Thursday, December 31, 2015

Applesauce

Amazing the things that are found when one memory is unpacked. Unpack one today and see what comes.

My daughter thinks
She will make applesauce today.
I remember the Foley food mill:
All those apples
That made their way
Through it,
The finished product
With whipped cream
And a sprinkle
Of nutmeg
On top.
Of course back then
It seemed Macintosh
Was the order of the day,
No fancy apples;
Back then when the eggman
Delivered eggs
From the trunk of his car,
And corn
When it was in season.
I don’t remember
Who delivered the apples.
I do remember
The Foley food mill
Being allowed to make applesauce,
Then the pleasure,
Whipped cream and nutmeg
On top
The mixing it all together
Before the first spoonful.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fifteen binders

Somehow it seems wrong to title any of my reflections. Someone may be predisposed to not take from them what they need to read. Take what you need. Release what you don't. May your life be filled with more than fifteen binders. May you not save those binders, but instead, fill your own, and then... give them away.

I have fifteen zippered binders
Of reflections,
Each in its own
Plastic page.
Then there’s the blog,
Some of which are in
The binders.
Most are not.
I tell my daughter
She may decide what to do
With anything I leave behind,
Even the reflections.
They’re all on the blog
She says.
Oh no they’re not,
I say.
What do we leave behind us?
What do we leave?
Everything encased.
Everything left.
Fifteen binders
Filled with life.
Everything does not fit
On a blog.
I know that.
I know.
Everyone has way more
Than fifteen binders
Full of life.
There is no vault
To save it all.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lavender

The kitten prowls in search of grandfather cat, hiding on the speaker box. The house smells of lavender. Me... I am here. It is not as simple as it looks.

The house smells of lavender.
The kitten sits
On the tweed reindeer.
I read poetry
Of being here,
Simply here.
I think
If it only were
So simple.
Day five of Christmas
The wise folk are on their way
Lavender
Kitten
Tree
Wise folk
Me in a chair
With directions
On what I need to do
Until Florida next week.
Lavender
Kitten
Tweed reindeer
The cats play chase
Around the Christmas tree
Me
I am here
Here I am.
Lavender
Lavender
Lavender.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ice day

May make it to the grocery store... eventually. Not even a day for walkers, such as me.

We may not go out today.
The daughter made it to Elmhurst,
Says she may come home.
We will spread salt
On the walk,
Food for the birds
In back.
The duck lady has launched her corn
Across the way.
I wonder if ducks slip
On ice.
We are home with the tree,
The cats,
The turtle.
Today is an ice day.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How lovely is this?

So...the day after Christmas, with the nativity on the front table, the wise men waiting to arrive, the tree decorated. the presents opened... the day after Christmas she calls and tells me the Second Coming is now. How lovely is this.

How lovely is this:
A call from a friend
Who says
The Second Coming is here.
Do I feel the difference?
Do I see him?
I hold my cup of hot coffee
In the dinosaur mug,
Warm in my hands,
Watch the duck lady.
She waits for snow
To feed the ducks,
Checks her corn supply
Every morning.
Jesus has come again,
Duck Lady.
He is already here.
Jesus is here.
How lovely is this?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

More tree

The floor is strewn with ornaments, even though we mostly decorated the top of the tree. The cats each have their separate love of the Christmas tree. Grandfather cat loves the assembling, with everyone on the floor, unfolding branches. The kitten waits until everything is completely assembled.

Our tree shakes.
A kitten face appears
Among the ornaments
Next to the star 
On top.
I can almost see
The kitten disappear.
The smile remains.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It is the tree

For cats, Christmas is the tree.

The kitten has only climbed
The Christmas tree
Once.
She spends today
Freaked out
Occasionally attacking
Grandfather cat
Under the tree.
Christmas for cats
Does not include
The Nativity
Or stars,
The wise people
On their way.
It is the tree
The outdoors brought in.
The tree.
The tree.
For cats,
It is the tree.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

In memory

Remembering Dad. Yes, Lane, I know a collection of squirrels is not an army, but a scurry. Still army seems more appropriate somehow.

It is Christmas Eve day.
It looks like spring.
I don’t have to worry.
The only decorations
Are nuts in a glass vase,
A reindeer on top,
The Christmas bell
On the door handle.
Christmas will come
No matter
The Whos from Whoville
Are nowhere to be seen;
I did not listen
To Lessons and Carols
From England.
The pumpkins from Halloween
Fed an army of squirrels.
Yesterday
The remains went out
With the trash.
It is Christmas Eve Day.
In honor of my father
Who died 19 years ago today,
Who always shopped for Christmas
On Christmas Eve,
In memory of him
We consider Christmas
Today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bother

One thing at a time... I tell my clients. One thing at a time... I tell myself.

I thought I’d written today
Then realized
That was yesterday.
The grief has begun its way
Into my head.
Oh
There it is.
I thought I’d escaped it.
Oh bother
I think
Like Winnie the Pooh
Even like Eeyore.
This timing is unfortunate.
The garbage and recycling trucks
Make their way through the neighborhood.
The cats on opposite chairs
Glare at each other.
So far I have decorated
By hanging a cowbell on the front door,
Filled a large glass vase
With nuts
Even perched a reindeer
On top.
That’s it.
I thought I’d written.
Now I have.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Good reasons all

Tis the season for oh so many things.

This is the time of year
People cancel
And add sessions:
Good reasons all.
Me
I do the same.
These days I try
To think ahead.
When I can’t get there,
I don’t go.
I practice doing other things.
There are books to be read,
Poems to be written
Prayers
Always prayers
They do not require place or posture
Sometimes I remember things
Long forgotten
I cancel and add at will
Sometimes at whim.
Good reasons all.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Complexity

Waiting for simpler things.

Complexity grows
This time of year.
We wait for the Baby.
We wait for snow.
We wait for light.
We wait for family to arrive,
However they come.
We wait for them
To leave.
Complexity grows
With all we have added,
Nativity pageants are larger
Than anything
We’ve ever seen.
Everything demands
A crowd.
I yearn
For Silent Night
Sung with simple guitar accompaniment
Followed by moon and stars
Maybe some snow.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Epiphany tableau

I love how the story is retold year by year.

I remember the church:
It held an Epiphany tableau
Instead of a Christmas pageant.
Instead of three kings
It offered Native American dancers
Down the aisle.
People left many things
At the manger.
One family left the church
For something “more formal”
As if
Nativity pageants ever offer
The way it probably was,
As if the pageant
Or tableau is not rewritten
Every year
No matter where it is.
My favorite is still the year
The triplets
Played the kings,
And their best friend
In the world
Played Herod.
She did not want to be left behind
So she visited the manger
With her friends,
Knelt with them
In homage to the baby Jesus.
With that picture
I saw the world begin to change.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Organization

Getting used to a more permanent organization.

I am now organized
In a different way.
This way requires others
To take me places
Or tells me
That thing
Is not so important.
In between,
Even sometimes,
All the time,
I pray.
Monday and Fridays
I stay local.
No
I can’t see you then
Unless it’s for coffee
At the local Starbucks.

Friday, December 18, 2015

God in a bag

God will not be contained.

Sometimes we think
We have God in a bag,
A reusable bag,
Of course.
We can take him anywhere;
We can take her
Anywhere.
We can shop the shelves
Of the finest store
With mangoes and kiwis.
We can shop
The local store
Which carries mostly things
Like Spaghettios.
When we look in our bag
God is not there
God was never there
And of course
God was always there,
Nestled among the mangoes and kiwis
And Spaghettios.
We bring God home
In our reusable bag
And find
She is already there,
At home.
He is already there,
At home.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We all do what we can do

I am home now Mondays and Fridays. I see clients Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I am continuing to learn boundaries, at home and in the office. I do what I can do. It feels enough. Last week someone read my blog in Sri Lanka. Really? Sri Lanka! It sounds exotic.

We do what we can do:
Nothing more
Nothing less.
That’s all there is:
Nothing more
Nothing less.
There it is.
Sometimes we hear about it
Sometime not.
Sometimes it enters the ether,
Dissipates to points unknown,
Never to return.
Or perhaps
It returns on the lips
Of an unknown child
In Sri Lanka.
We will never know
Except
Sometimes
We do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hijab

It is Advent, the season in which we await the birth of Jesus. My MA alma mater has placed a professor on administrative leave. She decided to where a hijab in support of Muslim brothers and sisters. Really, Wheaton, really?

I can’t help but think
The hijab worn
In Wheaton hallways
Inspired fear,
Brought immediate response
Just as much as those airplanes
In New York,
At the Pentagon,
In that Pennsylvania field.
A simple headscarf
Worn for Advent
Brought a more immediate response
Than the impending
Birth of Jesus
A tiny baby,
Already King of the Universe.
He came to hold
All of our hands,
So we,
All of us,
Would know
No fear.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Walking minutes

I guess I'm getting used to walking. I have even begun to measure some things in walking minutes. 

Now all my dreams
Involve walking
In childhood places
Mixed with neighborhoods
I know now.
They all flow together
And I
I am walking everywhere.
In fact it seems
Everyone is walking.
We say
Good morning
Good afternoon
See you in church.
Everything is gauged
In walking minutes.
The world runs
So much slower.
Everyone
Walks.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Wired

I have a friend who said he would like "the kitten experience." We are living the dream.

The kitten woke up
Completely wired.
We all watch her:
Me
My beloved
The grandfather cat.
She has bottle caps
Milk rings
Hidden
All over the house.
She finds one.
It is the most fascinating thing
She has ever seen;
She has never seen it
Before;
It is completely new.
She brings me one.
We may play fetch;
Then again
Maybe not.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What's your specialty?

It's foggy today. It feels appropriate to my state of mind. I had a client once, let's say her name was, oh, Elizabeth. She said, I would like my diagnosis to be *Elizabeth*  I told her: That works for me.  I feel the same way about my specialty. I figure it's kind of a priest thing.

I am often asked
What’s your specialty?
I am learning to say
I don’t have one.
Thirty plus years as a priest.
Sixty years of living.
No specialty because that
Might omit
This new person,
These new people,
Who just walked through
The door,
Perched themselves
On the sofa.
I have learned to say
Let’s see
If we can work together.
You are not a diagnosis
Anyway.
Let’s see.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Squirrel Thanksgiving

Life continues. Keep looking.

The squirrels mine the pumpkins,
Fill up on seeds
Before the snow
Sure to come.
The metal can with birdseed
In back
Remains impenetrable.
The pumpkins offer
A feast in the front planters,
Thanksgiving left over
From Halloween.
The next raft of cranes
Flies south.
Autumn life
Continues on
Even in December.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Waking up

I've had lots of practice waking up... in the morning...even now, in the Emergency Room, having been unconscious for a period of time. Best to put that practice to use.

I wake up every morning
And know
Something
Someone
Is waiting for me
Just as
I am waiting
For them.
OK
It has little to do
With any training
I have received
As a priest
As a therapist
And everything to do
With
Every morning
Waking up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

At least

I read of a man with epilepsy who, in the midst of a seizure, knocked on a stranger's door and demanded to see the giraffes in her backyard. Of course she called the police. Of course they arrested him. Then they found his epilepsy bracelet. At least I've never done something like that, I thought. Then I remembered my last visit to the ER, after I had an accident I don't remember, at an intersection I never drive to, having gotten there through five stoplights and a train crossing. I will not be driving again, even though I've never demanded to see the giraffes in anyone's backyard, even though I know giraffes live in Africa, or in zoos.

At least
I’ve never done that
At least
I’ve never said that
At least
I’ve never made
That mistake
No
No
No
I’ve made others
Equally bad
Equally weird.
Sometimes,
Actually often,
There are others there
To save me
From myself.
So we can cry
Maybe even laugh
Together.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Experiment

Hooray. Today the experiment worked. I will try it again on Thursday.

Today I began again.
It was an experiment to see
Whether this kind of dizzy
Plus a workout
Resulted in something more
Than dizzy.
It didn’t.
The experiment
Had positive results.
I will repeat it
On Thursday.
Results only matter
If doing the same thing
Brings the same outcome.
Today I began again.
Thursday I will
Begin again.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Duck lady

I understand, Duck Lady.

The duck lady
Across the creek
Has checked her garage
Every morning.
If my imagination is right
She misses
Her ducks
The excuse of snow
To feed them corn.
I’m sure the supply
In her garage
Is ample,
Ready for the snow
Sure to come.
I know she is praying
For snow.
I understand,
Duck Lady.
When things are different
From the way
They usually are,
We hope and pray
They will return.
The corn is in the garage.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dizzy

I am on a range of medications which have a possible side effect of dizziness. Thankfully one of these has been subtracted (hooray) and one has been added (boo? hooray? we'll see). The new one seems to offer a new sort of dizzy. Still I'm upright, and not seizury and maintaining my sense of humor (hooray). The world spins for each of us at a different speed.

This new kind of dizzy
Helps me see
The dizziness of others.
Everyone has
His own kind
Her own kind
Of dizzy.
The world spins
For each of us
At a different speed.
It’s when we pretend
It’s all the same
That we get in trouble.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Uber plus some

My independence is challenged these days. Of course it is. It will remain challenged. Of course it will. 

I learn the ins and outs
Of Uber.
I learn where to pick up buses,
No routes are close
To where we live.
The train is close.
It goes straight downtown.
This would be good
If downtown
Was where I wanted to go.
Still
I could go straight downtown,
Transfer to another train station
This would take me
Two blocks
From my office.
At least a two hour trip.
I could read
A lot.
I learn the ins and outs
Of Uber.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Finally the ginkgoes

I wait for this every year. In college we had a ginkgo tree on the front lawn. It was the first time I noticed it lost all its leaves at once. I watch for ginkgoes every year, hoping to catch the "let loose" day. Most times I don't, but still, most times it's enough to walk out the door and find the ground fully covered in gold.

With the giving up
Comes the taking on.
The ginkgo outside the church
Finally let loose.
The ground is a sea of gold,
No matter the snow.
It is too late to rake.
The gold will remain
Under the snow
‘til spring.
It is the way
Of gingkoes
For those who see
Such things
And even for those
Who pay little attention,
It is still the way
Of gingkoes.
With the giving up
Comes the taking on
The watching for such things
As gingkoes loosing all their leaves
At once.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Adjustment

Making the next adjustment. Then the next one.

Adjustment takes tears
Many tears
Looking out the window
At the 92 year old colleague
Getting in
To drive his car
Watching him pull out
Of the parking lot.
Adjustment takes a lot
Of why me?
Then why not me?
Then
Why me, once more?
Then come the tears.
Finally again
The figuring out
What comes next,
And next
And next again.
Then more tears.
Then
The next thing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Occasional services

What if this were the last day you could drive? So many face it every day. It is usually not scheduled. Such things come suddenly, or maybe they only seem sudden when they happen to us.

There are stages
To this letting go.
First comes the accident,
The emergency room,
The letter from the state.
Now comes
The farewell
To the driver’s license;
The hello
To the state ID.
The car keys
Go last.
I think they require a ceremony
For removal from the wallet.
I wonder if a liturgy
Has been written
For this occasion,
This odd poignant occasion.
I wonder if there is a book
For such occasional services
Which I know
Are more
Than occasional.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Basking

The Thanksgiving that was... and wasn't. I wouldn't have it any other way.

As I bask
In the glow of Thanksgiving,
The un-turkeyed Thanksgiving
The cranberry-less
Thanksgiving,
I see the cats
In a different light.
I see this morning
In a different light.
The woman in red
Is alive
Across the way
Ready to feed the ducks
When snow comes again.
As I bask
Despite the head cold,
As I bask in the glow
I am here
You are there
Turkeys and cranberries
Will most likely
Be on sale
This week.
The woman across the way
Awaits her ducks.