Celebrate independence, freedom Feels a bit contrived this year So much threatens our nation Infighting, violence, politics, greed, disease Nevertheless, we have survived worse For deep within our nation Are planted Seeds of democracy The aspirations of freedom, equality, life, liberty And the pursuit of happiness Remain woven into the fabric of our union Our voices must still ring out Our hearts have much to be thankful for Much to rejoice As we awaken to each new day In this, which is still, The land of the free And home of the brave Neighbor cares for neighbor People reach out helping hands Across the street, Across political, race, and gender lines Across the pond Across the world Our voices must ring out in gratitude for all That is good For all which we are thankful As we awaken each day Free to try again To make our world Just a little bit kinder A little bit greener And a great deal more loving!
Beautiful Tranquil Peaceful Unreal images of reality The reflection of the sun Shimmering on the glass surface Of the early morning lake Is exquisite The silver sparkles spread across the water Flickering as tiny ripples emerge The reflection of the sun is beautiful But it shares no warmth The pine tree stands sentry at water’s edge Protecting the land from erosion Giving home to birds, bugs, squirrels, spiders and more Dripping sap and needles indiscriminately Shedding pollen across the lake surface And all passersby The pine tree solid and true Engages fully in lake life The gorgeous, the plain and the ugly The water reflects the image of stalwart pine At certain times of day In just the right light The beauty is mirrored by still water It is an illusion Enjoyed, but not to be relied upon The ripples come, the storm clouds hover Night descends The mirrored image disappears But the pine remains In all its battered beauty. In early years Image is what I learned Look “perfect” and you won’t get in trouble Hide the flaws, be the un-scarred image Walk the line of perfect Earn heaven and avoid hell Punch your card White first communion dress White wedding dress Perfect grades Perfect attendance Obeying all the rules The religion of obedience without question Life was but a reflection until the clouds thickened And ripples appeared Reality insisted on being acknowledged As I reached deep within to truth I was cut by shards of the glass mirror And risked drowning in the still waters For reflections have no depth. My image pontificated On the evil of abortion Until a person dear to my heart Shared with me her abortion story. She had suffered alone Not daring to call out to me My image of perfection Spoke judgment and intolerance. Briefly, I glimpsed my false image I saw how love suffered in the presence of righteousness I saw the pain and suffering caused By narrowed vision My image As good Catholic Married forever Was a thin film as well As the surface ripples became white caps I learned to release the lie of the façade I learned to listen to the Spirit And choose life for my children and myself My image, my false self was crumbling As my true self And its shadow fought to survive authentically. Behind the facades of perfection Hide imperfect people Some insisting on inserting their beliefs upon our world Without regard for lives Yes, without regard for lives Without compassion or mercy Without love for broken and battered humans Sitting at bedsides of dying people People who are living from their truest selves As they are experiencing their bodies failing, dying Theirs is not a false image From these wise people I have learned Love is all that matters Truth is all that survives Judge not. Judge not.
On sunny days Shadows become apparent for all to see Walking along Standing at water’s edge Darkness passes over me Momentarily removed from the light, I look up A butterfly! Something else, larger this time Soars overhead Casting its shadow across my path Grateful for the “heads up” I look skyward An eagle A heron A loon A merganser A mallard Shadows announcing Nature’s inhabitants Shadows giving pause And cause to look up Shadows obscuring light Shadows present with us always Especially known on sunny days Shadows Cast by the green leaved canopy of the maple Cooling, giving place for rest Shadows Present on sunny days and moon filled nights Shadows of ourselves Holding truth and pain Maybe secrets unknown to even self Shadow self Containing mysteries Keys to knowledge Of fully human self Shadow self Our darker side Maybe Shake hands with shadow Embrace, welcome Acknowledge Our shadows Intimate parts of who we are Always present whether seen or not. Maybe, if we truly see them It will give us pause It will give us cause To look Up And understand.
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!
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!
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
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
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.