Pastor Audrey Ward
This is the kind of Friend
Without making me realize
My soul’s anguished history,
You slip into my house at night,
And while I am sleeping
You silently carry off
All my suffering and sordid past
In Your beautiful
Hafiz’ words of the Beloved—the Sacred Spirit, God who is Love—lodge in mind and plant
a garden fit for a cottage in the Cotswolds: vivid pink hollyhocks high as the roof,
blood red roses tumbling over a whitewashed stone wall, goldenrod, whispery white astille, and delicate blue fern-like love-in-a-mist filling in all the spaces. I always think of Virginia when seeing love-in-a-mist, since she supplied all those seeds for my own garden. She, of the long slender fingers busy amongst her flowers.
Sue Kaljian’s vivid plot of land she tends with the greatest skill welcomed us this past Sunday as she and Tom hosted a remarkable lunch on their grounds. What a paradise Sue creates, season after season. I’ve been there in fall when the green vines we saw on Sunday have produced their bounty of pumpkins, squash and gourds as well.
Beautiful hands give even more than the treasures of touch, of caress. Hafiz honors the Beloved for taking our sorrows from us in Beautiful Hands when we can give them up.
It is a question only answered in a moment of intimacy with one’s self.
Don't you just love it when the truth pops out of your own surprised mouth? I wonder if that's like the blues singer - Keb Mo - promises, that it's "jus God tryin ta git your attention."
Anna Quindlan writes a moment like this into her latest memoir, "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake." After her country house was barely missed by a tornado, her college-aged daughter called to say she had been frantic regarding her mother's safety, worried her mother would die young. And Anna quickly responded, "Oh honey, I'm too old to die young, now!"
Aha. There it is. And what an interesting marker for our years: too old to die young. Which means, of course, still here, alive in the world for whatever will come.
May Sarton, the poet, speaks of "the inexhaustible flame" that kept her mother alive until she died. Going on, in the poem "August Third" (Printed in full below) to say, "if you taught me one thing, it was never to fail life." And I pass this on to all of us as our calling, every day.
See you in church,
Lifting myself up
Like a heavy weight,
Old camel getting to her knees,
I think of my mother
And the inexhaustible flame
That kept her alive
Until she died.
She knew all about fatigue
And how one pushes it aside
For staking up the lilies
Early in the morning,
The way one pushes it aside
For a friend in need,
For a hungry cat.
Mother, be with me.
Today on your birthday
I am older than you were
When you died
Thirty-five years ago.
Thinking of you
The old camel gets to her knees,
Moves forward slowly
Into the new day.
If you taught me one thing
It was never to fail life.
Here is prose poem about joy and plenty from Mary Oliver in her most recent book “Swan,” seems like one Virginia might write. It’s the one she expresses through her 90 + years of life all the time.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.