In a Perfect World

Photo: In a Perfect WorldIf the universe were flawless, life within it ideal, and I supernally fine, I would arrange so that my dear, darling spouse could have the most beautifully untroubled and magically rich existence in history. When he woke up every morning, angels would fan him with their wings while serving him pizza and ice cream to his heart’s content and he’d never get uncomfortably sugar high no matter how many slices or scoops he ate. He would be wafted from rehearsing one unnaturally skilled and committed choir to another, each accompanied by the finest instrumental resources available anywhere, all the while enjoying the acoustic majesty of whatever stupendous space he desired at the moment. He would flit effortlessly to every city, country, and continent next on his wish list to make music or just to wander and rejoice in the culture and landscape, the people and history and endless other gifts of each dreamy locale, until he longed to be whisked to the next. He’d have a glorious day hike on Mt. Rainier any day he wanted, no matter where he was for the rest of the day.

And all of this would find him accompanied by me—but the fabulous, unimaginably sweet and brilliant and supremely good-humored version of me. Probably nicer to everybody than I have ever been, but especially to my husband. I might even be a good enough singer to qualify for one of his incredible choirs. If we wished. In a perfect world.

Especially today, it’d be nice to think he could exist in this perfect world. It’s his birthday, and I wish him every good thing on every day, with a plus-plus-plus-sized wishing on his birthdays. Sadly, no luck on that front. He woke up to the gentle breeze of my snoring, no angel wings. No sugary treats—homemade chili for dinner. Well, okay, a bit of chocolate for dessert. The choirs and ethereal travel…all of the other infinitely sweet wonders I wish were mine to offer him in vast quantities for every day of his long and deliriously happy life…only a dream, in this imperfect world.

But the love we share makes my world a greater joy, and I’m here to say that I hope that I can get better with each passing year at returning the favor. If all the perfection I can offer my beloved is to love him as best I can for as long as I live, then that’s what I’ll wrap up in silken tissue and a bow for now. He’s pretty tolerant of imperfection, I find, and that’s perfect for me. Happy birthday, my love.

Invitation to Inspiration

Photo: Our Sorrows are Our OwnIf Beauty Dwells Inside

If beauty dwells inside the mortal heart

and soul, what dark impediment can be

so strong that we’d forget, incessantly,

to let it rule and be the greater part?

Have bitterness and poverty of care

for good and kindly things the weight and sway

to force the love of beauty out, away,

and leave a wound of emptiness in there?

What fault in us could any cause invent

to trade our greatest gift for grief or hate—

can joy revive, or is it left too late

that we grow wiser, love, create—relent?

Let us let go of emptiness, grow whole

by filling it with Beauty, heart and soul.Photo: Beauty without & within

Great Things are Meant to Last

It’s almost midnight here, but there are a couple of hours left of Mom and Dad’s 59th anniversary back in western Washington state, where they began, and still practice, the fine art of marriage. So before I tuck myself into bed, and because I couldn’t reach them in person to say so the first three times I called, I will take this opportunity to thank them for having had the excellent taste in partners that put them together in the first place, the temerity or mild insanity—or both—to have us kids and keep us, and the strength of will and love and hope to stick together for all of these amazing years. Blessings to you, Mom and Dad, and may whatever comes only strengthen your joy in each other.Photo: Mountaintop Experience

No Greater Gift

Digital illo: The Greatest GiftLove is the answer. Not romance, not lust, not preferential treatment; love. Real, tangible, spoken and expressed with clockwork regularity and with kindness and clarity. The sort of love that fills your car’s gas tank before you leave for work and gives you snow tires for an anniversary gift, that calls Tech Support and sits around on hold for forty minutes before the ninety-minute-long session of troubleshooting to fix your confounded computer’s latest case of the hiccups. The sort of love that silently reaches over and holds your hand when there are no possible words for the occasion, good or bad.

Love is forgetful and fretful, persistent to the point of irritating, deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other, and demands, without realizing it, a high percentage of return—and all of this is absolutely nothing in exchange for the comfort, companionship, reverence, and acceptance received before any of these minor shortcomings are called into account. This kind of love transcends human norms so far that I can only assume it derives from some larger, more stable and powerful force than our own desires and whims. Love is what makes me sorrowful for the sorrows of a kindred soul, joyful in her joys, and comforted by a deep sense of her presence when she’s absent.

Love is, too, the act of sending a hand-written note, in this age of technology, that says “I’m thinking of you” and carries with it great personal weight in and between the lines. My second mother, the one I acquired so fortuitously and blessedly through marrying her son, sent just such a note recently. It wasn’t long. It didn’t cover a lot of ground. It said little that she doesn’t say to us in our regular phone conversations. But it was so sweet, so heartfelt and unexpected, that it brought happy tears to my eyes and I was flooded with a renewed sense of how deeply glad I am to be immersed in such love. And it reminded me that I will be all the more deeply blessed if I can find ways to pass along such love, no matter how small or simple those ways might seem at the time, to all of the other people I possibly can, for as long as I possibly can. Amazing how these things can multiply. That, of course, is one of the reasons that love, in all its forms, is such a powerful gift.Digital illo: The Amazing Multiplier

Revival

My subject in today’s poem is identified as a woman, but mainly because the pronoun ‘her’ fit the text that was already emerging in the sonnet. In my heart, the subject is meant to honor all of my friends and acquaintances [regardless of persuasion] who have battled, or are still battling, their way up from the abysses of fear, anxiety, depression, abuse, or any form of personal darkness, whether inwardly generated or externally imposed. What you have done, and are doing, is powerful. What you can do may be more than you, or I, or anyone can possibly yet imagine. Continue your journeys upward, my friends. Sing from the branches of the Tree of Life for a change. Newness can be a beautiful thing!

From Her Grave

Arising from the heart of silent night,

the poignant voice of one whose singular

accomp’niment was always, only, her

own shadow, takes the unaccustomed flight—

Ascending, she now meets the morning sun

and hears at last a sound she’d never heard;

the brilliant singing of a splendid bird,

a song that chases shadows, ev’ry one—

And hers, along with all the shadows, flies;

now wakened, she is free to wholly shed

her residence in shade among the dead

and fly up, singing gladly, to the skies—

So freed, she dares to trust her new-fledged wing

to raise up others from their dark to sing.Digital illustration: Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life

A happy, healthy and hopeful New Year to everyone!

Uncertainty and Hope

Beloved, let us sit down together in the shadow of the oaks; let us take deep draughts of fresh water from the clear, swift stream. In the scorching heat of the middle of day, let us take refreshment like the dragonflies that skim the water’s edge, and be restored by the caroling of birds in the distant shade.Digital illustration from a photo: By the Cooling Stream

The days are long and our work makes wearying and seemingly infinite demands, and we know that this will not soon change. There is change of many sorts ahead, this we know too, but what it will be is yet beyond our imagining. Thus it has been, and so shall it ever be: we travel our paths, seldom knowing quite where they lead, and we labor in darkness the while. Some days, the destination is sparkling joy, and on others it is marred by sorrow and strife; at times, the mists of uncertainty part and the way ahead becomes clear, and at others it remains quite fully obscure.

Photo montage: Beloved, Let Us Sit

What I know, Beloved, is this—that no matter how hard or easeful is the road and no matter what the destination holds for us, we walk our way together, you and I. We may long for clarity and even for the strength to wait for it, but in the meantime we will take our stops for breath along the way, sitting in shade when we may and drinking deeply from the icy stream, traveling always hand in hand no matter what the journey brings.

Keeping Watch with Love

Text: BrevityJust because there are designated days (All Saints, Memorial Day, Defence Day, Anzac Day, Volkstrauertag, Poppy Day) for recalling those we’ve lost doesn’t mean in any way that we restrict our respectful, loving and admiring remembrances to those days. Those whom we hold in our hearts remain there, living or not, forever. That’s our path to peace.Digital illustration from a drawing + text: May We All Rest in Peace

The guarantee that we will die, and that all of those we hold dear will die too, means we will do best by finding ways to embrace and recall, most of all, the good and the uplifting things from their lives and ours, and expand on such things for the sake of our finest predecessors’ honor, if not our own.