beautiful formations

Thanksgiving, and my children and grandchildren… This morning Kate and her husband “Tom” are arriving at my house, and tomorrow at Pearl’s bunches of us will be together and glad to be so. It will be our first holiday without Papa, Grandpa, without my husband. We will miss him terribly but we will pray in hope of the Resurrection, and be comforted.

I was amazed to run across this poem just this week, in my own ninth month of mourning. Every time I read it I feel more connection with the poet, another woman who has grieved for her husband, and who has more than survived. She captures the sense of wildness in grief, the forces beyond our control, even to the degree that we can’t so much as name them.

I had never thought before about how the places that we find so sublime are the result of winds and raging currents and upheavals that in themselves are often fearsome. It’s a mystery how all of this comes to be, but of course it doesn’t “just happen.” If after endless waves of storms we can behold beauty and feel peace, it’s a work of God.

Mourning, Ninth Month

If I am altering,
trying to intercept my inner targets
with some shift in aim,
lighting the bales with the old moon’s shell
neither meaningful nor purposeful
just looking well,
I’ll change
with some obedience, wishing I could recognize
the force. I don’t know yet if it is thoughtless.
Many beautiful formations on earth
are made without hope, but with winds and rivers
in its stead.
Is my national park
a widow, carved then saved, and a draw
for visitors
whose pity erodes to awe?

–Sandra McPherson

11 thoughts on “beautiful formations

  1. I am glad to be reminded of your family arrivals and where you will be gathering. Please give greetings and good wishes all around from me.

    Do you know the date on that poem?

    Thanksgiving…may it be a a feast to remind us of all we have each day…never forgetting what is also in promise before us.


  2. My sister was a poet. If you stood us next to each other you would choose me to have an understanding of the abstract. BUT, it was me who organized my sister’s half of the closet and aced algebra- even tho she was the one who wore the glasses with pop-bottom lenses and scotch tape at the nose. I read and reread, but only a vague apperception appears.


  3. Whenever I read your blog, Gretchen, I think “She is truly living… in the sorrow and pain, in the daily miracles of nature, and her relationships with God, family, friends, neighbors, and her backyard project.” I’m thankful for your friendship. I’m thankful we have had your family in our lives.


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