Monthly Archives: June 2015

From a Window

From a Window

Incurable and unbelieving
in any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree
rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man’s mind might endow

even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.

–Christian Wiman

tree-flock-birds_David Biggs
David Biggs photo


This man lived and made me love him.

Today marks three months since my husband fell asleep in the Lord. I recently learned that P1000485in the Orthodox Church a memorial service is often held at three months (as we did at 40 days), and because we also are commemorating The Nativity of St. John the Baptist today, it was convenient to have these prayers right after the Liturgy. I made koliva again but decorated it a little differently.

I like what Metropolitan Anthony Bloom wrote on the subject of prayer for the dead:

What does it mean to pray for the dead? Are we asking the Lord to act unjustly? Certainly not. By our prayer, we bear witness that the dead have not lived in vain. We show that as well as the many worthless things they did in their lives, they also sowed the seed of charity. We pray for them with love and gratitude; we remember their presence among us. And our prayer for them must be supported by our lives. If we do not bear fruit in our lives of what the dead have taught us, our prayer for them will be feeble indeed. We must be able to say, “Lord, Lord, this man lived and made me love him, he gave me examples to follow and I follow them.” The day will come when we shall be able to say, “The good that you see in my life is not mine; he gave me it, take it and let it be this for his glory, perhaps for his forgiveness….”

The life oP1000496crpf each one of us does not end at death on this earth and birth into heaven. We place a seal on everyone we meet. This responsibility continues after death, and the living are related to the dead for whom they pray. In the dead we no longer belong completely to the world; in us the dead still belong to history. Prayer for the dead is vital; it expresses the totality of our common life.

–Metropolitan Anthony Bloom in Courage to Pray

Kate thinks about her father.

A guest blog post from daughter Kate – on her first Father’s Day without her dad being a phone call away.

There was always so much anticipation in advance of our annual dispatch to the national parks. A week beforehand, the camping supplies would come out: neatly organized plastic bins of plastic dishes, tin mugs, clothesline and pins, lists of items to bring typed out by my mother. Tents would be aired out, lanterns checked, the inside of the van cleaned by my brother so that we could better enjoy 14 days inside. Sometimes we would ready travel journals, or books on tape to listen to on our journey. We always had song books to sing from as a family, and cribbage, and lots of reading material.

Underlying all of the preparation, for me, was the knowledge that I would soon go somewhere I had not been before – and the trust that if Papa was taking me there, it was special. I knew I was not born with the natural oneness with nature that my siblings seemed to have — I never had an urge to go backpacking, and the heat and altitude gave me headaches and a bad case of the whines. But my father’s quiet enthusiasm and intense love for the big spaces and cold lakes he took us to made me want to learn from him – to appreciate more of what was clearly so pure and satisfying.

Nature is honest. A mountain is nothing more or less than it pretends to be. It doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, or omit something for the sake of its image. It doesn’t worry about whether it is being understanding of the other mountains. It is.

I remember a Summer trip – I must have been in my early teen years, more emotional than I was comfortable with and stuck inside my own rationalizations of my ups and downs. We were listening to all of his — my — favorites. Chuck Berry sometimes bothered my mother; Bob Dylan pleased everyone, telling things simply the way they are, like my dad did. “You gotta serve somebody.” Natalie Cole was on, singing softly about smiles: “Smile, though your heart is aching / smile, even though it’s breaking.” I was probably singing along, in the [Glad] way. My father said quietly to me from the front seat: “I like this song. But when you are unhappy, [Kate], you shouldn’t force yourself to smile. It is okay to be sad.”

K w MG Silver L 90

Our patron star kisses us.

This new poem came to me by way of the website, and their daily e-mail “Poem-P1000456crpa-Day.” But for it I might have forgotten that tomorrow is the summer solstice – obviously I haven’t been following my plan of keeping up with the moon and stars, etc.

I love the poet’s evocation of a warm summer’s day, and the sort of experience she describes, of spending the whole day outdoors, lolling by a pond and not even going home until night — even though it hasn’t often been my own.

P1000458crpWhen I was young we lived where we could not start this relaxed lingering until the evening turned the heat from scorching to comfortable. Now where I live with coastal and river influence, it’s rare to have a day in summer without chilly fog on one or both ends.

But today the sun shined as soon as it was up. No fog! And when I went outdoors in the morning I didn’t need a sweater. I was caressed by the earth’s atmosphere.P1000449crp

Soldier came over for a few hours to help me clean up and move things around the yard, to prepare for the huge demolition project that is happening soon. Yes, the concrete pool will be broken up and the hole filled with good ol’ dirt. The large utility yard will also have its crumbling cement layer scraped off so that I can make it more useful and beautiful.

So…we had to move all the things one keeps in such a yard, or near the pool, to other places; Soldier sawed old stakes into kindling, and we piled it elsewhere. We moved potted plants, bricks, cinderblocks, and steppingstones; a bench swing, landscape rocks I’ve brought down from the Sierras over the decades, clay pots, tarps, buckets…and dumped out a barrel of water that had been saved since Y2K.

Next week a boy I kP1000439now will help me move all my firewood, and then I’ll be ready to set a date for the heavy work to begin. I’m starting to use the pool water on my plants; the patio is getting crowded, and not with humans.

It was a very satisfying way to spend a few hours on this almost-solstice day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll loll about a little as well, and soak up the sweetness of light.


How again today our patron star
whose ancient vista is the long view

turns its wide brightness now and here:
Below, we loll outdoors, sing & make fire.

We build no henge
but after our swim, linger

by the pond. Dapples flicker
pine trunks by the water.

Buzz & hum & wing & song combine.
Light builds a monument to its passing.

Frogs content themselves in bullish chirps,
hoopskirt blossoms

on thimbleberries fall, peeper toads
hop, lazy—

Apex. The throaty world sings ripen.
Our grove slips past the sun’s long kiss.

We dress.
We head home in other starlight.

Our earthly time is sweetening from this.

–Tess Taylor