Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Thoughts One Day

My prison is in a city of the living.
I was sentenced to life.
Everyone else is on the outside.
People I know go on and live lives,
have children who thrive,
and marry and achieve.
Even my family come home with their love
and I step outside my secret cell,
to greet like a free woman and smile.
When they return to their homes,
my house returns to silence;
I step back behind bars.

I hugged everybody I could.
And I hugged 'em good.
A mother can do that; a mother should.
My mother died when I was a child
so I didn't learn hugging from her.
And didn't know hugs were something I wanted
to give, so I used to demur.
Now older and wiser I don't hold back
from hugging if I feel the call.
My grandmotherly wish extends to the world,
and I say, "God hug us all."


I awoke one morning in Christmas week with such a yearning to be alone with God, my God, my protector and cherisher and sanctuary. Away from my life, alone with just God and silence. To be held, and to hold to, the First Cause and Final Rest which is surely (though I am not always sure) Love.
Was it just another escapist symptom of grief and depression? Maybe. But still, it gifted me with hope. Maybe some day or some how this union or reconciliation with the Loving Father, or the Great Mother, will be realized. Don't we all have the primal urge or instinct for protection of ourselves, for security in some final and lasting sense? Or even better, the ultimate dream, where not only do we escape our failures and losses, but they are actually resolved and restored? What a thought, and so full of hope that my failing self can hardly hold on to it. An occasional fleeting grasp is all I can expect.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Waiting For Advent
Speak gently to my wounded broken heart;
On my crushed spirit lay your healing balm.
There is in me a wailing wind of storm
That only gentle hands divine can calm.
This constant pain, this weariness always,
Need something more than this world can provide.
I yearn for rest, for peace from troubled thoughts,
Some sanctuary for my soul to hide.
Or as I walk along my life's set road,
Some sign at least that there will be a time
When pain will end, when wrongs will be made right,
Though this life be a constant labouring climb.
Speak gently, say you will gather all our tears
And heal and heal life's broken weeping years.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Solidarity in the Dying Days

The Samaritan, when he kneeled in assistance to the wounded and suffering victim of a violent assault, could reasonably have had a moment (or more) of thought: by stopping to help, he might be in danger from the attacker, the enemy. By compassionately showing concern for the victim, he was in effect placing himself in an oppositional position to the attacker. He was taking sides. And when we take sides we take a risk that the side we oppose may strike us. There may be a cost.
By helping those in need, we oppose suffering. By standing by those who are dying, we oppose death.

I cannot win
But I will not sit back down.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thoughts on the last days of a good man and close friend whose life ended in suffering because of a degenerative disease

As I stepped on the downward stair
I reached for a railing that wasn't there.
Precarious, precarious!
But that was not the scariest.
As I got to the bottom floor
I opened what was not a door
into a space of dark and gloom
that wasn't anything like a room.
Disorient, disorient!
I wonder where my prayers went.
It's dark and silent, this I know;
but silent dark may be friend or foe.
I regretted I regretted
But that did not change my featherness.
If I'm blowed and blown away
I may end up in such as this.
The breath I'm on has brought me here
To lose perhaps what I hold dear.
No turning back from doom or glory;
mine only to live out the story.
Gone my faith. I'm left with trust
until I give back spirit and dust.

If I could love more than could God
I would myself become a god.
No goddess I, I know that's true.
I trust to someday meet with You.
 Death is a clap.
Are there echoes?
I have heard in the night
how the sound goes
into the dark unknown
fading but on it goes
into the blur unseen
as if it has always been
as if I will meet it again
and know it an old good friend.
I don't want to join the world
I want to keep apart
So I stay under my blanket listening to my beating heart
Wishing I could sleep
Until the day ends
But my brain starts to think so I get up in self defence
There's no hiding from
And there is no escape
Whatever will get dished out that is what you have to take
So I will face the day
That is confronting me
Because it is, and I am, though I don't know how to be


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Highbush Cranberry in the woods

I ate a berry that no hand had touched.
No one had planted here this shrub to grow,
None watered; and its place no one could know
But I myself. (So red, so tasting much.)
The only harvest needed was, reach up,
Bring near the branch as though unto a kiss
(What sweeter lips can there be than this)
And strip from stem to mouth the holy cup
Then with the trees come willingly, partake,
In company of leaves and birds, who also fly
As my soul will and does unto the sky,
Of this most holy time. Your spirit wake
To see the world your sister, brother, friend,
Whose heart you break and help again to mend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I like the sky when dark with glowering cloud
For how it makes the autumn trees shine loud.
Perhaps some inner glow through veins bestowed
By days of summer sun in-poured, restored;
Perhaps the wisdom of the trees turned gold,
Distilled the patience, the wealth of age untold;
Perhaps some artist wandered here along
These fields I love and painted visual song,
Bold strokes of blaze and glow and flashing note,
A many-chorded harmony from nature's throat.

I hold the leaf up which upholds the light
Though dark surrounds, and bless me, oh this sight.
However came this magic alchemy,
In sun or cloud, may something shine through me.

And another...
If leaves have souls
when they die
how many bright and fragile spirits fly
in autumn when the cold hard breeze
takes the living off the trees
The air must surely fill with wraith-
like filmy figures dancing high
on their way in sweet release
to come to grow on other,
bright eternal tree.


Monday, September 29, 2014

I love
therefore God is

Faith may falter
Hope may die
But love remains
under every sky
Love will linger
Love will stay
And when the earth
has passed away
the cooling stars
will sigh and say
Love outlasts
Love is the infinite and only way

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I dreamt I was walking beneath the bridge, upside down on the underside.
It arched high over the city scape, with a topside where cars could ride.
And I alone walked across the city turned over and on the same road,
but knowing that I was meant to walk here for it was paved as it flowed.
Others could not see where I walked but there was comfort to me
in the fact that my road had painted lines: I walk where I'm meant to be.
For out of place is a place, though not on a map to be found
And nobody knows where any road goes: tomorrow is unknown ground.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My numb stare out the window
lands my eye on a distant branch.
Near the top of a cottonwood across the farmyard
Beside a dry dead limb
I can see the roundish rippling form
Of one leaf in its winded dance.
It swings from its stem erratically
As it's tossed in the fitful air
And my seeing the stem and the leaf
Though far off, somehow TAKES me there.
And I know the leaf glossy, and how rough the bark
And it's real though it's far and far.
So my thoughts of you take me distance and worlds
Away. Though you're gone from me, there you are.
Though you're gone,
there we are.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I glimpsed a pitch black butterfly
Out of the corner of my life
I think it's flown round here before
Its wings a cold dark knife

I know I've seen pure light shine through
The flaming dying leaf
Its shine my only sanctuary
In the raging battle of grief.

The light the dark I see them yes
With eyes that are not clear
But will not close to black butterflies
Or to the light that is always near.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I dreamt they invented a new solution for pain
and called it sleep.
I said I want a double dose, want it full and peaceful and deep.
I don't want to wake again I said for an age
and rolled into bed.
I drifted and dozed and floated free
but could only live in my head.
A quiet place with the lights turned down but not
a thing I could see,
nor touch with my empty but reaching hands,
this new unfeeling me.
Not good enough! I cried to the cosmos, the uni
verse, the world.
And for my dreaming ingratitude back
into wakeful pain I was hurled.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Into Canna

Before the heat of the summer day
I walk to my garden, the breeze being cool.
Pick just a few cucumbers, beans and zucchini.
Lift onions and carrots that cling to the soil.
The mourning doves sound like the voice of omniscience,
Singing serenity from opposite sides.
One east, just occasional, distant but soothing.
One west, more persistent, and nearer to me.
There may be more doves in the distance sweet-singing,
Bringing their message for ears that can hear.
I tether tomato vines, brush off mosquitoes,
Then walk to the house with my harvest of peace.

Morning Glory    

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Longer Boats Are Coming To Win Us

My thoughts:
For so long I've held onto the shore
waiting for the tide to recede
my muscles are aching my fingers bleed.
For so long I've waited in silence and dark
imagining the blessing of just one small spark.
So long I have carried the stabbing pain

hoping  for ease, but the wound remains.
The tide still pulls, the dark surrounds,
and still I listen for one small sound.
I do not know what it will be,
perhaps a trumpet tuned just to me.
For so long I've only said honest words,
the deepest wish is just to be heard.
Must You really demolish completely my faith?
Until You answer I will wait.

This week I read Margaret Frazer's The Maiden's Tale. P. 89: "She did not say the rest: her deep  longing  to go beyond the world's illusions and passing pleasures into pure reality, beyond all pretences into knowing things as they truly were."
And then, on the last page, I read this, p. 244-5: "Know that not with corruptible gold or silver were you ransomed. Not with worldly gold or silver or any of the things they bought, but with Love...Love strong enough beyond the world's uses...she herself would go gladly back...Go back to prayers at the proper hours and nunnery matters to worry over and chance to draw quiet into her soul again out of the great silence of God. A silence more rich to her than all the noise and flailings of the world. The silence of Love."

I will think about God's silence as being the silence of something I can draw on...

Friday, July 18, 2014

If there is no meaning to life past these days,
the pleasures we take will stand on their own.
The love we have given, received, will be priceless,
but destined to end with decay of our bones.
Each day a new sunrise tells of new beginnings,
just so may someday the sun be outshone.
Sometime and somewhere we will waken to newness
to find our dreams have been wildly outflown.
We will do so much better and farther and more,
it will leave all the best of our deeds far outdone.
Somehow there may be, as likely as springtime,
a season when all we know will be outknown:
someday to outsee all these eyes ever saw
in this world, outbe all existence we've known.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I woke out of a sound sleep one morning, with an image of a jumbled and scattered pile of variously shaped blocks in the attic of my mind...

In everyone's mind, there is a pile of blocks. Different shapes, different sizes, scattered about.
Some people try to fit the blocks together. Some people take one look at the blocks and throw up their hands in despair, thinking they can never all fit together. Some people start trying to organize their blocks, but try not to think about it. Some people fear the pile of blocks, and seek diversion.
Everyone is bothered by the blocks.
For some people, it is enjoyable to keep trying to build a structure out of the blocks. They will spend hours turning over pieces, studying specific corners of specific shapes. Sometimes this helps and sometimes it doesn't. They may try to tell others about how they could fit certain shapes together, but the blocks are hard to put into words. This helps some people, and doesn't help others.
Some people can know at a glance how a few pieces fit together easily, and never need to think about it for long. They seem to have a natural feel for it, and are pleasant people to be around.
When pieces are fit together correctly, a person feels good. There is a little tiny glow in the joined pieces that is pleasing to look at, and makes those people treat others around them in a better way.
Some people, oddly, never touch their blocks, but go along in life only ever following the instructions of someone else. Someone tells them here is a net that will hold your blocks together, and it is the only way. They throw this net over their blocks and there is a little tiny glow in their net, and they feel like they are feeling better. Then they stick close to other people who have thrown the same kind of net over their own blocks, and try not to look at their own blocks too closely, satisfied that their blocks problem is all settled. They act like they are nice to everyone because they are the People Of the Correct Block Solution. POCBS's will do anything to hang onto their nets. Very few of them ever move their blocks around to make a more structure-like arrangement, but there is always hope they might.

Everyone, or almost everyone, knows somehow, whether by looking carefully at their little block fitting successes, or hearing about it from others, that there very possibly is a great likelihood that if ever all the blocks are perfectly arranged, and lined up in a most harmonious way so that they all fit together, something magical will happen. The whole blocks pile structure will glow so beautifully that it will actually lift off and hover gracefully in the mind of anyone so fortunate. It may even hum in a most amazingly pleasant way. It is not known if anyone has ever completely built the blocks to perfection, but it is thought possible. There certainly seem to be many people that have their blocks together, at least in a better way than others around them.
There are some people that call themselves Experts On Blocks. Some really are, some are not. It seems that if someone really knows blocks, they are nicer to the people and world around them. More caring. But some people become obsessed by the blocks and don't seem to care about anything else.
Some people can see the blocks quite clearly and are comfortable with the idea of the blocks existing, always there and needing to be dealt with. Some unfortunates have a clouded vision of the blocks, and live frustrated lives. It is not always their fault. We should be kind to them. A curious thing about being kind, if it is authentic kindness: it may actually move some of your blocks to a better position.
Some people paint all their blocks in garish colours and use false glues, and build some kind of construction, and call it beautiful.
Anyone at any time, whether they have started to work with their blocks or not, can have disaster strike. All of their blocks may be struck, as if by lightning, or as if a fierce and horrible slow force pulls terribly at them constantly, so that their blocks are hopelessly scattered, partially destroyed, or sadly lumped in a weld of confusion. In short, chaos of blocks. They are devastated. This is difficult to communicate, and of course no one can see their block piles. Some can tell others about their trouble to some extent. Some cannot. Some people who listen to this problem are comforting and understanding and encouraging. Some people are not, and just say get your blocks together, man, or I managed to pull my blocks into a pile so you should too. Some devastated people eventually have some success working at their blocks again. Some don't. Some never try again, too scarred and scared and sad. They might get help. They might not.
Some people say the problem of the blocks will never go away, and why are we burdened with blocks anyway! Some people say but look how when I get two blocks that fit together perfectly there is that little beautiful glow, and what a wonderful thing it would be if I could get more and more blocks together with a little more glow each time and a little more kindness in me, and how wonderful that we get to handle and grapple with these blocks!
May you get your blocks together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

She is four years old and she runs with her elbows.
Doesn't like stones in her sandals.
Loves to make friends, give hugs, get kisses.
The world is her friend and there's so much to learn.
Falls down but gets up again, says "I'm okay!"
And runs with her elbows to welcome the day.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human OriginsThe Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins by Peter Enns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having enjoyed the content on Peter Enns's blog, I decided to read this book on the recommendation of my husband, who is not nearly as avid a reader as I am, but managed to read this book before I did. It required a little more concentration in reading, but it was well worth the effort.
Enns builds a good case for retaining the best of the Biblical message without having to deny the facts of science and evolution, beginning with the Biblical account of creation compared to the ancient accounts of the cultures at that time, the purpose of Genesis and the structure of it as we now have it, moving on to Paul's treatment of Adam in the new testament, and on to the "creaturely" nature of Scripture itself, as another way God "take(s) on humanity when he speaks..." (p. 144), "We are to see the divine in and through the human words of the writers."
I found the final message of the book to be hopeful and uplifting. We are encouraged to "a willingness to rethink our own convictions", which is sometimes difficult. Despite some rather loud voices declaring any faith in God to be "bankrupt" in our scientifically enlightened age, Enns is not ready to "toss away" spiritual belief..."not because I refuse to see the light, but because the light of science does not shine with equal brightness in every corner. There is mystery. There is transcendence." (p. 148)

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

2014 Summer Leaf Collection


Meadow Rue

Black Poplar

Trembling Aspen


I remember collecting leaves.
I remember scrapbooks, those newsprint blank pages
waiting for me.
I remember bottles of clear amber glue
with a rubber snout
to spread the glue with after squeezing it out.
And placing the days-flattened leaves
just so on the page
then, lips pressed firmly to my slightly projecting tongue,
writing intensely (don't make a mess) the tree's name
that it came from, just underneath.
And the half hour dusty school bus ride back home
from the small prairie town
to our small family farm
where trees grew along the creek
and in the pastures wherein we ran barefoot
to bring the cows home for their evening milking.

It's all brittle bits now,
with much of it missing,
small empty spaces where leaves used to be.
Even the glue of the leaves of the scrapbook
lets go, and they flutter away.

Friday, June 27, 2014

(With thanks to the one who mowed the path for me to here, fifteen minutes' walk from our farmhouse.)

When I sleep with the trees and the cool night breeze
caresses my skin and the peace flows in
my windows night black there is nothing I lack.
The world is behind me; the earth's got my back.
Sky of cloud, no moon shine, but the fireflies are mine!
They flicker and bright, faithful agents of light
in a world dark and cold they the last of the bold
tell when all light is gone the small spark may glow on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oyster mushroom, five feet up a poplar tree
I wrote my name on the bottom of a cork,
stood by the creek and threw it in.
It floated free and vanished round the bend,
danced away with a bob and spin.
No human eyes will find my name,
no one will ever see.
But the crumbling days will lovingly join
mother earth to the bits of me.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Instead of Atonement: The Bible's Salvation Story and Our Hope for WholenessInstead of Atonement: The Bible's Salvation Story and Our Hope for Wholeness by Ted Grimsrud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will not claim to review this book, as I do not think I can do it justice. I found it encouraging, uplifting, and life-confirming with its message of God's love freely given, even though we do not deserve it and certainly cannot earn it with works, sacrifices or declarations.
P. 75: "The good news of God's love...has always characterized reality no matter how blind human beings have been to it."
P. 83: Jesus calls "his followers to live by the logic of mercy and to reject the logic of retribution."
         "...'Father' conveys intimacy and mutuality." We are "to think of God as one who loves (us) like a parent." As a mother myself, who has been amazed to learn over the years how deep, enduring and indestructible my love for my children can be, this  feels real to me, for if I can love my children so unconditionally and so permanently, how much more must God be.

This book does a good job of breaking down the false image of an angry vengeful God expecting unreasonable perfection and fearful obedience from a detestable humanity.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

And the wild storm rages and the wild winds blow
and tall trees bend down and great waters flow
and swirling clouds roll in wrathful play;
makes you wonder will you ever see another sunny day.
Small birds are tossed, large branches fly
as I look out my window at the wild dark sky.
So long has it rained the whole world is gray,
makes you wonder will you ever see another sunny day.
All around my house hear the tempest roar,
see the constant battle of this weather war.
And I stand and I wait watching come what may
and I wonder will I ever see another sunny day.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Two good things I did today: three! Three! Three!
I saw a hundred dragonflies and they saw me.
I stopped a long time looking at a hawk up in the sky:
it floated, soared, and sailed up there,
and made me want to fly.
And then because I saw the world was beautiful and bright
I picked up trash beside the road because it just seemed right.

There must there must be more than the dust
and sweat and blood and tears and toil
before we comet to the soil;
be more than fears when end our years,
more than brief moment cut away
a taste of life, then down we lay.
(And still I sit, and let clock tick
escape by movie, book and game.
Evade, avoid: real thought brings pain.)
Sometimes I see outside of me
to others' wrestling mortal coil,
know we will all commit to soil.
There must be rust and death unjust
but we have us and love and care
and death can't take the love we share.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I'm a pendulum; I hang on your every word.
But when you are silent I'm captive, unstirred.
And when you are distant or hard to hear,
I huddle all heavy and still for fear.
Hoping for message by sight or sound
I vacillate: hang on or just hang around.
And if I let go my hold will I fall?
Or is there a holder above it all?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

God loves past logic and past deserving
with a love that's constant, pure, unswerving.
God sees us truly and suffers fools gladly,
full of mercy when we go badly.
God loves us like a mother a child:
I looked for judgment and God just smiled,
and called me back through dark and cloud.
God loves past silence, but not always out loud.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A bit of fluff.

Oh I have tried Cinderella's shoe,
the pretty thing, and it fit me, too,
but the thought of wearing it all my life,
of gowns, and being the prince's wife,
awoke in me a wild sweet dream
of throwing off appear and seem
and being real, being only me
and running or resting where I want to be.
So I dance alone or with whom I choose
and don't have to worry abut breakable shoes
and wear old jeans and don't comb my hair
and I see the palace, but I don't go there.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New rhubarb leaf

I am not only thankful that I can kneel to soil,
put in my hand to abundant land;
seed planted water poured abundantly will bring reward
in flower, fruit, pod and root.
Put in my sweat and greatly get.
Soft muscle ache, good sleep, good wake.
Put in my worries over frost, plants lost to beetles, worms and moths.
Put in the time that others choose to spend on city street and lose
the feel of sun and soil and wind and hope shaped like the seeds put in.
I am not only thankful that I still can walk, and plant and till,
for it is known that day will come when I cannot, and must sit still.
I am not only thankful for these garden blessings on my knees.
But also for the joy I feel when in this holy ground I kneel.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I cannot deal with death, though death will surely deal with me.
The power greater is that washes all away to sea,

than my poor frantic scrabblings of oh god it cannot be,
my shallow and pathetic strokes against the enemy.
And now the years have passed I see the anguish will remain,

the stabbing grief is still as deep as that first shaft of pain
the day death came. And it is plain
time has no balm, and is not sorrow's bane.
Even so. We are alive to live.
We have been made for life, to give
and take within the living world, and if
my reason bids me false, I will lie quiet in my grave:
Death, thou art wrongful!
I charge thee death, with all my will,
thy eventual destruction is writ down and cannot fail,
and life will prevail.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter morning
I sit on my temporary porch
facing east Easter morning.
Some day we may build a deck,
but today it is these four steps.
There the old old swing
generations have joyed,
here a quick coffee in a favourite mug,
there sunshine on old hopeless snow banks.
We will be thirty or more
in our old house today,
and I'm stealing a moment
because I did not have time for church:
and here is the sun
the cool spring breeze
the leaf-waiting trees
and a choir of geese, sparrow, magpie, crow,
and a solo by mourning dove.

Frozen puddle
Good Friday
Two timeless days dead
and the world changes.
The death you feared came near.
Troubled, overwhelmed, forsaken, you died.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

If I do not hear from God
I will just keep listening
and try to be


 I don't need to see a burning bush,
and couldn't take it if I did.
But as I walked into the woods,
I saw a glow,
a hidden shine,
and past the poplars, maples, oaks,
I came upon a brilliant sign.
A dried grass vision, small but mine.

My writing is going through a dry spell, but I was fortunate to see and photograph the lunar eclipse going on just over our house in southeast Manitoba last night. It was a cold one at 2:00 a.m., -13C or so. Mars is visible above and to the right of the moon in the first photo. I believe the star below and to the right is Spica.
This was beautiful and amazing to behold.