Hitting Close To Home: Preaching To The Choir

 

hitting-close-to-home-preaching-to-the-choir-1

This season of Lent is carrying me to the garden.
We walk together to the sermon by the lettuces.
(The royal we unless you count the coal black English Cocker puppy, faithful by my side)
The figs preach a brief homily as I pass by, one of unflinching hope. It is a taunting message. Their green shoots and leaves trajectory seems sure. June is a garden’s lifetime away and yet they already are. Mine own growth seems fifty fifty at best.
Yesterday’s sermon soaked me good. I can’t shake the message or the feeling of kneeling wobbly on a bed of sweet conviction.
Even the baby limes the size of a quarter of a cracked open pistachio whisper something new. They grow, slow and steady, without reciting the Ten Commandments, praying the Prayer of Confession or being drenched by a thirst quenching sermon that leaves you parched for change.

All creatures great and small  are headed toward re-birth. My own feels questionable, less certain. And the homestretch between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday feels inadequate for my growth.
Not enough time to pick up speed, bear something tangible, edible and fully formed.

The garden, seated behind the lectern listens well. Responds in love.
I want to be the zinnia seed, the radish seed, the one buried in a rich soil of nearer certainty. Of nearer my God to thee. Tucked into the bed by hands who know that giving up and letting go bring more life to life.
That poetry is best heard in the slowness.
And that beauty is tucked in the bed with the beets.

The garden raises its instruments of praise. And a sings an early Easter song of hope and grace. My song is not quite ready. My time has not yet come.

And I remain. Toes buried in the soil. Rooted at the foot of the Preacher. If only I could hear the words. Those written just for me. I seek to hear,  even to read the lips would suffice.

So I remain. Seated in the wooden pew. As close to the choir as I can get. Preparing with those who will sing an Easter hymn.

A hallelujah flowered song of praise, rising up in billowy breath from the mouth of the truly changed one.

 

 

 

wp-1488817148592.jpg

Advertisements

Homebound: From Mersea To Maplehurst With Love, March First

wp-1488367499908.png

Christie and I are homebound. I, a writer of poetry and prose, am bound to Mersea, a 1904 simple white Victorian, nestled in the historic district of a southern shrimping village. She is bound to Maplehurst, a red-brick farmhouse built by Pennsylvania Quakers in 1880. We are both writers, wives, and mothers, but nearly twenty years and hundreds of miles lie between us.

This season, as winter turns toward spring and Lent leans toward Easter, Christie and I are writing letters, she beneath the hemlocks and maples and I beneath the pines and pecans. We reflect together on our homebound journeys. We will explore the bonds of love and faithfulness that tie us, and not always easily, to these particular places and to the people sheltered within them.

Please join us for an epistolary exploration of love, loss and restoration.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My first letter to Christie may be found here. To read Christie’s response click here or the link to her letter may be found at the conclusion of my own.

February 2017

(From my green leather chair, the color of pea soup, at Mersea)

Dear One:

The wind is almost violent today. The gusts are like bursts of labor; nature is birthing something weather-wise that reminds me of the hurricanes we have lived through. Mersea has seen more than I. But I have seen all I care to see in one lifetime. Last fall’s hurricane, the one named Matthew, made landfall here. We chose to ride it out, to stay with our home and so we witnessed the force, the power, the destructive nature of the wind.

Today when the wind stops howling it is so peaceful and yet there is this waiting. The pattern is set. There will be more rattling and rumblings. The wind comes in like a train too fast at the station. My heart calms and speeds up in tandem with the wind.

Each time the wind barrels through the pine trees I am reminded of the bending and breaking they do. How resilient they are. And yet, in a moment one could come down on the house. The gust too much for the fragile, weak or old tree. So much restoring left to do here and yet a ripped and damaged roof would add to the list of “we need to’s”. I love the restoring. It feels important and life-giving. But do I want to add a project birthed from disaster?

I love the trees here in the village and at Mersea. They are mostly old and grand , some pecan, some pine and some oak. We live with them and learn from them. They seem to be storytellers and teachers. Walking us through the seasons with hope and renewal. Pointing out and upward with limbs of praise.

In the winter they appear to be grieving. Bearing up under the weight of their bareness. Providing so much and asking so little. Generous to a fault like the one in the book, “The Giving Tree”. Givers and teachers and beacons of what’s to come, these trees seem to be. Shade givers and hammock holders. Tire swing hangers and fig producers.

The wind is coming in a little calmer now. Just as the seasons do, change comes if we hold on tight and wait. I can hear the songbirds better when the wind dies down. Their song is vibrant, telling a story I cannot quite interpret. But yet, and yet, I miss the passion of the heavy gusts.

Our restoration has slowed down a bit here. I miss the passion we once had. But in this time of dormancy I am learning contentedness in the waiting. The quiet lull between projects provides a sanctuary of sorts. I must wait. And it is always good, no better even, when I do. It changes and shapes me, this waiting.

Peace and grace to you and your beloved Maplehurst. You are on my heart as I wonder what is being birthed and restored in your own heart and in your home.

Wishing you joy and hope in your restoration,

Elizabeth,  Mersea

++++++++++++++++

To read Christie’s beautiful response to me from Maplehurst  follow the link to her blog found here. Christie, author of “Roots and Sky” writes on her blog Christie Purifoy, A Spacious Place

DSC_7412_3-1

,

The Blackbird Stole My Poetry And Other Lame Excuses

The Blackbird Stole My Poetry And Other Lame Excuses

I dreamed once in a daydream, not resting under indigo back-lit sky.The scarlet winged blackbird came to visit me. An awakening. Unwelcome.Unannounced. The visit was a robbery of unfinished words, my art.

Every poem left abandoned, in embryonic stages, wet ink pen lying in repose, by the paper’s side, was carried off  by my feathered enemy. Fowl dressed in red and black. Colors of his uniform for war. And I, my own worst enemy.

I cannot blame him. For abandoned art remains fair game.

I cannot hold him to account. He saw that I was sleeping, not attending to my work.

But I must thank him, properly. For while he could have released them, into a angry wind. He chose instead to drop them off for me to start again.

The shreds of paper would have served him to line his feathery nest. But instead they floated back to earth in billowing down-currents and landed by my right side.

The blackbird gives a second chance. Waking me from sleep. In gratitude I offered him a seat. We’re here now beak to cheek sitting in soft repose. At my windowsill. He no longer dressed  for war, but in tones of of papal royalty. Restorer of the second chance.

I dreamed once in a daydream. I found again lost poetry.

 

 

The Lost Arts

20161114_115030.jpg

I dreamed there was a gathering. The lost arts took a seat. Placed a napkin in the lap. And called the meeting to order. Poetry took two seats. The head and the other head. While Simplicity, Civility and Kindness bowed  in deference to each other. The conversation was quite and measured. Polite, with hints of disagreement. No two saw the world the same. I dreamed that in this gathering, the bites were small and conversation big. Joy poured the wine without a wasted drop. Stillness and Rest passed plates in a clockwise fashion, because the collective decision was made. Every one agreed. That no one would go hungry. The gathering agreed among themselves to remain seated. And to keep the tenor and the tone at an audible decibel of  Peace and Quiet. Passing plates of simple fare. All guests, who wore the hat of  hosts as well, agreed. In my dream, the sentences were long, unbroken. No interruptions were made. Daydreaming poured more water into each shiny crystal stemware glass. No one said a word when Manners arrived one minute past the agreed on time, in an effort to be fashionably late. The counter punches never came. Neither did the punches. I awoke at midnight. A table cleared and empty. No signs of a gathering at all. The lost arts, lost again in a world of Imagination. Each gone as if they never were here at all. Hidden, perhaps behind a drawn curtain, dark ebony of this Good Night. Yet one shred of evidence remained. A poem. I dreamed there was a gathering.