Sometimes, I've been fortunate to come across words written by someone else that articulate something that resonates for me as well. That happened again to me this morning as I took a lingering morning finishing Sarah Winman's A Year of Marvellous Ways. A lovely book.
I like to cook. I particularly like to cook when I have space to take my time. I rarely use a recipe, but sometime I'll scan several recipes on-line to get a feel for something new and then go do my own thing. Some things, like soup, I never use a recipe for and the results are never the same, but usually yummy. Sometimes it's awful. I've not exactly looked for a way to explain what I do when I cook, but when I saw these few paragraphs in Winman's book I knew I'd found it.
"Finally, the last thing he needed to tell her about was his recipes. He told her something he had never told anyone: that his secret ingredient was the life he had lived.
"Peace stared at him. What do you mean? she said.
"Wilfred leant in close and whispered, Everything goes into my bread. Names. Songs. Memories. Every batch comes out different to the next but what we are looking for is not consistency buy excellence. You have to risk failure to become excellent." p 214
When my daughter was tiny I used to nap when she did since neither of us slept much at night. Our next door neighbour got a puppy and would put him out in the back yard on a lead at about the same time as we napped. He would bark the whole time. It was making me furious. I was exhausted and really needed the sleep. I'd asked the dog's owner several times to put him out at our off-nap times, but she didn't do it.
I was at my wits ends. I was so tired I was quite sure that a solid month of sleep and food and nothing else wouldn't be enough to regain any version of feeling awake and whole. Then I remembered a story about a violet, who, when stepped on responded by leaving a beautiful scent on the bottom of that person's foot. I was feeling pretty stepped on. I thought about how I too could be a violet. I made our neighbour a card using a wee footprint from my daughter as a picture on the front. She loved babies, including mine, and so I also included a photo of her. I wrote something like: I don't know when your birthday is, but please enjoy this card for today and all days, birthday or not. Then I signed it from my daughter and her mom. Then we walked over and put it in her mailbox.
The dog was never out at our nap times again.
It is a privilege to learn something
and a responsibility to know it.
Knowing come with weight
a gravitas of substance
that is held in the field
like lovely stone
Maybe that’s why it’s called
the cloud of UNknowing.
It’s beautiful too as it
into and out of shape
mysteriously aloft in
liminal space ‘midst pulls
Not yet knowledge
unknowing is held in silent trust
not yet able to be shared
and still without heft.
Then with speed and certainty
knowing drops to earth,
plants itself in a body
is held gently mute
until it’s time
to share it
privileged to learn.
originally written April 12, 2015
The Silence of the Little Things (2)
Every morning I take
my wee dog Peace
out into the yard
where he releases the night’s accumulation
of water back into the earth.
Today his tiny friend
Matilda was there
with her grey/white yin/yang face.
I crouched to greet her.
With the silence of the little things
she stood on her back feet and smelled my face
her paw almost not touching my knee.
The sweet force of her curiosity
toppled me back
and we laughed
as Peace held the space
and Matilda winked.
originally written October 2015
I’m No War Monger
showed up on my doorstep
asking me how I was going to vote.
Can you believe that?!
I was honoured and humbled to say:
I’m voting for you.
But I admit I was a little star struck.
a small group of children came too.
They were arm in arm
with Tree, Prairie Grasses, Wolf, Salamander
and I’m sure I saw Honey Bee hitching a ride on Wolf’s ear tip.
They asked too,
that holy crew,
How are you going to vote?
I squirmed a bit when I said Water,
but they put my heart at ease when they wisely pointed out
that a vote for Water was a vote for them.
Then they partied on over to the next house.
An hour or so later
I was startled by the arrival of
(a ferocious couple: Earth and Air)
who blasted their way to my home.
Settling on the porch
into a noble pile of rich soil
and a lovely breeze,
they too asked me how I was going to vote.
Wow! I thought,
Air AND Earth asking ME, little ol’ me,
this important question?
When I told them Water
a breeze of relief wafted over me
and Earth left me a tiny gift of mycelium strands.
I didn’t event have a chance to say Thank You!
because just like that,
they whirled away.
I could see where this was going
and I wasn’t about to wait for fire to show her face
so I picked up my purse
and like my mother before me,
and her mother before her
(during whose lifetime it became possible for me to do so)
I went to vote.
I’m no war monger
but today, and all my days,
I will fight for all these visitors.
originally written October 19, 2015
The Silence of the Little Things
When I was 12
crashed into the cathedral glass
knocking itself cold.
I picked it up
and placed it in a small box
lined with soft.
I put the box on the porch
it blinked with shock
tumbled and fluffed
then settled in
with the silence of the little things
sourcing life’s energy
Later, with not even a split second’s notice
or a small nod of thanks
originally written October 2015
Weak In. Weak Out.
With what do you feed yourself?
What passes from without
through your lips, eyes, ears and heart?
What nourishment fuels
the fires you build
the structures you errect
the words you set down
the touch you give
week in and week out?
From where comes your strength, your depth,
your care and your light?
open hearts and grief
aren’t built in a day.
They emerge in the chaotic order
of consuming the goodness on offer,
in amounts enough,
Or, let’s just put it this way:
White bread, coffee and bad news
fuel fluff, hype and fear.
Weak in. Weak out.
originally written April 2014