Pots and Pans
St. Teresa of Ávila
A dusty highway. This woman riding
side-saddle on a hard, wooden seat, eyes
turned heavenward for inspiration. Frail,
fragile, she has never been strong, yet has
had enough strength, shoe-less, not soul-less,
to create her order of Discalced Carmelites
and found a hundred convents, safe havens
where woman can live in poverty, peace,
and prayer. Snow falls in high mountain passes.
Rivers rush downhill in springtime spate.
Mules rebel against cold waters. Bed bugs
bite … her God created them, so she suffers
in silence their indignities. Wounded heart
and soul, often doubting, faith always backing
her thoughts, words, deeds, she believes,
and that belief, as strong as this mule, as
solid as the San José corner-stone she laid.
She knows all too well that God often walks
and works his wonders for her faithful nuns
in convent kitchens cooking and washing
doing the small things, among pots and pans.
Comment: “También anda Dios en la cocina entre las pucheras / God also walks in the kitchen among the pots and pans.” St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). It’s funny how, in times of stress, the little things in life come back back to haunt and help us. I have written of St. David, “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd / do the little things in life,” and here is St. Theresa of Avila saying more or less the same thing, nearly a thousand years later, this time in Spanish, not in Welsh. Intertextuality: in this way, I am able to talk, through my eyes, with Dewi Sant and Santa Teresa. And, through me, you too can indulge in this saintly dialog.
In my blog post, Triumphs, I wrote about how doing the little things in life can be so rewarding and so important for us as we age. No, I will never climb Mount Everest, but climbing up the stairs to my bedroom every night is, for me, a journey to the roof of my world and every ascent is a personal triumph, as is a safe descent each morning. I will never compete in a marathon, even though, back in my youth, I raced over ten miles and completed a half marathon. None of that now matters. What does matter is that I get my daily walk around the house, around the garden, around the block. My Olympic Goal is not to “own the podium”, a phrase I have always found slightly odious, but to win my daily wrestle with myself to just get my exercise done. Do the little things in life. In these troubled times, routine is important. Belief is important. Doing the little things that keep us alive is of paramount importance. And here’s a photo of a magnificent stork, in Avila, doing the little things in life.