12 March 2019

Who Is Not Our Neighbor?


"Love they neighbor as thyself," 3' x 4' wool hooked rug, by Dot Chast  (1964) 



First Mom's womb, then her suffering, and finally her art 
surrounded her children and surrounds us still.  Who is not our neighbor?

My mom spelled this out in her large hooked rug that hung 
over our couch for four decades: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

We drank in this faith while waiting for her to finish conversations 
with passersby, while watching her draw animals, trees and buildings.

We watched love emerge in landscapes and still lifes, and hung them
on the walls until what was white space became much like a forest.

Who is not our neighbor?  Smiles and kindness creates neighbors 
along with homemade cookies and recycled and repurposed clothing.

We were surrounded by piles of what could not be simply tossed--
books, magazines, egg cartons, empty flowerpots and glass bottles.

Who is not our neighbor? Mom asked by cutting plastics before 
disposing of them, by thinking into the future of her children's children.

She and dad shared the faith of birds, providing food until their safety
depended on guarding nests and feeders from rescued kitties.

And she loves trees more than Dad ever did--he loves her paintings of tree trunks 
as seen through window frames more than wooded landscapes and trees themselves.

Mom has never had much use for distant gods or a godhead
accept for how it shows up in the natural landscapes she sits in.

And she draws, gathers and assembles this vision into art--art 
whose humility surpasses that of alters in churches I've known.  

These are the sermons I attend to. We were surrounded by the faith 
of our mother and her art surrounds us still.  Who is not our neighbor?


For Sumana's prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Neighbors



My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright. 

© 2019 Susan L. Chast

15 comments:

Thotpurge said...

-art
whose humility surpasses that of alters in churches I've known. ...

this is a sublime piece ... the mother at its centre shines like a star and the message of universality echoes beautifully... We're saying the same thing in different ways I think Susan- everyone is a neighbour or no one is... oneness!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

There are indeed sermons that have more depth and clarity than what one often hears on a Sunday morning in buildings devoted to sermonizing!

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is an incredibly poignant and heart-stirring poem, Susan!❤️ My new and all time favorite from you. Especially love; " We watched love emerge in landscapes and still lifes, and hung them on the walls until what was white space became much like a forest."❤️

annell4 said...

A beautiful poem...mostly about your Mother. She sounds so much like my own.

Myrna R. said...

What a lovely tribute to your Mom, who knew that art is spiritual practice. Beautiful writing.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

"These are the sermons I attend to." What a wonderfully wise and "seeing" mother you have. I hope you sent her this poem. How lovely to receive such a gift from a daughter. And so many gifts from one's mother. Lovely, Susan.

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

What a beautiful tribute.

tonispencer said...

Your mom sounds like the women who raised me - mother, grandmother, aunts.

Old Egg said...

How lucky you were to hava creative and artistic mother that taught you so much. What a delight it was to read this beautiful poem and tribute.

Frank J. Tassone said...

A beautiful witness of truly loving one's neighbor as one's self!

Sumana Roy said...

It's so wonderful to grow up in such abundance of love and faith. Yes, 'Who Is Not Our Neighbor'?
Mother is at the center of our universe when we are born, grow up and even when we're ageing if we're still lucky to have Her with us. A beautiful poem, Susan.

Kim M. Russell said...

I love how you link motherhood and neighbourhood, Susan. It’s true and well put in the lines:
‘We drank in this faith while waiting for her to finish conversations
with passersby, while watching her draw animals, trees and buildings’.
I remember the same with my grandmother, also reflected in the lines:
‘Who is not our neighbor? Smiles and kindness creates neighbors
along with homemade cookies and recycled and repurposed clothing’.

Cressida de Nova said...

Growing up with art enriches a childhood. Lovely tribute to your mother.

purplepeninportland.com said...

Your mom sounds like a warm, nurturing person. Anyone who draws trees has to be. Lovely poem, Susan.

Vivian Zems said...

Your mum sounds divine. A thought-provoking write indeed.