Friday, December 2, 2016

Poem: The Sacred Surrounds

Hum me a winter's lullaby,
glorious slice of silver moon,
beckon the mists and bid them fly
summon a breeze to carry the tune.
Weave in the colors of the year,
purple and pink and green and gold,
yellow for laughter, blue for tears,
all of wonders our hearts can hold.

Spangle the night with a haze of stars,
sweeping my doubts and fears away,
wrap me warm in your Holy arms,
hold me safe and 'till the light of day.

Hum me a winter's lullaby,
rhythm and cadence as sacred art,
all I ask at the end of the day:
a melody timed to my mother's heart.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Poems: Traditions and Reality


They were powerful, epic stories,
told in tall block letters gilded with gold.
With the those fireworks in our eyes,
we did not notice the life and death
filled jungle looming behind us.

We studied the dances, practiced the
patterns, the tilt of the head, steps
in sequence, shoulders back, until
finally, we cross-tied our satin shoes
and took the stage, mimic perfect,
dancing the first phrase on repeat.


She smiled for her graduation picture,
despite the blisters on her heels, the
ill-fitting dress, her mind elsewhere.
(Those steady dark eyes, the swirl of 
the unknown, fear braided with desire.)
A step back, a pounding heart, a turn;
then straight round on the paved road.


The air is pungent with pine sap as,
following deer paths, she makes her
way through morning stillness to the river.
She is thirsty and stares across the mist.
    Sadly, she has lost her language.
Coming to the water, she sees movement
in the shadows, and finds an amber
gem on a cord, lying at the water's edge.




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another Beautiful Thing For Your Heart

Four years ago, on this date, I posted this beautiful poem. Here it is again.
 It is from Rilke's Book of Hours, by Rainer Maria Rilke.

"God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Some of My Favorites

Every once in a while I like to post some of my favorite pictures, not necessarily from this year, pictures that speak to my heart with beauty and more. Here we go.

2. This was in 2012. My grandkids and I were taking a nature walk through my gardens, looking for living creatures and discovering beauty.

"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
the song of the birds for mirth;
one is nearer God's heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth."

                           -Dorothy Frances Gurney

2. This was taken in Glendalough, in Wicklow County, Ireland. This entire area felt holy to me and I spent most of each day out on the grounds somewhere, 'being' with the earth. I know there are many, many beautiful places on the planet I have yet to see, and probably never will. But this place calls to my heart, fills me with joy and brings me to tears.

"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, 
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: 
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee; 
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

 And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 
And evening full of the linnet’s wings...."
                                           _W.B. Yeats


This woman is washing her daughter's hair in a lake.
Look how the child clings to the mother, by arms and legs, with her eyes closed, knowing she is perfectly safe.


 I've posted this one before BECAUSE I LOVE IT.
This is Abbey and her son, Brendan, when he was still a little boy. It was taken after Abbey's cousin Rachael's wedding. Yes, it was in December and the lights were lit. That's B's Uncle Able's hat (you knew that I'm sure). I love the way Abbey is looking at him and the look on his sweet face.  This is the look on every mother's face when she looks at her son. She is seeing the man she loves in the face of the boy she loves.

"Love is not emotion, it is conviction,
it is strength of purpose and will,
it is the threads of life woven tightly
together and dyed in the colors of blood,
bright and dark together,
an unbreakable weave..."
~Deb Dotter Blakley, A Mother's Love

5.   This picture brings me calmness. It's several things: the gradations of color in the different layers of pink petals, the sharp texture of the inner golden circle, the illusion of floating on the water, when it is actually tethered to the roots in the mud, The light on the lily leaf, the angles of the brown stems beneath the water's surface.  It's this world and the next. Nature is steeped in metaphor.

“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.

     ~Mary Oliver

6.   Here we are in the woods along the creek, E and I.  He wouldn't hold my hand, or allow me to hold his, but he did, very much, want to hold onto my little pinkie finger. *sigh*


"Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.” 

Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Preparations Galore

      In my book, no one particular day or date is of more importance than another.  As I have said before, our calendars are our own creations, woven out of a need to create some order in the time.  Native people used the changing seasons, the changing patterns of the stars, and the movement of their food sources to do the same thing. (That was me being wordy when a simple sentence would have sufficed nicely. You do know I can hear you thinking, right?) Thanksgiving went zipping past, unheralded. 
      I moseyed over to have a quiet lunch at the pink kitchen table with my dear old dad.  We ate what we wanted, the simple goodness of foods we enjoy. We sat in the sun together and remembered Thanksgivings gone by; the rush and whirl of many people in one house, hunters coming in from the field, children laughing and crying, familiar voices visiting in every room. Dad and I enjoyed the quiet afternoon as we sat outside and watched two pair of pale, gray ring-necked doves coming to the bird bath to drink.  Most of his trees still held their yellow leaves on that day in late November, my brother's birthday in fact. As I turned the last corner on the drive homeward, I stopped the car and stepped out to drink in a the fiery colors of a neon sunset stretching across the horizon.
    The next morning company/family arrived to run in the wildness that is the farm and help me decorate for Christmas. They know full well that if they don't come and help, I probably wouldn't do it. (It's more fun with little helpers. Everyone knows that.) There was plenty to drag out of the closets and Audie's boys were great helpers, organizing the nativity, placing the old and new ornaments on the new tree. Santa hats were found and donned and Christmas music was streamed all morning.
     Santa and I did some work in the pretend workshop under the bridge; taking calls from some kids on the naughty list and trying to encourage them to try harder in order to get a present or two.  The reindeer were taken care of and given the special rations that enable them to fly. The sleigh was shined and bells attached.  This isn't Santa's first rodeo; he was handing out work assignments right and left and the elves were busy as.....well, as busy as elves at Christmas.  An owl, a real owl, flew out from under the bridge and glided silently over our heads as we worked. Wow. That was unexpected and wonderful.
    My addition to the feast that was happening on Sunday was homemade bread. This is what I always bring because I'm good at it. Here is little Rowan, acting as my baker's helper in his elf hat. This year I also brought chex-mix because it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it. (That being said, you can easily make yourself sick on that stuff, so be careful. )

        There was a lot of playing outside, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees, as always. This picture seems fairly ordinary but it isn't. That's both boys up in the old Mulberry tree, not just Z. Ro, who is not yet 4, can climb up now, using the hand-holds. Yes, we are always standing there below him when he climbs. He insists upon it, and so do we.  They were looking toward the porch where their mother was taking a picture as well. 

    This time around there were also a lot of balloons blown up and tossed around. Balloons are always good, especially once the kids are able to blow them up for themselves. This shot is great.

    They left to return home before supper (I call it supper and that's okay), I cleaned up, read a bit, wrote for awhile and went to bed.  Several times during the night I woke with a start when one of those balloons went skittering across the floor toward the heater vents and now and then popped with a bang. Not the most restful sleep in the world, but exciting.  Today is the day! I'm ready for some homemade pumpkin pie, some turkey and mashed potatoes. TTFN

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Native Nations Standing Up For The Water

        Photo Credit: Ryan Vizzons

     I am alarmed and sickened by what I see happening to the water protectors at Standing Rock Camp in North Dakota.  Native American people from many separate nations have come together to stand up against the laying of a large oil pipeline under the Missouri River. The crossing point is just outside their current Dakota Sioux land, but the river is the water source for millions of people, including people on Sioux land and other lands to the south. They are also protecting land which to them is held sacred because the centuries old burial sites of their ancestors are located on that land. The land given to the Sioux tribe in treaties has been cut away and taken back over and over again in the past hundred and fifty years.  
     The water protectors are peaceful and unarmed. The forces from North Dakota law enforcement do violence to them by various means including: deployment of water cannons when the temperatures there are in the lower twenties, launching concussion grenades, shooting them with rubber bullets, and spraying them with pepper spray at close range. Many have been arrested. Many others have been injured and taken from the area for medical attention.  It is interesting to note that the pipeline route was initially farther to the east, but was rerouted because it was too close to the water systems of larger cities.
    The media is not covering the story truthfully and several journalists who have gone in to report and film the happenings have been tased, shot with rubber bullets and then arrested and taken from the area.  When the free press is muzzled we are in trouble.  When peaceful assembly is beaten back with violence, we are in trouble (the pictures of the protectors being sprayed with water from the cannons look eerily similar to the protesters in the south being sprayed with fire hoses in the sixties.) The First Amendment gives us the right to stand up and peacefully protest that which we see as dangerous to our welfare or the welfare of our country. These native people are doing that.
      On December 4th several thousand military veterans will arrive in Standing Rock Camp to aid in the protest. They will have protective gear for themselves, their eyes, their ears, their bodies, but they too will be unarmed.  They are standing in support of both the rights of the native people and, more importantly, in protection of the earth's water systems and aquifers.
      This last section of a poem, written by W.H. Auden in 1939, speaks to what I feel in my heart about not only this situation in North Dakota, but also in the country as a whole at this time.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame."
--W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939