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A Dance in the Sky

 


John Weber has been a presence in my life since 1954, our high school years. Even in his absences he has been present. This new book contains my memories of presence with him. The writing took me all that time. Even while I was veiled, a Catholic Sister in a convent, I wrote poetry inspired by him. Even while I was married to Pat Kelly, my first husband after leaving the convent, I wondered where John might be. And when Pat died, I thought I could feel John’s presence coming nearer every day. And sure enough, one day a few months later John came to find me.
 

I had written of him in journals and seen him in dreams, then suddenly, in 1985, he was standing right before me in a Minnesota coffee shop. He was saying, “You are exactly the same,” and lifting me high and higher while both of us were laughing with the magic of it all, the miracle. We seemed to be dancing in the sky. 

We joined our lives, married for twenty-three years, and then he died in 2008. I kept writing. All of it. A book, though, is more than just the writing of a life. I had to find a tone, a rhythm for the dance. It took another twelve years for that. But here it is.

 

I’m grateful to announce the publication of A DANCE IN THE SKY, A Memoir. It is the second volume in a series titled Three Husbands. (The third volume is still in the realm and form of experience). You can find volume 2 at Amazon.com in both paperback and kindle formats. Or you can order it from your local bookstore.

For your enjoyment I’ve included a little scene from 1958 when John and I were first aware of our love, but both of us were already committed to a different kind of life–he was signed up for a career in the Air Force, and I was already accepted to enter a Roman Catholic Convent. He was 18 and I was 17 years old.

It is a Friday night in spring, and John has shown up for the Teen Club dance at the Moose Lodge. He’d never attended before, and my heart knows he has come that night because I will be there. We dance. I leave with him. In memory I am walking down the hill with John towards the Baudette Bay. We turn the corner and walk alongside the bay all the way to my home. The air smells of wet leaves. I’m an April crocus. I’m water pressing under river ice, flowing towards the lake, breaking winter from beneath. Nothing can stop this movement. It is the attraction that moves the stars. I catch his eye.

He gazes at me–in the classroom, at Mass, from the Plymouth cruising down Main Street. When I walk beside him I am safe; I am who I am; I find myself; I feel the warmth of him even without a touch. He is John. He is God. How can there be any difference? My mind tells me there is certainly a difference, and I am moving towards danger. ‘You be careful!’ my mind warns. ‘If you really do intend to answer God’s call, you will have to leave this boy and soon. Don’t fall in love; it will be too hard.’ But it is too late. I am in love already.” 

I hope to meet you in these pages. You can purchase the book at Amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/author/christinweber

Christin

 

A Memoir of Early Childhood

Just before Christmas 2019 a box filled with  copies of my newest book arrived at my door. Here it is! A book of stories from my early childhood when I was Mary Jane Lore and my world consisted in the boundary waters of Minnesota and Ontario, Lake of the Woods,  at my grandparent’s fishing resort. I am one of the few people who remembers these places as they were in those days, 1940-1948, or who collected the stories of  the olden days before my birth when even grandparents had been young.

A few years ago I began to go through old pictures given to me by my Grandmother Elizabeth Klimek and by her eldest daughter, my Aunt Eva Mapes. One picture at a time I took from bags or boxes and pondered, smiling or weeping but always remembering. Then I wrote the story of the person or place depicted. In the writing I let myself enter the little girl Mary Jane’s experience as a three, four, or five year old–those flashes of memory that seem permanently sealed upon my heart and mind. Woven among those episodes and images the now much older writer in me, Christin, followed their trail to where it faded into forgetfulness or was lost altogether. The crumbling of houses and landscapes. Development of something new. Death of the old and then the death of those who remembered them.

At first I recorded these stories and descriptions in another blog by the same name as the book. Then as I kept getting older and saw my grand nieces and nephew being born and already older than I was when I experienced this life and land, I began to think it needed to be a book that the Klimek and Lore families could hold in their hands. And then I thought of the place, Baudette, Minnesota and Lake of the Woods County for which these stories are part of history. And then I thought of old people I’ve known all my life–how they enjoyed telling the stories of their past.

When my grandmother told me stories I enjoyed it and could see that she enjoyed it, too. But what I have experienced now that I didn’t appreciate as a child is the absolute pleasure of storytelling, especially for the elders among us. The joy is this: we return in memory to places and people that no longer can be found anywhere on earth. Every time the story is repeated we find ourselves in that place among that company. That entire world is resurrected in our minds. What could be more glorious than realizing that even in the sad stories, the painful ones, being there again is good. My Aunt Edith from the Lore family told me many stories about my Grandma Klimek from years before I existed. When Edith was a teenager she worked at the resort and my grandmother was her boss. And every time Edith told the story while I visited her (over and over and over) her characterization of Grandma differed just a bit. It was growing. She actually was redeeming my grandmother as she re-imagined the story. She also was redeeming her perspective on that time of her own life when she saw the content of an experience far more and more clearly than its context. She became more compassionate as the story of my grandmother and her boss developed. And every single time she insisted on her memory’s accuracy and that her story was absolutely true.

It is the task of age to integrate the person’s entire life. A memoir unlike autobiography gathers together the truths stored in the heart more keenly than in the mind. It is a compassionate view of life. We attempt to get the facts right, but ultimately that isn’t the goal. A memoir records a person’s attempt to bring wholeness to memories from a limited time of life. And while it doesn’t deny the wounds inflicted by all sorts of violence, a memoir searches into even the most painful time until it can lean towards understanding and compassion.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com, only in paperback. It is full of pictures as well as stories which made a Kindle ebook a bit beyond my skills.

Inspiration from Alla Renée Bozarth

Here is one of my favorite pictures of Alla. She’s in her yard at Wisdom House where flowers grow in abundance. She and I go way back. Let’s see: 46 years? I do believe that’s the correct number. We first met in my apartment in St. Paul, not long after I left the convent and she was ordained an Episcopal priest in a ceremony in Philadelphia that made the history books. That day at my apartment she sat on the living room floor (I had no furniture yet) and performed one of her most famous poems for me, “Bakerwoman God.” We went on from that moment to become deep and loving friends. She has been present with me at virtually every profoundly life-altering moment.
Just after another life-altering event, she arrived by way of my inbox in the form of a poem that resulted from the State of the Union address for 2020. In her characteristic way of finding the meaning in even the most confusing and maddening circumstances, she had written a message straight from the heart of wisdom, a combination poem, meditation, and priestly sermon that she’s given me permission to share with you.
Opposite Day
Is when a man who calls women
of purpose “feminazis” receives
the Medal of Freedom from a man
who brags about grabbing women’s
birth-giving parts for fun,
and when someone who respects
freedom and women is vilified
for speaking up (finally) against
injustices and wrongdoings
at the top, while others who are
worn out from doing so
forget themselves and
slip from their normally rational
and respectful positions
to use the extremist
language of the unjust
against them.
Bear up.
This day will be over
soon.
Not soon enough,
we think or say,
but still, soon.
Compared to the lifetime
of a river or the ocean,
soon. From inside human time,
not soon enough. But still
we need to, more than ever,
practice our principles and
keep our dignity and virtue,
even and especially when
they are opposite from
the new norms of vulgarity.
And did I mention cruelty?
We have to oppose cruelty
by practicing kindness
so that we can consistently
address it effectively
to where it is most needed~
and for as long after that
as we are alive.
We have to have faith
in the power of a good example,
even when the bullies ridicule us
or the bullets threaten us.
We have to remember how easy it is
to be so frustrated that we become
bullies ourselves, and hold ourselves
to those checks and balances
which we so value.
Even when the bullies seem to win,
even when they gloat with glee
as they count their profits,
we are not losers as long as we
listen to our own best prophets,
keep true to our values and sustain
and protect the blueprint for restoration
after they have set fire to the wonderful world
that we used to share.
There will always be malcontents
who insist on trying to improve on perfection,
and thereby ruin things that were actually
working, and are still needed at home
and worldwide.
Without those many good things
now destroyed out of vanity,
know it or not, we all suffer.
Those who profit by the exploitation
and neglect of others may suffer when
the bridges they drive on daily
collapse under them.
Or the tainted water
which even they drink
poisons them.
So encourage more and more of us
to carry on and stay the course.
Life is for more than wishes
and whens. Life is for living
the best ways we can with each other,
with the most integrity we have,
and maybe a little bit more than usual
in violent and challenging times.
Every single day,
God bless us and them,
and Amen.
Alla Renée Bozarth
For the work in progress,
Quartet, Part One, Swinging Over the Edge of the World,
Copyright © 2020.


Woman Priest Dancing


Writing on the Oregon Coast

John and I spent a few stormy days on the Oregon Coast last week. My hope was to work on my new novel which I started almost a year ago after publishing CHIARA REFLECTIONS, poetry from the heart of Clare of Assisi. Still in the grip of poetry and also of my experience of writing my novel, WIDOW’S WALK, I easily fell into an intuitive style of composition. As soon as my creative function was convinced about my intention not to plan ahead–to have no outline, no sense of plot or theme, nothing but a kind of inner space, something awoke in me. She was an old woman, a hermit, with dreams and memories and a deep question about her life that she never had resolved. 
At the coast I opened the document to the 172 pages I’d written in the past six months. So far, so good–even though I still didn’t know quite where I was headed. I had followed through on the intuitive process and remain excited over where it had taken me from that first day in the springtime of 2019 to where I found myself and my fictional characters now at the beginning of 2020. 
The old woman whose name turned out to be Ella, already in the first chapter wonders about her mother. She ponders…
She walked where land is flat. She wrapped her wind-blown hair in a kerchief, waiting out the war. She held my hand. The river emptied into Wood Lake at Four Mile Gap. We searched the beach for arrowheads and chunks of pottery left by the Originals. She told stories of olden days. We sat underneath a paper birch tree and she gazed out to water’s end where, in the evenings, sunlight turned to topaz then to garnet and made her cry. She drew up her knees and bent her forehead down to rest on them. Her sobs were flights of birds. “Mama, Mama,” emerged from me like the mewing of our banished cat. I used the wings of her birds to make my way inside her to investigate the branches of her soul. I opened the gates of her deep red heart and went inside where echoes of her sobs bounced off my mind like puff balls from milkweed. “I cannot, I can Not,” the milkweed puffs sang like baby birds born and trapped inside me. Her knees could no longer hold her head and all her body was a puppet when fingers release the strings. She collapsed and came apart around me. Oh!
Mother slept in her tears and with my most gentle finger I one by one gathered every drop and placed it on my tongue where it would become a part of me and stay through all my years.
Why did she cry? What could she not? Is there anyone…? No one? None? I could not and so I knew her at the very least that much. For years I hoped someone could, but then she began to keep a gun in the top drawer beside her bed and I knew.
Distance for her was absolute.

I know this: I will continue.
Christin Lore Weber
copyright, 2019

My First Book of Poetry

In this life I’ve not travelled much outside North America. Go deep, an inner voice instructed, and so I let that happen first on the boundary waters of Minnesota and Ontario, and then in a convent beside the Red River of the North. In the middle of life I uprooted myself and came to be transplanted on the Pacific Coast. Later I would make a few short trips to England and Ireland. I never travelled far from the waters of earth, and water became a mirror from which soul might reflect.
“Our years are seventy, and eighty if we are strong,” the Hebrew Scriptures say. And I was in my seventh decade before I traveled with my new husband, author John R. Sack, to Italy to celebrate our marriage with a pilgrimage to the holy places of St. Francis and St. Clare. He had written an historical novel set in the era just after the death of Francis, a book which had brought the two of us together in what he calls our wisdom years. And in 2011 we wanted to walk the paths that Francis walked and to visit the convent of San Damiano in Assisi where Clare had lived.
Although I had connections with women in Minnesota who followed the Rule of St. Clare and lived lives of enclosure, I hadn’t entered a Franciscan convent myself. I had, however, considered it as early as my twelfth birthday. I received a book from the Franciscans of Little Falls, Minnesota, explaining the Franciscan way of life, but the Sisters in the town where I lived were not Franciscan, and they were the Sisters I knew, loved, and joined. Consequently, I was not prepared for what happened to me in Assisi.
In Assisi I met Chiara—Clare’s name engraved in Italian on the statue honoring her in the cathedral there. I truly have no way to describe how this happened. I can describe the places John and I visited, the stories we were told, the landscapes, caves, and churches—the worn stones on which these people once walked. Something of them, Francis and (in her Italian language) Chiara, remains alive there, and it shook me to my core. It burned in my heart. I entered a cave, touched a stone, knelt in a small chapel, stood on the stone stairs in San Damiano and something so powerful took hold of me, over and over it took hold, making even simple breath a whirlwind. “What am I going to do?” I fell into John’s arms and wept. This thirteenth century woman had grasped my soul with an intensity too great for me, but she wouldn’t let me go.
Back in Oregon we dedicated our home to her.
And now, these poems.
Sometimes I watch her; sometimes she speaks in her own voice to me. The poems came through me in both third and first person, but all of them are reflections of Chiara as I bent back towards her, as I gazed. Her spiritual teacher from childhood was a man from her own town of Assisi, Francis Bernardone whose imprint on his town, his country, his church, and the entire world’s history remains. Francis and Chiara of Assisi have been relevant in every era up to our own. And back in the thirteenth century the young woman named Chiara left her home to join Francis and his dream of living exactly as Jesus of Nazareth had lived—an authentic Christianity. And Chiara loved him, loved both of them—Jesus the Christ and the poor man, Francis of her own home town.
Both Francis and Chiara lived extraordinary lives. Both were mystics burning with divine love. This love united them and it was in this love that they recognized each other. Despite stories and movies to the contrary, I don’t believe they ever had a sexual relationship nor desired one. All love of that sort was burned in a divine and universal fire and transformed into the very love of God, so profoundly that their love for one another became identical with their love in and for God.
In my journal I wrote: Here’s what I know about Clare’s yearning. In the museum below Santa Chiara Cathedral in Assisi is an alb made of lace which she made for Francis. I can’t remember how many years she worked on it. It’s like spider webs, fine, almost falling apart now even behind the glass. Something about that lace holds a fierce yearning, one she believed she shared with Francis. Was the union in the simple understanding that someone in this world experienced a yearning as intensely as did she? Such yearning cannot be mingled, I think. It is solitary. But just knowing that someone else experiences such infinity of longing causes love. As though the lace were a language of the soul to say, “I want to veil the profound darkness in you with these webs of white lace, something of light, so that you do not succumb to your desperate aloneness, so that you do not give way to a belief that darkness is all there is, but that having finally touched the deepest fields of night, even there you will realize that there is yet More, there is a fullness opening to you, an endlessness that not only fills you completely, but is what you are. And it is Light. It is Love.”
Maria Popova writes, “Even the farthest seers can’t bend their gaze beyond their era’s horizon of possibility, but the horizon shifts with each incremental revolution as the human mind peers outward to take in nature, then turns inward to question its own givens. We sieve the world through the mesh of these certitudes, tautened by nature and culture, but every once in a while—whether by accident or conscious effort—the wire loosens and the kernel of a revolution slips through.”
From time to time I wonder if these mystics, Chiara and Francis, found their way through the mesh of certitude to glimpse truths beyond their era’s horizon, truths that science only recently would discover, or that a psychology of self-integration would realize.  Chiara, herself proclaimed a saint by the church she both loved and challenged during her life, was a woman who claimed her womanhood and the freedom it accorded her. She was the first woman to establish a religious community of women living according to a structure and rule she herself designed. Up to then nuns lived according to rules written by men such as St. Benedict and St. Augustine. The Poor Ladies of San Damiano lived according to the Rule of Chiara. She petitioned Rome again and again to approve her plan. And she didn’t die until the Pope finally agreed. Already, though, groups of “Poor Clares” had come together across Europe. In Bohemia the woman, Agnes of Prague, a royal woman betrothed to the Emperor Frederick II, chose instead to follow Chiara and establish a group of Poor Clares in her own country. The letters between Chiara and Agnes along with the unique Rule and Testament have formed the basis of study, spiritual enlightenment and women’s rights even to this present day.
We humans rarely if ever know what we set in motion simply by living our lives and making what choices we can.
These poems are the product of prayer and contemplation. They are historical only in the broadest sense. I hope, however, they remain true to the spirit of Chiara even while their details are mostly images derived from my own imagination. (from the Introduction)

You can purchase this book by ordering it from your local bookstore or by going directly to Chiara Reflections

EVIDENCE



Work begins in the intersection of night and day; in darkness. Material life tumbles out onto me. Heavy life. How can I carry it? How bear it, aching? “I am overwhelmed,” I complain to John as he plans his garden, soon to be added to our care. I imagine vegetables tumbling into sinks, soil everywhere, choking the spaces, taking the time, burying us in tangles of vines, clumps of rot, bubbling pots of produce, the heat of summer kitchen when already we have too much. I have too much. I’m bent under the too much. Dust collects on books, on trinkets, keepsakes. I can’t breathe due to the weight of it. It is a grave.
Tucked into crannies wait the refuse of past years. 1985. I find an expanding file of letters, cards, clippings, while searching for fragments of time with Marieher poems, snatches of words collected before we had e-mail and the pulse of life in my mind flowed through a pen onto paper. The press of pencil or pen onto the page carried the life of the person’s hand. The length of a line carried across the page before the hand released and lifted. Death has taken the bodies of the people who held the pen, but their lives remain in the lines.
How can I rid myself of such evidence? How can I live underneath it? Here is a letter from someone named Michele. Lines bend beneath her feelings. My eyes touch the lines like fingers touching her skin, tracing a path of tears down her face. She left my life almost fifty years ago, but the letter remains. It is a relic. It has power. One only letter such as this could be framed and worshipped as a fragment left behind of God.
Creation requires space. Even burial under beauty, under love, under food will choke out life, will suffocate. But each fragment pleads to remain, to be.

The Word is Life

If I could bring to you through words
Everything that can be seen,
Felt, held, imagined, envisioned, danced, sung,
 And all the other ways we know the world
The Mystery that holds that world and worlds infinite,
I would.
If I could find a word,
But that word would need to reach into the unending depths
Of the multiverse.
 It would need to echo into the unknown and unnamed.
So all my life, the form of it,
Became a search for words,
The contemplation of each one,
The stringing them upon the thread of intuition,
The hope that together they will ring like bells.
These are my books.
These are what I give
In hopes that the frequency of their sound will reach you
Wherever you might be in time and space
And where you might be beyond.
These are my books,
That no matter the topic or the genre of each one,
I hope will open you and move you
Into vastness of the ordinary,
Eternity of the moment,
Fullness of life
That also can be found in your each breath,
In your every word spoken, written, and received.

Leave A Message

Dawn at Sunshine Hill

It is January of a new year I hope to keep from breaking my heart. What choices can I make in this ambiguous world? Early in the month the nightmares came, the quaking in the deep reaches of the soul, the cries of something caught—imprisoned there. Of wings breaking against bars. It was the world struggling in the dark. It was the song of freedom caught in a paralyzed throat. From deep in the world’s soul I have sensed the unending yearning to sing, to fly, and I have felt the quaking behind closed doors, impenetrable walls, the paralyzed will.
I hesitate to put this into words.
We of this world have now been taught the stranglehold on life itself, on truth, on goodness, beauty and the unity of being that once we knew to be our destiny. We recognized it from the way it mirrored the depth in us. Each morning now I wake wondering. How can I meet this thing that slouches towards us? Resisting it seems not to work. Is there a possibility of calling forth from it that bird with broken wings? And if so, what is the charm that must be worked, the song that must be sung?
If anyone knows the answer, leave a message underneath a stone or in the knothole of your favorite tree. If you still can sing, let your voice be heard humming in the grocery line. If you are even now blessed with flight, soar, and let fall upon the cities, on mountains and deserts where the hermits live, and let drift across the yards of people in small towns pearly scraps of hope, green faith, and the translucent rain of love.

Christin Lore Weber Reads from New Book Feb 3

Image of cover art for Widow's Walk, book by Christin Lore Weber

Christin Lore Weber reads from and talks about her newly released novel, WIDOW’S WALK, on Saturday, February 3, at 1 P.M. at the newly renovated ART PRESENCE in Jacksonville, OR.

Weber, the author of many published books, invites you to come with friends who might enjoy that delicious feeling of being read to. Enjoy refreshments in the gallery, the gentle music of guitar, keyboard, and flute by Minstrel Streams, and the works of local artists to appreciate and possibly to add to your collection.

WIDOW’S WALK will be on sale along with the books of other local writers. You can also find her novel at Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Image of cover art for Views of the Moon: Tales for Meditators, by John SackFor a warm-up, you can visit the Widow’s Walk, A Novel page on Facebook where she posted a 3 minute video of herself reading the opening page of the story.

Christin’s husband, John Sack, is also the author of many thoughtful books. His most recent, Views of the Moon: Tales for Meditators, was just published and is now available at amazon.com and createspace.com.

You can buy Widow’s Walk and Christin’s previously published books locally at Art Presence and online at:

Below is a flyer with reviews. Please click to enlarge for easier reading:
Widows Walk Flyer to promote Christin Lore Weber's new book

Trimming

 Today I spent a bit of time trimming the lavender way down. Tomorrow I’ll get to the grasses. The pink lost its color with the snows of January, and new shoots already are appearing at the base. It felt like springtime down below the porch.

When I came in I began rummaging around in my Word files which are about as messy as files can get with partially done manuscripts, titled first one thing, then another. I opened one called “A Delicate Balance,” which I thought would be the unfinished novel once called “Small Hands,” but it was just a snippet. I found it intriguing. Maybe I need to go back and work on this, I thought, as I changed a word here and there and eliminated a sentence that made the entire paragraph sentimental. Just another kind of trimming. Spring cleaning. (I don’t do that so well either 😉

Here’s the snippet. Are you at all intrigued?

 
Eva called Lewis late while the rates were low. His voice saying hello made a warm spot for burrowing. Where are you right now? She wanted to know, to be there with him, to sit on his old bean bag chair, to hold a glass of wine, to talk by candlelight. There was no phone in the attic at Mama’s, so she had to talk low. No one should hear the things she wanted to say to Lewis. He was her confessor. She sat in her mother’s kitchen where the phone hung on the wall.
Are you sitting on the sofa? She asked Lewis. Do you have candles lit?
Lewis’s light would flicker, casting first this plane then that one into shadow. She sought the plane of kindness.
“What can I do?” She asked him, not knowing if she meant her mother’s one lie or the extension of that lie through all the years. One adjustment in the tone-poem of being and the whole composition could be lost—or could become a masterpiece.
“I’ll send you some new reeds for your oboe d’amore,” he said. “You can practice while your mother is painting. It will do you good.”
“Lewis?”
“I’m here.”
“Lewis,” the words choked her. “When she dies…” She stopped. She had said it, but didn’t know if she could go on or if her voice simply would fade into the kind of silence she’d experienced as a child.
“Imagine the music, the progression of tones in your mind, Eva.” Lewis said in a steady voice.
She did as he said and imagined the music, the interval of yearning that had found its home.
     “When she dies,” she asked again, “how will I survive it if all my life we’ve both been someone other than what I thought?
     What if we both disappear, she was thinking but didn’t say aloud, and the world goes on as though we’d never been?
     “You’ll always be Eva.” Lewis said in that low, calm voice. “And if you forget, I’ll be here to help you remember what that means.”