Thursday, February 10, 2011

as a white candle

when you're little
you don't know to ask questions
to admire

it's enough to deal with
the difference
between you
and older people

coming to know
the simple wisdom
and quiet grace
of people

no matter their age

is one of the great blessings
of my life



as a white candle
in a holy place
so is the beauty
of an aged face.

from "the old woman" by joseph campbell

24 comments:

Ruth said...

It's true, and the photos are so sweetly "descriptive."

Don tells me stories from his 4th grade class that blow me away, for the wisdom of the kids. Yesterday a boy who had complained about something his friend had done, getting him in trouble, went to Don and said he was really upset with someone else and took it out on his friend; he didn't want him to be in trouble and have to "sit on the wall" at recess, and he wanted to sit on the wall for him, in his place. So Don said to him, you don't have to sit on the wall, and I want you to tell the other four kids who were supposed to sit on the wall at recess today (for some infraction or other, usually being mean) that they don't have to sit on the wall either, because of your grace.

I also love when professors in my department tell me about how they learn from their students in class.

Anyway, that's where your sweet poem took me. Thank you.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

beautifull poesie and c olours

Elisabeth said...

And when you are little old age equals ugly, at least from a distance unless you know something of the internal workings of the aged one and then it can be sheer beauty. Thanks, Steven.

Titus said...

Yes to the thoughts, but the photographs are superlative. Stalks become images become people remain stalks. Brilliant!

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh these snow pictures are so so so perfectly still and beautiful, Steven. Wow!

I love that Eleanor Roosevelt quote: "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, But beautiful old people are works of art."

Oh. Yeah.

ellen abbott said...

I see the beauty in aged faces. why can't I see it in mine?

~Ellie Kings~ said...

I hope that when I age, I'm like that white candle.

Linda Sue said...

So appreciate the words, the crisp clean magical photos. Aging is a bitch- Not so much for the reflection in the mirror and the new aches accompanying the tug of gravity, but for the marginalization that our non-culture employs in this youth orientated society. Poetry and art save us from all of that as we become more invisible, paler, shorter,less attractive to gaze upon. Time to move to France? Italy? anywhere but amuricuh where age is treated like leprosy.
Love this post and the photos just send me into raptures!

Vicki said...

Just beautiful Steven! You know how to make a woman feel good about aging! I hope I am like the white candle...

Jo said...

Thinking of the powerfully pure yet simple beauty of that white candle, Steven, and my mother's face, as well. Both are awe inspiring.

Ruth's story brought a tear to my eye. There is such wisdom at both ends of the spectrum, isn't there?

I suppose that gives me something to look forward to about the aging process...once again becoming as wise as I used to be.

Beautiful post, Steven. Thank you.

steven said...

ruth - i'm so grateful for your sharing of this deeply personal and real story here. each day i could share stories told by my students that would leave you in the dust as don's story does. that is not to marginalize his story as much as it is to celebrate our children. they are astonishing and so much about them is carefully hidden. i can't really explain why but they keep a lot to themselves. steven

steven said...

nouvelles couleurs bonjour! thankyou for your gentle words. steven

steven said...

elisabeth - i had old grandma's and strangely i knew their soft goodness even as a child. they were truly good people. what a gift. i never really thought about their looks. steven

steven said...

titus thankyou for seeing that. i wished for the simple demure worldliness of these "old" plants to carry through the words. i'm really thrilled that you can see that. steven

steven said...

reya i very much admire that quote. i know that moving inside young and old people the differences evaporate very quickly. steven

steven said...

ellen - perhaps you're not looking deeply enough. i read you through your writing and wonder at the depths of you and the breadths of you contained in all the stories and artwork and living that is you. steven

steven said...

ellie kings i barely know you but i sense that with that wish a candle has been lit inside yourself that might sustain the journey you need to take to arrive at that place. steven

steven said...

linda sue my boys love to make fun of my age - my schoolboys that is. i'm so very good with it because it's part of aging that allows me to see it totally doesn't matter. i'm right here right now. good as i can be. messed up strong shy tiggerish missing the boat flying around...... the whole kahuna. i would love to live in so many countries - almost all european - but chiefly for the energy that i'd be immersed in. messed up deep old energy. steven

steven said...

vicki - all women should feel good about aging. see those stretch marks, those little rolls, see those wrinkles, those are the stories of your body's journey. move inside to yourself and see the goodness you've brought into the world. the goodness that has been gifted to you without condition. then you know that aging isn't about your outer appearance as much as it is about what glows from inside. steven

steven said...

jo you so get all of this! i've met wise beyond their years children. i know some right now. it is almost unsettling. then again i know older people who let the possibilities go so very long ago that they have arrived at this stage of their life almost empty of any hope and leaving a legacy of emptiness because they didn't realize that their only real birthright is that they can change this world by bringing as much goodness as is possible into their lives and then releasing that same goodness into the world in some way. kids know this. adults - some adults arrive at this and you can sense the magic in their eyes even as they pass you on the street - tell me it's not true!!!! steven

Terresa said...

The first two stanzas of this are my favorite, they speak a wisdom, a voice that I've heard (read) echoed in other great poets.

"when you're little
you don't know to ask questions
to admire

it's enough to deal with
the difference
between you
and older people"

Additionally, the pictures pair nicely with the poem's title and resonate well as part of a larger whole.

hope said...

Even as a kid, I was drawn to older family members...because they had stories.

And I discovered that the older they were, the less they found me asking "Why?" an annoyance...I think they enjoyed an audience. Nicely done.

Dejemonos sorprender said...

Hi! as a white candle.. very nice your pictures.. Wish you a nice time :)

Luke said...

Everything about this is just beautiful, Steven. Your stunning contemplative photography, and the quality in those words. Thank you.

warm regards,

Luke