Sunday, August 13, 2017

Things Change All the Time



Judy with reluctant hen, early spring 2010, during chicken workshop

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 24 August 13, 2017

We forget: things change all the time.
People change their minds. Our
weather changes. Chickens like their
routines, but they change where they
roost, sometimes hide their nests.
On an old farm, despite neglect,
things grow. A Rose of Sharon leans
through the fence to say hello. Little
blue flowers appear on the Wandering 
Jew. Figs ripen and some spoil from
all the rain. After a slew of problems,
a respite: a gift I’d given up on,
forgotten. I got hurt, but I’ve been
healing. I spoke some hard truth,
and was invited to speak again. I’ll
have students in September. My soul
settled in for my older age. I have
to consider my heart, my balance, and
how easily I forget. The weeds feel
impossible, but I know how to summon
helping hands. Wag and I do our daily 
walk steadily. I work on manuscripts
I’m determined to publish; plant a few 
more beans, find enough figs to sell.
My life resumes its normal rhythms.
Rain replaces the heat wave. 

My soul is peaceful once again.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Outwitting Other People's Worries


Judy with new books at book party May 21, 2017. 
Photo by Johnsie Tipton.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 23 August 6, 2017

Banishing fear has 
become a habit. Every time I outwit other
people’s worries, I stand taller in my own
view. All it takes is courage, helping those
who let me, and taking in gratefully those
loving hands that give me a reason 
to stay alive. –Those Eternally Linked Lives 18

I do keep staying alive. I could have died 
on Monday. Instead I fell as I raced 
across the road to avoid a speeding car. 
She wasn’t looking, she said. She stopped,
pulled me off the road, called nine-one-one.
Other cars stopped, including a sheriff’s
deputy. Then the fire department and
two ambulances. I recognized the voices
of David and Jerry. Claudia came up. 
I asked her to put Wag behind the fence.
Later she came back to pray with me. 
The phone kept ringing even during the
prayer. I did hit my head. A scalp wound
bled. John Bonitz called. Was I okay?
He heard a car hit me. No, I fell, but
she could have. I’m okay. Sheila called 
to say she and Rhonda were coming 
over. Then John and Wayne Cross
stopped to check on me. Emails and
phone calls. Rhonda checked my scalp: 
“It will heal.” Jeff took me to pick up
my truck. Emma stopped by, having
heard the rumor. Sally wrote from Alabama.
Katie, from Asheville. Then Keely, Donna, 
and Terica brought me groceries. Maybe
I couldn’t get to a store? Fruit and other 
things I never buy on my simple diet, 
but I’m enjoying them. Angelina says, 
“You could use this in a novel. I keep
telling people the car didn’t hit you.” 
What did hit me was people’s care:
 I had to be all right. I am. Healing 
well; reminding my children I want 
to stay independent, follow my deep
wisdom. Falling’s no fun, but once
again I learned: people love me. 



Sunday, July 30, 2017

It Takes A Long Road to Reach the Heart

Geese Flying. Drawing by Mikhail Bazankov, 1937-2015

Those Eternally Linked Lives 22  July 30, 2017

The tree we made between
us seeded itself and new flowers
open like white dogwood in North
Carolina, tight knobs while Spring 
hesitates; then open-handed once
She makes up Her mind, their
petals reminding us of where, once,
the hands of a good man were
nailed to a tree. Goodness is always
going to suffer in our world, but if
goodness seeded itself, and new
trees grow, and new flowers open,
and new springs give new cause
to laugh and delight in one another,
to speak the heart’s truth knowing
the other listens and cares, it is
enough. . .
You said that one must travel
a long road to reach the heart.
How far have we come now?
I can’t remember very well the
beginning. We opened our souls’ doors
to each other freely then. We laughed
and we were sad. You said, when
I left, “It’s only a light sadness, 
Judy.” Soon I leave again. For me
the sadness I feel has never been
light, though I carried it easily.
What choice did I have? No one
knows how much we say to one
another when we don’t speak a word.
From Sun 20, December 1995

Did we reach the heart? I think so.
We both had many claims on our lives, 
but from the first hours we wanted to
give everything we had to give. Later we
learned our limits and the long road
appeared. We said nothing would
hinder us–neither the thousands of mile,
our lifestyle differences, nor the language
barrier. Yet all those had their power to 
impede the flow of a love we could
neither deny nor let govern our lives. 
It’s one way for souls to fuse: when 
there’s no other alternative. Our love
became a powerful force in fostering
 understanding between two distinct
and very different cultures. Despite
our suffering we did not only reach
each other’s hearts, we stayed there.
The little wooden bird you gave me
still flies. When the light is right, its
shadow dances on the filing cabinet.
I still see you in my mind’s eye, feel
your tight hug as you whisper: “You’re
a hero.” Hear your laughter: “We were
fools!” Then you added: “And miracle
workers.” I can ask no better gift
than to have traveled that long road
to rest safely in your heart.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

An Island of Sanity and Love



My figs back in August 1911. Not quite so plentiful now, but they're coming along after hard freeze set-backs a few years ago.

Those Eternally Linked Lives 21 July 23, 2017

I want to root myself here, create an island of sanity and love around me, draw my children, grandchildren, and friends here to see me, and contribute as I can to my community. 
From my goals stated in 1996-2012

It will be nineteen years in December
that I have lived in this small house in
Moncure, with a garden, an orchard, and
a small flock of hens. I’d already then 
been given many gifts: by a banker, who 
outwitted the mortgage rules; by friends
who helped paint and weed-eat and
move a big pile of bricks, which became
my flower garden. Even before I moved
in, I joined the fight to stop a low-level
nuclear dump. We did stop it. Then we
stopped three attempts to site a landfill
and ended ten years of bad air pollution.
I worked to elect more careful county
commissioners, then to keep out fracking,
and since 2014, coal ash. This time
they pushed in before we could stop
them. It took a judge to halt that, but
they’re holding off our justice again. 
I hold steady, but more problems have
surfaced: my water heater quit; my 
heart began racing; now it’s high
heat warnings keeping me inside
while the weeds flourish. Yet people
turn up to help me: Mike, to challenge
the water heater’s diagnosis; Harold
to mow; Merle, bringing tomatoes
when my bushes stopped producing
shortly after they began. Then two
men from my electric coop, got
the water heater back on track. Many
helpers when I needed them. Everyone
has annoying problems, but I’m older;
so is my water heater and my farm.
Despite unruly weeds and heat, 
the figs, grapes, and apples are plentiful. 
Some rain would help, and cooler weather.
All this help puzzles me, though I’m very
grateful. Then it hits me. I wanted to
create an island of sanity and love. Looks
like I did, despite the weeds, my aging
body and what belongs to me. The big
world does grow more difficult, but in my 
world there definitely is sanity and love.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

You can't have enough courage


Full summer, flowers and brownies, 2010.

Those Eternally Linked Lives 20  July 16, 2017

Even if the brakes are being put on
slowly, we know the end of our lives
will come. We can’t be blithe as
once; yet we can live as normally
and joyfully as possible. The doctors
are not worried. Their tests reassure
them that my heart jumping around 
and out of its steady rhythm for an 
hour can be lived with. For me it is
an unmistakable sign to pay attention:
walk, yes; work, write, dig. See to 
the hens, mow and weed-eat; lead
my village in the fight to stop a 
coal ash dump, but rest and eat
well, stay alert, respect the signs
as you accumulate years. You 
can’t have enough courage or of
the vision that shows you your way, 
a step at a time. You’re still here,
aren’t you? Still thriving, loving
those who let you, filling each
day with work completed? Your
conscience is clear; you see all
too well into the hearts of others

whether they imagine yours or not.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

If Need Be, You Win Again and Again


Zinnias on my kitchen table in August 2011, after Hurricane Irene.

Those Eternally Linked Lives 19  July 9, 2017

Evil men are doing harm,
but we will stop them, one at a time.
When you have justice on your side,
sooner or later you win, and if need
be, you win again and again. 
–Those Eternally Linked Lives 11

I knew, when I wished to live
a long time, that, as I approached
a hundred years, living would
become more difficult. Even as
my body ages well, it is more
vulnerable, needs more care,
its regular exercise, healthy diet,
and for its sleep budget to be
balanced. I have my commitments
I can’t say no to, for myself and
my writings, for my children and
friends, and for my community
here in Moncure. It has always
been a balancing act–never moreso
than now. I hold my own, but it
takes more ingenuity to outwit 
my gradual aging and the deadly
poisons let loose in our twenty-first
century world, out to kill us and
destroy our hope. The answer is 
simple and obvious: in our deep
souls we know we can’t be seriously
harmed if we refuse despair. Insights
will arrive. Courage will appear
against the odds. The grain of the
universe doesn’t go away. Furthermore
other people gather around us, one 
at a time. If we ask, we receive, and
not infrequently, we receive the help
we need before we ask.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hope Over Fear


This photo of my figs from August 2011, after Hurricane Irene

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 18 July 2, 2017

"Every single day, we need to choose hope over fear, and diversity over division.
Fear has never fed a family nor created a single job.
And those who exploit it will never solve the problems that have created such anxiety."
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
in address to UN --From Louise Penny’s July 1, 2017 NL

From childhood you were sheltered
and nourished by a grace mysterious
and never named, but it opened 
doors most people never see or 
if they do, fear to open. –Those Eternally Linked Lives 6

In all this growth of green–vines, grasses,
fig leaves and tiny figs, the tall swaying
tulip tree, the grass I need to cut, the iris
and daylilies holding their own against
bamboo grass–where is the grace that will
hold me steady on my own course, the one
I chose, not going against the universe’s
grain, but having to tolerate fear in others
for me and hatred when I succeed; even awe
when I defy the doctors’ wisdom. How 
can I be still young, my flesh still firm; my 
heart holding its own. Banishing fear has 
become a habit. Every time I outwit other
people’s worries, I stand taller in my own
view. All it takes is courage, helping those
who let me, and taking in gratefully those
loving hands that give me a reason 
to stay alive.