Posts Tagged ‘silence’



Pond recedes

Cold depths remain

Lives flourish


of larger



Boulder tip revealed


rarely seen

We need



Surface concerns

Depths undisturbed

It was always




World drawn back

Hidden  revealed

Sun graces




Turtles rise

leave darkness

Claw and muscle

strive for



 Radiance or cloud

rock is comfort

Between worlds






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Lately I’ve been getting slammed more than usual by this disease.  I’m fairly sure there’s no pain in my eyelashes 😉 but the level of pain, exhaustion, immune system uproar, migraine attacks and other neurological nasties have left me breathless – oh, wait, that’s the asthma kicking in.


I’d say I don’t mean to complain, but I suppose that’s not entirely true, I’m SICK of this!


Whew, that felt good and yes, I see the pun 🙂


I’ve smiled my way through several important events that brought me great joy even as I knew I was getting much worse.  Balance, it always comes back to that.  Now it is time to begin to tip the scale back to where I do best – living each moment in quiet spontaneity.   Healthy or not, it only makes sense; we are not promised a next moment and, while reflection on the past can be fruitful, moments in the past are gone – we have only this moment.


Okay, I’ll admit, that even at the least demanding of times, it’s not completely possible to be without thought of the next moment, the chore that can’t wait any longer, the appointment that must be made and kept, the commitment to my spirituality that strengthens me in every way, but the more I can build that quiet spontaneity into my life, the better I do.  Yes, it takes a conscious effort to choose – to build – that peaceful place, to recognize an opportunity; even the busiest lives have them.


Yesterday was one of those precious spontaneous days. 


My husband asked me what I was going to do with my day.  I smiled and recited one of our family jokes, “I don’t make plans that far in advance.”  I asked him what he was going to do and he said he might cut the grass.  Now, the last time he cut the grass I’d compromised but this time I knew I desperately needed the quiet and that lawnmower makes me feel driven as I try to escape the noise and the allergens.  We have a small parcel of land here, so cutting the grass takes several hours on a riding mower.


So, I did the unthinkable; I asked for what I desperately needed.


Luckily, my always-has-to-be-busy husband is also very good to me so he agreed to find something else to do and joked about someone calling the Grass Police.  (We live in a semi-rural area, I’m not sure anyone would do anything about it if we let the whole place go wild.)  So I looked forward to my quiet and a day with absolutely no obligation other than the times of prayer in which I find peace and solace. (See the Divine Office link to the right of this page if curious.)


After a morning spent “going slow” as I think of it, I was finally dressed and ready to spend some time on the screened-in porch.  I set my favorite pillow on the lounge chair and stretched out; I read for a time, I listened to the birds and thought about what I’d read.   Just being able to do that – retain what I’d read long enough to think about it – was huge!


When 3pm came, I went upstairs to pray Midafternoon Prayer as is my custom, and came back to the lounge chair.  Then the weeds began to call.


They did.  Honest!


Several years ago, my husband built a two-tiered flowerbed just outside the screened porch.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can contain the growth of mint if you plant it inside a pot in your garden!  I think I’ll be pulling it out for the rest of my life and much as I like mint, well, email me if you ever need some 😉 


So, the mint and friends were calling and I, in that moment, felt I could clear a little section.  With my cane for balance and my trusty trowel, out I went.  After a couple of minutes, the lessons began to form.


I set my sights on clearing every weed from the midst of an Autumn Joy sedum that has gotten quite full and lovely.  Just that spot, I thought, let me get that one spot completely cleared.  I began with a few inches leading up to the sedum when the first lesson came.


My husband and I had done this already earlier this spring.


What we had not done was put something in the place of the weeds.  Pull something unwanted out, the careful gardener puts in something that is wanted – lest the weeds grow back.  Clear a space within myself, something better needs to take its place lest I end up back where I began or worse, grow an even bigger crop of weeds.


I moved forward, still determined to perfect that one little area.   I began to work on my lovely plant, carefully separating the sedum stalks to follow the weed to the roots when the second lesson came.


No matter how carefully I pull out the roots, I can never get every last little strand; the weed will grow back eventually without vigilance.  What progress I make must be carefully watched and nurtured.


I moved to the other side of the plant, having cleared the front and looked back.  Wait just a minute!  I just cleared that!  I’d swear there wasn’t a single weed left in the front half when I moved to the back!  But there they were, waving merrily in the wind, weeds I hadn’t seen though I’d thought I looked so carefully.  I’d felt pretty proud of myself for my thoroughness and yet I completely overlooked these taunting flags!  Therein lay the third lesson of the weeds. 


The weeds in me require my vigilance, my effort, my patience, and my perseverance but I will never clear my garden of weeds.  There is only one Gardener who is able to see and completely root out each weed and it isn’t me! 




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I have thought (again) for some time that I would not be moved to write anymore.


It has been a time of being very quiet inside in terms of words.  Yet, it has also been a time of invitation, learning and, though it might seem surprising in the midst of that, turmoil.


For now, for today at least, I’d like to share just one thing – a thing that came to me yesterday.  It’s a thing I’ve written about in one way or another before, and so one might think I would not have found it a compelling experience, but it seems I do not truly learn the lessons given to me and must be reminded.  I make no claim to being the brightest bulb in the fixture!


So for those of you who do me the honor of reading my words, try to keep the “Well, DUH!” reactions to a low roar – I’m recovering from two migraine monster attacks in one day and I really don’t want to wake that guy up again, he’s lousy company 😉


Yesterday, I was absolutely determined to work on my pottery.  I get to feeling sorry for myself for, as I think of it, “losing” so many days.  Yes, I know, another lesson there, but one to speak of another day.


So, even though I knew a migraine was coming on, I took the pill that sometimes aborts it and began to work.  My goal was to do just a couple of small pieces, knowing I would be even more foolish if I tried to move more than a few ounces of clay at a time.  Between the migraine, the medicine, and my arrogance, my rhythm of wheel speed and lifting of clay walls was off and the piece began to become misshapen.


Rhythm – speed – lift – control.


Suddenly the lesson was there, refusing to be ignored.  When things get out of control (and we all know that’s going to happen) SLOW DOWN!


It’s not only okay, it’s essential.


Clay and life – they only form as they should when I cease to fight for control and lose myself to the rhythms and the silence that is deeper than mere absence of sound.


The lessons of the wheel are lessons of my life.




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I thought I was alone.

I wanted to be alone.

I thought.


Weakness, pain, exhaustion.

No escape.

Warmth at the pond.


Old bench,

Old friend.

Slanting light, just enough.


Nothing here.

Gone already?

Not winter yet.


Quiet, quieter, silent inside.

Sight sharpens.

Still fish, just beneath, unmoving.


Dragonfly on grass.

Shhhh, so still.

Baking in last of sun.


Something moving.

Turtle in clear water.

Swim, rest, swim, bask.


Weakness, pain, exhaustion.

Strength to bear.

Warmth at the pond.


I thought I was alone.

I was never alone.

I know.






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After a very difficult few days of identifying a new health issue:

A Grace of Herons
At long last intensity lessens,
drawn to still water and silent recollections,
a plastic kayak sets me adrift,
through tangled days and thoughts to sift.

Skittering clouds in sun filled sky,
dazzling reflections stun the eye.
Two herons startle and hurry to hide.
Thick brush holds secrets deep inside.

Embracing silence for safety and life,
their young grow strong away from strife.
One comes out to watch me there.
From opposite sides we watch, we stare.

Understanding forms and passes between,
those who see and the one unseen.
I’ll guard the peace and cause no fear,
I have been blessed to find them here.

New life on the pond hidden in brush,
My soul fills with peace deep and lush.
Silence reigns blending with me.
That which was bound now is free.


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In recent times, I’ve found myself reflecting on the gift of hearing.  I don’t take that gift lightly.  Having grown up with a father who was profoundly hard of hearing due to a genetic, inheritable disease, and seen his struggle when good jobs and simple conversation were denied him, I do not take lightly the gift of hearing.

When my own hearing changed many years ago, tinnitus, I went through a time of fear – had I inherited the thing that caused my father so much anguish?  So, no, I don’t take being able to hear for granted.

A few days ago, when I began to reflect upon all that I have heard and all that I have gained from the gift, the list of what I cherish having heard overwhelmed me, especially late one night as I listened to the frogs sing me to sleep.  The next day, though, was a challenge to that reflection; it seemed every neighbor had machinery to run and I felt driven nearly mad with the noise.  Hearing?  Hmmm, I remember my mother-in-law quietly switching her hearing aid off when she’d had enough…

…and then I began to think once again about balance, the things I’ve wanted to hear, the things I haven’t.  Though very much distilled for simplicity, I offer this reflection:

I’ve Heard

I’ve heard,
Hard words and great words,
Sweet songs and bitter cries,
First breaths and last sighs.

I’ve heard,
Whispered fear and shouted triumph,
Shaking storm and quiet breeze,
Lawn mowers and shuffling leaves.

I’ve heard,
Chain saws and bird songs,
Words of wisdom and ceaseless chatter,
Endless worries that do not matter.

I’ve heard,
Precious gift of calling owl,
Assurance of a loved one’s breath,
Strength of faith in life not death.

I’ve heard,
Buzzing jewel of hummingbird,
Rattling glinting dragonfly wings,
Wordless answers seeking brings.

I’ve heard.


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Every time I think I will never be moved to write again, something ends up presenting itself, forming slowly into thoughts that nag until I let them out.  This time, it was a chair.

Those who’ve spent precious time giving me the gift of reading what I write may remember that I’ve written often about the place I live.  Thanks to great blessings and the decades of dedicated hard work of my husband, we moved ten years ago to a semi-rural area where we live down a dirt road in what many in the US would think a modest home (though to me it is a palace!) on what I like to think of as a three acre park.  Trees and wildlife abound, filling me with awe, with peace, and with many chuckles.  I never imagined I would get to live in a place like this. 

Please, make no mistake, I do not mean to boast!  Nothing I have came by my own efforts and I am deeply aware of how fortunate I am!  I merely wish to set the scene.


Toward the back of this land is a very deep pond, roughly three-quarters of an acre in surface, at a guess.  It is fed by deep, cold, spring seep water, home to many creatures and watering hole to many more.  Whoever built this place over 40 years ago and caused the pond to be dug gave us the gift of using the dug earth to create a large hill on the farthest bank.  They planted many trees in addition to one that was truly ancient even then.  Since all this was done decades before we came here, the trees are very large and of many varieties, the hill well protected against erosion and wild enough to lure much wildlife both large and small.  I am so thankful for the choices made by the person who built this place!

 My husband, in his unending generosity toward me, has put a small park bench on each side of the pond, including the top of the hill, so that when I make my way out there I have somewhere to rest.  I make good use of those benches.

So, now the scene is set and perhaps the reader is kind enough to see that I only mean to share, not to boast.


The weather growing slowly but steadily more pleasant after the long winter, I could not resist a sunny day and decided to make my way out to the pond, hoping to have enough strength once out there to get up the hill to my favorite of all benches, say my prayers, and rest with Him awhile – enjoying the new spring palette of nature and the delight of being near His creatures. 

Taking up my cane, I began my walk.  Mmmm, the sun on my face, the feel of the air, the sounds!  Oh, I am so grateful to be able to hear!  I can see a fruit tree in blossom and am tempted to go closer but my destination beckons.  I pass my husband’s newest plantings (Did you know there are kiwi that grow in cold places?  I didn’t until he found them.) I make my way to the stand of tall pines that stand to one side of the pond; passing them I come close to one of the benches and see the unexpected –

A simple white plastic chair sits on our neighbors’ side of the property line facing the pond.

What’s the big deal about that, you ask?  The habit of this neighbor is to leave the rear part of their property fairly wild, preserving a small, treed wetlands in the process.  They very rarely venture out there except to cut the part of the grass they keep low.  (We deeply appreciate their care of the natural world in this way – many people around here eschew keeping everything manicured, preferring the surprises of nature and are able to do so because of the rural nature of the area.)  Now, these neighbors are also busy people, running a business, involved with the community, their youngest child is still at home, sometimes they entertain family on the weekends – all good and necessary pursuits but busy, always busy.

So, there sits that empty white plastic chair near the property line, facing the pond.  It makes me pause and smile.  Just when I think that this disease has made me useless, I am faced (not for the first time) with evidence that we are all valuable to others in ways we may never see – today I see it in an empty white plastic chair.

You see, someone dragged that chair over there – from a fair distance away, in fact.  Someone needed some time alone, sitting where they could watch the pond, resting.  Someone needed the same thing that brought me out of the house.  How does that prove my value?  Ahh, if my husband and I, as caretakers of this land, had not chosen to keep it a place of serenity – it would not have been a gift to the person who sat in that chair.  That decision which I thought only affected us, was valuable to someone else and, by leaving that chair there, they gave the gift back to me.

It doesn’t take a three acre park – that flower pot in a window, the exhausted smile, who knows who will see it just when they needed it most? 

There is potential for everything about us, no matter how small, to have value – just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

And in the act of leaving that chair where it was, not only did they give us the gift of knowing we’d given someone something they needed, they caused me to think about the One Who is always with me, even when I am unaware – just by an unexpected chair.



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