Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hang On For A Rough Ride


Those Eternally Linked Lives 17 June 25, 2017

The tallest tree–the tulip–shimmers in
a world of green. Vines climb the fences.
My flower garden weeds are three feet
high, the annuals higher. Daylilies had
to fight off bamboo grass. The figs have
so many leaves I can’t see the dead 
branches, and I know those infant knobs
are swelling. A day finally dawned without
rain. Soon I can mow, and tackle the
high weeds. The hens took it all in stride.
Muddy, bedraggled feathers were clean
and white again when the new day arrived.
Even in human beings life renews itself.
Sleep heals; dreams restore our cells and 
our souls. We are new again every day.
One look out the window, and we know
what we have to do. This life is not for
the faint of heart. We let go only what
we must; hang on for a rough ride, remount
our courage and listen to our hearts. It’s 
the only way to stay whole and keep our 
true Selves in tact until we die and see 
that Death is still some distance off.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Light Always Finds Me Sooner or Later

Early spring, 2011, thyme in bloom, and oregano behind it.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 16  June 18, 2017

It rains, and green surges. Again I can’t
keep up. I engage with deeply rooted
weeds and mud. The work I need to do
is everywhere visible. The orchid is casting
its blooms. Ten months until they come
again. Human effort feels so small against
that tide of growth. Simple sun and rain
send green hurtling forward. Sweetgum
stars obscure my view out the window.
Yet the self-heal blooms; the daylilies
make each day new. Later too much heat
will slow things down. Wet soil helps
me yank out the worst weeds. The hens
are happy, making their straw into new
nests, the wet earth sending more bugs
to the surface. Sometimes it’s hard
when so much is up to me. Yet I flourish,
walk, eat, and sleep well; thread my way
through difficulties; ask help; do my
part as the days allow. When I can’t
see very far ahead, I hold on. I’ve
been in so many dark places before.
Light always finds me sooner or later
if I keep myself from despair.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Such Intangible Communion


At Judy's book party, but notice the Finnish hand-crafted bird.

****
Those Eternally Linked Lives 15  June 11, 2017

We each had a hand-crafted Finnish bird–
mid-flight. Snow goose or swan? You bought
two. One for me in my village; one for your
apartment in town, which I saw when we 
drove home from your village. You had been
cruel and angry, only a little less as we
traveled. That day the bird told me everything
I needed to know. It still does now that I
live in another house, another village. Sometimes
what’s tangible reinforces what we can’t
touch or know with absolute uncertainty.
Belief is all we have and then that knowledge
that makes proof irrelevant–some direct
seeing that passes all the roadblocks and
doubts. Of course there are skeptics and
sometimes we’re assailed by doubts, too.
But the bird persists. One look reminds
us. You’re not there in your town or village 
any more, but this bird here has its 
continuing message as it moves in the
fan’s wind: “I’m still here. I’m inside you.
Heart to heart is what matters.” For us
that part was easy. The hard part was
opening such a truth to other people
when they can’t imagine 
such intangible communion.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Doing What I Need to Do


Judy at her May 21 book party holding two new books, Political Peaches and Grace: A China Diary, 1910-16. 
Photo by Johnsie Tipton.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 14 May 28, 2017

The peas are nearly finished. I pick
beet leaves, half-grown lettuce,
two firm bright green peppers, fronds
of lemon balm and peppermint for
tea. The hens gave me seven eggs. 
Sun again after so much rain brings
out tiny bumps that will be figs by
August. I hack at poison ivy, pull
handfuls of bamboo grass, mow
the backyard where Wag’s vole
holes outdo the grass. Dale comes
to change my flat tire, puts on
the spare. I drive thirty miles for
the flat to be repaired. Harold mows
more of my yard than I had managed
and leaves before I can thank him. 
Birthday wishes come by mail,
e-mail, and phone. The waves I
make in the wider world are scarcely
noticed, but I fall asleep reassured
that I’m doing what I need to do.
My less reliable memory is good
enough. Everything I do counts
in the long tabulation of the 
centuries. “Be of good cheer,”

sounds in my ears. Sun reigns.

***
More book party photos by Johnsie Tipton on May 21.

***

Judy having signed a copy of Grace for Dean Tipton.

***

Behind the book cases, left to right: Dean Tipton, Carol Hay, Judy, and Linda King. On the couch: Skip Baker. Drawings by grandchildren some years ago. The bird flying, a gift from my Russian friend Mikhail in 1992.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sometimes the Gods Offer A Miracle


Those Eternally Linked Lives 13  May 21, 2017

My phalaenopsis orchid has twenty blooms,
each a revelation. All the green-white
lanterns have become exuberant faces,
winged like butterflies. Outside the window
green sweetgum stars flutter, then dance
when the wind picks up. Sometimes the
gods offer a miracle so easy to turn down.
It could never work. It isn’t enough. We
did wish for more, yet to connect as we 
did kept us safe and happy. If sometimes
sad, yet out of despair. We were too busy
flinging ourselves those impossible 
distances to grieve at what wasn’t possible,
given who we were and what we valued:
truth and faithfulness, joy in helping others
see what we saw. Since you died, there
are new shadows. A great darkness hovers:
cruel, making hatred seem normal, claiming
evil is good and good is evil. The human
spirit has been here before. We know how
to die if we have to. Meantime we keep
singing our hymn to liberty, justice, and
mutual love.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Such Perfect Love


First Snow by Nikolai Smirnov. Village Farm in Russian provinces

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 12  May 14, 2017

How could I forget those days we spent
in my village when you came for two
weeks to North Carolina? We didn’t
sleep together yet our spirits fused.
Your warm hands caressed my neck
when I was driving. You’d take me 
to a large oak, take off your shoe, and
put your foot over mine while we prayed
to the spirit in the tree and over all.
Sometimes you were angry, or I was, 
but you’d say we had to talk, and we
would. Such perfect love left us raw
when anger flared. We’d lose Paradise
and then re-find it. We tried to part,
but couldn’t do it. So we carried each
other’s souls the rest of our lives. 
Your wife and son ministered to your 
failing human body. You wrote one
letter after I sent you my love poem
This River. You were glad our story
was being told. Your wife forgives me.
So do her sons. Somehow I added
richness to your life as you added grace 
to mine. The mystery of such love is
never fully understood, but it stays.
I will never forget those hours and
days when our souls were simply one.

They still are.



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring Resurges


Spring garden a few years ago. Beets and onions.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 11 May 7, 2017

Slapped down by a Cold Front, Spring
resurges; yellow green of new leaves; 
purple-veined beet greens, lettuce leaves
crowded close. I pick my salad. The figs 
undeterred. A few dead branches from
recent years’ hard freezes don’t discourage
them. Forsythia is resurrected; the
hydrangea’s third crop of leaves is
still alive. I’ve made room for the
new iris bulbs. Bird song is early
because they’re nesting, feeding young.
No time for love tunes. A freshening
wind as the sun pulls the earth back 
to warmer soil, more blooms, and
swelling pea ponds. All is steady,
safe, worries laid to rest. The dog
and I slept well. The sleep budget is
balanced. 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.