The Berry Bush

Stoic, she relinquishes her treasures.

Fingers swish, palms purple with the richness

of the gift. She whispers soft

but I am occupied; berries bounce in a plastic

pail to the rhythm of songbirds.

 

The old-timers say

that the harvest is only heavy every

seven years. This is the one in seven-

fat orbs dazzle the eye

and my pail overflows quick,

tongue stained and smug.

 

I strip the branches easiest to reach, careful to

pry into intimate places, seek

her secrets with greedy grasp. I slow. Here, not all are

perfectly ripe. My fingers must pull with

respect, leave the immature for a later picking.

 

The pails are piling purple. Content, I

step back, prepare to sail home

with cargo hold brimming. I stretch,

look up. More. And more, and more hang. I hear it

indistinct, this lesson. On tiptoe, the blessings are harder to

harvest, require more of my complacency.

 

Patience prickles. Fingers falter, accidental purple showers

to the earth. Joints creak, muscles strain,

and here is the true miracle,  saved for last. Fullness scrapes the dirt

plump and glad. The  equation comes

clear, and I laugh aloud with the unexpected joy of it –

 

for when do blessings not hang in clusters,

ripe and ready to pick? And how is great glory not

gained with a stretch of stained hands toward heaven?

Which good and surprising delights

were not made the sweeter by bowing of the head

and bending of the knee?

 

I hear her now.

Her syllables ring loud in the silence.

And I, who teach for a living,

am schooled by the berry bush.

 

Grass and Gravel

 

I’m barefoot in an emerald sea

stained with rain. Tiny prisms of water –

holy font – baptize my toes and I

don’t remember anyone telling me

that your soul grows

when your soles soak up grass whispers.

My feet swish soft and it all breathes life,

this nakedness, this intimacy with the impossible

green. It is a marked moment, a heartbeat of time

made holy in the offering of simplicity,

of simply being. But I forget so

soon. Distracted, my soul loses

its footing and I am cringing on gravel, bits sharp

on tender flesh. I long for grass, for softer times,

places where the tread of living is easy, where every step

does not set jaws on edge with discomfort. But who can say

whether the sharp awareness of gravel

is not the truest gift?

Ferocious, this biting – but many steps in gravel

build resilience. And is that not holy, too?

Toughened skin, stepping firm despite pain, may

not this be a place of intimacy, of

connection with a life larger than grass?

And I think,

I don’t remember anyone telling me that

gravel blesses the grass with deep benedictions.

I’m barefoot, and I hesitate, deliberate.

I choose the gravel path.

 

Cover

frosty spruce.jpg

The trials which have smothered you and frozen all your dreams

(Those icy fingers down your spine unraveled all your seams)

Are burdens which you never sought; indeed, you begged them gone,

And yet, they linger dawn to dusk, and dusk to weary dawn.

But Pilgrim, lift your tired head, and brace your feeble knees;

For lessons learned in schools of pain are not like schools of ease –

What humbled heart and broken bones with faith can start to grow

Is rather like the evergreen made beautiful by snow.

Where Beauty Sprouts

broken poppy.jpg

You hate the cracks, the places where the pain has split you through;

You don the mask, and paint the scars, and smile when spoken to –

And yet, the Dark that pinned you down, that swore you’d never win,

Forgot that all the holes, when healed, will let the Light shine in…

Set down the script, rewrite the lines, take up your truest role;

What tried to kill and steal and lie cannot destroy your soul.

Those cracks, those scars, those broken bones, those spots where pain leaked out

When warmed by sun, and earth, and rain – they’re where your beauty sprouts.

The Earth Gives Thanks

 

tamarack cattails.jpg

Thankful, grasses swish in breezes,

Ponds give thanks ere water freezes,

Tamaracks sigh benedictions,

Cattails pray with deep convictions.

Clouds that sail and geese that float

On autumn air trace thank you notes

As earth and sky and beasts conclude

That living well is Gratitude.

Heavy

sunset frost.jpg

Heartbreak hangs, a heavy Thing, unwelcome tribulation;

Frosted fangs shred flesh from bone in weighty proclamation.

Lamentations pierce the night as mourners bear its chill;

Earth’s foundations shift in flight as burdens overfill.

Affliction’s strain borne all alone would kill the bravest heart;

Eager souls and ready hands prepared to do their part

Will hold your heavy heartbreak high and share the bitter load;

So as you struggle with good-bye, we’re with you on this road.

 

*  My local community has been hit hard with the tragic loss of 15 of its loved ones after a horrible accident. It is hard to fathom what these families are enduring right now in their shock and grief. I am so proud of the ways in which people are supporting each other and loving each other through this terrible time of loss. To all the first-responders, medical staff, blood donors, coffee-pourers, blanket-bringers, and prayer warriors – thank you! May God richly bless your efforts! To all of the families and friends suffering through this awful season of hardship – the prayers and thoughts of everyone in Saskatchewan are with you all…  *

The Great Unravelling

egyptian-mummy

Here lies 2018,

behind her glass barrier,

shrouded in mystery. The hand I stretch out

cannot quite hide its tremor. What will I encounter beneath

her folds? Curses or capital, fortune or

fright? Nothing is certain

but the compulsion to peel back

that first layer. Exhilaration battles anxiety. Where to start? There is the smell of death –

but also the tang of adventure and promise of new knowledge about her. And so

it begins.

Each moment, each day, each

month unravels more of her riddles until at last every

secret cavity has been divested of its contents. Some turns of the wrist

will reveal treasures,

things hidden from days of old, joyous to untie. Others

horrify, fill the nostrils with the stench of decay and loss –

even then she demands to be set free of her wrappings

layer by layer, day by day. Until she is free of her casement

the baubles and bones seem disjointed, unrelated,

entries in the catalog to be studied by greater minds. But

after her 365 day burial,

her treasures and triumphs, grievances and gloom

will be placed with care in the display cases of my heart. They are messy,

these artifacts. Random bits of broken pottery,

gems – uncut and unrecognizable,

scarabs encased in amber. When studied,

wrestled with,

polished to reveal their glory,

then and only then will she divulge her beauty. Taken as a

collection,

the years lined up in their coffins give context to my past,

enable me to excavate the Truth of who I am.

Whatever this year hides, this wrapped enigma,

for good or for ill

she is mine to enearth.

My fingers find the tattered fabric

and pull…

Image Copyrighted by Historylink101.com & found at Egyptian Picture Gallery.