Prosody of life: Revisiting awe

A Slice of Life doubling as a Spiritual Journey offering later this week, on the first Thursday of the month (thanks to Ruth for hosting). The SJT participants are revisiting the “one little word” each of us chose at the beginning of the year. At that time, I wasn’t in the frame of mind to choose a defining word for the year…but “awe” chose me, in spite of myself. Also practicing a bit for my poetry course this week; we are writing prose poems. Priming the pump, if you will…

Where am I now in relation to awe?

Perhaps more in tune to its vibrations each day…

Late in the evenings, a whipporwhill sings, three notes repeated over and over in the dark; yet it is the brightest of songs, summoning summer, beckoning life, new life in the making, love echoing from the treetops. Whipporwhills are seldom seen and their numbers are declining, yet the song illuminates the night, vibrant, rising and falling, going on and on, like rhythmic patterns of life itself…my granddaughter comes to visit with a book she’s reading, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I say, “Oh, I love that book! It was my favorite when I was little,” except that I was ten when I first read it and she is five. Five. And she laughs when I tell her that I’ve dubbed her bedroom here in my house the “Spare Oom” in honor of the faun, Mr. Tumnus. She reads to me, her little voice rising and falling in all the right places; I marvel that she’s been in the world so short a time…I recall my son telling me how she stood on a box at the pulpit with him on Easter Sunday to read the Scriptures, the story of life overcoming death; images of trees crowd into my mind, for around this part of the country storms swept through as winter gave way to spring, snapping off the top-heavy crowns of young trees. Their crowns are still lying dead where they fell but on the broken tree trunks, new shoots are already growing tall, reaching their green arms skyward, waving in the breeze, new life from old, wholeness and healing springing from broken places… meanwhile, my son’s wife cradles her belly, just beginning to swell with my new grandchild; at the end of this this week we will get to see the pictures, and will learn if it’s a boy or a girl, and the naming process will be solidified…my younger son comes in from his work at the funeral home and speaks of birds, barn swallows with basket-like nests tucked at the tops of columns in the entryway, hatching brood after brood as the bereaved pass by to mourn beside the caskets of their loved ones awaiting burial, and how one of the funeral directors who lives alone in the apartment above likes to open the windows on pretty days to toss bread crumbs to the birds on the rooftop, taking pleasure in watching them eat…in it all I find a rhythm, a song, the prosody of life, awe flickering like flame in the shadows, whipporwhill, whipporwhill, whipporwhill…

Reading the old, old story

17 thoughts on “Prosody of life: Revisiting awe

  1. Fran, your words have blossomed this springtime with the most beautiful of thoughts. Awe has proven to be an amazing guide, helping you reflect upon nature and life with a new lens – eyes of your grandchild, the call of the whipporwhills. I find strength in your words, “beckoning life, new life in the making”. It is your gentle turn of words, craddled in sweet prose, that lulls me into peaceful thoughts amongst the commotion of my life move days. You bring me back to the center, time to reflect, and make sense of life. Many congratulations on your little granddaughter with her poise at the pulpit and for your new one being nurtured until he/she is ready to blossom.

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    • Many thanks, Carol, for this thoughtful, beautiful response. Your words never fail to bring me gladness. So much to appreciate. And – we have just learned the new baby due this fall is a girl! Our little granddaughter says her wish has come true. We just saw ultrasound photos – awe, indeed.

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  2. The prosody of life. This phrase. I’m going to have to roll it around my head a bit. Because prosody. It requires of us that we don’t just read aloud, that we don’t just intone the sounds as they blend into one another. Prosody requires that we give attention and care to the meaning of things, that we allow our treatment of these words to carry the full weight of ideas and feelings. And what ties this together so well, Fran, is your treatment of this writing as one solid paragraph. (Really, it could be given line breaks, but we all know it’s already poetry.) Something about the way you’ve put this together requires us to pay attention to your words and phrasing, your rhythm, from a completely different direction. I love it.

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    • I so appreciate your feedback in regard to the form, Lainie, as well as your response to content. Prosody as rising, falling, weight, meaning, yes. Your laser-like focus always amazes me; you know exactly what to emphasize. It is a gift. I am the grateful recipient!

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  3. You have a way of weaving one thought into another that makes me pause and consider the connections, time and time again. I love that about your writing, this example of show-not-tell, drawing the reader in, prompting a re-reading of what came before to connect with what comes after. That’s what we do in life, yes? Two steps forward, one back, as we dance our way through our days if we are lucky enough to hear the music as we go.

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  4. “I find a rhythm, a song, the prosody of life, awe flickering like flame in the shadows, whipporwhill, whipporwhill, whipporwhill…” a beautiful way to end. I celebrate with awe these young children, my grandchildren and yours. How blessed are we that we get to watch them and just marvel in it all.

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  5. Wow, Fran, what a beautiful prose poem. “awe flickering like flame in the shadows” I can see that awe has truly found you this year. The love the title of your piece too.

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  6. So many words and images to love in your prose poem: granddaughter standing on a box beside her father, son’s wife cradling her belly, and “in it all I find a rhythm, a song, the prosody of life.” Thanks for sharing these moments with us. A five year old who reads The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – I’m filled with awe by these little ones and grateful for their presence in our lives.

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    • One cannot be around little ones without being awed indeed, Ramona! I think it’s also a matter of keeping the door open for awe each day – never knowing when or how it will arrive or what it will look like.


  7. I do love how awe found you, Fran…such beautiful moments. I remember a story from so long ago about how Mary, the mother of Jesus, treasured moments in her heart. I’ve looked and looked for that little golden book for years and have never found it. But, that’s okay. It’s in me as books do. As beautiful as your words are, they are also a comfort. The world is not as crazy as it feels to me in every corner, in every family…in some there is tenderness and awe living together.

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    • Linda, that book sounds wonderful – one I’d love as well. Books from childhood DO remain in us – just today I received a vintage copy of one my grandmother read to me before I stated school. More awe, in that I can remember it so well, that a copy could be found – and thank you for your words.


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