Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mulching Season

My brother wrote this poem about me the other day on his blog:


Your faith weighs heavy on me
but in conversation
it never comes up. So rude
to raise the issue. So rude
to presume my revelation is true. Knowing
how accomplished and complicated
your mind. Similar to old culinary
decisions: yes to peas and carrots,
no to liver and onions, this one yes,
that one no. So long now decided.
How strong, how real to you
this same god I knew a lifetime ago.
I love you, and I love
that I'm not a lost cause. You ignore
the more irritating mandates and
display the benefits like a clear analogy.
My skepticism does not require
to convert, to witness. My system
says I know no truths. Your life
so unlike mine and still we share blood,
the same language of childhood
prayers and the shorthand of
growing up together. This being
another distance between us
like the very real America, yet
on the hardest days we talk
through satellites and wires
and your words lift me, like
songs, and I am grateful.

Like most poems, I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm like a bee, hitting my little head against the glass repeatedly, never tasting the sweet nectar of the flowers on the other side of the pane.I'm a confused little beastie, with a bruised noggin and little to show for it.

In simpler, less overwrought terms, I suck at reading poetry. I'll occasionally read my Plath, my Cummings, my Collins, and appreciate it, but the moment is fleeting. I like easy answers and immediate results too much to dissect each line, like an archeologist brushing away ancient dirt with a toothbrush.

And yet, I fight this instinct to read my brother's thoughts. He writes about love, family, life, technology, fears, and goals, arranging words and phrases like one of those Tibetan monks creating a mandala out of sand. It's astonishing. It's brave. It's worth my effort to understand. And not just when it's about me---check out his blog for yourself.

In regards to his entry about me (because, in the end, it's always about me!), my only comment is this: I think that Jesus  made an additional commandment, which is: Don't be an asshole.

Whenever I share my life with others, I keep these four words near and dear to my heart. I'm quite happy believing what I believe. I have a little balloon of hope right beneath my heart, that keeps me focused, humble, and ever-so-grateful.

And, I like to think I'm an open book. If people want to talk to me, I'm open to discuss it. But I'm not going to tele-market my faith, making cold calls from an evangelistic call center. Respecting people's fears, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs---that is the very definition of not being an asshole.

It's kinda like mulching. The "mulch volcano" is a popular gardening strategy out here. People think it looks nice.

Yet, excessive over-mulching causes the roots to grow into each other, actually killing the tree:

So, I guess I feel sharing one's religious views is like mulching the land. It's a very good thing, and it creates lots of growth. That is, unless, it is done in a thoughtless or overzealous fashion.

I don't believe in creating deadly mulch volcanoes of faith, slowly suffocating my friends in dogma. Rather, I hope (and pray) that the examples I share and the life I lead helps nourish my own garden, and the gardens of those I love.

And oh! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOM. I love you, dear brother.


won said...


Great post Nancy. I keep thinking about unconditional love. Not exactly sure it's relevant here, but that is what is in my head nonetheless.

I appreciate your thoughts.

Enjoy your day.

Nancy Campbell said...

Thanks. I agree that unconditional love is the greatest gift out there---and I know that my brother and I share that love, regardless of personal philosophies or life experiences.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Corrie Howe said...

Beautiful! All of it. Your love and relationship for your bother. His for you. You're analogy about sharing what you believe.

Melani said...

well I suck at reading poems, too! But I do sense your brother does have a tremendous amount of love for you and that in itself is wonderful!