Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Grackle

I should have known... when in grade one as the alphabet cards were taken down off the wall and I was no longer able to spell, that writing was not going to be easy for me. This development was communicated to my parents who brought it to my attention.(like I needed that). "Your teacher tells us you are having problems spelling." I don't remember anyone assisting me with remedical reading, so I must have just figured it out on my own. There were setbacks... such as in grade seven when my teacher announced to the class that I had spelled spelling- 'selling' at the top of our spelling exam. That was an embarrassing moment as everyone laughed at me. On to university where I learned that if I could picture thoughts, I could eventually write them and that is how I write today...from pictures in my head. Words seem to escape me until I have made them mine by whispering them to myself or playing with them.

At times, there is a voice that rises deep from within. It speaks of heartache, turmoil, belonging, wonder, growth, joy, hunger.... It is not the voice of passing moods nor those spoken in haste or to please, but it comes from where we find the very "life of our personality." It lies so deep that it is unknown even to us at times. But what we can't comprehend or see, our bodies speak for us as we write, paint, scult, sing... It is a tedious and a complicated process for some. As we wait, our reflections turn to contemplation. It cannot be hurried or forced as we remain attentive.

In the bleak winter landscape, I stand by the barn, watching a lone Grackle fly across the field, stopping on a nearby tree. Gathering all he is, he opens his mouth and I wait for for him to find his voice. Had he been joined by the sweet songbirds of spring, I would not have noticed him as his song is unimpressive normally but today on this winter's day, it goes out into the air and I wait for him to finish. Looking almost embarrassed with his effort, he hurries on across the field into the woods. Winter seems not to be the time for singing.

Within me is a deep longing for God and I hear it in my voice as I write. Like my friend the Grackle, I am tempted to be embarrassed with what I am and what I have and hurry on. But in gathering ourselves, every sentiment, struggle, promise and offering them up to God, we enter into a deeper and wider experience where there are no boundaries and anything is possible. What begins with an openness to share, leads us into prayer. It is how we will meet and know Him better and learn to sing, even in the winter time of our lives.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Winter's Night Vigil

Hank and I make our way back from the barn on this winter's night. By the moon's light, I watch Hank as he playfully hops across the yard, following rabbit tracks in the snow, taking time to inhale deeply in the snow as he goes. I am happy to be here as this is a wonderful interlude from the world of inside...of heated rooms and bright lights where one night is like another and the winter nights pass unnoticed. Out here, our senses are no longer dull. Hank stops his playfulness to listen to another dog barking far off in the distance. I can hear the sheep quietly and thoughtfully chewing their hay. "Listen," says St. Benedict, "with the ear of your heart."

I envy the sheep as they keep their night vigil, senses keen, watching the night unfold. The sounds of the night will not pass unheard. It is the sheep that will watch the silent wanderers that pass through the farm at night. They will watch the cats out cunningly hunting for rabbits and mice in the moonlight...not like Hank. They will hear the owl calling from the woods long after I have closed the door.They will watch the stars and moon work their way across the sky. They will lift their heads as the mice venture out of the shadows to drink from the water pail. They grow comfortable with the night's shadows. They will not extract what they prefer from the winter's night, unlike us, but will know all of it. And when their heads bow in sleep after watching all, they are never far away.

As Hank and I return to the house, I turn and take one last look...straining to listen for far off and near sounds that I am meant to hear...and then step into the house. People sometimes ask me why I choose to raise sheep. I suppose that sharing in the winter's night vigil is one of several good reasons.

I pray for you all that the journey of 2010 opens doors, brings you challenges and excitement yet moments of intimacy, lets you know that you know that you know... you are home indeed and loved!