Last winter I knew the height of all the bridges. I slept on hard surfaces in emotional beds of regret. Last winter served me lessons I couldn’t refuse.
(walking the slick streets with my face to the wind just to feel alive)
And now I’m in January with perfect vision looking back. How I grew stronger on the tile floor. How I found a gift in the darkness.
Gratitude comes quietly to lift my head. Hums a melody I know by heart. Here I’ll stand for a little while longer considering the low bridges. How they saved me with their proximity.
How they led me to this place.
I wait, breath held, in this clumsily constructed doorway. You’d expect better of a woodworker’s daughter. You’d think I’d be skilled at right angles and plumb lines.
I ,too, thought that I’d be further along by now.
But I’m strong. You have no idea how strong I’ve become. And hopeful. I hold it in my sun spotted hands like the winged creature it is. Still learning to fly.
Part of me wants to slam this amalgamation of days behind me. Part of me wants to leave it open. Just a crack.
Just in case.
It’s so simple really… nature’s ebbs and flows and how necessary they are. Yesterday a tree I’ve passed at least fifty times was suddenly the most beautiful specimen on my walk. Why hadn’t I noticed it previously?
The answer came to me later in the day. I thought back to the first few weeks of my morning walk. The flowers were screaming shades of purple all around me. For quite some time I felt bathed in bright colors and wondered at these bushes and trees that decorate the desert.
Overnight, the flowers were gone.
In their place, wildlife seemed to be calling for my attention. Roadrunners, surprised as I rounded the bend, delighted me more than once. Little rabbits bounded away in pairs and lizards sunned themselves. A few days ago I realized I’ve been seeing fewer animals.
Yesterday that tree captured my heart. I realize now that it stood out because the other things had gone.
Oh nature, there you go again being a metaphor for life.
Over the past year I’ve experienced loss. I’ve lost a dream. I’ve lost a friendship. I’ve lost faith and hope in humanity. I’ve nearly lost my will to keep going. In this forest of losses, I began to see trees I hadn’t known were there all along. These new trees looked like hope. They wore leaves of love and fresh dreams. They spoke to me of deeper friendships.
They rekindled my fire and now my forest teems with possibility. What will I find over the next hill?
What layers will appear when these trees too lose their leaves?
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver : Wild Geese
I memorized this, my favorite poem, over a year ago. It has become my ritual at night when I close my eyes to repeat it in my mind over and over until I can sleep. Some nights I make it only half-way through before dreams arrive. Some nights I lose count.
What’s your favorite poem? I’m looking for a little inspiration this week. Please share.
(picture by my pilot husband. somewhere over Laos)