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.

A Little Something for a Friend

Photo Montage: Manhole Covers 1I discovered quite some time ago that the admirable proprietress of a photography blog I enjoy very much, inte fan gör det det (I’ll let you look up the translation, you non-Swedish-speakers, for your own amusement) shares my affection for many things that escape attention from lots of others. Among those oft-overlooked everyday objects are the steel caps that separate cars and pedestrians and the like from whatever dwells in the underground infrastructure: manhole covers.Photo montage: Manhole Covers 2

Some of these utilitarian items are made without much regard for their aesthetic potential but even so, manage to become rather special and interesting by virtue of the patina of age and use. On top (no pun intended) of that, there are many manhole covers deliberately designed to be special and interesting and aesthetically pleasing. I don’t much care what the original intent of a manhole cover’s design happens to have been, as long as part of the purpose was to keep me from falling into the sewer.Photo: Manhole Covers 3

But it does beg the question, for me, of why, outside of emergencies, one shouldn’t make every single thing one makes as beautiful as it can be. Maybe I should simply be content that so many things, like manhole covers, can become beautiful through use and time. After all, that’s what I would like to be able to do, myself. Ah, perhaps that is precisely what is at play in the manufacture of a manhole cover; it is made expressly to become beautiful through use and years. Perhaps, indeed, I’ve stumbled onto a cosmic truth, and we mortals are also designed with that in mind. I suppose I’d better get busy!Photo: Manhole Covers 4

Portals

Photo montage: Portals 1Every doorway, every window, every gate is a portal to adventure. It may well be that those  portals are locked when I approach. More often than not, I find that it’s I who locked them up, who put impediments in my own way. That is the price of fear, of laziness, and of self-doubt. What holds me back or shuts me out is rarely an insurmountable obstacle; it’s me, often and only me. If I want to grow and change, learn and progress, it’s up to me to find the openings I most want to explore, and challenge the barriers with all my might. If I can’t find the key, I should make one. And frankly, if I can’t do that, I should probably make some adventures of my own and not bother waiting for the right portal to appear. Knock, knock! Life calling!Photo montage: Portals 2

Stained Glass Windows

 

photo montageUnexpected Illumination
Whenever day’s grown dark and grim
And life, obscured behind a scrim,
Surprisingly, the welcome light
Through colored windows seems less dim–
Though blue and red may look less bright
By day, and screen the moon by night,
What rays come through and lumens pass
These panes set inner bleakness right–
No sorrow ends its storms, alas,
Merely because the beams amass,
But something blest descends on him
Whose heart is lit by colored glass.

The Garden Rejoices

photo montageRespite is the thing we all crave at times. Too much of a good thing is still, when all’s said and done, too much. Having spent the majority of my life in climes of plentiful cloud and rain, I was quite pleased to experience the practically perpetual sunshine of north Texas, but learned that with it can come garden-blighting and spirit-dampening heat and even drought, so when it rains, as much as it might make a few things more inconvenient or messy, it can also make my heart glad.

And the way that the leaves plump up, flowers loosen and uncurl their fists and stalks and stems stretch instantly taller toward the sky, it’s also easy to see that the garden rejoices. It’s as though all of nature around me is sighing and relaxing every tensed-up, coiled tight thing with grateful relief.

A moment of quiet in the heart of a rushed day or a busy week is rain for my spirits as well. Whatever the cause of the busyness, however pleasurable the things that do clamor for my attentions, I find that a brief pause to lower the speed of thought, to quiet the relentless insistence of life’s siren calls and cool the heat of its demands–this one small thing–has wonderful power to relieve and renew me, too.

This is how I remember the kindness of the rain in the midst of unyielding heat, the shelter of low clouds that break the relentless glaring sun. And I look for my tiny bits of solace in a meditative mode, feeding my roots and encouraging me to let go, expand, release the tensions I am in and carry on, better able again to bloom and grow.

Snowflakes & Shadows

photoEvery one of us is said to be, like a snowflake, incomparable and magically, perfectly unique. The parade we saw this summer passing below our balcony was a dazzling reminder of this truth: hundreds of marchers, players, riders, movers, shakers and dancers were in the four-hour parade that wound through the city streets, and hundreds of thousands lined the route, and even the groups dressed in matching costumes or uniforms were groups of wonderfully individual characters.photo montageOur privileged hotel perch, though, highlighted the even greater beauty of the masses. The acute angle of the early sun gave sharp and shapely shadows to everyone in the crowd, and every single one of those shadows was the same color–grey. The shadows, like the people, were of an infinitely varied range in shape and movement and each attached only to him who cast it, but every shadow darkened the area near its maker in just the same way as everybody else’s. We may be unlike each other in nearly endless ways, but in some ways we are still all truly alike. It was lovely to see our differences and our commonalities literally on parade.digital artwork from a photo

Friendly Dragons

photo montageLight Armor

Not everything that’s fierce is cause for fear,

for strength in a good cause is great indeed,

but not intended to make others bleed;

rather, to shield the weak and persevere

Against all odds, to seek the distant grail,

to lead the way when battle’s all around,

and when it’s won, to hold the conquered ground,

protecting treasures fragile, sweet and pale;

For guardian angels, pioneering, brave

adventurers and stalwart friends in stress,

must keep their fiercest watch and always dress

full-armored, so prepared to shield and save

Us humbler beings and what we hold dear;

Not everything that’s fierce is cause for fear!

digital illustration from a P&I drawing

See? I told you they show up unexpectedly; just after I gave you this messenger in another post, I got the idea for today’s sonnet.