"Hon," said my husband gently but pointedly, "you're an incarnational being."
Quite frankly, I don't think much of incarnation. Mine, that is. Since I was very young, I have resented being forced to be contained in a physical structure that (like everyone else's) limits and distracts the mind. "After all," I've often growled heavenward, "with all the eternal truths and possibilities the human spirit is capable of comprehending and conceiving, why does it have to be chained to a body that has such needs to be constantly coddled--a distraction at best, and a roadblock all too often!?! One would think that with Your potential You could've at least designed a good practical stainless steel exterior! Would have been much more efficient!"
But Kathleen Norris, in her book Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work", reminds us that meaning in life, as in poetry, is contained most often not in grand epiphanies and explications, but in corporal objects and activities--the stuff of the commonplace:
We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look (in)...unlikely everyday places...Although artists and poets have not been notoriously reverent in the twentieth century...the aesthetic sensibility is attuned to the sacramental possibility in all things. The best poetic images, while they resonate with possibilities for transformation, are resolutely concrete, specific, incarnational.
She's right. The best poetry consists of specific, concrete images that embody forth meaning rather than explaining it. You leave the poem conscious that something has changed within you, some new window opened into understanding, even if you're not yet able to put it into words. The best lives do the same thing.
I hesitate to use the word "we", but given that the majority of people who frequent cyberspace are iNtuitives (naturally preferring to view life through the lens of possibility) and that the majority of those iNtuitives are Introvered (preferring to focus on the reality of the inner world rather than the outer), I bet I'm not alone in my frustration at not being able to achieve in the outer world everything of which I can conceive, at not even being able to achieve that to which I'm obligated, for that matter! We grumble. We snarl. We kick the baseboards. We reach for Twinkies to gnash our teeth upon.
Yesterday I gave up. Mentally and emotionally drained by self-imposed obligations to make something of life, to measure up to my own grand desires in that regard, I managed only the most basic of household necessities, the humblest of chores. Dishes. Laundry. A Meal. Sweep the Floor. A Brief Time Outside. Another Meal. Brush My Daughter's Hair. Bed.
And today is better for it. A window slowly opens.