What is Asking to be Looked At


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You are turning away again,

you know you are.

Call it what you will –

balancing the check-book, work,

sock-matching-sock tucked one inside the other,

there, there, almost done.

You check your email often,

tell yourself surely there is more,

something else that needs tending.

 

Meanwhile, right there,

just outside the glass and

watching with shy eyes from the shadows

of the old yew that needs cut back again

to let in the light, there is something –

asking to be looked at,

asking to be spoken.

 

It will not be revealed without tenderness.

It will not scream for your attention

or grab your knee like your brother used to

creeping down the stairs

and crawling under the Yamaha while you

repetitiously practiced scales.

This will be a slow unveiling.

 

Go outside.

Stand very still.

Wait. Listen. Ask.

Maybe now you will say

warm breeze, or good morning,

or sunshine on opening tulip. Then slowly, tenderly

you might rename each thing, one by one by one,

a crescendo of words pouring from your lips, glorious and unending…

and there will be no pain as your heart rips open.

 

LAE2017

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Ice, not ice


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Reflections on creek and her transformation

She is cold shouldered, hard edged. She is lifted above herself and perched topside, hard memories filled with small stones wait for the bottom to fall. She is thick with gathering.

dsc_0156How she wears so many faces; still and impenetrable under the overpass and upstream where she breaks tumultuous along fault lines, falling into herself again and again along breached edges.

Sometimes I see her clearly, other times she is shrub obscured, a stark backdrop to rich shades of ocher and brown, left-right axis to sky pointers, cottonwoods, Sunday afternoon walkers.

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A slit widens in her breast. She opens herself to a black and white diver brave enough to discover sustenance below her horizon. He floats and dives, floats and dives, finds a way where she appears solid as stone.

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Further upstream she is more exposed, her heart warmer, more willing. She flows wanton here. Mallards and Mergansers dip and fly.

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Eagle’s view of her is wider still. He anticipates the taste of spring salmon, how creek’s scent and navigational pull will entice a pink run and then exhausted demise. He watches from cottonwood, preens his tail, waits for the inevitable.

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She is ice becoming open water. She seeps from concrete abutments and along gravel pathways seeking the path of least resistance back into herself. She is the heart of greening.

She may soon rise above these banks. She will carry everything in open hands, her shoulders wide, and powerful. She will make herself known.  She is just beginning to remember words like ebb and flow. She feels the sharpness of each necessary fissure. She breaks into smaller and smaller pieces.

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I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.

John O’Donahue.

Of Bugs and Bones ~ Part 1


English: color isolation photograph of Patty a...

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What I’m about to say will polarize. There may be those who immediately write me off, label me fanciful, delusional. And there may be those who allow within my tale, a tiny inkling of the possibility of truth, because they have experienced something similar in their own lives. I share my story anyway because is what my spiritual journey looks like. It’s complicated. It doesn’t always make sense.

I’ve longed for the audible voice of God, like Bible giants Moses and Abraham heard, but for me that’s never happened. I read The Book, not as often as I might do. I listen to wise ones teach on The Way/Truth/Life. I pray, somewhat hesitantly. But to hear God’s audible voice, not yet. Instead, I’ve had thoughts come to mind, found my attention drawn to seemingly inconsequential things I couldn’t ignore. The experiences I’m about to share are examples of this way of finding God. Bugs and bones and the natural world have opened up spiritual pathways to the divine. In the fullness of the glory of the earth, I  recognize God’s hand.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I feel like God’s taken a long vacation, and doesn’t write or call or text me a thing while he is gone. Usually this coincides with times of discouragement, or depression, or when I’m dog tired and need God but can’t find him. But other times, I ‘try’ to see God and feel a disconnect no matter what I do. So I wait. It’s hard, but I do. ‘Cause I believe he’s going to show up, or my eyes will open up, my ears will unplug, and he’ll have been there the whole time. I’m sure it’s me, not him, breaking down communication (hint of deeply engrained childhood guilt). The past few months have been this way. Silent.

In any case, here’s what I want to tell you. Well, the first part anyway.

In April, 2005, I went up to the Seton House of Prayer, a Catholic retreat centre high up in the hills above Kelowna, B.C.. This short physical journey to retreat was stepping way out for me.  I’d never practiced solitude before. I went to Seton House with a healthy dose of curiosity and cynicism. I set aside four hours to read The Book, pray, seek God (whatever that meant), and as is typical of me, I had a schedule neatly laid out, with lunch break, and plenty of time to pick up my kids after school.

I retreated to the Hermitage/Poustinia, a rustic little cabin perched on the edge of Okanagan Mountain, with a chair, a bed, a sink, a kettle, a selection of teas, a porch, heat, and a single bed (for overnight solitude experiences).

I was ready. Only problem was, time went by very slowly. I read verses, unearthed gut wrenching answers to all my preselected questions, prayed heartfelt prayers, took notes, grew tired, took a nap, and finally, with only two hours gone, and not much in the way of even the smallest epiphany, I took a walk around the grounds.

It was a chilly Spring day, and from the height of the property I could see 360 degrees, Lake Okanagan coursing north to south, the embracing ranges of Columbia and Cascade, dwarfed City neighbourhoods below me, the bridge, roads, forests, all under a tentative blue Spring sky.

I walked along a gravel pathway, lingered by the stations of the cross (which I’d never seen up close), and then I sat down on a large rock. I sat still and quiet, listening to the wind, watching a Bald Eagle float on an updraft, listening to the sounds of birds nesting and singing. It was very peaceful there. I sat for a long time, wondering about God, wishing he would speak to me, confused about what this time of solitude was really for. Wondering, wondering… and then…

Her small red body caught my eye as I sat waiting to hear from you, God. And then…

“Lesley-Anne, look at the little bug scurrying about.”  

Yes Lord?

“She’s busy working.  But Lesley-Anne, I also made her to fly!  You are like this bug – busy, madly working away, but you’ve forgotten I made you to fly.”  

But how Lord, I asked?  What do you mean?

“First you must unfold your wings – they are folded tightly against your body.  Your wings are what I have equipped you with – your talents and passions – open them up, then let go!  I am like the wind – I will carry you where I want you to be.  Trust me.  Like the eagle and the ladybug, you will soar and not grow weary.  I’ve given you all you need to rise up.  You were not meant to remain in deep solitary places. Yes, you will go there sometimes, but you cannot stay there or you will drown.

“Rise up, my child.  Fly!

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So, at this point you may be thinking I conjured this, imagined it, and how convenient for me if I did. Suddenly, I have this ‘experience’, justifying my time of solitude, and more importantly, giving me something impressive to talk about when I come down from the mountain. Did it really happen? Did I really hear those precise words? Did I imagine it? Embellish it? Did I find the ladybug, or did she find me? Coincidence? Illusion? And why is it even important?

Truth is, it took me seven years to tell this story. And I tell it now with a mix of reservation and conviction. I know I can’t prove it. All I can tell you is it happened. I ‘heard’ word thoughts in my mind. Not a voice speaking out loud, but a thought voice, rushing these words into my consciousness. Was it God? Well, was it?

That day in April, 2005, marks the beginning of a narrative of ladybugs in my life that continues to be written to this day. I told you my story is about “bugs and bones.” My bug experience does meld with bones, but several years later. I’ll tell you about that another day (click HERE).

Fast forward 10 years, to last weekend, April, 2015, Vancouver, B.C., a 7th floor balcony… and God ambushes me again, in this never ending story that surprises, mystifies, and bolsters my often fickle faith. I will tell you more about that too sometime, I promise.

Watchful,

Lesley-Anne

P.S. The story continues at “Dem Bones, Dem Bones ~ Of Bugs and Bones, Part 2”