Barbara Colebrook Peace joins us from Victoria, Vancouver Island, where she lives with her husband, Terry Peace.
Good morning, Barbara. It’s lovely to connect with you again, albeit virtually. The last and only time we met you sat beside me in a beautiful seaside church, St. George the Martyr, in Cadboro Bay. We were attending a Poetry as Prayer workshop led by Richard Osler, who was our guest poet here just the other day. It was such a joy to meet you then, knowing you through your beautiful poetry collection Duet for Wings and Earth. And here we are again!
We’ve been focusing on three questions as we visit together each day, and so I’m going to ask you the same ones with gratitude for your responses;
1.What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Barbara: I’ve been blessed to live a quiet life for some years; what’s different now is the quietness of the world. I am so moved by humanity’s expressions of love and caring for one another. It’s not that I didn’t know it before, but now I see the breadth and depth and length and height of that love in action.
2. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of more time, what are you spending it on?
Barbara: Because I was already blessed in being retired and having time for what I choose to do, this event hasn’t given me a sense of “more” time. I think I spend about the same amount of time in connecting with others as I did in the past, but in different ways. For example, our church community has a “church without walls” operating through our website where one can join in with morning prayer and compline (and our priest reads a different poem each morning as part of the prayer service. ) Also, our choir director has done an amazing job of helping us to sing together across physical distance.
3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Barbara: I’m writing this in early morning. I like to begin the day by going to the window and looking out across the water towards the mountains. Some days they appear and some days not. Today, as always, I am amazed by their loveliness.
Barbara is the author of two poetry books, Kyrie (Sono Nis, 2001) and Duet
for Wings and Earth (Sono Nis, 2008), which won an award from The Word Guild. She is also the co-editor of P.K. Page: Essays on Her Works (Guenica, 2001.) She has read her poetry on CBC, taken part in various literary festivals and concerts, and contributed poems and review essays to a number of Canadian journals and anthologies.
Please visit Barbara’s website for more information about her and her work.
The poem you are about to share is from your collection Duet for Wings and Earth. I find it to be a powerful reminder of ultimate love, a love that transcends our humanity in every way. Thank you for walking us into the Easter Weekend with your words.
Blessings and continued good health,
Song of God: For Judas not yet born to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal, until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak, when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed and the stars of the Navigator’s Line go out one by one. ---JOB 38:14,15 (New English Bible) Judas, sprawled on the grass, the sun in your eyes as you look up and laugh, plucking a stalk and whistling between your green-stained thumbs, saying This is better than Jerusalem. Judas, child of lostness, how could I bear it if you were not born? Your features known to me in every detail. How could I not bring you to birth, when even now clouds passing over the earth part to reveal your face in shadow between fire and starlight; even now the daystar awaits my signal to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal, and the angels, who have thousands of different words for light, have arranged the light around you. In our little camp on the mountain slope, Peter and James and John are still asleep; only you and I stay awake to see the dawn, our clothes smelling of lentil stew and woodsmoke. We have stayed up talking, you and I, all night. Now we wait for the woods and valleys to slowly emerge, and the long mountain ridges unfold in their beauty, one by one picking up the sun’s spark, until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak, the earth in this moment unique; only you and I share. We are not ready to come down from the mountain. The wind is passing over the house where you will be born. If you are not born I could not bear it. Before we go down from the mountain, we tell each other what we dreamed: you dreamed your mother dying and you tell me your greatest fear, being left alone at the time of death, no sound of human voice, only the wind, when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed. It is Sabbath, and the morning of your birth. Shalom, Judas, peace be with you; the earth rising on the first morning of the earth, fragile blue jewel, my beloved Judas. Peter and James and John are still asleep. It is time to come down from the mountain. Will you remember this, will it be enough to keep you from despair, when you greet me with a kiss as the men come bearing torches, and the last word I speak to you on earth is Shalom----- and the stars of the Navigator’s line go out one by one? Barbara Colebrook Peace