hovering forms were composed of petal-like shapes that silently transformed by way of folding and unfolding within themselves. Their movement (in my conception when waking) seemed like an elegant and more complex version of the child's origami 'fortune teller' finger game. Luminous, the pendant orbs were lit from within, like benevolent and awesome heavenly lanterns afloat aove the earth. Other people milled about. I wondered if anyone else was seeing them. On awakening, the only descriptive word-thought that entered my sleepily awakening consciousness was "white lotus." Although they were similar, they were also different than lotus flowers. They did look much like the blossom in this picture: White Lotus
And they also resembled, in some ways, the beautiful pendant kit lamps often created by Scandinavian designers, which are formed of geometric patterns and made of paper or plastic, such as these: Pendant lamp 1 Pendant lamp 2 . But the dream-lotus shapes were moving within, serene and living, their internal patterns morphing, shifting in pattern. More intricate and much more beautiful. Following is a verse which came from that dream. I didn't realate the images to death or ask that question in the dream -- but later, on Sunday, contemplating on the poem and the dream, the images, thoughts and questions arose in poem:

At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must I die?"
The white lotus, deepening,
turned into a dream.

or alternatively:

At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must we die?"
Floating away, the lotus (or: Descending, the white lotus)
turned into a dream.

*Lotus blossoms descend into the water at night, and reappear in the morning.


At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must we die?"
White lotus vanished, and all
turned into her dream. (I feel this is the right one)

One of the verses that arose from the thoughts, were these following words, which might become a middle stanza, while further stanzas which may arise later:

Her cup overflows with light:
The cosmos rests in her palm.
When darkness settles on her,
she enfolds the sun.

or alternatively:

Her cup overflows with light:
The cosmos rests in her palm.
When darkness comes, the lotus
embodies the sun.

*both "enfolds" and "embodies" are the right words, but I can use only one.

Written (or rather assembled) from that morning's thoughts, just now:

Receiving that which enters,
She does not grasp to retain;
In the heart of the lotus,
what is ever lost?

Note to reader: Although I write poetry in Japanese genres, and I know that the lotus is a spiritual symbol in Asian religions (and in Hindu and Egyptian religion and mythology), these verses are not written out of any particular religious belief or practice (I'm Christian). They are written from the underwaters within.


qualcosa di bello said...

debi, i am so glad you posted the progression of this & your thinking behind adds a dimension that is so lovely.

i have found your blog to be a poetic oasis of peace & thus i am passing something along to you in honor of what you do... spreadinglove

Debi Bender said...

Debbie, I feel the same about your Piacere blog. I feel there, I've found a kindred soul, and a place in Spirit I would wish to attain. When I first browsed your blog, my heart literally bowed and overflowed, and I said to myself, "What a beautiful spirit she has!" Thank you for the honor you gave me. Would that I could live up to that holiness of life. How creative you are. You are a "Proverbs woman" whose children rise up to call "blessed," and your husband, too.