Bad News (Again)

March 15, 2016 § 1 Comment

When the bad news comes it seems to swirl around you, so thickly at first that you can almost feel the wind of it, the cold, and the rest of the world feels very outside as you sit in that circle of the white silent storm and try to comprehend.

Sometimes you peer through to the outside world at what was once normal. Sometimes you imagine yourself there. But very often all you can manage is to huddle in place, sometimes by yourself, sometimes with the others who have found themselves there with you. You find each others’ hands. You try to warm them.

All the loving people outside the circle want to reach toward you. This is so kind and wonderful of them but also, on your hard days, too much to ask. Just let me feel hateful and angry and alone! Don’t try gentle away the bitterness that is protecting me and do NOT tell me God is Good or (even worse) to Trust in His Sovereign Will (even if we don’t understand it – of course we don’t understand it, bc what is happening right now SUCKS and HURTS and why would You let that be okay to happen to children You supposedly love?).

How can anyone know where you are right this moment? Your own emotions are so everywhere that you can go from laughing to weeping to fury in moments. The emotions don’t do any good of course. They don’t change a thing.

You want to be your old self, to try to be funny, to swing your ponytail when you walk, to watch happiness come into people’s faces when they see you, rather than the recognition of One In Need of A Hug (still you take the hug and almost always gladly).

The new and terrible news means that everything is going to change, perhaps slowly, perhaps suddenly, perhaps kind of both. You know this from the sad things of before. You dread it and yet part of you wants to drag it towards you, because everything must be torn apart and made over, and it’s going to hurt; hurry on up so that it gets over with and life figures out some sort of normal again. Acceptance vs. resistance are fighting a pretty fine battle in your mind/spirit/heart/soul/whatever you want to call it.

Still. When you can draw back from that battle – or can push off the dullness of resignation that you’ve pulled like a blanket over your whole body so that you can sleep – and you look at oh this aching creation, you know that puppies will still wriggle and woo you into feeling an old joy. So will babies, even if they still are not your own. So will the smell of horses and hay, the slant of afternoon sun while you lie in the grass. Coffee, so blessed on cool mornings in a favorite mug. You will still thrill in the deep rumbling rain and the water running off the leaves of the trees. These things have done it before – tricked you, reminded you, charmed you into wanting to keep living with gladness despite everything, after all.

And that table of laughing friends – the ones you know have grace enough to walk with you, even when you might offend them on occasion with your kaleidoscope of reactions to this Horrid, Terrible News – there is comfort in knowing that their table will still hold a place for you.


Muddy water morning

June 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Summer is so much intensity. Heat, people, pouring sunshine, gardens demanding water and weeding, animals thirsty and shade-seeking.

There is great fun in summer – brightness, discovery, and a raucous kind of play, play, play outside! But it also comes with a push that, for some of us, needs to be ducked away from now and again.

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Sunday mornings become the place to find cool and quiet.

This one was a slow walk in tall boots, a slight breeze, moss and muddy water at the lake’s edge.

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Sometimes you have to look for what you need, to remember your right to it, to find the space and the time somewhere in the week for a place beautiful and damp and cool and still.

Having a jar of coffee in hand doesn’t hurt. A companion happy to splash in the water doesn’t, either.

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This Sunday prayer seems to be hanging in the air around me. A Creator’s creation offering what I need: trees bending in the breeze, scattered sun over the water, and the soaking-wet, frolicking gladness of a good dog.

So you carry on

January 1, 2014 § 4 Comments

When your father dies out of the blue, in the darkness of a cold barn during a late-April ice storm – when he is found in the hay meant for the cow and calf, and when no one can say for sure what even happened – then you might curl into what remains of your family and stop reaching out in trust toward the world. (It was a hesitant trust to begin with.)

You might go in secret to the desperate places of grief. You might stop writing the happy stories of life for fear of the ultimate sadness that must come along and scribble itself into them. You might decide to not have feelings at all and give it a real go (you might fail). You might ask a million questions to and of and about God, and when that does nothing you might stop talking to Him completely — unless someone else can offer you their words to use instead. You might turn to liturgies and the prayers of saints and hope that’s enough.

Sometimes you might be so angry you are seconds away from throwing a tantrum, full-fledged arms and legs kicking, like any competent two-year-old.

You might create some kind of strong outer self that still acknowledges what is worth being grateful for, that greets and welcomes people, that manages to laugh out loud and love much of what happens all around. You won’t understand how this outer self goes along with the unsightly mess that is inside, but it doesn’t seem entirely fake, and you decide to go with it because, after all, what is the alternative?

The days keep happening, as they must. Emptier than they should be. More things ache in different ways. But as the months spread themselves out you might, more than once, come across something that makes you pause, that makes your chest swell in that old real wonderful-world way, that tricks a smile into place and stirs the idealist you can’t completely tamp down. A meteor shower in the middle of summer, while you lie on a tarp spread over the wet grass. Lively delicious dinners with friends (even if it takes jump-starting two trucks to get there). A jog through the woods and a chat on a footbridge. A plot of purple carrots and children who practically hop up-and-down in the discovery of them. Fires snapping and glowing. A beautiful painting, unexpected. Riding a chestnut horse in the hour before dusk.  A hidden swamp for you and the dog and decent muck boots. Babies and giggles and dimples and freckles. Little gifts handmade and hand-selected, surprises that say, gently, you matter to me.

So you carry on. Nothing will be the same, of course. You will have to cling to the memory of the sound of your father’s voice, the crinkles around his eyes when he smiled, the knowledge that the nose you are not-so-thrilled to have inherited came, actually, from him, along with your long legs and your need to be close to the dirt oftener than not. You will have to imagine rather than see him walking through the pasture with you and when you have a question about livestock or trucks or gardens you will not have his answer, unless you can find it in one of his books. Your family will seem small and split and only heaven will make it completely right again after a very long time. But you can feel the prodding of whatever good has shot through this broken world, the good that wants you to fight for it and be a part of it and hold it and increase it.

And you might reach out.

April begins

April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today was spring for real, the kind of day where you start out in layers and end up in shorts and a t-shirt by afternoon. Mine began with feeding animals and ended with new books from the library, and a cup of hot milk and coffee, and plans to write (well, after this).

Gosh, I love planting flowers! All around the house and yard on this afternoon off. Cosmos and flax and alyssum and forget-me-nots and a few others. Isn’t it nice that seed costs so little yet turns into such a bounteous sort of thing? And I love that the woods are white with spring ephemerals. I think I have followed trails through spring beauty, and/or hepatica, and/or wood anemone. (I will look closer next time.)

And I love that we are putting pollinator-friendly shrubs and perennials in our farm garden and that it will bring lots of life and beauty to that place. Yesterday I got to visit a nursery called The Unique Plant and the inviting, lush landscape and blooming shrubs there nearly had me giddy.

My camera-less-ness is really just sad when there is so much to capture!

Oh, well. For now, here’s a shot from last weekend, when we went to the beach for my sister’s birthday. Sand and sun! And a salty dog.


They conserve.

April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Good farmers, who take seriously their duties as stewards of Creation and of their land’s inheritors, contribute to the welfare of society in more ways than society usually acknowledges, or even knows. These farmers produce valuable goods, of course; but they also conserve soil, they conserve water, they conserve wildlife, they conserve open space, they conserve scenery.” ~ Wendell Berry

March is . . .

March 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.”  –  Hal Borland

Joel 2:21-24, 26a

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield. O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. . . .  You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.”

A passage to ponder while on my knees in the dirt on these cool/warm, sunny/rainy, almost-spring days. Can gardening be a part of bringing heaven down to earth? I have to think yes.