March 20, 2017

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This morning, Steve has been proofreading material that a researcher found for him in old newspapers, and which he has typed up; as well as proofreading the longest chapter in our book. But he feels I want to take time out to share with you one of his recent discoveries--a poem of mine, which he can almost definitely conclude is mine. The other ones, you see, there was always some question about partly because unscrupulous men claimed them for themselves. What rights does a teenage girl have, in the 1830's, which need to be respected, anyway? But karma is no respecter of human laws.

So what is the karmic recompense for these two men, who made a name for themselves off of my poetry? This book of Steve's will be world-famous; and when it is, instead of the minor fame which they achieved in their time, dishonestly, now they will have lasting, world-wide infamy! It is sad for them; but it is simply a by-product of the work we are doing. My work, and Mathew's work, had to be obscure, you see, in order for Steve's finding it in this life to be impressive. If it were famous already, and Steve claimed it, then, well, it just seems like another claim.

Steve's researcher was directed to a publication called the "Christian Register and Boston Observer" (two papers had combined at the time), of late 1838. That's because Steve had "accidentally" discovered one from the second week of December containing an essay that Mathew had clearly written. It's a two-part apology for St. Paul. But who had attacked St. Paul in the first place? Mathew frequently wrote in to the editor to "cross swords" with some other writer; but here, his defense of Paul seemed to come out-of-the-blue. Steve wonders if maybe we hadn't argued about Paul. I feel a little bit constrained, here, because it may be that someone reading admires St. Paul. And we are enjoined not to dash the admirations of other people--not to tear down their heroes--because even if the admiration is misplaced, the admiration, itself is not. If there be disillusionment with the admired figure, let it build from within, growing naturally. Don't use psychological violence against the cherished figure. This is my understanding; Mathew, and even Steve, today, feels and acts differently.

So I looked askance at the historical figure of Paul, whereas Mathew admired him. I tried to give Matt my reasons, but he wouldn't hear it, and moreover, he saw fit to write this public defense for the "Christian Register." Okay; so, when he submitted this essay, which the editor broke into two parts, published in two successive weeks, I also sent in a poem along with it. And I need to give you some background for this, before sharing it.

We had lost our darling first son, Joseph, who was 11 months old, to scarlet fever the previous August. This is early December. Of course we were still in deep grief, but just coming out of it to the point that we could function, again. Prior to this, when we lived in the town of Methuen, I would just walk the river, and Matt would always walk with me, lest I throw myself in! We have, Steve seems to remember, shared this with you all, before.

Now, Paul had some odd ideas about life after death. I did not truck with them; and these came up for discussion, our beliefs about life after death, after Joseph died. There is nothing like the death of a child, to cause you to re-examine your beliefs. So these subjects came up, and I was not pleased with the nonsense about the "resurrection of the dead" that Paul apparently preached. Steve does not remember what his explanation was, in defense of Paul, and he will refrain from speculating on it, now, ostensibly in my voice! But there was some discussion, there.

My own poem was about religion; and it was written in response to what I was seeing in the church I was forced to attend with Matt every Sunday. "Forced" is too strong a word--Matt never forced me to do anything. But he was so enthusiastic to go, you see, and it would have looked bad if I hadn't gone with him. Partly, he wanted to "network," as you would say, today. Partly he was enamoured of the pastor; which I was not, so much, as he was rather stuffy. Steve is not sure, but somehow he feels from me that I was not so much accustomed to going to church; but now, I had to go once a week. And what I saw was a lot of phony baloney; a lot of bowing when the person didn't feel like bowing, because everybody else was bowing; a lot of singing without people's hearts being in it; and, well, as they say, "you know the drill."

So I wrote this poem in response to what I was seeing--and Matt wanted me to submit it along with his essay. I didn't normally submit what I wrote for publication. It was my personal art, my personal self-expression. It was not for other eyes. And this, I am telling Steve now, is why my personal love poems written about my marriage, are not showing up in these publications. I didn't submit them, and I expressly forbid him from submitting him. He honored my request, even after I passed, and thus we don't have them. At least, not yet. Perhaps one or two of them may have survived, somewhere, and may come to light someday. Perhaps one of them will be a cherished item on display in the little musuem I have told Steve will exist for us, someday.

So this poem, which I wrote simply to express my frustration at what I was seeing at the church I was forced to attend (you will see, if you read between the lines, here, that Matt would force me to do nothing, but that I might force him to do things, which is the way of it in a marriage where the man holds the woman up in reverence. The woman must then be responsible with her power, which, unfortunately, so few of us are, until we have learned to be so).

Steve has noted, in his own blog, where he also has proudly presented this poem, that it seems to parallel things that our Guru, Meher Baba, has said on this subject. Indeed, it does--but any true mystic knows this. Baba said that God listens, not to rites, rituals and ceremonies, but to the "language of the heart." And haven't I been talking to you all, about the "language of the heart"? Is this just a figure of speech, or is it literal? I am telling you, it is literal. If you go into the "Lagoon Cabin" at Meher Baba's center, where Steve lives in Myrtle Beach, you will see on the wall directly above the chair that Baba sat in, a plaque which reads, "Things that are Real are given and received in Silence."

May we all find and become conversant with that silence--because all understanding, and also all communication, in the heart, is found in that silence.

Here is my poem--and Steve wants to add that whereas the other poems we have presented, here, are still not 100% verified as being mine, this one is definitely my writing. Well, it is perhaps not my best. As said, I kind of dashed it off in response to what I was seeing in church each week. It is not something I had thought deeply about; it is just something that everybody who is serious about God and spirituality, ought to know, already. But here it is:

From hallowed shrines let fragrant incense rise,
In wreathing volumes to the azure skies,
And speak the grateful homage of the soul,
When man would own his Makerís high control.

But costly spices on the marble mound,
Or perfume scattered on the humbler ground,
Or prostrate heads, or bended knees alone,
Find no acceptance at the heavenly throne.

ĎT is the pure heart, devoted and sincere,
Bowing in grateful love and holy fear,
The upturned eye, and the imploring gaze,
The heart-felt prayer, and joyous songs of praise:

ĎTis the firm faith, and actions free from guile,
The mind exempt from thoughts which may defile,
The strict obedience to our Makerís laws,
That prove the votíry of Religionís cause.

A.R.P.

What are these initials, "A.R.P."? This stands for "Abigail Rochemont Poyen." It's a long story as to why I used "Rochemont" as my middle name, instead of my birth name, "Abigail Weld Poyen." Here's what Steve has figured out--that the people who lived across the street were Dr. Elias Weld, and his wife, Abigail Weld. Obviously, I was named after her; and since he was a doctor, one might speculate that he delivered me (how embarrassing!). But that for some reason, I didn't like being named after her. Well, we will not speak ill of the dead ;-), especially when Steve can't get from me a clear idea of what the problem was, with her. He has thought maybe she was pro-slavery; but I am giving him the feeling, unfortunately, that it was more personal, which is to say, that I really disliked her! Have you ever met someone who seemed to stand for everything you don't like? Well, enough said on that. But I was a teenage girl, and I have given Steve the impression that at that age, I was sort of experimenting with my identity. I really didn't have a good self-image, because I was ridiculed and taunted by the local girls, and even my own loving sisters didn't quite know what to make of me. I was different. So I was trying on all these names, and identities, you see. I decided that "Rochelle" was a pretty French name, and tried to get everybody to call me that in my family, but of course they laughed at me and wouldn't have it. They "indulged" me teasingly, which was the worst! But I would not have myself named "Abigail Weld." So I erased "Weld" from everything, stopped using it, and adopted part of my father's extended surname (he, being a marquis, had a long formal family name), and made myself into "Abby Rochemont Poyen." Hence, "A.R.P." (This is found in the history books--in fact, Steve only found "Abigail Weld" in a sampler that my older sisters had made, when I was a little girl.)

Now, Steve, feeling Matt's emotions, felt a little put off by the fact that I submitted that poem under my maiden initials. But what was I to do? Use my married ones, and give away not only my own identity, but his, as well? He was signing with his middle initial, "F." If "A.W." had been published in the same edition as "F.," it would have given both of us away. What was I to do? But truth be told, I was secretly not pleased to give up being a Poyen, and become a "Whittier." The Whittier's were Quakers, and Mathew's family was an odd lot. I had just that much pride in me, you see, that I was still proud of being a Poyen. So he was right--but it had nothing to do with not being proud to be his wife! I was--I just wasn't so pleased to be a Whittier.

Steve noted, to me, yesterday, that the irony is, that my father the marquis is only known, in history, as a footnote to Matt's brother, the famous poet John Greenleaf Whittier. That will change, somewhat, when our book becomes widely read, too...

Steve wants me to add, here, that the second medium Steve hired, toward the end of the same year we were brought together by the first one, in 2010, got the name "Randall." He wondered if I wasn't trying to give him "Rochelle," which I had already told Steve about, in our fumbling efforts to learn to communicate, that first year. I'm giving Steve the feeling, yes, that's true; but how would we prove it, now? I finally got exasperated with this fellow's deafness, and "yelled" at him, toward the end of the session, Mathew's full first name. He got it (whew!).

The cat is clamouring to be fed, and it is time for us to take our accustomed walk by the ocean. Steve can't help but wonder, sometimes--is she really with me? Here's a secret--each time your faith deepens, this deepening is preciptated by yet another crisis of questioning. Did you know that? Because now, you are questioning on a deeper level. Before, you knew it was real (sort of). But now, your faith deepens another notch, and you can't help but wonder if it is really, really real! And again, some time down the road, you wonder whether it is really, really, really real. It is not that you have gone backwards, as it might seem. It is that you have gone forward; but each step forward is attended by a new level of questioning yourself. It is a reaction, you see. The recalcitrant mind reacts to the new level of faith and experience. So Steve has felt me profoundly with him, at times, lately, even to the point that he almost feels we can have a mental conversation back-and-forth--a conversation entirely without language, just with heart-impressions. But then, later on, he wonders: "Is she really, really, really, really with me as I walk by the ocean?"

She is :-).

Love to each and all,
Abby