Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Even in Florida

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Someone new to speak with waits in Illinois. Life continues. It's good to have new prospects. It's good to keep the old.

Someone found me in Florida.
This is the miracle
Of on-line communication.
When I return to Illinois
There is the prospect
Of a new conversation
And maybe more.
Even in Florida
Someone new
Found me.
Even here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Far from the madding crowd

Last day in Florida.  We leave for home in the morning.  Different families operate at different decibel levels. This one is considerably louder than is my custom.  My beloved's parents keep their home at 78 F.  I am still a Minnesota girl.

It is loud
And very warm.
I have found a spot
Under the fan,
Far from the madding crowd.
I come and go.
I wonder why
It took me so long
To figure out
This place of quiet
And moving air.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas from God

In all the years coming to Boca Raton the week after Christmas we have never been to this church. We have gone Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal and non-denominational.  This year was an Episcopal church which, by its website, looked much like our current church.

The priest ended his sermon
Merry Christmas from God.
Other than this
We all disagreed on the main point.
We all heard different things.
He said there were three things
He wanted us to know,
Except there were at least
Three sets of three.
We agreed he was a master
At birthday and anniversary blessings.
This will carry him through.
The organ had more pipes
Than we have ever heard,
And someone present must have donated
The zimbelstern.
We will surely return
If only to see if we can agree
On sermon points
Or whether the zimbelstern
Will be used during Lent.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Here in Florida

Every family has its dance.  After over twenty years I am still learning the steps of my beloved's family.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanukkah.

Here in Florida
I come and go
Do what I can
Take a break
Then disappear.
Then reappear.
Here in Florida
A party means figuring out
How to fit the same eleven people
Around the same table
As last year
And the year before.
A party means
Appetizers of olives and cream cheese
Figured out
Three hours ahead of time.
It means
Lost Christmas gifts
For those who celebrate
Here in Florida
I figure the same things
Every year.
I come and go
Do what I can
Take a break.
Then disappear.
Then reappear.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

No snow

Ah, perspective.  The Pier One woman was thrilled last year.  She moved to Illinois for the snow.

It was warm in Illinois
It is warmer here
In Florida.
I close my eyes
Picture snow
On the palm trees,
Remember the sales clerk
At Pier One
On December 24.
She moved from Florida last year
To spend her retirement
In Illinois
So much snow
She said
It smells like snow today
She said
Isn’t it wonderful?
Isn’t it simply

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Simplifying Christmas

When my now 27 year old son was 3, a Siamese cat appeared at the door.  My son wanted to name him Rabbity.  We settled on Barry.  Now we have a tweed reindeer next to the tree.  We have named him Rabbity.  It is too good a name to go unused.
We simplified Christmas
Then remembered the cat bed
We saw at TJ Maxx.
At the store
To buy the cat bed
We saw a three and a half foot high
Tweed reindeer.
We have named him
I received a sloth stuffed animal
For Christmas.
He is sitting
On Rabbity’s back
Next to the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cat and tree

Yes, he played with the bells on the bottom branches last night.  Today he is content to sleep in the presence of the tree.

He saw
The attention we gave
To putting up the tree
Last night.
In the absence of sun
He is sound asleep
In the presence
Of the tree:
All the symbols
Of our light and life
On its branches.
More than enough.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One more client

Still taking it slow.

One more client
This year
Now on to more
People and things
Notice the sudden sunshine
Remember that Christmas will come
Whether all is done
Or not
The tree
Remains in the basement
I understand we have a Christmas mouse
Who enjoys the recycling bins
Under the sink.
The cat
Is fascinated.
He sits in front of the undersink doors.
He waits.
So do we.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Not pushing it

With all the reports of flu this season, and the prospect of flying to Florida on the 26th, and remembering last year's celebration... we are a mite leery of preparing for the celebration.  Yes, I know in every cell and bone and sinew that Christ will come again, even if somehow the tree stays in the basement.  Still... we are also not pushing it.

The tree is still
In the basement.
The plan is to assemble it
Before Christmas Eve.
At least that’s my plan.
So far
We have jingle bells
On the front door,
A vase filled with greens
And winterberries
On the sideboard.
That’s as far
As we’ve gotten.
No one is sick here.
We are also
Not pushing it.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

At the back

Fourth Sunday in Advent... the service of the Word at 10:30 was the Nativity.  This year I saw the whole thing from behind.

I saw everything
From behind: the running
Of the angels,
The wise people,
The star in gold lame’

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Keeping Advent

In my parish home, the angels will run to the manger, as they do every year on the fourth Sunday in Advent. I used to be more of an Advent purist. Clearly I am not anymore. Still... I seem to keep Advent despite everything around me. Advent stays in place until Christmas comes. Even with angels running to the manger.

I find myself
Keeping  Advent
Even without the home wreath
This year
Even without purple
Or even blue
I keep Advent
Watch the days
Grow short,
The dark come sooner.
The pageant has inhabited
Advent four
With its final purple candle.
I will wait
On the periphery,
Still keep Advent
As I watch the angels run
To the manger
As they do
Every year
On Advent four.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New lock

The rules for counseling offices are different than for the church world. The church world says "y'all come in" and of course, "everything is sacred."  I straddle at least two worlds, if not more.  The lock may be changed, he says, if it would make you happy.  Yes, I am happier now.

My office is now
More secure than it used to be.
Am I happy now?

Thursday, December 18, 2014


With thanks to Liz Meade and her musings today on the Annunciation.
May every space in our life be declared holy space.

I am grateful
For the blue chair
The blanket
My first client who cancelled
I pray she will heal.
I am grateful 
For time to drink coffee,
Notice the sunshine.
No one else is here.
I am grateful for an empty space
Like Mary’s
Which has room
For God to fill.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


So.  England now has her first woman bishop.  This slightly cynical priest, a woman from the second wave of women clergy in TEC, began this reflection, then came around to prayer at the end.  May we all arrive there, eventually.

The first woman bishop
The first black president
The first of anyone,
The first of anything.
It’s always noted.
And so many
Oh so many
Stop counting there
As if it is over and done with
As if
It never needs to happen again
Because it has happened once
And therefore
Everything has changed
For good.

May the first
Not be the last.
May the line of bishops
And presidents
Be colorful
Gender complete.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Separate yet somehow together

I cleared the week of almost everything except clients.  Oh, yes, and my own therapy.  Some people I see monthly, some every other week, some every week.  This week almost everyone has converged. I picture them dancing.

I picture my clients dancing.
This week I see almost
All of them
Yet somehow
I dance with them.
With some
The dance is slow
And easy;
With others
The steps
Are more complex.
In between each dance
I take a break
Prepare for the next one.
I picture the dance
Yet somehow together.
Knows different steps
Yet somehow
The dance
Is the same.

Monday, December 15, 2014

If I hadn't asked

I move more slowly these days.  Sometimes this is a bother. Sometimes I think I have it figured out, except I know, really, I have it figured out... for now. Like what my son might like for Christmas. I have a wonderful idea, so I run it by him. I never would have known if I hadn't asked.

I finally figure
The pace I need to go
In order to do
The important things.
I think I finally figure
The important things
Except I know
These will change
There is no finality
In this sphere,
Only what I may do
One thing at a time.
I think to ask my son
What I believe he may want
For Christmas.
While that would be nice
He says
I’d rather have
A particular
Something else.
I never would have known
If I hadn’t asked.
Something else it is.
I never would have known
That particular
Something else
If I hadn’t asked.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

In Full

Today we heard John the Baptist proclaiming he was not the one the people were waiting for.  I am Not The One.  I remember the dinosaur animation from years ago now, where the father dinosaur is addressed by the baby dinosaur as "Not-the-Mama."  It was the only funny line, I thought.  We do this with each other, define one another by who we are not.  Who did you come out into the desert to see?  John asked.  I am not that One.  He's next.  Who are you waiting for?  Do you really know who you are waiting for?  We are each so much more than what we are not.   As is John the Baptist.  And as is, certainly, the Messiah we await.

We are so much more
Than what we are not.
I am not
The one you were expecting.
I never have been.
He never will be.
She will come
On tippy toes.
He will come as wind.
She will come as fire.
Do you even know
The one you expect?
Will he have curly hair?
Will she have perhaps
Only one kidney?
Will his heart beat steady
Or miss a beat
We are each and all
So much more
Than what we are not
But oh that more
Oh that so much more
Waits on the other side
Of the Jordan,
Waits to enter the promised land,
Waits to be known
In Full.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Now is later

Still working on the puzzle.  Last night I dreamed about hopeful things, a rather odd assortment of hopeful things.  I know they fit in the puzzle, somehow.  Some of them seem to touch on being edge pieces.  I figure I'll find out eventually.

I wake up and remember pieces
I placed aside::
Not quite sky
Not quite ground
Not quite edge
Except maybe
One of those barely edge pieces
That only touches
The area outside the puzzle.
I dreamed
Whole conversations
Woke up and saw things
I left out,
Put aside for later.
Apparently now
Is later.
I pour another cup of coffee
A warmer for my daughter
In the other room.
Now is later.

Friday, December 12, 2014

No vertigo

Amazing how grateful I can be to wake up clear-eyed with the world not spinning.  My goldmine for today.

Sometimes the absence
Of something… comes as a gift.
Where's your treasure?

Thursday, December 11, 2014


This feels like one more manifestation of seeing the world at a slant.  It does not help that my daughter and I saw Birdman at the Glen Art Theater last night, in Theater #1 which is down a long uneven-floored hallway.  The movie got wonderful reviews, but it played with both our heads and minds, albeit in different ways.  I awakened this morning with vertigo.  I find this more funny than frightening.  

The day started later
The world still spins
When I turn my head.
I figure this is a new way
To know things.
Today I find it funny
As long as I sit still,
Face forward,
I can see the humor
In the corners.
I listen to the organ upstairs
Playing Advent hymns.
I smile.
I hear the children
Playing down the hall.
I smile.
I see the bent tree
Outside the office window.
I smile.
I will see two clients today. 
I will face forward
So the world
Plays the straight person
And I can see things
Out the corners
Of my eye.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Clipping back

More metaphors today.  He reminded me of vineyards, of pruning for growth, building walls to strengthen and protect, allowing for the possibility of better fruit.  Let my yes be yes, and my no be no.  Who knew?  Another prayer.  Amen.

I finally clip back
The clematis.
It will come back strong
Come spring.
That’s the promise.
This Advent
I sift and sort,
Pare and prune,
Tie up branches
That need
To be strengthened.
I put evergreens
With the winterberries
In the black olive vase
To remind me of green,
Lest I lose sight of it.
I clip back,
Sift and sort,
Pare and prune,
Tie up branches
In need of support,
Place green
In indoor spaces
To help me remember.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Edges and sky

Years ago, I remember my beginning therapy sessions, and the therapist likening therapy to dumping the puzzle box, and looking at the pieces.  We have moved on to other metaphors since, but I find myself coming back to the jigsaw puzzle, figuring out which pieces fit, and which belong in someone else's jigsaw puzzle box.  I am trying to keep the edges and the sky, the important parts.  The rest, as always, fills in as it does.

Too many pieces
Of the puzzle.
I sit in the blue chair
Figure which pieces
Can be left
Out of the puzzle
Until January,
Which ones
Will not fit
At all.
I do not want to lose
The edge pieces.
I would like to include
The sky,
The upness and outness
Of things.
There will be other opportunities
To come.
Some opportunities
Will never come again.
I try to keep
The edges and sky.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Much as I would like

Sometimes I wonder if one of the gifts of later onset epilepsy is the realization that the whole list of things I thought I might accomplish in my life is really a much shorter list, a pared-down list that has refined my focus to the people and things God intends for me to focus upon.  Hmm.

Much as I would like
To stand and walk,
To drive wherever I wish,
To witness
In bold and eminently visible ways
So no one
Can possibly miss me;
Much as I would like
To be called
To be named perhaps
In purple
So everyone might hear;
Much as I would like
To tromp into the wilderness,
Wait for people to come
And find me;
Much as I would like it,
Those roles
Have been filled
And filled
And filled again.
This role is mine,
Even if one hears,
Even if one sees,
This one,
This role
Is mine.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Where's the comfort?

This morning my daughter went downtown to join the witness that Black Lives Matter.  I went to church and added my prayers for all the people.  We sang Comfort, Comfort,Ye My People. The comfort often seems to be hiding in the wilderness.  I pray for inroads in that wilderness.

Where’s the comfort?
My people
Where is it?
All my people
All of us
Every single one
This second blue Sunday
Where’s the comfort?
The voice of one crying:
Where’s the comfort?
The voices of many
Where’s the comfort?
Prepare the way
In the wilderness
Prepare the ways
In the wilderness.
I’m sure
There is more than one.
Where’s the comfort?
This second blue Sunday
I know it is somewhere
Yet to be found.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


It has taken awhile to get accustomed to the slower pace of things.  Today I have shopped for one member of our Christmas basket family.  The other members have been divvied out to my daughter and my beloved.  

I pace things
More slowly
Than most folk
Around me.
When I manage to do
Two things at once,
Like the snail riding
On the turtle’s back,
I say
I catch the backdraft
Of those rushing
Around me,
Admire their speed
And purpose,
Feel the breeze.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It keeps us going

All over the country college students arrive home in these weeks before Christmas.  A wealth of life has happened here and there, for students and the families left behind.  This is titled It keeps us going because of a conversation with my daughter last night.  In response to her question about my beloved and I working out together twice a week with a trainer, I said It keeps us going.  I meant that each of us keeps the other going to work out.  I couldn't figure out why my daughter freaked.  Then I realized there might be other ways to interpret the statement.  No.  We are not, either one of us, at death's door.

Can be a challenge when
The daughter comes home.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Didn't realize this was a prayer until the end.

I woke up this morning
Realized once more
I have limits
To the number of people
I can carry,
The number of things
I can do.
Keep me upright today,
I tell our trainer.
Look at the blue sky,
I tell my beloved.
There are limits.
Of course there are limits.
We all have limits.
I drink my coffee,
Revel in three clients today,
Not four.
I have limits.
Look at the blue sky.
Keep me upright today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Do you have a minute?

In this season... let us give each other more than a minute or two.

This is the time
The world sidles up to me
Do you have a minute
This week?
Might I have
One or two minutes?
In response I offer
More than a few minutes
Encourage the world
To take more time
Than a couple minutes
To figure things out
To grieve
To notice all might not be
As well
As we think
It should be.
This is the time
I find myself
Asking exactly the same thing
Do you have a minute
This week?
Me and the world
All of us together
Sidling up to,
Sliding into each other
Do you have a minute?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Yes, this is one of those days.  New people.  New things.  Some not so new.

Ready or not
The day begins,
And continues.
No one asks
If I am ready
For such a day
It continues
Along its own track
I follow
And follow
I figure surprise
Will be a part
Of such a day
I am dressed
And ready
Or not
Here it comes.

Monday, December 1, 2014


No.  I will not "out" the person who made the tattoo suggestion.  No.  It is not my beloved.  Yes.  I find it funny... sort of... now.  

He suggested
I get it tattooed
On my forehead
I did not find this funny.
In fact
He is lucky
He still lives,
After the tattoo suggestion
I discovered
Medical ID bracelets
Are now designed
To match every possible outfit.
I ordered one
With multi-colored beads.
I await its arrival
In the mail.
It will go with

Sunday, November 30, 2014

She who prays

Sometimes the smallest thing is the biggest.  At a Convention where I feel faded in the crowd, I am introduced to someone who says this:

I know Catharine
He says,
She has been praying for me
For years.
All of a sudden I am she who prays.  This is more than enough.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shop small

On Thanksgiving a guest said he understood the color of our guest bathroom when he saw the mirror frame made from potato chip bags.  The orange came first.  We looked a long time for that mirror. Then... there it was.  We continue to shop small.  We never know what we'll discover.

Today I will shop small,
Engage the artisans
From around the world:
The one 
Who crafted the frame
Of our bathroom mirror
From potato chip bags,
It perfectly matches
The high-gloss orange
On the walls;
The one
Who made
The orange peel angel,
It hangs from the lamp switch
On my office desk;
All the ones,
All those ones
Who see the world
Through different eyes,
Know that orange peel,
Potato chip bags,
Hold even the wealth of possibility
To match
Our bathroom walls.

Friday, November 28, 2014


The day after Thanksgiving.  The house is very clean and ordered, many thanks due to the daughter home from college.  The refrigerator is full of leftovers.  I wonder now if the crowd listening to Jesus somehow didn't need as much to eat because of the cornucopia of Jesus himself.  A new thought while the turkey is being made into soup.

We used every dish and plate,
Every piece of silverware
We own.
With all that food
We ate less
Than we usually do.
We talked more.
The turkey was almost forgotten
In the oven.
It collapsed in on itself
A crispy brown mass,
barely recognizable
As a baked bird.
We laughed
And ate more sweet potatoes.
I woke this morning
Wondering about the plural
Of the word cornucopia
How does a person
Pluralize abundance?
Horns (or baskets)
Full of bread and fish?
A refrigerator full of leftovers?
The beginning of turkey soup
On the stove?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and coffee

Fun fact for today:  Ethiopia has a temperate climate, and it is the place coffee originated.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey in the oven
We rearrange the house
For guests.
We each
Have our own pace.
It will all happen
Before 4:30.
Over coffee
We read the history
Of Ethiopia.
Coffee began there.
We raise our mugs
In honor
Of Ethiopia.
We hope the turkey
Will be done in time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The gift

I actually had to write this before I could get to the end of it.  It's amazing to me what putting words on a page will do.

The gift of Thanksgiving this year
Will be making sure
The vegan
Possibly fasting
Ethiopian woman
Will know herself
Utterly and completely included.
The gift of Thanksgiving this year
Will be the presence
Of every single person
Around the table
No matter what
Each one of us
Can eat.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The whole of it

Feeling philosophical this morning.  Sun shining.  Clouds stunning.  Whether I am conscious or lose consciousness, there's still a lot of life yet to be lived.

So much life
Left to be lived:
Yet somehow still
We never know
The whole of it
Even when we think,
Even when we act,
As if we do.
So much life
Even though
We never know
The whole of it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Yes and no and maybe

I am home offering slower things.

With the lively one home
The pace quickens
Around me.
I practice doing
What I can do,
Saying no and maybe
And occasionally
Let your yes be yes.
Let your no be no.
If it is maybe
Make sure
It is a possible yes.
The pace quickens.
I still practice doing
What I can do
And offering
Slower things.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Room at the table

Convention was different this year.

And so
Lunch in hand
I stumbled upon
The retired clergy
Gathered at a round table
In a quiet corner
Of Convention.
I knew them all.
Come sit with us
They said
There’s room at the table
They said.
So I sat
And ate.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Figuring out new ways to engage Diocesan Convention.

Last night
I honored who I am
Not who I used to be.
I ordered room service,
Simple spaghetti and meatballs
Delivered on a tray
By a smiling woman.
I honor who I am
I will join the throng
When I am ready
To join the throng,
Not one moment

Friday, November 21, 2014

Now is to sit in the sun

I have many things to do today.  Now is to sit and soak up the sun.  Maybe the cat is onto something.

Now is to sit
In the sun
Full on my face
So full and bright
I can barely do anything
But drink my morning coffee
Marvel at this light
Come into this morning world
Remind me that now
Maybe stunningly
Is to soak in the sun
Leave the rest
For later.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today begins again

It seems I have mastered the art of going back to bed for that extra sleep.  My beloved is winging his way to Denver to pick up our daughter, most of her worldly possessions, and a van.  I love them both. I am home, beginning the day again.

Today begins again
With sun
No gold leaves
But full sun the cat has found
On the bed upstairs.
I went back to bed
After the taxi came,
Fifteen minutes early
In the dark,
A cardinal sin
For your 5 a.m. challenged soul
Especially when you stayed up
Rather later
Than you might.
Today begins again.
You are in the air
Sound asleep.
I am home.
I pay attention
To the cat
The turtle
One client this afternoon.
Today begins again.
There is sun.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Driving or not driving... a decision made day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  I am still getting used to this part of my identity.  Some days it comes easier than others.

I drive home
My music plays.
I sing along
For these moments
I remember who I am,
Even if tomorrow
I ask for a ride.
This is also part
Of who I am
These days:
She who asks for rides;
She who drives when it is safe
For her to drive,
Plays her music
And sings along.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


In 2007 I left parish ministry, stopped paying into the Church Pension Fund, after 27 years.  Every year I get a statement saying:  if I will only retire, if I will only begin receiving the money I have earned, I will be removed from this limbo, back into the land of the living, albeit... retired.  There is more than one way to live life on the edge of things.  I seem to have discovered more ways than many.

I dropped off the face
When I stopped paying into
The Church Pension Fund.

Monday, November 17, 2014


My beloved, the political scientist, sees compromise as a good thing.  He teaches students the importance of compromise, to see that all good political decisions involve some level of compromise. So often we see compromise as something we need to settle for.  I did not choose this, we say.  This is unfair, we say.  My beloved, the political scientist, offers the idea that compromise just might be a good thing.

Again I think
I am compromised.
To move
Just slowly enough,
More and more
To stand on the edges,
To watch the cat
Sleep in the sun.
Again I remember
Not to rush
In my half-full brain
Not to think of this
As compromise;
Not to think of this
As my lot in life;
Not to think of this
As forced retirement;
But instead to see
The possible gift.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Healing prayer

This morning reminded me of Quaker meeting, particularly the silent space in the middle meant to provide room for healing prayer.  Even though no one went forward.  Still... there was healing there.

No one went forward
For healing prayer today.
We all knelt in place
Listened to the cello.
Three priests stood at the altar rail
With oil for anointing.
They were ready.
The lessons were about waiting
For Jesus to return.
Something about
The absence of words
The cello
The waiting
In the middle of the service;
Something about the silence space
In the middle
Spoke to me of healing
Even though no one went forward
But instead
Knelt in place.
No words
Were necessary.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Sometimes I find it odd what gains, then loses, our attention.

The normally bland face
Of Uranus
Is now extremely stormy.
The camera on the comet
Has shut down
In the dark.
Eyes trained on the heavens
The melting ice cap,
Have lost
Their audience.
Wars and rumors of wars
The man or woman
On the streets
The person in the pew
Beside us,
They join
The periphery.
We wait for the comet
To streak closer
To the sun.
We hope more light
Will start the data stream
Meanwhile Uranus
Is stormy.
No one knows why.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What I saw and heard yesterday

Some days there is so much to remember, so much to be appreciated.  If I had known it was ginkgo day, I would made a ginkgo tour.  The alphabet en espanol brought back memories of junior high. Then there was the orange peel angel.  I will have to figure out where she will live in my office.

The ginkgo did
Its all-at-once shimmy of gold. 
The sea of yellow fans dropped,
A one-day pleasure.
The Spanish class
Learned the alphabet
Twenty minutes at least
All the way to end
Over and over.
I saw.
I heard.
In between
I was gifted with clients
Words and presence and even
An angel
Made of orange peel.