Thursday, January 26, 2012

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Jan. 31
Like a caged animal
my mind dashes itself against the walls.
I must see him again, of course I will see him again.
It cannot be that I won't see him again.
I wish there was someone I could ask
these hard questions I keep bottled up.

This year has made us old.
If it was just the years, it would be
but a fulfillment of our long ago wish
to grow together old.
But this, this wrenching of our hearts
into the outside of our bodies,
into non-being,
this is a different aging, unnatural.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


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Early Evening

The bare black branches, an upthrust cluster, is filigree uncaptured when later I examine my photos,
like the spirit deep within me fathoms past the mortifying pain
singing Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Give me the wisdom
to waste the time,
just stand there and stare
as long as the light lasts.
I never hear God speak,
unless it is in the ghostly tendrils of lifted snow
blown by the Breath of the Unseeable Wind.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

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Harvest from me what is usable
and burn the rest.
Anything of value in me,
what's good, what's best,
is yours anyway. I fail the test.
With all my weakness, my selfish will,
try as I might,
it's only the power of love that helps me
get small things right.
So empty me of vain desires, self-centered views.
Let me be for you a broken field; take what you can use.

I wish when God created the world (as God still does)
and spoke those blessing words to it and us,
It Is Good,
I wish the world had answered back in joyous shout, "No, You!",
as she watched creation's wheel spin all about
in colours new and bright.
But it was only later that she thought of what she should have said.
By then it was too late, for she had turned and fled.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Good Do We Have to Be?: A New Understanding of Guilt and ForgivenessHow Good Do We Have to Be?: A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness by Harold S. Kushner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has done me good. As soon as I finished the last page I wanted to begin it again.
A redefinition of the creation story, and a re-envisioning of the meaning behind the concept of Original Sin, the author's reinterpretation frees one to let go of the unattainable aim for perfection, forgive and accept imperfection in ourselves and each other, and realize that "...God loves us in our aspiring and in our stumbling." Regarding Original Sin, he says, "the Original Sin that affects virtually every one of us and leads to other, worse sins is the belief that there is not enough love to go around..." Knowing that we do not need to try to earn God's love by being perfect allows us to identify with those around us and treat them equally and fairly.
I think that the reason this resonates so well with me is that as a mother I know what unconditional love for my children feels like, and the notion that this is a small example of God's love sounds to me like a fitting definition of the God who is Love.
"To be whole before God means to stand before Him with all of our faults as well as all of our virtues, and to hear the message of our acceptability."

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

There is an acreage in southern Manitoba, with woods. A variety of oaks--some quite large, some twisted and slightly bent in acknowledgment of harsher soil, or injury in their youth--and poplar, also known as trembling aspen, stand silent witness to the days and nights that pass. The smaller but persistent hawthorn, the unpretentious chokecherry, the clumping hazelnut shrubs, all claim their places to fill in the forest.
This small piece of land has never been cultivated (or 'improved', the term used on our property tax statement) as far as I know. It has had various herds of cattle, deer, and bison wander through in their times of occupation, especially the open pasture and adjoining wooded areas.
Now there stands along a trail through the trees a small log cabin, erected decades ago not for survival but for novelty.
Today I sit in this sturdy little hut with the Sunday morning sunshine streaming in through the two single pane windows, a warming fire going full blast in the ancient cookstove standing off to one side, the boastful roaring of the flames a contrast to the humble compactness of the stove.
As I walked here, I realized it is not the hills, not the hills whence my help comes. It is the trees, the company of trees, that bring me sanctuary. This small patch of woods, one of several on the land that we own, has been a part of the gradual process of the land coming to own us. For more than three decades we have been landowners, my husband and I, he for closer to four decades. You could say it has been our passion. There has always been a desire to be farmers, to try and make a living from this land of ours, to raise our children where they could run barefoot, escaping to the woods and fields for hours of freedom. Some years, especially at the beginning, we made sacrifices of lifestyle, leisure and status (living in a mobile home for sixteen years must have had our friends' and family's heads shaking).
Now, approaching our 'golden years' (our now adult children would say firmly entrenched in) we have been rewarded, or blessed--if we admit it was not only our hard work that brought us to where we are today--with the option of a more relaxed pace, with more choice about our daily life and our lifestyle, than those first stressful years.
So I have time, or I take the time, to make the fifteen minute trek through pasture and woods, to this slightly secluded cabin, leaving cares and griefs behind, or at least bringing along just the one or two I choose to accompany me. And while I spend the hours reading in the cabin and putting wood on the fire, or walking and noticing the surprising number of colours tree lichen comes in, or coming upon secret wild nests in spring with tiny hopeful pastel-coloured eggs, or snapping the ten thousandth close up photo of the purely artistic lines of a curled leaf or translucent flower petal, I must always head back, when the time comes, to the life of the farm, the cities beyond it, and the larger world past that. But there is something I bring with me when I return from the woods, something bestowed by the silent trees, the golden grasses, the still and peaceful air. Though it is hard to define, a part of it could be said to be thanksgiving, a sense of renewed appreciation.


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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jan 7

I thank you for your gentle lies
-we'll be alright and things will get better-
while we wander in the dark
unsure of path and future.
A day is filled with stuttering tries
-I plan the menu and often cook supper-
But sometimes things look only stark
Although I cannot see far.
So let us go on acting wise
-next year we will make a garden-
though it's cold and windy in our park.
We two will be alone together.

Jan. 5
When drops of chaos splatter me
(where do I go!? where do I go!?)
it's not as painful as it used to be
on the surface of my soul.*
It stings but I can bear the pain
(though will it kill I do not know)
having learned from countless stains
to suffer is to grow.
And as the tissue puckers and scars
(they point and stare as I come and go)
and chaos drops outnumber stars
I will try to keep my hold
on the sheltering rock to which I cling
(did I find it or it find me?)
and if I, crippled, live I'll sing.
And if I die so let it be.

*This seemed true when I wrote it a few days ago, but the next day I was plunged back into the acid bath of grief.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jan 1
Maybe faith is like love.
Before I knew this man who now has become my life,
I did not even know I was without him.
(I knew I was without something.)
And in the decades since our life together began
we have become entwined
until now I cannot imagine life without him
and cannot possibly go back to
the way I was before I knew him.
And so with God.

Though I've known and loved him for years,
I do not understand his way of thinking.