From one of my favourite books: The Gift,with poems by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. You can see that I have sticky notes on many pages.
I GOT KIN
So that your own heart
So God will think,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Because that is the purest
I swear I didn’t plan this.
Sometimes when words won’t flow, I use a writing prompt. One of those prompts involves finding a certain page, in a certain book, on a certain shelf.
“Top shelf, third book from the right, page 56.”
I went to my office and looked at the top shelf. Among other books were some that contain short stories of mine. “Huh, what are the odds that the third book to the right is one of those?” I asked myself.
I counted and the Blood Is Thicker anthology, which contains one of my short stories, was third from the right. “That’s pretty amazing,” I thought, “but what are the odds that my story is on page 56?”
I opened the book and flipped to the right page. Yep. My story was there.
The line that stood out: “NOTE TO SELF: Those are pretty good odds.”
The title of my story?
Beating the Odds
I guess I’m supposed to write that even if something seems unlikely, if you set yourself in motion, you might beat the odds—and have a laugh while you’re at it.
For the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed my evening cup of hot herbal tea in a yellow submarine mug.
The submarine windows remain dark and wave-splashed when the mug is cold.
But when I pour in boiling water, Paul McCartney miraculously appears and waves at me.
John, George and Ringo also make their presence known in other windows.
The Beatles stay hidden until I choose to create the right conditions to see them, and then I have to choose to celebrate and appreciate them.
The mug reminds me:
- If I can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
- When there is something to be revealed, the conditions have to be right.
- Sometimes I have to make a choice to take action to make those conditions right.
- And then I have to choose to notice, celebrate and appreciate.
- I have to trust in what I can’t see as much as what I can.
Faith, hope, peace, joy, love surround me. If they begin to feel distant or elusive, I can pour some warmth on them and notice how they miraculously appear.
I took this picture on our Canadian Thanksgiving walk at Shaw Woods. It’s difficult to grasp this picture at a glance, so I’ll walk you through it. The sheer rock face to the left used to be the surface on which the tree grew. The clump of brownish tangle forming a V shape opposite it are the roots of the tree. We know the tree sustained itself for many years on that precarious and not-very-nourishing place because it grew to a substantial size. You can see the circumference of the trunk above the heads of my mother and my son. Their size gives you some perspective on the size of the tree.
The roots of the tree could not penetrate the solid rock to grow deeply, so root tendrils reached out horizontally over the slanting rock in their search for sustenance.
Such a precarious state could not endure. At some point, a storm-driven gust of wind exerted such pressure on the tree that its roots peeled away from the impenetrable stone and it toppled. Without deep roots solidly anchoring it into the ground it could not survive a storm.
We can learn lessons from this tree.
Metaphorically speaking, to survive life’s storms, people need roots entrenched deeply into solid, anchoring sustenance: faith, nurturing friendships, loving family. Sure, some can survive for a while by spreading themselves thinly over precarious and not-very-nurturing surfaces, reaching out for sustenance through such things as jobs, money or alcohol and drugs. Like the tree in the photo, some people last surprisingly long that way. But eventually a storm comes with a wind too strong to withstand: the job disappears, the money dries up or the alcohol and drugs destroy ability to function effectively. Then the shallow roots peel away and everything topples.
Are you deeply rooted and ready for a storm?
I took this picture – looking through the thin roots – from the place where my mother and son were standing before. It is easy to see how shallow the roots were.
When my husband and I strolled through St. James’ Park during our recent vacation to London, England, we passed this tree. Its harshly pruned branches made a sorry silhouette against the dusky skies of London.
We slowed our steps and looked up at the denuded tree. “Maybe it will come back,” my husband said, sardonically.
Then we looked more closely. One determined twig of new growth sprouted from the side of an upper branch. This tree, that to our eyes appeared cruelly pruned past the point of rejuvenation, prevailed.
We continued our walk feeling a little lighter.
Even when life prunes us down to bare essentials, new growth and rebirth is possible. It’s a matter of faith.