My heart beats with a rhythm of its own. I walk to the beat of a different drummer. When I was six, I struggled with understanding the Catholic religion. My mother said she went to light candles so she could try to get someone out of purgatory and into heaven. He was a relative who had done some pretty bad things. It seemed to me a way of buying someone’s way in to heaven, but I was only 6 at the time. Confession also seemed strange to me. Why did you need a priest when you could talk directly to God and confess your sins to him and ask for forgiveness? Why say ten Hail Mary’s to get absolution? It seemed to me at the time, that an All knowing God was capable of looking into my heart to see whether I was serious about asking for forgiveness.
When I was eight, I struggled with the concepts of good and evil. I wondered what led people to take someone else’s life or commit violence in one’s own family system. Were they born with the tendency to be evil, did other people teach them to be evil, or did violent acts towards them create enough rage in them to want to do evil?
When I was ten, I discovered books and poetry. I read voraciously. I could not read enough, or process enough knowledge to satisfy my curiosity. I read every Poetry book I could find and I had my favorite’s that resonated with me. I loved the rhythm and the rhyme of poetry and it sang for me. The images were bigger than life that the words produced. Poems gave me hope, positive validation, and inspiration.
When I was in the Fifth grade, a favorite teacher of mine had us copy and make a collection of our favorite poems. She asked each one of us to recite from memory one of our favorite poems. I got up to read mine and after I finished, my teacher stood with her mouth open in shock and the other children looked confused and scratched their heads. The poem was written by Henry Van Dyke and I recited it from memory. My body was swaying with its rhythm as I recited it. It is a long poem, so I will leave out some parts of it. Here is the poem: (Yu/stan/kema)
Come, give me back my life again, you heavy-handed death!
Uncrook your fingers from my throat, and let me draw my breath.
You do me wrong to take me now, too soon for me to die.
Ah, loose me from this clutching pain, and hear the reason why.
I know I’ve had my forty years, and wasted every one;
And yet, I tell you honestly, my life is just begun;
I’ve walked the world like one asleep, a dreamer in a trance;
But now you’ve gripped me wide awake. I want another chance.
My dreams were always beautiful, my thoughts were high and fine;
No life was ever lived on earth to match those dreams of mine.
And would you wreak them unfulfilled? What folly, nay, what crime!
You rob the world, you waste a soul; give me a little time.
The world is full of warfare ‘twixt the evil and the good;
I watched the battle from afar as one who understood
The shouting and confusion, the bloody, blundering fight.
How few there are that see it clear, how few that wage it right!
The good cause needs a nobler knight to win the victory.
A man whose soul is pure and strong, whose sword is bright and keen,
Who knows the splendor of the fight and what its issues mean;
Who never takes one step aside, nor halts, though hope be dim,
But cleaves a pathway thro’ the strife, and bids men follow him.
What’s that? I’ve had another day, and wasted it again?
A priceless day in empty dreams, another chance in vain?
Thou fool, this night-it’s very dark. This last, this choking breath–
One prayer, have mercy on a dreamer’s soul. God, this is death!
Henry Van Dyke.