Tag Archives: change

A cold but cozy first night.

Several years ago I realized that my wood stove was becoming dysfunctional in a couple of important ways. I thought that I should probably change to having a gas fireplace insert, now that I am older and my back is not as strong as it used to be, for carrying the firewood and bending over the stove to build and tend the fire.

I also thought, mistakenly, that I was not allowed to install a new wood-burning insert in our area. When I learned that it was only for new construction that the building code forbids them, I was elated.

And during that time my housemate Susan began to carry wood and build fires, too. Many times when I came home from a trip or just a late-afternoon outing in the winter, I walked into a house that had been all cozied up by her ministrations. These various factors persuaded me to buy a new wood stove, with the help of my son who shopped all over town with me.

I’ve been enjoying the fires very much this past winter, and my back has been up to the work involved, because I’ve been doing my “strengthening exercises.” (Isn’t that what Tigger also does?) The recent rains came with milder weather overall, and I haven’t had a fire for a week — until this cold, cold evening of the beginning of spring, when my feet would not get warm. It was late before I got on task, but now the logs are blazing and my toes are toasty.

The new stove

For the last two months, though, I have been the only wood-carrier-fire-builder around the place, because my last housemate has moved out, and I am living alone for the first time since the summer just after my husband died. God brought me three housemates during those years, and they were all wonderful people to have around. For awhile there were three of us women living here. But now it seems it has been given me to live alone (with God) in my house, which has been more of an adjustment psychologically than I expected. I got through the transition and I am loving it.

Happy Spring!

Your language is the world’s richest.


In your language every line begins from an opposite end.
The pronunciation of its words changes from day to night
and their orthography changes with the change of seasons.
A new word enters it on some special day
and on some days a familiar word is made obsolete.
The shape of its letters changes with your change of clothes.
You make no effort to put together words
that are crushed under feet from your carelessness,
because your language is the world’s richest.
The first kiss, the second kiss and any count of kisses
are all identified in your language with separate words.
If anything ever causes you to become tearful,
all the books in the whole world written in your language become drenched.

-Afzal Ahmed Syed 
Translated from the Urdu by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Book of Psalms in Urdu

We may as well go patiently on.












You’ll wait a long, long time for anything much
To happen in heaven beyond the floats of cloud
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling nerves.
The sun and moon get crossed, but they never touch,
Nor strike out fire from each other, nor crash out loud.
The planets seem to interfere in their curves,
But nothing ever happens, no harm is done.
We may as well go patiently on with our life,
And look elsewhere than to stars and moon and sun
For the shocks and changes we need to keep us sane.
It is true the longest drouth will end in rain,
The longest peace in China will end in strife.
Still it wouldn’t reward the watcher to stay awake
In hopes of seeing the calm of heaven break
On his particular time and personal sight.
That calm seems certainly safe to last tonight.

Robert Frost, West-Running Brook, 1928

I read Frost’s poem on this blog: First Known When Lost, where it was posted this week along with a couple of others that may be seen as following a theme. Stephen Pentz leads off his article with the reminder that  “… the feeling that the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket is a timeless feature of human nature.”

Then he leads the reader to make a distinction between the world and the World. I have been thinking lately about Mary Oliver’s poem “Messenger,” which is about this, and I’d say “Landscape” as well.

The details of our given “work assignments” are unique to each of us; we need to look to God for light and strength to do the essential spiritual work, which will help us to be ready for any more public tasks that come our way. Pentz’s last line sums it up pretty well:

“Life is ever a matter of attention and gratitude, don’t you think?”

It could be new.

Elizabeth Jennings was younger than I am now when she wrote the poem below, which includes lines about “not fitting in,” and about  being old and unnoticed. But the finish, “At last you can be…” is so promising, and expresses what I want to be learning.

Have you seen the meme of the month, as we see the 2020’s drawing near? (Mostly young) people are posting photos of themselves from the beginning of the decade to compare with others more recent, sometimes with an assessment of, or a thanksgiving for, what has happened in their lives in those ten years. Izzy’s photos were the most striking, because ten years ago she was still a chubby pre-teen, and her Now photo shows an adult holding my great-granddaughter; Izzy is a blossoming and lovely wife and mother.

My daughter Pearl’s thankful husband posted pictures of her, from 1999, 2009, and this year, and they are stunning to me, as they not only show how she has become more beautiful with every decade, but hint that her beauty flows from some of that liberty that this poem explores, and it shines out from her countenance as peace and joy.

From my vantage point, on the outside I seem to have changed little in ten years, and God only knows what has happened on the inside; it’s not for me to assess. I am astonished most mornings at His mercy and grace in giving me one more day of strength to engage with my struggles, and to love His creation, including the humans.

I’m sure the title of this poem carries multiple meanings — related also to what is communicated in the last lines, where “to include them all” might mean two things: First, to be all the things that the young and old can’t have, to have in your person and consciousness the blessings and wisdom of all the ages that you ever have been; and also, to include all of those who for various reasons ignore or scowl at you. To hold them in your love, and in your prayers.

Happy Thanksgiving!


You are no longer young,
Nor are you very old.
There are homes where those belong.
You know you do not fit
When you observe the cold
Stares of those who sit

In bath-chairs or the park
(A stick, then, at their side)
Or find yourself in the dark
And see the lovers who,
In love and in their stride,
Don’t even notice you.

This is a time to begin
Your life. It could be new.
The sheer not fitting in
With the old who envy you
And the young who want to win,
Not knowing false from true,

Means you have liberty
Denied to their extremes.
At last now you can be
What the old cannot recall
And the young long for in dreams,
Yet still include them all.

-Elizabeth Jennings