A Bouquet of Friends

homerhooter

inchworm5

ottervile

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.
~Albert Camus

After a month of nearby wildfires where neighbors supported neighbors
and volunteers responded to calls for help,
then this past weekend a windstorm that took away power and water,
we quickly find out who to be-a-friend-to in a time of need.

Thank God for people who know how to befriend
when we need someone to just walk alongside.

wwurosepinkaugust

If friends were flowers, I’d pick you…
~Albert Camus 

hollyhockwwured

hollyhockwwupink

wwuom

Brought Together By the Lights

image

I awoke to eery inky darkness this morning around 5 AM. No digital clock numbers shining red, no nightlight illumination. Just black. The wind and rain storm yesterday that hit Puget Sound and the Washington coast left us without power, and a quick scan out the windows informed me we were not alone waking in the dark this morning.  The closest lights in the horizon were the Canadian border cities ten miles away gleaming bright.

We were caught unprepared on this one.  The flashlights, of course, were not where they were supposed to be, and the candles were stuck deep in cupboards after Christmas.  The generator, unused for too long, won’t start.  Our little bit of battery power for computer and phone is rapidly diminishing. When an Amish acquaintance from Ohio called me and I lamented about how completely unAmish I was in my dependency on the power grid, he chuckled and asked me if I had my oil lamps lit yet.

We are nearing 20 hours since the power went out, the storm long past, but sit with 200,000 other homes waiting to be “turned on” again. It could be awhile. It is just for these kinds of situations on the farm that we have a small generator that we use sporadically to pump the water to the barn and keep the freezer and refrigerator cold. No such luck this time.  Good thing it is a warm time of year (except for the freezer stuff).

Our children always celebrated our power outages. It is high adventure, an escape from the routine, and even in their teenage years, they cling closer. They are all gone but I remember past power outages when we cleaned barn with the help of flashlights, cleaned house together and folded clothes in the dark, guessing the color of the dark socks, played piano and sang together and read lines in my son’s high school musical, helping him to memorize his part. We played games and laughed more than usual. We were drawn together by necessity as well as by choice. There was one good light in the kitchen, so there we sat encircled together, connected by a candle, when so often we are flung apart by the busyness and bright light of the world.

Last night we revisited those times as we had previously planned to have five neighbor children over for several hours to hang out and eat dinner.  The barbecue worked, we ate canned fruit and green salad and finished off all the ice cream before it became soup. They found our dark house unique with books by flashlight, playing piano and watching cartoons by iPad.  As they headed home last night to their generator-powered house, I wistfully hugged each one, remembering those family storm days not so long ago.

I am hopeful about the thought of the power returning sometime soon. Our children used to say a no power day was one of the best Saturdays they remembered in a long time. I have to agree. Maybe we need to take a hint and shut off the electronics– the phone, TV, computer, and just sit down together more often, sharing ourselves inside a circle of light. It is far more memorable, and in a dark house battered by a windstorm, far more enlightening to the heart.

On the Spot, Watching

rainstorm

breezetrees

A tree can’t thrash its branches;
it waits for the wind to move them.
I can manufacture neither poems nor spiritual power,
but my task is to be on the spot, watching,
ready when the breeze picks up.

~Luci Shaw from Breath for the Bones

 

I awake as a gust unlatches our front door ajar,
blinds clattering over screened windows
yawning open for months;
raindrops blowing everywhere,
sucked up with a thirst
unknown by this soil before.

I thirst too~
sweat-dried from a too-long summer,
eager to be tasked with watching
this amazing change
to be moved as it passes by,
bowed and bent by its power.

breezepoplar

breezebirch

 

A Wordless Immanence

tablerain

in celebration of a night’s rain and possibly more to come after months of drought, dust and wildfires to the east ~~~
… relief for the change in weather, but sadness at the coming transition to the dying darkness of autumn.

herbgardenrain

At the end of August, fall nip in the air,
I sensed something beyond me,
Everywhere I felt it in my flesh
As I beheld the sea and sky, the day,
The wordless immanence of the eternal…
~Richard Eberhart from “The Loon Call”

irishoodrain

August rain:
the best of the summer gone,
and the new fall not yet born.
The odd uneven time.
~Sylvia Plath

herbgardenrain2

clotheslinerain

I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.   
I want to be entered and picked clean.
~Charles Wright from “Clear Night”
weedgrasshopperrain
birdsfilbertrain

To Keep Us Warm

quilt3

 

quilt6

quilt12

quilt4

 

quilt16

“I make them warm to keep my family from freezing;
I make them beautiful to keep my heart from breaking.”
–From the journal of a prairie woman, 1870
To keep a husband and five children warm,
she quilts them covers thick as drifts against
the door. Through every fleshy square white threads
needle their almost invisible tracks; her hours
count each small suture that holds together
the raw-cut, uncolored edges of her life.
She pieces each one beautiful, and summer bright
to thaw her frozen soul. Under her fingers
the scraps grow to green birds and purple
improbable leaves; deeper than calico, her mid-winter
mind bursts into flowers. She watches them unfold
between the double stars, the wedding rings.
~Luci Shaw “Quiltmaker”

in the unknown world
the woman
threading together her need
and her needle
nods toward the smiling girl
remember
this will keep us warm

~Lucille Clifton from “quilting”

 

It could be the world was made this way:
piecemeal, the parts fitting together
as if made for one another~
disparate and separate
coming together.
The point of its creation
to be forever functional,
a blanket of warmth and security
but its result is so much more:
beauty arising from scraps,
the broken stitched to broken
to become holy and whole.

quilt7

quilt2

quilt1

quilt8

quilt13

quilt5

This Mysterious Passage

kai

But a dragon lies in ambush for the traveler;
take care he does not bite you and inject you his poison of unbelief.
Seeing this numerous company winning salvation,
he selects and stalks his prey.
In your journey to the Father of souls,
your way lies past that dragon. |
How shall you pass him?
You must have “your feet stoutly with the gospel of peace,”
so that, even if he does bite you,
he may not hurt you.
~St. Cyril of Jerusalem

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote:
“The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass.
Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls,
but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.”
No matter what form the dragon may take,
it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws,
that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell,
and this being the case, it requires considerable courage
at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller.

~Flannery O’Connor

Here be dragons
was any place on the ancient maps
that was unknown and unexplored,
much like the remainder of our days
are on the edge of any map we know.

So many dragons to pass,
so many mysteries remain unsolved,
so many stories of journey to be told,
and above all,
we must listen to what all have to teach us
and not stray from the worn path of the faithful.

sunset8101512

sunset823151

smokysunset82415

His Unfinished Business

mike

Written in remembrance of my brother-in-law,  Mike Casey
1947-2007
husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend, musician, carpenter

~you were tragically lost too soon~

August 25, 2007

We always assumed there would be
another day
for the next remodel,
the next project,
the next concert;
plenty of time
to explore how
to bring people joy
and help them feel at home.

You rebuilt the old
with tools in your hands,
both people and houses
molded with encouragement and humor
created through wood, music
and friendship

Your four grandchildren
-brand new construction-
now growing tall
sanded and shaped
smooth
varnished
glowing
reflecting your love and skill.

You are in their hands,
their eyes,
their hearts
forever more
your knowledge
becoming theirs.

It is much too soon
to be called upon to move on,
leaving behind unfinished business;
yet you are building afar
a new song
a new foundation
a new hope
new construction
for the rest of us to come home to
someday.