On The Things We Thought Would Come

I would have bet my life on it. I would have said there was a one hundred percent chance it would be. And then the things didn’t happen. They just didn’t.

We planted tomatoes in the late spring or was it early summer. I even wrote about the bounty that would come. I planned and dreamed and even longed with great expectation for the day. I announced, prematurely that we would have more than plenty and more than enough. And that we would share and give away. Joyously gift what I knew we would have to give.

I was hoping on things not seen. Longing for things to come. I had based my hope on the past. It had been this way year after year. We had experienced abundance. And thriving. And more than we could possibly enjoy. And so we would share this year. My mouth watered with anticipation at hot from the oven tomato pie and homemade pasta sauce made with basil.

Our tomatoes didn’t thrive. Yes, we had a few. But they would not win any awards. No matter how biased the judges would be (the growers). The cucumbers were “meh.” I thought we had planted squash, maybe they just didn’t come up or I missed the one that did while I was away for a few days.

And then there is the issue with our figs. The early spring cold front damaged the tree. Now the few figs we seem to have are being eaten by the birds and squirrels. We cherish the ten or so we pick everyday, rushing out to pick them early in the morning and late in the day. It is us against the cardinals.

I have lived my life as a glass half full person. And I am still that person. I am not Pollyanna but I am hopeful and mostly optimistic.

But I am learning that what we have now, what we have in these present moments are a gift. That looking forward and longing and dreaming are good. Even necessary and so integral a part of our humanity. I am a dreamer too. But these things we hold in our hand now are fragile. Sacred. Tender. The right here right now is what we have.

I will miss the tomatoes and the figs. I am missing squash from the garden with basil and onions four nights a week.

But the lack of fruit and vegetables from our backyard garden  has been a physical reminder, a needed remedial lesson. With the mild disappointment of a rather pathetic garden, I see through the lens of continued hope. Hope that holds fast and hard and firm. Even through disappointment. Even when we felt so sure we knew the outcome.

Life went a little off script. And that is increasingly more than okay.

Hope and faith which have permanence and staying power are hope and faith which ride out disappointment. Which wait for the tide to turn, for the next time, for redemption to color it all in technicolored grace.

As I work through the final stages of a writing project, I am reminded that the outcome is held in a place of unknowing. And I am increasingly okay with that. Because every step of the process, every word I have put down, deleted and re-written has somehow changed me, formed me anew.

Thank you for being here. For reading and journeying with me. You are a bountiful harvest for which I am grateful. You are friend. You are reader. You are co-journeyer.
You are subscriber, follower. You take time to read and to be here.  You listen. You listen well.

And I am grateful.

It would be an honor and I would be filled with gratitude for your continued support in these ways: if you would support my writing by liking my Facebook writer’s page, click the link here and if you would consider subscribing to my monthly newsletter, click here or at the tab at the top of this homepage. If you are on twitter or instagram, I am @graceappears there and there.

As a writer and artist it is always difficult to ask for help in these areas. So thank you. Thank you. Know that I am grateful.

 

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On New Birth

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On New Birth

I remember. Forgetting is not an option. And if it was, I would choose to recall every fragment of the story. Remembering and forgetting sit with mystery and paint the canvas of today. The brushstrokes of tomorrow hold wet paint of waiting. And the fragments’ fragments, I would recall each one.

We are marked as mother’s by the ways we bring life into the world. The ways. There are many.  Laboring for years of a life changes perspective. Like tears on a page, the lines blur after being soaked by saline droplets racing down rivulets over cheekbones and around earlobes. Salt enhances flavor. Every memory is tinged with vivid recollection. The tear catchers can tell of what they witnessed. They held hope and joy and pain in equal measure.

And seeing life through the lens of infertility becomes a lens for seeing the world. Because the waits and pauses and hold on’s feel again like that. Pregnant pauses weigh us heavy with wonder. The question that shouts from the heart is why. Why slow down or shackle? Why hold back on life and gift and art and the birthing of new. Wrestling and wrangling possibility, I remember what I forgot. Perfect timing demands time. It is the wellspring, the life source, the fountain of new birth.

This thing about new birth and creation and creative birthing?  It is constant. It comes. It walks in the door, it comes through the womb, it bursts forth from the soil and it erupts from the limbs of the pecan tree. And this other thing, its Irish twin is the mystery of when. In waiting on the birth of a creative project, I feel mystery in the infertility of now. Now feels pressed with wait. Now is held by the weight of wait. When is held by mystery.

So I adopt a posture of certainty. It comes in part from the trail of fat bread crumbs on the path of before. I am sure of the sureness. I am at peace with the pause. I am attending the beauty of the mysteries of but when. Because faith and hope and love are in the soil. And that is all I know. They are in the soil of the tree, the soil of the garden and the soul of me.

And when I forget, I come back to this. I am certain of the certainty of new birth. And I am certain of the power of a tear.

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peace and grace to you,

elizabeth

What Would You Have Said

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We were four. Perhaps you could say we were three against one. (It may be clearer in a moment how we came to be divided in our perspectives.  Before they shifted, again.) Two of us knew the sunset would occur at 6:12, because we had Googled it. A third one joined us. He was no wheel. He was more than welcome on this pilgrimage.

Moments matter. Minutes count. And when you are chasing descending beauty in the sky, and especially when you are chasing the sun as it tucks itself into bed, seconds count. If you blink or turn, the sky performs without you. Nature has no pause button. No rewind.

We didn’t have to go far to watch the sun set, bleed blazing reds and break-open spilling blood orange hues onto the salty creek. Like a dropped and broken egg from my bantam hen, we expected a color explosion to be poured out. A history of admiring the day’s often dramatic curtain closing gave us something we thought we could “count on.” Who among us doesn’t love a sunset.

Three of us walked quickly down the black asphalt road to attend the performance of our favorite star, planet sun. February had just turned brisk again, after she had casually flirted with the air of spring, turning her back on warmer nights. Our speed was due in part to the fact that we were cold and in part because we love the sky when it is drenched in drama. We didn’t want to miss the spectacle.

The sky was a dull and muted mauve this night. Drama had failed to show. As there are truly no bad days when one is walking, breathing, living fully alive, there are no bad sunsets. This one was simply restrained. The sky held nothing head-turning. The beauty was to be seen only by the ones who have eyes for wonder. Who truly know how to look beyond the obvious.

What would you have said? How would you respond to the wisest man among us? The fourth one. The one who just happened to join us, as we huddled up around the chill and swarming South Carolina gnats. The man who had pedaled by us moments earlier on his bike, racing to see the sunset. A sunset that was void of flash and blinding beauty. A close of day performance which was in fact, lovely in its simple majesty.

Our collective response was just short of shame. For we had not seen what he had so clearly seen. We compared the sky to the “night before’s sky.” And concluded it was less than fabulous.

But  he had seen the unique way the light spills before dark. He had witnessed residual pale pinks and royal grays colliding in a 6:18 sky. He saw the shadows and shades and reflections that we did not see. At first. Blind us needed artist him to guide us into the beauty.

At the edge of the creek that night, he delighted in the light. Savored real beauty. And shared his perspective with the three blind us.

I reset my lens. And I silently gave thanks for the man who saw the wonder of a muted sunset; one that came and left its mark on me. One that came as Google said. At precisely 6:12 in all its quiet glory.

And taught me again how to really see. What would you have said? I am still whispering a silent “thank you.” To both of them.

 

Hitting Close To Home: Finding Lovely In The Places Nearby

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I am looking for a passport which bears the name of someone other than myself. I think it’s tucked away among old stained t-shirts and outgrown boy things. I stop to imagine the uncovering. Of both the semi-lost passport and of the waiting wonder and beauty on this trans-Atlantic journey. The hunt for this documentation, necessary for going away, is taking me places I never imagined I’d go. A circuitous journey of coming back around to my staying home.

It is enough, this vicariousness. There is profound joy and deep satisfaction in mental wandering. I wonder about the topography of Wales, the weather and whether it will rain or not. And if it does, what does a post-rain village smell like in the springtime there. Old brick and ancient soil co-mingle to tell stories, an aromatic telling. (I can read of Wales from here and I can see a hundred photographs. But the smells, I must net them in my wildest dreams. Capture them in my imagination. That is the sense that takes me travelling in place.)

Wet or damp, dry and cool, how do the fields smell. Sweet like wildflowers or pungent like arugula and rosemary, whose powerful scents explode in their breaking. The pastures, splaying out from ancient castles like oceans of green grasses, blade on blade of lovely; how do they wave in the wind? A green that only May may know, that is the green of my imagining. Green, a favorite smell is the green that shouts new birth.

Each dream, each splinter of my imagination is rooted in love. This season, the one in which I find myself, is one of staying. Of anchoring. Of tethering. I am harbored close to home. All of my travels are in the soil of nearby.

I both remember London fondly and recall my dormant desire for returning. I grieve for what I missed, victim of a younger me wasting time in a city I long to experience her again as an older version of myself.

So I may ask them to visit a bookstore for me, to bring me a something I can hold of that place. Go in my stead. Yet, I do not want my influence to attend their journeys. I want this trip to be wholly theirs in every way. I imagine the places the soles of their shoes will mark. I close my eyes and dream about the planes and trains and automobiles that will whisk them along from town to town. They will soar and fly and rumble, while I will remain in place.

But I have my own rumblings to lean into. And I have my own soaring to do. I ride on the wings of words. And I go faraway in the nearby. I am discovering the shards of lovely in the places nearby.

When they return, when they all return, I am the receptacle of experiences not my own. They dig deep into the well of experience and I am there, far from here. Removed from my present place. I receive their experiences and stories, soak them in and hold on to a re-living. They take me with them in their telling.

The squeak in the eighth stair down, is my siren call to stay. It reminds me as I travel up and down this staircase, built circa 1904, that I am going back and forth through time. I live in a time capsule, a concrete paradox of staying and leaving.

Yesterday the dirt was dark and thick. Each fingernail held the soil-turning of the day, by hand. I placed the pansies into the containers, chosen by design for their size and significance. I dug into the contentment of staying put.

Staying calls me to dig deep in the narrow fields. It forces my hand to root out the nuanced beauty that lies in wait. If I am to discover anything, I must know how to discover the nearby first before I go out in search of more. I must rejoice here, celebrate here, if I am to be practiced at perfecting discovery anywhere else.

The squeak in the eighth and ninth stair combine to play a duet. And I am content to strike the chords of staying.

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