Monday, December 30, 2013

Leaves of grass that dried in pleasing and unusual patterns on the bank of our nearby creek.
Isaiah 40 7 Withered hath grass, faded the flower, For the Spirit of Jehovah blew upon it, Surely the people [is] grass; 8 Withered hath grass, faded the flower, But a word of our God riseth for ever. -Young's Literal Translation

Even knowing I am grass
I want to be the leaf twisting pleasingly as I curl and dry
hanging gracefully as the wind blows by
falling lightly as dust motes down
to the mother, the welcoming ground.
And my spirit to spiral away
on return flight to who can say.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve morning, early, the house asleep, with some of my family home. I awaken and listen for stirring, wanting to join whoever wakes first for a quiet breakfast while others sleep.
I get up for a walk to the bathroom and a drink of water, not turning on lights but picking up my cell phone from the kitchen counter to use it for a light. Compulsively I check my email and this is the quote for the day in my inbox:

"Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright."
Source: 15th Century verse

I take the butter out of the fridge to soften for the soon-to-be toast, and go back to bed. Thoughts become words, and I sneak my iPad under the blanket to grasp them before I forget:

Make me a silent night.
Empty of noise. Expectant.
In darkness let me be still,
with folded hands, feet resting.
Unmoving let me wait,
letting the wind blow around me,
under moon and stars, all cloudless,
a sky  for an angel's announcement.
Then let me see what comes.
Of my silence, my darkness. My trust.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sundogs. A favourite phenomenon.
I wasn't
Then I was
Then I used to be

Life is for holding on to
Life is for letting go

Learn to see God in the beauty
Feel the comfort of God in the no

Taste the fear of our fragile existence
Hear the emptiness speak of may be

You are all alone in the cosmos?
You are loved You are precious You are me

I used to be
Then I wasn't
Then I used to be

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

At night the wind blew on this field of snow

And now it's time for everyone home for Christmas
Except the one who will never come home again.
The emptiness, the voice that each one misses:
the sadness overpowers goodwill to men.
A permanent absence is a foreign presence,
that no one wants to speak to or address;
an unattractive stranger holding weapons
(avert your eyes, speak loud false cheerfulness).
The celebrations will ring on around us;
we will try to hide the truth that we now know.
For all men's sharp mortality has found us;
we will not be unkind and let it show.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

{Morning interlude of contentment}
No, this is nice
this is nice
this is nice
1. On the windowseat, stretched on stomach.
2. Reading, and there is poetry.
3. iPad playing soothing classical music.
4. Soft snowflakes falling softly beside my head.
I will get up and brush my teeth
Which are fuzzy because I wasn't allowed to go to sleep
until really late, and then I just ate an apple instead of brushing.
Maybe after that I will do yesterday's dishes.
If stacked with skill, there is room on my kitchen counter.
There is a demon knocking
but I will keep my mind
this is nice
this is nice
this is nice

Saturday, December 14, 2013

So I do the pray.
Hallowed name, kingdom of love.
Then like a rude and untaught child
An interrupting voice in me:
"Why why why, God?"
Too loud. I try to shush.
But the child has noticed the presence
And will not be made to whisper.
My worship disturbed,
I apologetically turn my mind to
Give, forgive, lead us not,
But the child is right here disrupting,
"But why why why?"
I can only cling to
Thine is the kingdom and power
As I try to console
The restless child I hold in my breast.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Last summer's oak leaves hang in a cluster
like silent bells above my head.
I stand beneath them gazing upward
in this season of hope and dread.
So much rather ear will listen
to the shiny ringing bell
than attend to withered fragile
crumbling leaf with silent knell.
What is left to seek or hope for
when the loss is cold nail driven
into emptied faith like a coffin?
I accept as gift the leaves I'm given.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The winter wonder landed
in micro masterpiece,
a miracle of matter,
a brilliant crystal sign,
unseen except by children
and the foolish dreaming kind.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

There is no quick walk in the woods for me.
No brisk arm swinging march that rushes by.
Each moment some new wonders catch my eye;
I stand astonished, or on bended knee.
A sun pierced leaf, exquisite artistry,
Like stained glass shard flung from cathedral sky,
Or grounded oak leaf tucked in snow to die,
Its honest brown writ fine with filigree.

Some crystal clear and perfect curl of ice,
Or frost encrusted seed head hanging low,
On view to all who come, asking no price:
Such masterpiece should have a wider show
Though my admiration swells, it can't suffice.
I offer gratitude, and footsteps in the snow.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


I take comfort in the dying of the year: the brightest leaf will fall.
And then the long white-blanketed sleep of winter.
I cannot think we step from this life to instantly dance with Jesus.
Give me a season to rest from what is past,
To rest for what's ahead:
A new beginning of eternal spring.

 My husband and I have a somewhat traditional relationship. When it comes to the farm work, he does most of the outdoor stuff, and when it comes to matters in the house, I do the cooking, the cleaning (although sporadically), the laundry. We have different ways of dealing with stress, or difficulties in life. Sometimes reading is my escape, my mental rest for a time until I can face the day again. And sometimes just a glance into a book will hook me with no aforethought, and I will be entranced for a while...

Yes, yes, there will be cake that I will make.
But now there is book and I must look
Into what's in it, just for a minute
Or maybe an hour, a day, a year,
Forget for a while what's now and here.
Yes, yes, I will clean, fill the washing machine,
But think of the words skimming like birds
And taking me far from where we are
To wonderful, frightening or spellbinding places
New worlds and old stories and familiar faces.
There will be food put on table again,
But I'm reading now and can't promise when.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The good news is I have found a new Good Book. I first heard of it from a distant (in miles) blogging Friend (you know who you are). I found it at a used book sale, and it stayed for a while in the corner of the living room in the stack of books on the floor, waiting for the long awaited expansion of bookshelf space. I kept putting off reading it because of a (false) impression I had gotten, of possible foreignness and dry subject matter, from the unfortunate back cover description.
I picked it from the stack and started reading it this week, and have been swept away into that too rare state of being torn between wanting to abandon all else in life to just read it, and wanting to read for ten minutes and put it away for a while. In the same way I always eat chocolates in the slowly melted in mouth method, to prolong the pleasure.
I don't usually recommend a book before I even finish it, and it may disappoint by the ending, but I seriously doubt it. There are references to opera music, which I like to find on YouTube and play as I read, dramatically enhancing my reading enjoyment.
What a good feeling, being in the middle of a new Good Book.
In the dark
there is no help from false lights.
I don't mean to blow yours out
but your sketch of pretty candles
will not guide you in the dark,
in the shadow of the dark,
in the pit below the shadow of the raging rolling dark.
You will know the dark is winning
if you find yourself so low.
Only hold, you can,
to memory of knowledge of a light,
and hope someday to catch
a flicker
of a lighter shadow shown
and by intuition known:
that somewhere beyond the darkness
an almost unknown distant light,
and that you are in its sight.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oct 2, 2013 5:45-6:00 am, after a dream of oppression from confining and restricting societal laws, and anger, and gang danger, including a poem duel and then I woke up with the first two lines, having seen a knife drawn. (Even in my dream I was struck by the novelty of a poem fight, hoping I had a good sonnet or two in my holster. But after the unfair introduction of a knife, oh well!)

Are you afraid of life?
Is your head still ringing from the last blow dealt?
And have you seen his blade?
Have you seen the blood where the last one knelt?
And does your pulse pound out,
does your breath come gasping and your sight grow dim?
Does the dizziness and the nausea come
at the knowing you have no chance against him?
Will you stand up tall?
Will your quaking legs hold you up through it all?
Or will fear of pain
Lay you down with a whimper and a sob as you fall?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

 Autumn Morning Sonnet
Yesterday's leaves that crunched in crackling alarm
fold softly now, awash in morning dew. 
I may surprise a squirrel along the way,
or sparrow startled I may chance to view.
And if I pause in perfect silence there
the leaves begin to whisper and to sigh,
the distant geese draw near, fly swift and low,
full songs and whistling feathers cross the sky.
Somewhere nearby a woodpecker gently taps,
a magpie raucously declares the news.
And always waves of whispers and of sighs
wash over me more peace than I can use.
The sun pours through the leaves its shining light:
its warmth remembered in the woods at night.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

 Foam on ditch water, and red osier dogwood leaves.

Today, because I was worried for someone I love, I tried to pray like I used to pray, with words that I trust God to hear. There was only silence and absence. I am patient.

I floated out into empty air
a prayer.
Can anyone hear me?
If so, are you near me?
I felt no arms around me
so I let nothing surround me.
And yet
in the emptiness fullness abounds;
full is the silence with endless sounds.
I seek because needing,
my need itself knowing:
the seeking is the showing.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I saw a low but broad-leaved grass,
Its blades were all ashiver.
Vibrations humming soundlessly
The Song Beside The River.
Captivity there is, and pain,
And loss beyond reclaiming
But there is One beyond all things
Ever raising and renaming.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I tried to not buy books
But I could only hold it in so long
And it burst out of me in a dizzy explosion
And after the light-headedness had passed
I came to myself outside a used bookstore
with a small stack on my arm.
Three paperbacks and a biography of Gertrude Bell.
I feel better now.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do You not pity us more than love?
We are so fragile made.
Apt to crumble at slightest touch,
gasping for breath we need so much.
Do You not wonder in sympathy?
We are so fragile mad.
Prone to failure and to pain,
seeking a slaking even in rain.
Do You not weep for us more than condemn?
We are so childish women and men.
Reach out and touch us on our face,
You who are love, and mercy, and grace.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Uncoil your mind and lay it flat
beside the lake or on the grass.
Spread out your worries and your arms
let go of tight and just relax.
The jewel weed rests beneath the dock
where water strokes the rocky shore.
Stones let the waves their soothing work
perform, and worry never more.  
The sun, the shade, will welcome you,
your only duty: to enjoy.
And soak in gratitude for life,
more person than you were before.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Come, let me show you my hawks.
We are old farmers,
with old machinery that needs replacing,
and have some wooded pastures
no farm animal grazes
(though we do not speak of this to farmers).
So woods remain, and long grasses,
with small animals secret.
When I walk the trail through the woods they come to me.
My hawks.
They swoop above me in full screech
and hang almost still until
just as I aim my camera,
then glide swiftly down the sky
behind the sheltering trees.
Mostly the male calls down curses
to keep away from his life,
and sometimes is joined by his warrior queen.
I have not gone near their treetop nest,
in honour of their majesty.
We also wished to be left in peace
as we raised our children.

Our children grown do not want to farm
And we do not wish it upon them,
Only keep the land and lay yourself down,
Let the solid peace soak up through your bones
And rest yourself on the land.
And see the hawks soar,
Masters of the sky.
And know yourself owned by the land
And a subject of long live the hawks.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


When someone you love leaves,
moves away to a different country,
never to return,
the present country that seemed so pleasant
is no longer as attractive.
Because you do not yet have your travel papers,
you remain in your place and do the work that is yours,
with care and compassion towards all,
but you spend time thinking about the country ahead,
and are less attached to your life in this country.
It does not matter as much what people think of you,
since this land is not your final home any more,
a part of you has gone ahead,
and it is that future life that tells you
what is and is not Important in this life. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fireworks-worthy piece of book!
The story successfully accomplished what a good story should: it transported me to another world, away from my problems and worries, to a constantly interesting and satisfying and eventful place, including that hard-to-find wonder, a happy ending!
I actually underlined a number of passages, something I am more likely to do in a philosophical or theological book. There is a fascinating comment on the nature of romantic love: '"The human race is all the same when it comes to romantic relations," said the Major. "A startling absence of impulse control combined with complete myopia."'(p. 181)
There is a treasure of an observation on abstract beliefs vs. concrete situations: "...I think that is how everyone feels in the abstract. But then life hands you something concrete...and abstracts have to go out the window." (p.201)
And a thought-provoking sentence spoken in conversation with a man in despair: "Sometimes I think God created the darkness just so he didn't have to look at us all the time." (p. 341)
On finishing the book, I hurried to the author's website, hoping she had a long list of published work to look forward to. Sadly for me, this is her first book. Here's hoping it's the first of many.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

I overcame the chaos in my garden,
but cannot fight the chaos inside me.
Neglected, unattended, weeds had flourished,
had grown, set seed, and then had grown again.
So far removed from a garden planned and nourished
when tended by a constant caring hand.
Unable to look after it for a season,
I paid the price in sweat and toil and scar,
rewarded by some progress toward reason,
toward what things ought to be, from what they are.
When the gardener seems absent, soil will harden,
disorder comes where growth had used to be.
I overcame the chaos in my garden,
But how to right the chaos inside me?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

After all my troubles I like to think
that deep inside me is a core of faith,
a lovely shining thing, rock hard, upright,
gleaming from the polish of many a dark aching night.
But what I feel there instead is a shaft of pain,
a stabbing standing spear that pierces me again.
I refuse to avoid it as I continue to seek
beneath pain, sorrow, darkness, when I'm not too weak.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Keep your ride upright
as you go on your way.
When the roadway curves
bank a little. Don't stray.
When the road rises up,
a hill hides the coming land,
slow down, keep watch,
keep a strong and steady hand.
When the clouds come down
and you're going in the dark
find shelter until
you see the destination mark.
Look around you as you go,
learn from all the things you see.
Keep your ride upright.
Be the one you're meant to be.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Last week, after I drove my husband to the field
and helped him change the flat tire on the harrow,
as he returned to the work with tractor and machinery,
I walked the land.
Across the hay field still early spring brown,
small birds flying up from bunched tufts of dried grass,
the high above me calling screech of a soaring watching hawk,
I walked toward the bush.
(When we were children, "I'm going to the bush," we would say,
a few minutes walk from our farmyard.)
I stood for a minute, on the edge,
looking at field, looking at trees,
and took the step,
sinking into the woods with a sigh.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

If God had a mother, what would that be?
The Creator becomes a beloved child,
held in the arms of compassion and boundless human love.
Did it delight the heart of God, to feel the personal side
of a mother's sacrificial care,
when she rose up willingly, night or day,
to see to the needs of her precious child?
Was she on his mind when he prayed
to avoid the coming torture;
did he think of the pain his death would stab into her?
"Woman", he would call her, and honour the word.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The cool air will not save me
but it soothes my heated brow
The bird's song tells no answer
but it calms my doubts somehow
The sunshine brights the world
but not the dark inside my head
The trees stand by in loyalty
when there's nothing to be said

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Crust-encased, armour-braced,
so geometrical,
your contrast lines symmetrical.
Descendant of a dinosaur,
survivor of the fitness war.
Lizard-like you raise your head
and test the air for what you dread.
On land, slowed by your hard shell tent;
but water is your element
-you flash by in the cool pond, free,
unburdened now by gravity.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Job and the Mystery of Suffering: Spiritual ReflectionsJob and the Mystery of Suffering: Spiritual Reflections by Richard Rohr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Darkness is a harsh term, don't you think? And yet it dominates the things I see." -Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More album, 2010.

To anyone who has experienced bad difficulties or encountered suffering in life, and has not found satisfaction in the pat answers and determined joyfulness of mainstream Christianity, this study of Job may address some issues seemingly ignored by many. The fallacy of "prosperity gospel" ("...we expect something back.", p. 29) is addressed, the mistaken idea of earning our heavenly reward ("...most people believe...we are going to get back as much as we give to God...salvation depends on us and our perfection and goodness...", p. 73) is covered, and over-stressing the authority of the church and the Bible (they "...are one step removed from the inner testimony of the spirit.", p. 89) is warned against, as it may become an avoidance of the inner journey and the discovery of one's own soul.

On p. 123, there is an interesting comment about Job searching for God and not finding God anywhere, and how this contrasts with Psalm 139 ("Wherever I go, he is there," omnipresence), in my mind conjuring up an idea of God's "omni-absence" as a sometime perception of the suffering one who can feel no sign of God's nearness.

The heart of the human dilemma, I think, is touched on exquisitely as "...a human being demanding his rights as a human being...Job is asking for the gift of unconditional love when he rejects any theory of retributive justice. He is demanding a God who respects and loves what God has created--just because it is," (p. 139)
Although Job does not get a clear answer, in the end he seems satisfied "to see and be seen. That's all any of us desire. For some eyes to go through us and understand... We desire to be seen all the way through." (p. 162)
And the final touch: Job must pray for his friends. "His redemption is not complete until he prays for those who caused him such pain." (p. 164)

The author of Job and the Mystery of Suffering points to Christ's suffering as a comfort, and also allows for the existence of the chaos factor, a mystery in a world  created by a mighty God.

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The cat is still not talking.
She sits upon the windowsill,
all ears pointedly ignoring,
silently gazing into the distance,
her tail curled up around her
in a most self-sufficient way.
I ask her what I've done.
She will not turn to look,
though one ear does, then back.
All silent and unmoving,
her furred but frozen shoulder
rejects my every effort.
The clock ticks on.
The cat is still not talking...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mar. 24
Do not seek to console me
by saying he is in a better place
and free of the miseries of this world,
then tell me I have much reason to live
by all the beauty around me,
and the ones still here and dear to me;
that exactly is why I mourn his life lost
that had so much yet to see.
(So much yet to be and love,
and loved ones to be needed.)

Apr. 14
Why does God bless me?
How is it I can call this land mine, these fields, these woods?
Why do the branches shine for me against the sun?
The slow melting snow
glitter-pearl bedecked
ice-lace bedraped
making walking difficult for distraction,
the glory of its beauty.

The small log cabin
where I bend down to lay and light the fire
which restores my soul.

I continue my walk,
greeted by a sunning squirrel
and then its mate springing up to join
in a warm sleepy eyed ignoring of the human intruder.

When I am unproductive here
swinging my idle hands as I walk these woods
why does God bless me
with what I do not deserve?

Later, on the way home:
Pileated Woodpecker on Poplar!

Old under trees

Let me be old under trees.
Let those long plodding days be shaded by forest friends,
swayed by the breeze let us spend our days.
Leaning toward long silent moments,
deep in remembrance,
rooted in long ago ways.
Creaking in turns,
swaying when swept by the winds of the world,
old bones brittle, old wood burns.
Branches once straight and strong,
bent, broken, twirled,
twisted in trunk,
With faded leaves reaching for light and warmth,
wrinkled skin bark-like and  rough.
Let us know winter is coming,
and turn ourselves inward,
the sap of thoughts slowing,
prepare for the long cold dark,
though 'round us the young trees are growing.