It has been a long time since I played with one of the many word challenges online.
And then, today I read Dale’s response at A Dalectable Life…
And felt moved and inspired.
The word for today’s prompt is “Megalith” (I had to look it up.) The direction is, to create something with the word and use 49 words to do it.
The founder of the prompt is Sammi Cox who posts a prompt every week. You can find all the links to this, her 175th prompt, on her blog HERE.
To read more about the prompt, and to read Dale’s moving and beautiful response, click HERE.
Out Of This World
There is a place
where birds twitter in trees
and fish swim free
where bears wander wild
and snakes slither undeterred
by man’s intentions
to build megaliths to himself.
It is gone. That place.
that used to be
before man’s intentions
drained beauty and nature
out of this world.
When I read her comment, I felt something shift deep inside me. Like a recognition, a knowing, a sense of wonder and awe opening up.
The sounds of the leaves have changed.
Later, when I walked in the forest, I stood surrounded by the remains of summer clinging in changing colours to branches and listened deeply to the whispering of the leaves.
Their song is crinkly now. Drier. Like a thousand whispered prayers breathed into the sheer, lacey veils covering the faces of kneeling supplicants at the altar of life.
“Thank you summer, for your warmth and beauty,” they whisper. “Thank you for the heat that encouraged our roots to release its sap. For the warm showers that fed every vein of our being here, standing together in this forest, where we offer shade in the heat and beauty throughout the seasons. For the breezes that blew away all memory of winter’s frost and spring’s slow awkward tendrils. Thank you for being part of our ever-turning story.”
It was a real page turner, the leaves seem to whisper. This summer of Covid. Of uncertainty. Of constant change. Of fires sweeping across vast tracts of land. Of floods and hurricanes and rain pouring down.
Do the trees weep for their burned out comrades? Do their roots ache in sympathy of the dying embers of the skeletal remains of their compatriots who lost their lives to the scorching flames?
I stand beneath the trees and feel my heartbeat slow. My breath becomes deeper. My eyes close and I welcome into my body the song of the autumn kissed trees.
Their song is full of memory. Of connection. Of stories carried by the wind. Of birdsong and chattering squirrels.
Soon, there will be but a few skeletal remains of summer tenanciously clinging to the branches.
Soon, the song of the trees will become more weathered, more seasoned and weary. Their limbs wil stretch out, stark and naked against the winter sky. Their song will be heard in creaking trunks and sighing limbs swaying with the cold air rushing in from the north.
Do trees shiver in Arctic blasts?
Do they feel the sting of frost nipping at their limbs?
Perhaps they are more accustomed to weathering the storms than we humans. Perhaps they trust that the seasons will turn and what once was winter will become spring. Perhaps, in falling leaves they have learned to accept the cycle of life is an unending, constant circle of rebirth.
Their song sounds crinkly to me now, as if their veins are contracting in preparation of The Great Fall.
And I wonder… if I had no sight, if all I could do was hear the seasons turning, would I know it was Autumn by the song of the trees?
I hope so.
Thank you Bernie for your comment and the inspiration to wander in wonder amidst the trees listening deeply to their Autumnal song.
There is something sublimely magical about time spent in the mountains.
Time. Unplugged. Unpressured. Unstructured.
So rare in these days of constant connection. So challenging to attain in these times of pandemic and environmental disasters and political discourse straying far from the peaceful way.
I am back from my sojourn in the mountains. Back from time spent savouring unmapped moments along the shore of Bow Lake and Num-Ti-Jah lodge.
I am back but I carry with me those days of breathing clear mountain air and hearing nothing but nature calling me to slip into reverie beside her running streams.
I carry those moments with me and still I struggle to hold onto the untrammeled path, the silence and the space to simply be present to whatever is unfolding in this moment right now filling my heart and mind and body with its beauty and possibilities.
I struggle and in my struggle am reminded to let go.
To let go of ordering time and managing my thoughts into what I want to be present.
I let go and remember the glacier high above the lakeshore, spanning the gap between two mountains. It has lain there throughout time watching in majestic silence life unravelling and passing by. It has been witness to the travels of Indigenous peoples who called these mountains home long before the first settlers arrived. It has lain unphased through the wars and pestilence befalling humankind and held space beneath clear blue skies turning dark.
The glacier is smaller now. Receding. Drawing back. Releasing its ice cold waters to the streams and rivers flowing steadily down the mountainside. And still, it lays in silent majesty, watching, bearing witness, baring its bones, revealing the land beneath its icy blanket.
I close my eyes and breathe deeply. My pulse quietens, my heart slows down, my mind and body meld together. I become the peace I seek. I become the quiet.
And I wonder. Does the glacier love the mountains holding it against the sky? Does the sky give thanks for the glacier’s icy ways? Does the waterfall give thanks for the water?
I think it is so.
And I give thanks. For this day. For the time by Bow Lake. For the quiet along the trails and the moments shared with friends around a dinner table. For the beauty of this moment right now and above all, I give thanks for the love that fills my life.
Here I am, I whisper to the sky and the trees outside my window and the river flowing by. Here I am. Thank you for this day. Thank you for these blessings that make my life so beautiful and rich and oh so full of love.
As a side note — it was easy to keep social distance as the lodge is closed for the season — it’s gracious and generous owner, a dear friend, chose not to open it under Covid’s risks. It gave him an opportunity to keep a small staff onsite to do maintenance work.
It also meant, he occassionally invited a few friends up to spend time with him in the beauty of his home away from home.
What a beautiful gift of time and space. Thank you TW!
Lost in the darkness of my fear there was no hope for me, I could not see the light beckoning me to surrender and fall fearlessly into Love.
All hope is gone, I cried and Hope whispered back softly, its breath gentle as a lover kissing my eyelids awake. Come, Hope promised, there is light beyond the darkness and joy beyond the sorrow and Love beyond the fear.
Trusting in nothing but hoping it was true, I opened my eyes.
And there was Hope waiting to greet me with arms full of possibility and a heart full of Love.
And so I fell into Hope’s embrace and that’s where Love finds me still. Always and forever.
I saw an acronym for H.O.P.E. the other day. Hold. On. Pain. Ends.
My mind immediately thought, Love doesn’t. End. Love Endures. Love Captivates. Love Overcomes.
Hope is a gateway to Love. Hope holds onto truth in darkness, light in fear, possibility in despair – even when we feel like all hope is lost. Hope is holding on to us.
Thoughts of hope drifted into my mind this morning as I read the quote by Fenton Johnson that David Kanigan shares on his blog, Live & Learn.
I remember a time when I felt like all hope was lost. Hope of ever getting my life back. Of ever getting free of an abusive relationship. Of ever walking in the sunshine and feeling its warmth against my skin without feeling the fear stalking my every step. Of ever seeing my daughters again. Of ever being free to Love fearlessly.
And then, one beautiful May morning, there was hope. Shimmering in the sunlight. Beckoning me from the shadows. Encouraging me to step away from the darkness into the light. To choose Love.
I have been choosing Love ever since that morning 17 years ago when I had given up on hope and fallen into the darkness.
I have chosen Love in my despair. Love in my fear. Love in my every day.
It is one of the most inspiring aspects of life I experienced working in the homeless serving sector for so many years. No matter how dark, or grim, or chaotic life was for those experiencing the harshness and pain of homelessness, every morning people woke up, rose out of their makeshift beds in large rooms filled with others sleeping in the same space, breathing the same air, and they felt HOPE. They had survived another night of homelessness and could take another step today.
There was always hope.
I remember a couple who wanted to get married at the shelter. One day, the soon to be bride came to me and said, “Tell me I’m doing the right thing.”
I told them I couldn’t tell them that. It wasn’t my place. What I could tell them was, “Love prevails. Always. It doesn’t care about titles or the number of degrees or recognition you’ve gained or the colour of your skin or your address. Love prevails. It will find you no matter who you are or where you are.”
And it does.
Find us where ever we are.
For always, no matter what is going on, or where we are, or how we are, Love is always there. In everything. Always and forever. Love. Is. Everywhere.
And always, in everything we do. Everything we say. In every way we step into this day, hopeful. Scared. Sad. However we step, we can, and must, choose Love.
Because, while pain and storms and turmoil will end, Love prevails. It has no ending, nor beginning.
Lent leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday were very important and sacred times to our mother. To give up her earthly body on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, was a testament to her faith and her belief of the forgiveness of sins through penitence and prayer. For our mother, there could be no holier time than this to ascend to be with her Father and those she loves.
As a child, I remember my sister Anne and I going to the church on Friday evenings and helping my mother change the flowers. She loved flowers and looked upon her duty of keeping the altar and church filled with beauty as a sacred trust.
Anne and I would rather have been out playing but mom insisted we attend to the needs of the church first, especially during Easter season.
Solemnly we’d kneel with her in front of the altar, pray a rosary and then, help remove the deadened flowers from each bouquet. My job was to place each dead flower on a sheet of paper, wrap them up carefully so that no stray leaves or petals fell out and carry them to the waste bin in the church offices. Older and bigger than me, Anne was allowed to carry the water-filled vases to the sink and empty them.
Then again, Anne’s being allowed to carry the glass vases may have had nothing to do with age and size and everything to do with the fact my mother knew she could trust Anne to take her job seriously. Me. Well… She probably feared I’d try to dance with the vase in my hands or even sprinkle the water on the floor of the sacristy like a priest sprinkling holy water on a penitent’s forehead.
I liked to play in the make-believe. My mother never quit praying that one day I’d learn to keep my feet on the ground.
She often felt I was too irreverent, too wild by nature, too free-spirited and strong-willed. I can still hear her cautioning me to ‘be careful’. To take heed. To watch my words, my steps, and even my dreams.
She wasn’t big on dreaming. Life was meant to be lived in the service of God. It was serious business, too weighty for dreams to take flight. Life, for my mother, was about living by God’s will. Walking humble. Staying true to her faith and being His servant here on earth.
She was ‘pure of heart’. She held no hypocrisy. No guile. No hidden motives. She dedicated her life to God and through extension, to her family and community.
She imbued the spirit of the Church she loved so much. She wore its traditions and rituals, its liturgy and songs like a beautiful velvet robe of grace and sacred service.
She told me once that most of the gold and silver jewellery she carried with her from India when she left to build a life with my father at the end of WWII was sold off in the early days of their marriage. Times were tough in those days and she had to do what needed to be done to take care of her family.
There was no regret in her voice for the loss of her jewels. Family always came first.
What never left her possession, however, was the rosary and wooden crucifix her father gave her as a child, and the statue of her beloved Saint Teresa of Avila. They had travelled the seas and continents with her, always finding a place at her bedside no matter where in the world she was.
Like Saint Teresa, my mother prayed for peace. Of heart. In her family. In the world.
She prayed for her Church. For her family and everyone she knew.
My mother prayed. Always.
It is one of the things I admire most about her and hold in awe.
No matter the challenges, no matter her losses, her sorrow, my mother never gave up her faith.
She also never gave up praying I would learn to keep my feet on the ground.
It’s something I never had to learn how to do, keep my feet on the ground. I am blessed. My life has been grounded in the constancy and faithfulness of my mother’s prayers.
This morning I sit at my desk, tears flow and my heart breaks open, filled with the beautiful gift of my mother’s prayers. I know, deep within my being, my mother is looking down on me now, clicking her rosary beads in an endless circle of love, whispering her words of benediction and praying I keep dancing and laughing, living and loving with all my heart.
My mother is praying I have faith. In Love. In God. In her prayers.
She is praying I live my life in kindness, grace and Love.
It’s what she prays for all of us because she believes, like St Teresa of Avila, all things are possible.
I sit at my desk beneath the glow of incandescent light cast upon my hands resting on the keyboard. The night is slowly retreating beyond the reach of the sun’s advances. The sky scans dark to light. The horizon stretches east to west, its vast expanse kissed pink and golden beneath a lone dark grey cloud hanging low.
The river flows unending, a silver ribbon of movement rushing eastward to greet the growing lightness of day dawning like a virginal bride blushing in her lover’s embrace.
Steam rises from my coffee mug. I wrap my hands around the warm pottery, tracing the shape of a heart etched into its surface. The scent of cinnamon fills my nostrils.
And I remember you. Long ago. You were like cinnamon on buttered toast. Sweet, scented memories drift through my mind, reminding me of how you were the question mark I could never straighten out. The exclamation I never dared to live up to.
I breathe deeply into memory stirring at the edge of night. Softly, lovingly I relinquish its hold on the landscape of my mind. Deftly, the rising sun erases the punctuation marks held fast in the imprints of your touch in nights long past. Memory falls as gently as the autumn leaves scattered on the ground outside my window.
Breathing deeply into the growing light, I fall with grace into the sights and scents of this Saturday morning opening vividly into day.