A topic laden with emotion Soggy with defeat Or pregnant with possibility Retire Cease the frenetic pace of life Curl up on the couch Lay back in an easy chair Sip a cup of hot tea Take a refreshing swig of a cold beer Read a novel Take a walk Retire – Begin leisure time More moments to call your own Snuggle with a loved one Breathe However, there can be grief held within the word Retire--Worn out Used up Overdone Put to pasture Superfluous Sidelined Devoid of worth and meaning Retired Once Contributing so much Impacting lives Earning the esteem of others Gone ended Re-tire Old treads worn thin Rolling over that rubber Day after week After month After year After decade, decade, decade, decade and more My tread wore thin I gave all of me And it was good I loved my work I loved it But now I can re-tire Not sit on a shelf Merely retire my career Lay down my vocation No more knuckle clenching drives Down Route 89 on ice covered roads No more conflict No more Struggling to preserve the “old ways” Ways of compassion, human kindness, healing And placing People before profit. Time to re-tire New treads to ride Windows wide open Fresh air replacing stagnant Breathing freely again!! Time to write that book To pull it out of the hidden recesses of my brain The secret chambers of my heart Where it has waited Not so patiently Time to reach people in a different way Still healing Still teaching Still comforting Time to nurture life Grow my Garden of Delight Nurture the Pollinator Garden Cook home grown meals Can summer’s offering to nurture winter days Time to be present With my wonderful husband Our lives joined later in life We aim to maximize these remaining years Time to enjoy the grand kids They are truly A Joy I do not want to miss out on Time to relish the children and their spouses They are not children But incredible adults Contributing much to this world Time to be at the ready For family, friends, community Time to relish our magnificent world This most generous, precious gift Given by a loving Creator Time to photograph the beauty To protect our lakes To fill my soul with The treasures which abound on this most awesome planet we get to call home RETIRE Yes! New priorities New life New freedoms, opportunities The tree of my life Has been pruned I marvel in expectation As, with gratitude and appreciation, I watch for spurts of new growth!
Soul stirring Heart overflowing Joy Joy surging from every pore Swinging arms in gleeful awe Smile broadcast from cheek to cheek Head thrown back with outrageous joy. The black lab emerged, obediently, from the car Every movement controlled looking to his human for release she nodded ascent and his joy erupted! His tail wagged in eager anticipation His nose pointed skyward Sniffing the fresh lake water, the damp earth then he erupted into dance circling, leaping and circling some more He danced with Joy As he moved toward the water. My son and I are not dancers But we danced! The music as our backdrop Humble and kind And visit your grandfather, Give a hand up and always remember to be humble and kind. I said, "Yes!" to the spin He declined But we danced The poignancy of the moment overwhelmed me with Joy He had just married a most wonderful woman who truly loves him and he her Joy and love filled my eyes as the song ended the new chapter begins and to that beginning. . . I dance with joy My son has not merely survived, He has thrived I rejoice in the person he has become I rejoice in his bride and I dance circles of joy in celebration of their Forever Union!
There is still room for joy
Amidst the weeds
Of violence, disease, and hate
There is still abundant room for joy
People still fall in love
Birds still sing and chirp
Water still bubbles and tumbles
Over rock laden stream bed
Clouds still grace the robin’s egg sky
Leaving wisps of lovely as they fade away
The breeze still blows fresh breaths of air
Cooling tonic for hard working bodies
Loons continue calling
One to the other
In protection and connection
The trees still bow to the wind
Their leaves fluttering joyfully
Children’s eyes continue to light up and dance
As they chase butterflies in flight.
There is still room for joy
Pause, look around, and listen attentively
Open to the joy
See the brilliant green of new growth on the cypress shrub
The green of hope.
Allow the healing power
Of nature, love and kindness
Expressed in varied ways
To wash aside
If just for a moment
The sadness, strife, hopelessness, worry and fear
Allow the joy to permeate your soul
Making the world a bit brighter
Pushing back the weeds
Making room for joy.
While on a writer’s retreat Meeting with creative, intelligent people Engaging in meaningful discussion I met a lovely young woman. As I sat with this woman, warning bells clanged She spoke of her beliefs She spoke of her pain of isolation and rejection And of suffering caused by others’ judgments of her. Her beliefs were not mine But I was able to witness her pain I was able to see her fear Based upon her beliefs I was gifted with a glance Into this woman’s heartfelt angst As she stoically stood her ground Against vaccine mandates I was taken aback and relieved That I felt compassion Rather than anger In defense of my hospital colleagues I met her heart Before I listened to her thoughts Her opinions were not mine But I was blessed with the grace To keep my mouth closed To not “correct” her facts Insisting on my “facts” To not judge her person Based on her opinion I was blessed with silence As I listened and heard I heard her fears Her hopes And her suffering While stoically standing her ground. We came together a few times over the weekend In genuine appreciation for each other And the gifts we were sharing. Her ground was not, at first glance my ground There was a chasm between us Based upon our beliefs And opinions A chasm that could swallow the good, the holy Residing within each of us A chasm which has divided our families, towns, and states The ravine has been dug by fear It has been dynamited open By hate used to create division Innocent people have fallen prey To the power of those wishing our world divided Leaving a void in which power may grow. Innocent people have clung to their ground Fearing the cliffs of the chasm And the stones which are thrown at them In seeing the beauty and intelligence of this woman And the pain caused by this divide I was brought back to the early days of AIDs The fear, finger pointing and blame scourging our world I remember “Mark” The first person at our hospice to die from Kaposi’s Sarcoma All the staff loved Mark. Then we learned of AIDs and the connection with Kaposi’s Mark was our first AIDs patient. Fear accompanied AIDs The spirit of Mark helped some of us Be less afraid. We were blessed to know The beauty of the man Before the fear of the disease took up residence. So, I wonder, can we bridge this chasm? Created by fear Of other opinions, beliefs, politics Can we see all ground is holy ground? Can the tree of life Join the two halves of the divide? Understanding does not mean agreeing Understanding grows from listening With an open heart Listening to the person Hiding behind the fear Understanding does not mean agreeing Understanding can be a building block A cornerstone to the bridge The bridge to span the chasm Unite our ground And heal the divide Evil wins If we do not reach out To meet and understand each other And forego the diatribe. The hug from my new friend Was true and gave me hope That we, the people, Might once again Stand united.
Tom and I decided to take the afternoon off and go somewhere fun together. Since we both work from home, we can get caught up in working 7 days a week–especially during Tom’s busy season. He is owner/operator of a business so nearly always working. We took off to one of our favorite towns less than an hour from our house –Woodstock VT! I had recalled seeing a shop on my way home from Benson VT that I wanted to stop in at with Tom. I thought it may have been a pottery shop and knew it was a bit north of downtown — Road Trip it was!! We ended up at Shackleton Thomas in Bridgewater VT. It was a fabulously serendipitous adventure.
The Potter’s House Tree of life Exquisitely created Creatures perched within the branches Greeting visitors at the entrance Riveted to the spot I sensed the space as filled with love and hope Steps slowed, heart peaceful I wandered in this place of artistic creations Molded from nature-- Wood and clay Grain of tree holding center stage In tables and chests Beauty. Breathtaking beauty. Mugs, teapots Calling out to be touched Held, enjoyed. Venturing on, I beheld a potter Sitting at his wheel He looked up and smiled. Delight of delights I was drawn to the side of his wheel Ready to watch creation. But he gave more He gave invitation to throw pottery To create To don an apron And get dirty in clay! I gave my unrestrained yes! In the beginning The lump of clay Was to be thrown In the center of the spinning universe The potter’s wheel My novice throw was not quite on the mark The potter gently re positioned the lump And it was good. Bracing arms on table's edge Standing over top the clay Centering body Full attention Tender, strong touch I immersed in the craft. The clay transformed A tiny bowl emerged And it was good! But the clay had more life to give Step by step The potter taught me Then let me Bring forth Even greater beauty As the bowl grew taller, smoother The strength of my whole body Delicately given to one fingertip As the base of the bowl opened out Tender touch Spinning universe Kind, affirming teacher Loving, encouraging husband My spirit filled With the joy of creation And human kindness As I found a bowl in a lump of clay! Jeremiah 18:1-3
I am at a Writer’s Retreat at Mercy By the Sea in CT. We were given a writing prompt with instruction to choose the paper that “called out to you” and write about it! We had 10 minutes. Here is my “offering”!!
Tender Shoots The fragile green of new life Bright with possibility and vitality The green of tender shoots Emerging from the dark Exposed now to sun and water Wind and love The shoots of promise, Of anticipation, of life unto death The green of new grass, new leaves All eagerly awaiting warmth And longer days As they emerge unafraid. Can we ever return To that state of new, fresh, and eager? Can we ever release fear, Distrust and sadness And embrace our new growth Nurture our tender shoots Receive the Son, the warmth, the light. Drink the Water of Life?
Christians around the world
Recall the crucifixion of Christ
The day is sad, woeful
A sense of lingering doom
Clouds the day
As Death is anticipated
It is not always that way
I have sat beside many people
As they stand watch
Their loved one approaching death
They remain alert in Gethsemane and Upon the hill of Calvary
I have been privileged
To witness much joy
As people share stories;
Laughter segues into tears
And time stands still
As minutes stretch to days
Awaiting the last breath
I have never felt that joy on Good Friday
The joy is always reserved for Easter Sunday
The bells of joy and Hallelujah
Christ is Risen
Truly He is Risen
But Jesus was murdered
Hung on a cross to die
Silenced by death
For his seditious act
Of spreading Love.
There is no joyful anticipation
Of violent death
It is not a release from suffering
Nor an ending to a full life well lived
It is life stolen.
I imagine there is no joy to be found
On the battlefield
The demolished cities of Ukraine
Places of such death and destruction
The path of a rampage of hate
So, as we anticipate Christ’s death
As we walk in our minds
The passion story once again
Let us hold in our hearts
All those whose lives are being torn apart
By evil brutality
Let us pray for an end
To their suffering
Let us pray
For conversion of evil
Let us pray for an Easter Resurrection
Within each suffering person
Within our troubled world.
I had read about vermiculite Using it as is To start your seeds “What’s to lose,” I thought. My parsley was not growing In the organic starting mix from the Coast of Maine. The peppers seeds Were still dormant or had they died Beneath the perfect soil? No sweet talk seemed capable Of drawing them out At least not my sweet talk! So, I poured the vermiculite Into an abandoned cashew yogurt container, Wet it down Spread 10 seeds over the surface Then finished off with a ¼ inch layer of more vermiculite I blessed it with a fine mist, Clicked the cover in place And placed it on the heat mat. A few days later, On a less cold spring day I carried them outside, With other promising containers, To the greenhouse To absorb the warmth Of that fine New Hampshire sun. On their second outing day, As the yogurt container soaked up the warmth of the greenhouse, I peeked inside There were 9 baby plants! Tiny green shoots emerged!!! The first leaves unfurled They were beautiful Each sprout had only the cotyledon leaves— The embryonic leaves Atop a delicate green stem Worried they may need more nutrition Than the vermiculite and embryonic leaves could provide Or maybe just excited to move forward I decided to transplant them! I separated the babies-- One to each red solo cup Filled with starter soil Wet down in preparation A nice deep divot dug Ready to embrace the fragile roots Ever so carefully and breathlessly I grasped the tiny leaves Of my first neonate Pulling steadily, firmly, and gently I liberated the newborn. The vermiculite effortlessly released the babe The white root stalk came forth With tiny white shoots extending from the main root. My tiny seed had become A whole, living plant! I delicately placed it into its new home, Patted it reassuringly Sprinkled another blessing onto the soil And set it upon the greenhouse shelf To stretch its roots Raise each leaf face toward the sun And accept its welcoming embrace Nine solo cups An eggplant copse Separate but together So far, surviving their first right of passage! I screeched with delight!!
Recently while eating in silence with mostly nuns I became aware that I was rushing I saw myself merely shoveling the food in As I have done for years Always hurrying to the next event. But during that meal In silence I had an awareness of the preciousness Of each moment. I became open to the present Letting go, if ever so briefly Of leaping forward to take control Of the next moment And the next. Rather than shoveling at the trough I put my fork down Between bites. Releasing my grip I resided in the bite I had just taken. I felt gratitude For the hands which had prepared my meal For the rain, the sun, and the earth Which grew and nurtured the food And for the seeds which germinated, sprouted, produced, gave harvest And died. I felt appreciation for The texture and taste of each bite I gazed upon the trees outside the window from one meal to the next I noticed the deepening yellow hue of the early spring willow trees I witnessed the hopeful changes The signs of rebirth The manifestations of life flourishing. Putting down my fork between bites I savored my meal And I thought of those who are hungry Of those who are suffering in war torn countries Without family, food, water or safety I thought of them all And held them in silent prayer. As I chewed and as I swallowed I felt tremendous gratitude for my life. Putting my fork down between bites Time slowed It truly did I slowed I paused and appreciated Life, love, food, drink, safety And so much more.
Let me begin here by explaining what liminal space means to me. Liminal is the space between two realities. When moving over the threshold from the old to the new, it is the space between the two. In my life, I found myself in liminal space often when sitting at the bedside of a dying person. In those times, I experienced a feeling of being very close to the spiritual realm — what some might call heaven.
I recently attended a 5 day retreat at an ecospiritual farm — Mercy Farm in Benson VT. It was a restful while profound experience learning about Celtic Spirituality. The meaning of liminal space expanded for me during that week when I found myself writing after taking a walk. It is this writing I shall share–as one of my co-retreatants has held me accountable to sharing here!!
Liminal Space I call to You, my God In fright In pain Aloud I call to You. The dog racing down the driveway The owner shouting I hear panic in his shout The other dogs retreated But the blonde kept racing Toward me As the owner’s shouts Grew more desperate. I hurried Careful not to run and attract I saw him halfway down the driveway The now not so long driveway His threatening bark increasing in volume The owner’s cries more insistent. “Oh, God; Oh, God; Oh God!” I bleat out. I spy the thick trunk of a nearby tree Might hiding help? Surely not As he would find my scent I am certain he is on attack My hand grasping the slate I had found I clutch it fiercely I will use this to fend off The monster dog. I don’t hear him anymore Daring to quickly glance back I discover He is not on the road behind me. My breathing begins to slow The hammering of my heart Recedes from my ears. I breathe in deeply The danger has past. I am in the emergency department. The doctor is delayed in seeing me I stand in agony The pain both terrifies and immobilizes me I cannot sit I cannot lie The night has been ages And still stretching into dawn I remember only my chant “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” I cried out in desperation. My friend said I sounded like a feral animal Was it that plea? Or was I writhing aloud? I reach the vista point On my arduous hike Seeing the light shining through the trees I walk onto the outcropping Awe fills my being As I gaze out on the beauty of creation I drink deeply the horizon I drink deeply from my water bottle I sigh and proclaim “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” I pause briefly As I enter the Intensive Care Unit I center myself Pushing aside all else I timidly open the door while sending up a plea “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” I beseech--grant me wisdom, Compassion and love As I be with this dying person This suffering family Oh, God–hear my call. I look out over my garden. Build by loving hands of others Boxes created by my husband Soil mixed by friends and family Greenhouse absorbing warmth As it gathers sun’s life giving rays Furthering incarnation. Fence posts dug on hot summer day Fashioned from my dream Plants bearing fruit Birds flitting in/out feasting On worms and bugs I take in this miracle of garden My Garden of Delight And I send up a silent call of thanks “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” I drive down the ice covered road Snow swirling around me Yellow line barely visible Thankful for my car, tires and studs Miles still to travel Clutching 10 and 2 “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” I plea Bring me home Holding my newborn granddaughter in my arms Aware of this miracle of life but still Startled by the depth of love Stirring with immediacy Deep within. Knowing beyond knowledge The mystical bond between us. Eyes filled with tears of Gratitude for this moment I swaddle with love this babe and murmur “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” In the arms of my love A gift of my later life In passion and release I cry out “Oh, God. Oh, God! Oh, God!” In so many ways For so many reasons The curtain of separation blows aside And allows a peak If ever so briefly Into the full joy of connection Granting a momentary glance into The fullness of the God Spirit within This is Liminal Space The curtain is thinned and opened It is the cervix of our birth and rebirth.