Sunday, October 4, 2015

"I Am Delighted" by Emma Lou Thayne

Last December a respected and beloved older friend of mine passed away. In January I listened to a recording of her spiritual autobiography The Place of Knowing. Hearing Emma Lou Warner Thayne's words in her own voice, I rejoiced in having had this renowned poet and activist's influence in my life.


One of my favorite memories of Emma Lou occurred a few years ago when we attended the same women's retreat in the mountains near Salt Lake City. It was early June in a year when winter had brought a heavy snowfall, and the historic lodge where we were staying was still surrounded by snow. The lobby to the lodge is down a lengthy staircase from the street level, and Emma Lou was not physically able to navigate the many stairs. Because of the snow, traditional vehicles were not able to drive from the street to the lobby door. Determined to attend the retreat, Emma Lou had made arrangements for a snowcat to pick her up from the street and drop her at the lobby door. When Emma Lou arrived at the lodge, I was sitting in the dining room near a large window that had a view of the sidewalk leading to the lobby door. I watched as one of the lodge workers opened the door of the snowcat and lifted Emma Lou out of the vehicle and helped her down the pile of snow. Smiling the entire time, Emma Lou then entered the dining room, joking about her grand entrance!

This memory coupled with a poem in The Place of Knowing illustrate for me Emma Lou's ability to "love life and choose good days" (1 Peter 3:10). From a chapter titled "On Paying Attention," this is "I Am Delighted" by Emma Lou Thayne. How I want to be one who sees particles of delight!

I AM DELIGHTED

I am delighted. My life goes well.
I must say it as clearly as I can
before I'm gone.
So little delight there can seem in the world.
Almost as if it's shameful or naive
to love what is there:

a new collapsible pair of glasses
flat in a one-inch pouch—imagine!
Can be worn inside my bra:
anywhere the telephone book,
a needle, newsprint—it's OK.
Touch a key on my new computer:

Clean up window. And tiny icons
on a desktop scoot about for space—
alphabetical!

Take a 4 o'clock walk
from Sun Valley to Ketchum
past the fields and watch a young mare
and gelding frolicking like kittens,
a nine-year-old biker trying to look nonchalant
as he sails past
with no hands.
Hear the brook getting in with
the white swans at the black pond.
Feel the sun making its last statement
to the fence posts.
Smell the perfume of the yellow-haired
lady strolling with her hand in the short man's hand.
Nod as the civilized gives way
to the languid redolence
of manure.

Back, find the word I've hunted for:
forage, jasmine, medallion.
Taste the strawberries on yogurt
at my own sink.
Let the shower have its way with
my hair.
Be tired.
After they have stood and sat and walked
and climbed the stairs, put those legs
to bed.
Talk not at all.
Take as long as I need
to find the fit.
And those eyes, let them close.
See, see, particles of delight
to sleep with
and be delightfully surprised by
tomorrow.

Reference
Thayne, Emma Lou Warner. The Place of Knowing: A Spiritual Autobiography. iUniverse, 2011.

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