Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On a Mission - Week 44 - the unlooked-for ending

I'm looking through the windows at someone else's future home.

What will they carry through this door?  What will they expect to hear and smell and say when they cross over this threshold?

It's not a perfect house.

The dining room, for example, is really just an extension of the kitchen and rather cramped.  There are other quirks and patches and places the tile doesn't exactly match.

But the Christmas mornings around that fireplace.  And the stories read in that brown chair.  The simple pieces plunked out at the piano.

But the piano and the chair will be coming with us.  And this will all be refurnished.  And filled with new children and unseen Christmas mornings.

Someone new will stagger to the kitchen in the dark for a drink of water. Faces this mirror has never seen will close their eyes and dream while the moon wheels through the sky above, unfamiliar hands rubbing strangers' eyes in the first fuzzy light of dawn to peer back through this sliding door.

But the mirror, too, is coming with me.  All that stays behind are the things either too big and rooted or too small and ephemeral to pack in boxes and load onto a truck. And it is only tonight, looking in from the outside at the place I have been so long within,  that it seems to me that some of the smallest things were really all along the biggest.

And I'm left with the enormity of this unlooked-for ending.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On a Mission - Week 43 - lead, guide, walk beside

Sea holly, or Eryngiumn amethystinum,
tolerant of drought, winds, salt spray and sandy soils,
extremely adapatable, zones 4-11

I'm feeling prickly.  With pride.  Resentment.
Last month I was "Employee of the Year" with public praise and prizes.
Now I don't know who I am.

What is my work now?
I make a list of what work I can claim now but the list is full of competing claims.
And half the things seem not quite possible.

My administrators approved my continuing as a consultant next year
(in the event that we don't find a better employment option here for Fritz,
in the event we have to sell our house and move).

The idea is I'd be coming back one week a month and advising remotely the rest of the time.
Their reluctance to see me go is flattering.  And reassuring.
But how would the logistics of that work?

Could I give myself as wholeheartedly if I'm only there (or rather here) some of the time? (I'm seeing a problem already)
And how would my family fare when I am gone away from them one week in four?
All I know for sure is that the idea of leaving feels like a little death.

Pomegranate, or Punica granatum
 fruiting for the first time since planting a decade ago -- 
if it ripens in time
maybe we could eat a handful of its pips
and then be doomed to stay here forever
or at least return for a few months out of the year?

It feels like a limb dying, leaves falling out of season.
I find myself bristling at good advice from others to buck up --
not exactly rejecting,  but assenting and then looking past it,

concentrating more on the speaker's personal failings:
arrogance, tactlessness
-- which are just code words for giving advice when I don't want it.

Already I miss my work and mourn it.
My hard engaging work that made my life so much easier.
I mourn my home, suspecting more each day that it will slip out of our reach,

despite all our backflips and acrobatics to hold onto it.  
And I'm getting no answers about what's next.
And then the thought occurs to me,

"Am I part of the reason I'm not receiving an answer?"
Yes.  (darn it) I've thought it doesn't matter,
if I'm leaving anyway, my irritation with the good advisers.

But my resentments sour and embitter me.
And that shuts me off from the sweetness
and flow of inspiration.

every autumn, around Halloween, All Saints Day,
my grandmother would send
-- no matter where we had moved to --
a well-taped cardboard box
of pomegranates from her yard
in southern Utah --
it made Demeter's story
resonate strangely with me when I read it,
knowing pomegranates only as a private fruit
no one else ever ate
in my 1970's suburbs
in Indiana, Ohio, California, Wisconsin . . . 

Which I need.  I need that leading.
But I need more.  There is a song the children sing at church.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.

I was thinking how each phrase is an intensification.
I need not just a leader to tell me where to go,
what to do, not just a leader directing me

But a guide who takes up staff and lantern and shows the way,
who knows the stones on the path even in the dark, the dangers,
the rough unreadable places,

who takes you from where you from where you are now
to the place of safety,
the lighted door, the waiting feast and scented rest.

I need someone to walk beside me
with friendship and conversation, observations along the way,
bandages and kind hands to bind up the hurts that come with traveling.

my no-water garden in rainy Oregon--
planted years ago on a steep and sunny bank
because I missed the garden I had made
in arid Utah

I know where to find that leading.
But I have to be willing to follow that Guide.
I have to also be willing to walk beside.

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