Homebound: From Mersea To Maplehurst With Love, March 9

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Christie and I are homebound. I, a writer of poetry and prose, am bound to Mersea, a simple white Victorian, nestled in the historic district of a southern shrimping village. She is bound to Maplehurst, a red-brick farmhouse build 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.

Welcome to my third letter in the series. To read Christie’s previous letters and more of her beautiful words go to her web site, found here. To read all the letters in the Homebound Collection, visit the tab at the top of my home page, entitled The Homebound Letters.

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March 9, 2017

(From home after being away)

Dear Christie:

The brown leather sofa in the parlor is holding me with a familiar leather scented embrace. A cool night has left the house chilled, but I am warmed by both blanket and puppy. What an apt name my husband has given our sweet English Cocker whose name is Sweet. She chooses to stay by my side as I write, apparently my absence was noticed as she leans in especially close this sunny morning. Perhaps she missed me, as I missed all things familiar, all things home.

Christie, as you know I accompanied my friend to Boston for a trip to Mass General Hospital. We left on a Tuesday, returned on a Wednesday and I am back to my beloved writing on a Thursday. I am viewing home now with the lens of leaving. Leaving and returning bring many gifts, one is a newly framed perspective. I like the frame. It focuses me, like the European silver with a bit of patina that I chose to frame my son’s portrait here at Mersea.

Perhaps leaving reawakens all the senses and plants tiny seeds from the experiences within us. What seeds have I brought back which I will need to tend to and water? How will I grow because of where I have gone?

I imagine we are all being renewed daily. During this Lenten season perhaps I am more keenly aware of renewal. It feels more present and sacred this year. I long for it more deeply, and am even slowly chasing after it. Somehow I feel we are beginning to meet, change and I. She is gentle. And she is patient and willing to wait for me even as I must wait on the minute radish seeds in our garden to grow into edible radishes. I must wait for the natural process of seeds transforming into bulbous red radishes.

But it is worth the wait. For I will slice the radish thinly, place it on a thick slice of grain toast with avocado, arugula and fried egg like the one I sampled in Boston. And it will be good. A simple good that comes along as gift. Why is it that I want to slice the radish thinly so that it becomes translucent, nearly transparent? Are we called too to be transparent like the cut radish?

When I was in Boston, I tried to make it my temporary home. To be rooted there for but a blink. Graciously Boston gave good gifts. The signs along Charles Street provided a curated display of simple art. Each one, uniquely designed and hung with care outside of the shops spoke to pride of place. I walked at a snail’s pace along the bumpy and worn brick sidewalk, looking up and studying the design of each shop keeper’s home.

Rich conversation was a by product of this long journey for a bittersweet visit. The seventh floor of Mass General held both sorrow and joy. During one of our talks, my wise friend reminded me that joy and sorrow can and do coexist. We can celebrate the miracle, slivers and slices and servings of joy even while grief, sorrow and sadness are present. What mystery there is in celebrating what they each bring.

Flying looks like a metaphor for our lives. The experience felt new as I hadn’t flown in a long forever. I have lost my wanderlust. Maybe I have found other things to replace it and it is not therefore a true loss. My desire to go faraway anymore has been mostly snuffed out.

But this was an invitation to go. I wonder about all I would have missed if I had said no. What a place of honor to travel as a companion and co-traveler with my beloved friend on her journey. I call her teacher too. We have much to learn from each other about loss, love and restoration. Christie, oh how I am enjoying your letters! And you too are teaching me about important things.

On this micro-journey, as in life, we experienced delay, turbulence and frustration. But there was joy too in seeing the unparalleled aesthetic beauty of the clouds. Their shape, color and mysterious movements, viewed from a plane window are spectacular. Childlike wonder sat with me. I thought I knew how to press into looking up at the clouds from my earthbound, rooted place. But glimpsing the cotton white masses moving against an azure blue backdrop at eye level reminded me there are new ways to see everything.

And there was joy in being, just being with a friend and meeting kind souls along the way, such as the world’s coolest Uber driver. The news was good in Boston and so we are full of rejoicing. Is this a preview of what is to come at Easter-time?  We are moving in that direction, the place of newness. I hope I am ready and that I am changed.

Today I will go to the tiny post office here in the village to mail some thank you notes. I wish I could box up and mail you a package of springtime. It would contain color and hope, buds and seeds, pieces of me and Mersea. My hope for you is that it will not delay, this true and fully fledged spring.

In time we will both celebrate its arrival. Spring will come for all of us. Newness and change are the sweetest of gifts. I hope I unfurl my clutched fists to receive it all. And to allow the gift of change in me.

Peace and grace to you,

Elizabeth
Mersea

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Hitting Close To Home: Preaching To The Choir

 

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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.

 

 

 

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Right Now: State Of Change

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Right Now

Every shadow punctuates
Dots the landscape of now
With littered limbs of memory
Brought down in the cleansing
Bold strokes of every shade of grey
Written under the swirls of then and right here
Blink, they move

Sub-plot and backstory
Read from back to front
And between all lines

Hieroglyphics and dead languages
Signing with fingers from the sun’s burning
Rays
Written in plain sight

The story requires an interpreter
My eyes behold the pages
Written for today

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Thank you for reading here and at Gracetable.org. I have a post up there and I would be honored and humbled if you would join me there. Do you know this community? Gracetable? It is a favorite place on the internet.  See you at Gracetable where I am happily a contributing writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenes From A Day In The Life Of A Woman Longing For Christmas Joy

Titles should be short, pithy and easy to skim. Oh well. I grant myself grace in the area of this rule, this day. And I am hoping you will too. (Says the poet to herself and to her patient readers).

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The birds come to the feeder late. I know how they feel. Hunger strikes out of the shadows of the gray. And there is comfort by the window sill. I watch them feed as they befriend me on the warm side of the cool pane. I wonder if I bring them even an ounce of the comfort they bring me.

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I am unpacking boxes. They come, thrown my way like confetti. That which is left for the street cleaners at the end of a seemingly unending parade. I cannot not look. I cannot not clean. I press on. Each box a memory. A yearbook from 1944. War was. War is. Change comes. And we still hunger after peace. I open the musty navy blue leather and peek. It is all I can do. My skin and bones and flesh and soul can only feel so much of the memories I must unravel. How can I not honor the dead. How can I bear the stories that are only half way laid to rest. How can I hurry by the legacy of the buried. The dead. Pausing I nod. Pausing I acknowledge. The pages are a hiding place for more. Someone has tucked a dozen black and white photographs inside. And I must look all the way back. It is 1940 something. It is 2014 or something.

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The music plays loud. Then dolce. Then deafening. I do not dare go without. It is my mana, my sustenance, my companion. It mirrors the wait. It echos the longing. It speaks for me. It whispers, even loudly, the reminders of hope. I pluck songs out of the airstream and swallow them. Hungry for the phraseology of hymn and song and poetry of each tune. Without the music these days, I feel I may starve my soul. Hungry am I for the notes to wash over me. Hungry for Christmas in every line. Hope rides on the backs of the black and white sharps and flats. And I find comfort. While I wait for the joy.

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The books can entangle me the most. We have hidden things within the pages. We have used them as a repository for our lives. We have documented our living with their titles. There are series and seasons of titles that remind. Of craving organization and longing to steward well. Of birding and birthing and boating and raising our children. Preparing them for flight, on the other side. To the other side. Away. There are books we read. And books we never did. I grieve. And among them a book from a friend. Written in french. I look for room. I am running out. Of ideas and room. Of patience and space.

But I crack the spine and find her words written in 1978 to me. I cannot weep. For if I start, I may not stop. I am battling emotions which come and go. My heart, it longs for Christmas. It is 1970 something. I went to Paris without her. I remember it well. I cannot weep.

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I cannot escape the banging. The clamoring. The sounds of nails driving into the wood. And I remember the time, 33 years, from my creche with the baby in the manger. Until the cross. And I wonder if the people building this home, know the cost. They do. Monetarily. But every day the nails are hammered. Hundreds. And I hear nearly every one. The work. The patience. The hours. The noise. The sacrifice. Why do they need a home so grand. It looms. And is large. Maybe they, like me, have memories to house. To store. And the books. With no where to go.

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I go back to my unpacking, my music, turning up my favorite carols and hymns. They help buffer the hammers and nails. And I excavate. And unpack. And long, really hunger for Christmas. And pray that the old cravings for more subside. Pray that simplicity will invade my living space. And hope that this weary world will prepare Him room, as Heaven and nature sing.

And I trust with all that I am and all that I have, that Love will come down at Christmas.
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Joining Beth at just be beth dot com for Unforced Rythms