Blog

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pondering: My Mother's Life




My mother died on Sunday. If you know anything about my journey with her, you know it has  been rocky for most of my life. She lived from a deeply wounded place. I know she loved Jesus, but she never knew how to take his grace into her heart and allow it to bring healing or change.  I know she loved me, and I loved her, too.

After a long period of estrangement, she had a stroke, and she needed me. Somehow we found common ground over books. I read aloud to her every week for close to ten years. We read every Mrs. Polifax novel ever written, along with many more. In the last year, she was unable to keep her attention on a book for more than a minute or two, so we had short visits filled with Facebook pictures of her great-grandchildren or just sitting. There is sadness, sometimes for what could have been and wasn't, but there is also peace in knowing she understands now all that she could not understand here.

I wrote this several years ago as I was making my way toward peace with her.

Mother's Lessons

She taught me gin rummy and badminton,
to make Chef Boyardee Pizza
with a crust ten-cent thin.
She taught me to make my bed
before I was out of it, to clean my room,
to fry chicken in a pan of Crisco,
to practice piano, to listen.
She taught me that homework came before play,
that a "B" was never your best,
that a hairbrush was not meant to collect hair.
She taught me justice, but without
mercy that makes it redemptive.
She taught me to be truthful, but
she meant her version, and it was seldom
spoken in love. She taught me
that getting your own way hurts
the ones close to you. She taught me
silence is not golden when it shuts people out.
She taught me that touch is tender, not tenuous.
She taught me family comes first.
She taught me to give, but gifts
with strings make one feel bought.
She taught me that kindness is
more important than the appearance of kindness.
She taught me when bitterness takes root,
you can lose your best friend.
She taught me God’s love--
without it I might not have survived hers.
She taught me to be a mother.
Sometimes knowing
what not to do is the best lesson.
Today I sat beside her bed and read.
I held her withered hand in mine
and kissed her wrinkled brow, because
I know what it means to need those things.
She taught me that.

© Doraine Bennett 2012


There is a strange feeling of having no more connection to my past, other than memories. A sense that the continuum from past to future has altered and there is only what lies ahead--my children, my grandchildren. A dear friend said, "It is the passing of a generation and this is worth noting and mourning." Indeed.

My nephew sang this song at the service.



And one verse shared by the pastor:

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)

I am profoundly grateful that death is not the end. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Out of My Comfort Zone


Yep. Out of my comfort zone. That's where I've been most of the day. Maybe one day I'll tell you about it, but in the meantime, just know, there is joy in the journey, even when it feels terribly unstable underneath your feet!

Pat hosts the roundup of posts over at Writer on a Horse.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pondering: Appearances

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash


from At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

"Ah, but there's another thing, Diamond: what if I should look ugly without being bad--look ugly myself because I am making ugly things beautiful? What then?"
...

"If you see me with my face all black, don't be frightened. If you see me flapping wings like a bat's, as big as the whole sky, don't be frightened. If you hear me raging ten times worse than Mrs. Bill, the blacksmith's wife--even if you see me looking in at people's windows like Mrs. Eve Dropper, the gardener's wife--you must believe that I am doing my work. Nay, Diamond if I change into a serpent or a tiger, you must not let go your hold of me, for my hand will never change in yours if you keep a good hold. If you keep a hold, you will know who I am all the time, even when you look at me and can't see me the least like the North Wind. I may look something very awful. Do you understand?"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Poetry Friday: Yoga Poems (Thanks, Linda)

The spare moments of late have indeed been spare. And when they come, I tend to indulge myself with doing mostly nothing within them. Yesterday was almost a full day all to myself. No doctor's appointments or errands to run for my in-laws who have not been well the last month. So I made coffee and settled in with my journal, went for a walk, did an online yoga class, listened to an audio book, and played with my grandson at the creek. Toward the end of the day, I walked barefoot to the mailbox and found a brown envelope addressed to me. Inside was a book of poetry and a note from Linda Baie, who knows the demands of caregiving. 



I have not seen it before, Linda. It was a perfect end to a lovely day. Thank you for your sweet thoughtfulness. 

I had been thinking earlier that I would like to get back to posting on my blog (though I may still be spotty), but didn't feel particularly inspired. As I paged through the book, I found many poems that spoke to me, but thought I would share just this one. 


Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
One-Legged King Pigeon

by Leza Lowitz

William Carlos Williams
wrote poems
on a notebook small enough to fit
in his breast pocket
on his medical rounds.

Yasunari Kawabata 
wrote stories
small enough to fit
in the palm of the hand.

The body writes stories small enough to fit
in the tiniest cell.
Every centimeter
has a different beginning
and end.
Day by day
the gap between beginning and end 
thigh and floor
heel and head
closes up,
the narrative writ large
on each small movement.

Start small and the world expands
as Goethe said, but start anyway.
In beginnings 
there is the magic
of yes.

As much as I like this poem, I don't teach this pose in my classes for a number of reasons. I agree with Jenni Rawlings of Jenni Rawlings Yoga and Movement, who recommends modifications for working to strengthen the hips in the pose rather than overstretch those ligaments, over arch the low back or stress the knee joint! 

Check out some alternatives here

Heidi hosts the roundup today at My Juicy Little Universe.


Pondering: Catching Quiet

Photo by Ander Burdain at Unsplash.com


from "Passing Ordinary Time"
by Enuma Okoro

It is a hard art to learn,
catching quiet
by palms raised
cupped in
air shifting location
here and there like
trying to guess the pattern of falling leaves,
and hoping to feel the soft descent of moments
when silence slips
between sounds.



Friday, June 2, 2017

My Sentiments Exactly




from Prayers from the Ark by Rumer Godden

The roundup today is at Buffy's Blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Finding Joy





This week the bloggers of Spiritual Journey Thursday are posting on the theme "Finding Joy," suggested by Margaret Simon over at Reflections on the Teche. Head over to Margaret's blog if you'd like to read more on Finding Joy.

When I first read the topic for the month, I thought about what it means to find something. Was it lost? Was there a lengthy search? Was it simply a random stumbling upon an unexpected treasure to be pocketed with satisfaction?

But is that the way joy comes?

I think joy is something deeper than happiness. Joy can be present when happiness is tenuous or even absent. It is the understructure, the miraculous, the unexpected sense of knowing, not just who I am, but whose I am. The essential knowing that I am loved, that it's a good thing I am alive, that I have a place in the world. It's a solid knowing at the base of my soul that I can return to when the constant barrage of comparison, disapproval, or judgment lead me, like Pilgrim, toward the "slough of despond." It's a knowing that I am enjoyed by the one who created me. It's a safe place.

from Ode to Joy
by Annonymous


Joy everlasting fostereth 
The soul of all creation, 
It is her secret ferment fires 
The cup of life with flame.
'Tis at her beck the grass hath turned 
Each blade toward the light 
and solar systems have evolved 
From chaos and dark night, 
Filling the realms of boundless space 
Beyond the sage's sight.