Re-tire!


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!
Ahhh!!!

Dancing with Joy!

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!
See the resemblance??

Still Room for Joy

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.

Bridging the Chasm


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.

The Potter’s House

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



Matt the Potter Teaches

Tender Shoot

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?


	

Good Friday Lamentation

 

Good Friday

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

Ring Out

“Khrystos Voskres!”

“Voistynu Voskres!”

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

Evil incarnate

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.

Eggplant

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!!

Putting Down My Fork . . . Between Bites


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.


Liminal Space

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.