Grace, turtles and old rockers never get old...

In writing a review of the new book by Scott Cairns (The End of Suffering) I had a chance to go back to his early poetry and came across one of my all time favorites: "On Slow Learning."

If you have ever owned
a tortoise, you already know
how terribly difficult
paper training can be
for some pets.

Even if you get so far
as to instill in your tortoise
the value of achieving the paper,
there remains one obstacle -
your tortoise's intrinsic sloth.

Even a well-intentioned tortoise
may find himself, in his journeys,
to be painfully far from the mark.

Failing, your tortoise may shy away
for weeks within his shell, utterly
ashamed, or looking up with tiny,
wet eyes might offer an honest shrug.
Forgive him.

What a truly homely way of evoking God's great grace for each and all of us, don't you think? "Failing, your tortoise may shy away for weeks... or look up with wet eyes and offer an honest shrug. Forgive him." It always touches my heart. As does this old, old tune by my man John Sebastian: "How Have You Been My Darlin' Children?"

It was part of his gig at Woodstock after he left the Lovin' Spoonful - a group that made me smile and weep and dance my ass off - as they blended jug band music with rock and roll and blues. Apparently, CSN&Y recorded it but never found a way to release it. It, too, evokes that turtle on the Long Island Expressway who hitched a ride on the back of Sebastian's guitar case...

I used to sing this song back in my earnest folkie days playing coffee houses at college - and in church, too - as a way of connecting my sense of our common journey with God's abiding presence and grace. It was a lovely bit of "monkey mind" that led me from Cairns to turtles to Sebastian and God's grace. What fun. Tomorrow I set off for NYC for a seminar - and a visit with the kids in Brooklyn - knowing that the road goes on forever... as do old rock and rollers intoxicated on grace. (I suspect I'll even find myself hummin' "Darlin' Be Home Soon, too, as I miss my dear Dianne while I am away...)


Black Pete said…
Go, and beat your crazy head against the sky...

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