Tag Archives: life

“There are no words…” is not a comfort to me, if I take it literally.

I’m getting a lot of words drafted, but not ready to post any of it, so just a few: My husband died a month ago. We are processing, as we were when he got his diagnosis seven months ago–yes, it was a gradual thing, though not drawn out. His goodbye week was very precious, his death was peaceful and attended by me and his parents. It happened hours after we had him transported to our hospice house, where I was to stay with him and get some rest while he was attended by skilled workers. He was eating and drinking until the last day, though and enjoying time with his loved ones. He started slipping away while we were in the garden. He had reassurances from me that we all loved him a whole lot and that we all knew he loved us a whole lot, and that he’d given us a tremendous lot. And that we’d be okay, and understood if he had to go soon. We wept, comforted each other, and then bathed him and said farewell to his remains. They are now  only ash minerals, in a heavy box by my bed.

We his family planned the memorial service and spoke about him, prayed, reflected, sang Be Thou My Vision, range a bell three times, projected a slide show. Lots of friends helped, as they had been doing in the previous months. My house is full of flowers and cards, and my freezer is full of food. The sweet peas outside our bedroom window that provided fragrant bouquets all summer are going to seed, producing a thousandfold what I planted.

One of the emails I received back from the death announcement I sent out read, “There are no words.” This struck me as standard polite lies. How the hell would I be able to gone if there really were no words?

But I thank you for your patience while I arrange them carefully.


Posted by on September 3, 2018 in Places & Experiences, Relationships


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No, you are not stuck, you are seething with possibilities

Why did you do what you did with your life so far? And what did you do, and how can you tell? By names of institutions, vocations, nations, creations, and human relations? Graduations, vacations, and research stations? Or do you take a more roundabout way, and recall a series of signposts only–the longings, desires, and meanderings of a lost or searching soul? Perhaps the same ones that ache still in you now? Was it more about achievement, or effort? And were you true to your heart and nature? Or was there always outside pressure (however well-meaning)? Did you end up somewhere, or were you guided? Do you sometimes want to go back and yet not back, forward–again, I mean anew? What are the catalysts of your present longing? What are the tabus?

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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Personal Growth


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This reminded me of you, except…

His speech is a burning fire;
With his lips he travaileth;
In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes a foreknowledge of death;
He weaves, and is clothed with derision;
Sows, and he shall not reap;
His life is a watch or a vision
Between a sleep and a sleep

–from “Before the Beginning of Years” by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Arts, Poetry and Music, Writing


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God is a birdwatcher.

God is a birdwatcher.

At the computer by the window, movement outside catches my eye. It’s the daily descent of flocks of chickadees and juncos to our front yard. They come each midmorning at this time of year (must be more observant and note the time frame). One stellar jay joins them, stabbing and flicking aside flakes of lichen from the aging plum tree to find hidden joint-foots. The smaller birds work over the plum branches, the mossy lawn, and bark mulch under the shrubs. When I look again they are all gone.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.

Sometimes it’s enough to be watched. Don’t need overtly divine assistance most of the time, nor do I hold to the “God is in control” mantra that some folks so confidently recite. That comes from doctrine, but just ain’t so (come on, you know that, don’t you, by using your God-given sense?). Scriptures said to support that idea just don’t, even at a stretch–not to me.

I just want a little attention and awareness, maybe also a sense of protection, available help as I muddle around. Maybe that’s not enough dependency, as I’ve been told I can do nothing without him. I agree, but not in the sense that making decent choices and creating worthy somethings is beyond my God-given abilities and strength. God gives us our very breath, each breath, and every pulse and wave of energy flowing down and along and through us is from him–I know that. But on we go in life, and are not always crying out for help and wanting him to come quickly.

Don’t you sometimes just want God to be somewhere near, and watching? A bit like my husband and I were at our daughter’s district swim meet the other day. Not like someone who’s just curious, gathering data. Not like a talent scout, judging, selecting, discarding. But very attached to the one being watched, delighted, hoping, empathizing, but also knowing it’s not the end of the world if she disqualifies or messes up. Like a parent at a meet? No, not quite that either.

In a way I feel God is like a naturalist, like a birdwatcher. Quiet, attentive, taking a closer look with binoculars, absorbing details and recording them in a sketchbook, smiling to himself. Even on the trail in the off season, when there might be nothing but nests and droppings. When spring comes, the naturalist listens, waits, quietly stalks, delights. In a sense he’s seen it before, but yet every expedition, every individual bird, is a new creation. What is it eating this spring? Is it going back to its old nest? Are there enemies?

If times are tough, birders might put out seed and watch secretly from the porch. Some are particularly delighted to see winged creatures weeding on garden plantings and wildflowers purposely allowed to go to seed in the yard.

It’s an analogy that only goes so far, because when God watches us, he sees someone so much like him, children of his creative hand, delights more, grieves more, gets angry, longs for us, and does get involved. And we are more confused about how to live than the birds, out of touch with our nature, so to speak.

Jesus said, “What is the price of two sparrows–one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

Even, I’m sure, than a flock of chickadees, that most exquisite of birds.


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