Sunday, October 4, 2009

Today Is a Gift

Today I rose before the sun, troubled by a nightmare. For the first time I had to put on my winter jacket, which made me sad. I can’t shake this feeling of grief. So much is worth thanksgiving, and I say the prayers, express the gratitude, work the program of sobriety, put out the effort to live with grace my blessed small life.
The writers conference yesterday was a region-wide celebration of language and both the work and art of writing. I took part with a whole heart. Yet fear lay like a rock in my gut, because I had entered my poem “Fire on the Mountain” (see Saturday’s post) in the pre-conference competition. Full of doubt and low self-confidence, I prayed my ass off to accept whatever came of it.
Fear brings adrenaline, both body chemistry and brain chemistry designed for fight or flight. For me, flight is the preferred response. Go hide. Be the deer, fleeing the hunter.
The competition session made me sick with fear. As the genres were announced, my body was the trembling deer. My prayers seemed fragile: Please make me okay with failure. Please grant me a small mention somewhere, an also-ran, a potential contender. And please give me grace to accept the loss, strength to face whatever came down the pike.
Three hundred people filled the auditorium. My entire region of the state was represented, people from as far away as Wisconsin and Washington state. I’m an alcoholic-addict in recovery who writes out of inner need to paint word pictures. I am a small human being, nobody really, and my faith is weak.
The genres were announced, the third-, second-, first-place winners of novel-writing, short-story writing, juvenile writing. It was poetry’s turn. I heard the names called, and they were not mine. Finally, the winning poem’s first line was read.
It was my first line. It was my poem. It was me they called to the podium to read “Fire on the Mountain.”

God had mercy on a flawed and struggling soul. I would have fallen on my knees with thanksgiving and awe if I had the guts. After reading the poem at the podium, I went to the ladies restroom, where I stood among the sound of flushing toilets and wept.

In fear we pray for acceptance and strength, often without a feeling of trust, only terror. But yesterday I learned God hears those cries of our fragile attempts at faith. He knows we’re flawed. I don’t understand His workings. He doesn’t always grant the prize. But I know that faith is not a feeling, and grace is our Creator’s greatest gift.
Finally, Monkey Man, here is my Sunday 160, originally titled "Menopause" but that took it over the space limit:
When her bleeding stopped
the fat roared in
not like a pear
but like an apple
with legs.
It was so grisly
she forgot to mourn
she was too busy eating
eggs to be sorry.

Chris Alba © 2009


Steve E. said...

I'm so impressed that you have given credit to your God, that you are SO grateful.

For that is the truth of it all. God, that genderless spirit, shows us in so many ways, that She is always here, She cares and we ALL are quite well-loved.

PEACE, and congratulations!!!

Monkey Man said...

Congratulations on the recognition. Having read your piece, it was deserving. While these are God given talents, take credit for them and the work you put in.

Madison said...

I agree so wholeheartedly with your statement that faith is not a feeling. You sound like a miracle to me. God is about to take you to places you never dreamed possible. Keep writing and believing.

Karen said...

Congratulations, Chis!!!! You absolutely are a winner, both with that wonderful poem and with you spirit that keeps you striving and trying and holding on. Think about this: there's someone in West Virginia who is beaming with pride for you tonight!

Karen said...

Love the menopause poem, too. I'm still a pear, but more so!!

enchantedoak said...

I owe you all a debt of thankfulness because you've been accepting and supportive of my efforts at blogging. I view all of you with admiration for your devotion to the act of self-expression and your generosity to each other. Not to mention all your talent!
Love, Chris

Monkey Man said...

Great 160. Not too many people are willing to take this on. Don't know how I missed seeing it in my first read of your post. Shame on me. Thank you very much for participating.

big Jenn said...

Wow! Congratulations! You are inspiring, that is the truth.
I don't know a thing about writting or poetry except what I like, and I like yours. It looks like I'm not the only one. Good for you.
I am feeling like an apple myself these days! Thanks for making me smile tonight! jeNN

Tall Kay said...

This made me cry. I can only imagine how you must have felt to go up and read your poem. You are an artist with words...and your gift is touching hearts. God bless you Chris...don't ever stop writing, okay?

Scott W said...

Life changes when I am able to turn over the results. It takes lots of practice, and I never really get there, but it really is the journey and not the destination.

Congratulations. Your God spoke though you and you recognized it.

Shadow said...

congratulations dear girl! must be exhilirating!!! a great poem it is, i've just gone down to read it...

the walking man said...

Congratulations to God for having written such a wonderful piece of poetry. Tell me why again the announced your name?...Oh yeah because you wrote it.

You do know EO that humility is a vanity of sorts, we know well the things of God, there is after all earth, air, fire & water. It is well and good even for them recovering from an addiction to be accepting and proud of a talent well developed.

God knows the works the brain.

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Congratulations! How fantastic and asking for the strength to accept whatever the outcome results in prayers being answered. You are well deserved.

Syd said...

Chris, I am just now reading this. That is so great. And your humility is beautiful. You knew the fear but worked through it all. And came out a winner on the other side. I think that eventually we are all winners if we keep the faith.

PD Singer said...

This is wonderful news! I have reasons of my own for liking the title, but the poem winds so much together. Well done.

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