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embrace

embrace

Words have slipped through my fingers these many weeks. There are some ways in which it has been a lost summer, lost to the weeks of preparation and selling and buying and moving and settling.  We all feel, though, that we have gained more than we have traded away. The boys pedal away to the bike park, to the library, so freedom and adventures and speed. I go into town on my own two feet, with a straw hat and a shopping bag and wide wide eyes.  As I type, John assembles my big three-wheeled bike with the basket for books and loaves of bread and jars of local honey.  We swing between finding homes for dearly familiar possessions and making home in the new. What we dreamed in June has become real as the days shorten and we arrive at August’s last, gaspingly hot weekend. 

Outside of a golden bubble of exploration and nesting in which I have lived this August, it has seemed the world has been coming apart. In Ukraine and Iraq and Gaza and Missouri. I think it is a kind a guilt that has kept me silent, that others have suffered and struggled while I have basked in a peace I’ve never known before, a sense of profound rightness in my private world. 

I don’t know what to say about that.    As I look toward September, I try to send my prayers toward trouble, yet embrace the calm and the good here.  

 

 

Getting in under the wire, writing along with August prompts at A.L.M. Writes

 

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5 PM: a list for Thursday

5pm

5 pm:

  • the point when the day seems to slide toward settling into evening
  • boy#1 finishing homework, boy#2 running by the windows, playing with new neighbors
  • All Things Considered theme music as I head toward the stove and dinner prep
  • a few more minutes until the car in the driveway, a hug from my sweetheart
  • the glorious light still spilling into the house, no lamps on, almost making up for groggy, post-time-change mornings
  • a deep breath, anticipating the next few hours. All of us around the table! Adult conversation! Reading! Netflix! Exhale!
  • reconciling the hopes for the day with what has been done, said, finished, abandoned. Seeds sown for tomorrow. Resting into the ease of the hammock slung between accomplishment and expectation.

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

Adding my voice to Lists With Friends 2014

in the beginning

inthebeginning

…was the Word.

When I hear “In the beginning,” unbidden, my mind completes the first verse of the first chapter of the Gospel of John. It is without a doubt my favorite of the four Gospels. The Jesus of this gospel paints life in light and darkness, vine and branches, mysterious birth and rebirth, water and wine. As a poet I am most at home in these chapters, especially this first one.

Here Jesus is the logos, the Word, spoken beneath and through all creation. And the Word is Light, and the Light is Life. It simmers in the darkness, neither understood, nor overcome.

I’d known the first words of John’s gospel for a few years when I sat in a darkened theater in 1992 with the man who would become my husband. In the closing scenes of A River Runs Through It, a father and pastor speaks wisdom through his own grief:

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”                                 Norman Maclean  A River Runs Through It

and finally,

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”   Norman Maclean  A River Runs Through It

I wept as I left the theater, for my father who was three years dead, who I had never understood, who I had struggled to love. I cried as well for the beauty of words, married so gorgeously that to translate them into bald factual prose would be to kill them. And I think even then that I knew on some level that part of the calling, the work of my life, would be to work out this faith, that beneath all I know, is the force of a strange, creative love expressed in grace. And that my way in to this mystery would be through words, through the truth of metaphor, so much more generous than mere facts.

A gift of my thirties was finding that, despite my own visual limitations, a camera lens was another way, capturing the light that hovers at the leading and closing edges of day. It is the grace to see more fully than the flat scene in a glance, the loft of a quilt, steam from a cup. What I want to do with my camera is to look on my world with a loving and kindly eye.

All this was swirling in my mind today as we took our traditional New Year’s hike.  Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina, and the wind was cold at the overlook as we gazed at blue upon blue.  In the pristine chill of a January vacation day, I can believe easily that grace and love whisper beneath rivers and stones.

But I also know the good, the true and the beautiful can often wear disguises, can rest hidden in plain sight. This year, I want to pursue them, in the shadows and long nights as well as the golden hours.  Much to my chagrin, I love to be right. This year I want to travel, by word and lens, into the mystery farther than before, and love that journey more than my precious rightness.

In the beginning of this year is an empty frame, a blank page. What do they whisper?

Gratefully writing along with other lovely folks

Write ALM January Prompt-A-Day

baby, it’s cold outside

babyitscold

It has been a few days since I’ve been here to play along with the prompt, and I’ve missed it! But this morning gave me the excuse for another trip out for frost photos, on a race with the rising sun and against the complaints of my freezing fingers. Pajama pants and barn coat, socked feet stuffed into clogs: it’s all artistry and glamor around here. 🙂 

Now, back inside with the hiss of the furnace, there’s time, nine days before Christmas, for an extra cup of coffee. Time for one more chapter and a slower stretch into the day. Baby, it’s cold outside. 

 

Happily joining in with daily prompts

for December with other good folks

at Write ALM

 

in my cupboard

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He didn’t want anything with little fussy flowers. I was not interested in gold rims, or anything too fancy. That seemed to rule out about 95% of china patterns where we stood in Richs, in 1994, with a daunting registry list in hand.

The whole idea of registering for china and crystal is really funny. We are now as we were then, chunky pottery and big water glass people, dishwasher and microwave safe. But we were also really young, and in 1994 in the South, when you were getting married, you filled out a big list of formal things for people to buy you as wedding presents. The list seemed to promise a lifetime of dinner parties and late nights hand-washing.

We circled warily around precarious displays in our jeans and tee shirts, looking more like high school students than a couple of college graduates, one a second lieutenant, squinting down an aisle into the future.

We found this pattern and were in immediate agreement, delighted with its mosaic motiff, its rich jewel tones looking like tiny tiles. Over the weeks to come, we unwrapped plate after plate, cups and saucers, sugar and creamer. It traveled to an apartment in Virginia, Army housing in North Carolina, and finally back to the town where I was born, where we met and fell in love.

And over time, the plates met little hands, and tile floors, and the edges of the counters. As the number of pieces dwindled, I packed the Mikasa San Marco away in favor of our plain white dishes, which are plentiful and about which I am unsentimental.

During a recent attic clean out, I found the box that contained what is left of those place settings. There was more there than I imagined, and I was reminded of my fortunate choice. These dishes are still beautiful, their colors more vivid than I recalled. And I am even more deeply in love with that young man who keeps smiling at me over the rim of his cup, morning after morning.

I washed the plates and cups that remain, and stacked them in the cupboard. Once again I am filling the bowls with soup, the plates with spaghetti. Using them now is a bit like unwrapping a forgotten present, love with a little age on it.

 

joining, at least for today,

in these daily prompts for November,

found via The Habit of Being

quiet beauty

quietbeauty

It didn’t look like much when I downloaded it from my phone, but I could not resist taking this shot early this morning, before anyone else was up, before coffee even. A misting drizzle overnight clung on into daylight, and the little mountain we can usually see from our breakfast room was hidden by fog. There was something about it, the utter quiet, the dim easing into day, the yard blanketed by leaves in a hundred shades of rust and brown, that spoke deep deep peace to me. I carried it into Saturday.

joining, at least for today,

in these daily prompts for November,

found via The Habit of Being

Mother/Daughter

 

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Autumn reminds me more than any other season of the relentless passage of time. The days shorten, the nights lengthen, the trees relinquish their glorious burden. My sons must secretly use some sort of medieval stretching devices in their room at night; they wake taller every day.  I am their mother. I can’t not see it, and my smile is a cloak for my aching heart. The mirth and the pain are like the mingled flavors of gingerbread, the spice and the sweet. Autumn needs them both.

But today I don’t think so much of sons, but of the daughter I am, the mother I have. Night is coming on, and I strain to see, like distant headlights, peace for us at last. Peace held between us, deeper and richer than fragile politeness, than gritted teeth.  I wish we could fold our long troubled history between us like a quilt, the measured dance of corner to corner, the folding away on a high shelf. My hands have reached out; I find only air, growing colder.

I learn and relearn that forgiveness is not a destination on a map, but the sweater I pick up every day, and wrap around me, against the chill.

joining, at least for today,

in these daily prompts for November,

found via The Habit of Being