In the soft heart of June

 

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June whispers in my ear, beckoning me to stop and drink her in.

Her discordant song echoes in layers, defying the mathematics of music.
What is this confused passion?
This abstraction — perfectly balanced?
The treble of the gnat,
The bass of the bullfrog,
The trill whistle of the bird,
Never a more tangled rhythm beats in the soft heart of June.

Each creature moves to the drumbeat of the Flower Child,
who’s finest garb is strewn about her messy room.
The amber and cerulean bluebird stands guard outside his nest, while his bride arranges her cradle.
The hummingbird skillfully hovers, his wings beating a buzz, before he jets off to fight for his place in the sky.
The turtle lazes in the warmth of the sun, atop a fallen tree, while the dragonfly jettisons across the water.
June’s energy is endless and her laughter rings through the trees.

Paintbrush in hand, she strokes the lightest of light.
Her hand does not shy from the darkness of night.
Her skies churn charcoal grey and electric blue,
and palette knives scoop white upon white.
Her petals scream color,
Her fireflies ignite,
A climax of wonder, the longest day of light.

June brushes soft against my skin.
I stop, quiet, and give myself to her.
Resigned, there are no words fit to describe her wild beauty.
She spins, slowly, in pirouette,
Then, on this, the first day of summer,
I watch her laugh as she begins to dance away.

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Photo by Amy Treasure

Suzanne’s Tattoo

I had no idea, last year, when I scrawled  I Want to Live Alive  in my journal, that it would become Suzanne’s life theme and mantra. She cherished the words and set out to make them true. She set out to live her last days fully alive. 389f6f01c8011417c02cc55e05b4ecfa

 While cancer loomed, she chose to push it aside, even when discomfort became a constant reminder. She was determined to enjoy the chapter she had left- and she made it her mission to teach others to do the same.

In her effort to live alive, Suzanne approached her days methodically. She simply did the next thing- whether mundane, like organizational tasks, cleaning and laundry – or more purposeful things – like having healing conversations, and orchestrating intentional time with family and friends. She did it all with excellence and with all senses engaged.

She also threw herself into her Bible reading and gathered strength and perspective to face the rugged terrain ahead. All the while, she looked for ways to serve others, and nudge them to live more fully alive.

In the end, with her beloved husband and family at her side, Suzanne faced forward and did the last thing on her list. She crossed to the other side as a representative of faith, love and grace. While we say goodbye to her physical presence and loving care, we will never be without her tattoo –  her firm instructions to us: We are we to celebrate her life, but we must also celebrate our own. Live Alive! Rest in peace, beautiful woman. Your life has been a lesson to cherish.

If you would like to read the original blog post which was an inspiration to Suzanne in the last year of her life, follow this link:  I Want To Live Alive

the time has come…

 

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The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

“New Year Resolve”
written by May Sarton, from Collected Poems, 1930-1993

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Thank you to David Kanigan for sharing May Sarton’s , “New Year Resolve,” which, according to his blog post, Kanigan discovered back in 2012, on another blog entitled,  Waiting for the Karma Truck, who’s author says she found it on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac … and on and on.

As seekers, we pass collections of words,
like light with form,
like precious contraband,
from palm to palm,
sipping carefully,
then gulping desperately,
as we discover the taste of truth.

In these words, I see my reflection as “old age silts in the stream,”
and ask, can I stop here?
Can I stop to pull off the sticky, infectious urgencies that threaten to smother me?
Can I finally release what I grip so tightly in my shaking hand —
those small and powerful things which envelop me in shadow?
Can I bring in the quiet, which sits “shivering” and starving
and begging,
“on the mat” just outside my door?

Happy New Year to me,
and to you, my friends.
God help us all, as we strive to live alive.
May we leap that we might fly.

the colors of autumn…

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Autumn is gold,
and amber,
and umber and cool.
It’s red and yellow,
spattered with green,
Like oils,
Like acrylics,
Like rust.

Contrast upon contrast,
like stones in the water,
like Indian stones in the water.
Like painted rocks on the shore.

Layer upon layer,
like wet, Indiana clay,
like red, Oklahoma soil,
like the straw plains in Wyoming.

It’s the sound of the crows and the rustle of the leaves.
It’s a plodding animal in the woods,
like a deer,
like a man,
like a squirrel in autumn,
Thunderfoot.

It’s the wind…
She laces her way through dry branches,

ushering the leaves to let go,
forcing them to set sail,
like a mother,
like a thief,
like a captain.

Yellow sailors take the helm,
tacking back and forth,
upon the shifting air,
like dancers,
like feathers,
like snowflakes,
unto the littered ground.

The dry, straw ground,
covered with nuts,
and sticks, and fallen leaves,
which ruffle into earthy piles. 
Piles to be tapped by the rain.
and rustled by the breeze,
like strings,
like fairy drums,
like dreams.

The flowers, once pink,
and purple
and red,
now brown,

beautiful Indian brown,
now gone to seed, ruddy crisp.
like splinters,
like brown wrens,
like bark,
bouncing lightly to the sound of Autumn.

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quick thoughts before the sun goes down.
must the sun go down?

I want to live alive…

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Yesterday, I smuggled a four pack of Cabernet, a dark, salty chocolate bar, and a couple of wine glasses into the hospital to visit my friend, who is battling cancer. She was delighted that I actually did the brazen thing she suggested, and we proceeded to spent the cold, drizzly afternoon in her private room, talking about the past, the present and the future.

As we sat sipping wine and nibbling chocolate, we shared some painful things and asked some big questions, which neither of us have the answers for. She has decided to stop the chemo treatments — unless the next specialist tells her that a significant amount of time will be added to her life, if she will endure another round.  She hasn’t given up — she just wants to trust God for the outcome.

She doesn’t want to live sick. She wants to live alive.
She is making plans for whatever time is left — who to see and what to do — whether there are many days and years left— or few.

She is brave and new. Her hair is maybe a 1/4 inch long all over her head and she sits bold and braless, laughing out loud in her hospital bed. She is forced to stay there until she is safe to move, for fear of dislodging a huge blood clot looming just under her rib cage. She is as human as a human can be, there is no pretense — and she is gorgeous.

Her face is all I can see today — our hearts are connected and I am in constant prayer. I find myself looking over the landscape of my life. How would I spend my last days? I want to live alive.

I would make my last days lovely for my family
I would light all the candles and bring all the flowers in.
I would saturate the air with beautiful music.

I would stop.
I would stop and listen.

I would wear expressions that penetrate the skin and make their way to the soul.
I would look long into the eyes of those I love and they would experience acceptance.
They would remember and know how they are valued and treasured.
I would give meaningful hugs — like the one I got when I left the hospital yesterday.

I would eat food around the table, laughing with those I love.
I would know that sharing a meal together is sacred.
I would not rush away.

I would understand that things are things.
They are only precious when they are a part of our traditions.

I would savor.
I would not gulp.
My actions and activities would have meaning.

My bed would be luscious.
I would have very few clothes in my closet.
I would not worry about what I look like —
I would worry more that I might miss moments pretending to be pretty,
and neat,
and all put together.

I would learn to breathe what is.
I would not to dwell on what isn’t.

I would forgive.
I would ask forgiveness of those I have hurt and rejected.
I would forgive those that have hurt and rejected me.
I would see the pain that motivates the walking wounded.
I would look through all the contorted manifestations,
and I would find the wounds,
and touch them with God’s love.

But.
In my last days, would I forgive myself?
Would I go to the pain that motivates me?
Would I look with grace upon my own contorted manifestations?
Would I allow God’s love to permeate and heal what hurts deep inside?
Would I do that in my last days?

Could I do that today?

 

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Photo by: Eugene Nikiforov

It’s always been you…

 

I’m still perplexed,
in awe, really,
that you would long for me so.
That after all my failings,
you would still wish,
more than anything,
for my time and attention to be yours.
All yours.

Now, as my smooth places are not as sleek,
and my buttery, soft skin, not as supple…
Now, when pretty flirtations don’t light up my dark brown eyes,
How is it that that you still pursue me with such desire?

How is it that I can often be satisfied to find your naked toes in the sheets,
but that you always burn to find every inch of me.
You.
You prefer our place under the covers to any high place on earth.
You would clear away any obstacle just to whisper to me quietly.

You.
How you work tirelessly to meet my every need.
How, for all these years, you will deny yourself anything,
to be sure that I have everything.
How you sweat, and fix, and conquer, for the small favor of my high regard.

How can the world send young women to chase after sleek imitations,
with hair and whiskers disarranged just sexily so,
When there’s you?
Girls chasing dreams of fictitious enigmas, which they compare to the bleak, unfulfilling every day.
The bleak, wondrous love I enjoy
every day.

You.
Are there more like you?

You, in the end,
When all the rugged chase is over.
You are my dream come true.
With all your faults and shortcomings, pressed closely against all my finally revealed self…

You.
The faithful warmer in my bed.
You.
The one who has never left my side.
You.
The one who knows just how to lay, so I can wrap my arm around to tuck my hand just so.

You, my dream come true.
The one who loves me,
one step down from God.

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Photo credit: Days Gone By

 

Your life, your signature…

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“Despite overall similarities, each nest identifies it’s maker as surely as an artist’s signature”
Maryjo Koch

 Mommy… Did you know that your nest bears your signature?
When you stand back, what do you see?
I remember the days when my children were small.
My girlfriend would come over with her little battalion of boys
and I would make a pile of french toast.

The children would dress up and run barefoot in the grass.
They would make mud balls in the puddles.
There was laughter.
It wasn’t always neat, but it was always pretty.
It wasn’t expensive, but it was enough.
My nest was full of life.

What does your nest say about your life?
Is there music?
Does a candle flicker, adding a glow to your kitchen?
Have you taken your little one out to plant a seed?
Is there laughter?
Do you have time to drink it in?
Do you find yourself crying tears that flow from a pool of gratitude and love?

Who cares if it gets a little messy, just make sure it’s pretty.
Blanket forts are pretty.
Children in footy pajamas, surrounded by piles of books —
That’s pretty.
The mess of life —
That’s neat.

Or is the place in front of the television,
or the iPad in the lap,
or the phone in the hand — is that stuff of your day?
They will remember
and may become too dull to care.
Don’t allow entertainment to smother the life and creativity out of your children.

Take your little one out to watch the hopping robins tug worms out of the soft ground.
Take them out to pick daffodils and teach them to rub the soft petals on their cheeks.
Help them find the tiny buds that line the branches of spring.
Light a candle and use the fancy tea cups.
Write your signature with flare.
Today won’t come again.

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Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest,
via Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan
Photo credit: Julie Falk