Rough & Ready

Photo: Rough & Ready 1

Feeling ragged as an old mop lately? I rely on my cadre of kindly supporters to help me untangle my life.

If you’ve been reading the posts hereabouts in the last few days, you know I am no tough customer. I quailed as much at the thought of waking my poor sleepy spouse up in the middle of the night as at having him take me to the emergency room, let alone facing the fear of the unknown pain in my guts. And that was all for what might be the least horrific attack from a kidney stone in history, for all I know. Certainly I am as stunned (albeit happily so) as the follow-up caller from the surgical center when I say that I haven’t taken so much as an over-the counter mild painkiller since emerging from the happy haze of anesthesia yesterday afternoon.

The mountains of incredibly, indelibly kind and compassionate notes and calls I’ve received since airing my tiny miseries to you all are a true embarrassment of riches. I am grateful beyond your imaginings for the uplifting warmth and steadiness of your collective response to my discomfort and fears, and I treasure that surrounding goodness more than I can ever adequately say. But I feel more than a little sheepish, too, for being such a baby when I know that many, many who have offered such sweet and patient care and thoughtfulness to me in my weakness have also suffered far worse pain, deeper trials, and greater danger than anything I’ve faced in my whole charmed existence.

I look around me at the heroics of the people I love and admire, the friends, neighbors, and  companions who go about your business in the guise of ordinary mortality and hiding your bravery and strength behind the rugged facades of everyday occurrence, and I am slightly abashed. Slightly abashed, and very moved. You lay down your work and take time out of your already busy days to send off a word of comfort, an ethereal hug, a generous thought in my direction, and suddenly I feel myself filling with strengths and hopes that were not my own to begin with, and I am touched to the core with joy at my wealth and good fortune.

I am not nearly bold enough to manage the easiest of lives without endless help. You, who are so much more rough and ready in spirit, are always there to offer it to me. I thank you.

Photo: Rough & Ready 2

Whenever I feel like I’ve been tied to the railroad tracks, my friends come riding in to save the day.

Too Soon

Photo: Blurred by TearsStolen Away

Too soon, cold sorrow steals from me the light

Of promise, of the hope for growing love

Which I had longed to see his mastery of

Bring him to see such stars divide the night

That he might know it possible that day

Was his as much as anyone’s, and keep

Alive, alight, and not succumb to sleep

As refuge from an endlessly dark way,

But my poor strivings—anyone’s, I guess—

Could never generate the power he

Required to light enough so he could see

In such great bleakness any happiness,

And love and hope, invisible and far

From him as he from me, my distant star.Photo: Sorrowful

Celebrate Anyway

Christmas day means nothing at all to a whole lot of the world. Even some fairly devoted Christians are either skeptical about the accuracy of modern guesstimates of when the historical person Jesus appeared on earth or, in some cases, just plain weary of the commercial kidnaping of Christmas as a secular holiday. Beyond that, there are innumerable people and nations so impoverished or endangered as individuals, as communities, or as entire regions of the world that the last thing they can afford to pay attention to is an arbitrarily set date for recognizing anything as a reason for joy and revelry.Photo: Cymbals

There are no gladly clashing cymbals, no brass choirs trumpeting their huzzahs to the skies, no parades or packages, masses or meditations that can fill the void in hearts and homes oppressed by war, famine, disease, hatred, or inner turmoil. The very thought of happiness and reverential bliss, if it can even pierce the noise and violence, the stress and terror holding such people hostage, seems hollow and artificial. Goodness and light are as distant and unimaginable as the most ridiculous fiction.
Photo: What a Lot of Brass

These sufferers deserve to have their sorrows and their pains lifted from them, obliterated by any and all who dare to change history. No one knows better than I that not everyone has the strength and wherewithal to be so bold in action. But if we cannot do so with our physical labors, we must do so with our hearts and minds, our words, our plans, and our constancy in spirit. One voice at a time, one solitary note sung by a tiny, quavering voice, is the only way to begin moving toward a day when others, also one by one, will join and build to a worldwide song of peace. Only when we direct our every breath toward healing, harmony, and hope will the song come fully alive. Every atom of our being will whisper, speak, sing, and shout until the whole of humanity rings with echoing gladness.
Photo: Stringed Instruments

One moment’s pause, one hour of cease-fire, one hospital patient or lost child or elderly neighbor rescued for one single part of a day at a time makes space for the sound to bloom. We need to make room, and lest the horrors should return to fill the void, we must fill it up instead with songs of hope and joy and celebrate any way we possibly can. The other voices will someday, if we sing for long enough, follow.

Calling All Saints

This is a day designated by the Christian church for the remembrance of all the good, fine people who have lived, illuminated our lives, led the way for the rest of us, and now are also gone before us in death. Recollection, commemoration and admiration of those who have lived as great-hearted souls on the earth and set an example, large or small, of excellence for those of us who follow is, I think, a practice that anyone of any stripe, religious or not, can embrace; we are certainly all made better by such meditations, especially if and when we are made stronger by their guidance to follow in our honored loves’ radiant footsteps.Photos + text: How Sweet the Moment

Spending a day in remembrance of loves lost is bound to be bittersweet, of course. When the bond has been close in life, it remains so in death, and however the pangs of loss may subside over time, on a day devoted to thoughtful recognition of our trusted and beloved friends, mentors and avatars of all things great and good, the pain can be as sharply new again as in the first sweep of sorrow. But if I am genuinely mindful and respectful of their gifts in life, I think that this can be transformational and healing and comforting, too.Photos + text: Bittersweet

Can I live as a reflection of my most-admired angels? It’s too tall an order for any ordinary mortal, I know. But that’s exactly why I think we have these living and loving models among us: to show that in community and mutual, loving support and with determined and patient growth on our own, greater things can happen than if we try to do significant and meaningful things independently. We are raised up by the waves of support around us. How can I not be grateful for that! This realization sweetens the day perceptibly. Do I wish that I could have my lost loves back again? Who would not! But I wouldn’t trade one tear, one iota of the hurt and anger and grief I’ve felt over any of their losses, to miss out on recognizing the beauty and joy and brilliance that they brought to this world in their too-short tenure here, and I know that some lights seem so bright in life that they can blind me at close range to what’s more easily discerned, when seen from this greater distance, as having the distinctive shape of an excellent soul.Photos + text: Last Lullaby

Cat & Rabbit Go to Town

My sister’s cat Mercer has been sick and suffering for a while lately with some mystery malady, and his symptoms have thus far refused to explain themselves to his faithful veterinarian, so we’re in a watching, waiting and hoping phase. It’s sad and frustrating, and poor Mercer needs some serious respite from his ailments. I’m afraid I haven’t the skill to give him anything more palliative than the occasional pettings he allowed me to give him while we shared living quarters this summer. So I send out this little ditty to bring him good vibes of well-wishing long distance, as it stars the two most faithful fellow fur-babies who live or visit in his home, Ruffian the cat and Basil bunny.

Digital illustration + text: One Lovely Afternoon

Sing Comfort to Me

Digital illustration: Wild Daisies 1Sweet is the Song

However cold and sharp the wind may be,

As wild and deep as darkness ever falls,

From utmost edges of the storm still calls

A song that stills, that draws and comforts me—

Though battles rage, the world in sorrow drowns,

And trials threaten life and hope and light,

That gracious call still guides me through the night

As long as I will listen to its sounds—

No danger is so great, no ill so dire,

Nor pestilence and terror so extreme,

That it cannot be mended by the stream

Of melody from that angelic choir—

Now when amid the depths of dark and pain,

I’ll listen for that heavenly refrain.Digital illustration: Wild Daisies 2

If My Song could Last Forever

Photo: Well Seasoned 1Hours into Seasons

There’s a sweetness in the morning when the sun has yet to rise

And the blooms lie, still unopened, under sleeping butterflies;

When the stars still wink and glimmer, while the frogs yet softly sing—

There’s a sweetness in the morning that is like the breath of Spring.Photo: Well Seasoned 2

There’s a graciousness at midday when, amid the racing streams,

All arise and put in motion yesterday’s profoundest dreams;

When the past its chains has loosened on the race of all alive,

That in joyful forward motion we, like Summer, grow and thrive.Photo: Well Seasoned 3

There’s a calm amid the evening when the birds come to the trees’

Respite from the day of flying, echoed by our evening ease;

When the cares of noon have lessened as the dusk swept into place—

There’s a calm amid the evening, peaceful as the Autumn’s grace.Photo: Well Seasoned 4

There’s a beauty to the nighttime, glorious and peaceful bliss,

Treasured for the kind renewal of the souls that rest in this

Cradling darkness and this languor, in this place of mending rest

That, like Winter’s dormant healing, lets us wake refreshed and blessed.Photo: Well Seasoned 5

I would take these hours’ presents as my guide through seasons long,

Through a lifelong path that’s pleasant as a choir’s finest song;

I would be a seasoned traveler, happy above everything,

If my song could last forever,

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.Photo: Well Seasoned 6