We Are

flowers 2We are flowers, reaching, reaching, napping in the September sun, warming our skin, unwilling to say good-bye. How many more days before it has travelled too far south to impart even an ounce of warmth?

We are the moon, hanging orange and low and pregnant, keeping quiet company in the dark, waiting for birth, for daylight, whispering that you were conceived in love and brightly shining hope.

We are the wind, invisible, lonely, unable to stay in one place, unaware of our power, at times troubling, at others soothing, at others yet fanning the coals of a cooling fire.

We are cloud and rain, watering and cooling, then pooling back into ourselves.

We are bright bursts of electricity and light; we are loud unsettling rumbles of thunder. We are weeping willows and whispering pines; we are raging hurricanes and crushing surf.

We are, you and I in turn, the grandeur of the Rockies, the mysterious depths of the sea, the solid chest to lean on, the child needing to lean. We are the earth, ready to nourish, and shelter, to offer a place for life to take root, sprout, and yield fruit and beauty.

We are the falling leaf, leaving naked branches to wait for spring. fall shadow

We are in turn hungry and impoverished, thankful for the milk of another, then full and generous, ready to give and forgive in measure greater than we have been given.

We are our mothers and fathers, optimistic and in love, burdened and splintered. We have our mother’s eyes, our father’s smile, her intuition, his power; we carry at our centre the power to breathe new life into the flickering flame yet again.


hana flowersHer eyes looked deeply into the eyes of her mother, then beyond, at the angels who had escorted her on her passage into this world. Her face lit up with a big smile, the first of millions that would follow. Even then, at seven pounds of barely-unfolded, long, skinny, downy, newborn beauty, she was a bright light.

Her parents saw this, and her grandparents, who woke in the night to soothe her feisty hungry cry, saw it too. So did her aunts and uncles, her siblings, her parents’ friends, strangers passing by, and later, her own little friends. She herself however, couldn’t see it yet; children have to wait a little while before they see how brightly their own lights shine.

But shine she did. Her essence glowed brightly through all her years of childhood. She was a tall strong flower that swayed and danced in the wind. And while the grown people around her saw and loved her large bright essence, children were sometimes afraid of it, or envious. Some of these children went to some lengths to trample her bright blossom. Each time it was trampled though, because she was young, it came back quickly and easily.

One day she became aware of her bright light. She remembered how it had hurt to have it trampled at times, and now understood what had happened those times she had been knocked to the ground, struggling for breath, and she felt angry.

So she tried to hide her brightness, but it wouldn’t stay under cover. For a while, wanting her path to be easier, she tried to divest herself of it completely, throw it under the car or against the mountains, or at those who had hurt her. But like a boomerang, it returned to her, over and over again, often with great force, knocking her own self down and smashing her own blossom yet again just as others had done.

It began to tire her deeply, this being thrown at, and throwing, and getting winded, and eventually she began to hurt in her bones, her muscles, the deepest parts of herself, and for a long time she could hardly walk. Her mother saw her deep fatigue, and went to her. She stroked her hair, heard her words, saw her tears, and, and held them carefully. She breathed them in, and slowly, as her own fear began to dissipate, began to offer stories that had helped her in her own time of deepest fatigue. Stories of how the lessons of living with a strong and bright essence can be difficult, but that they can also yield powerful gifts that heal the pain of others.

Your strength and light can confuse or threaten or blind others if you’re not careful, she told her, but when you embrace it with wisdom and love and humility, it will also heal them when their bones ache and they have lost their footing or their breath. It will help them understand their own gifts.

And others with a strong bright essence, she went on to tell her, will always be there to help you too, no matter why your tall stem might be deeply bent, your blossom resting face-down on the ground at that moment. She told her that together, they would sing healing songs, and fly. She told her that strong souls are our teachers, and that they can’t be permanently quashed or discarded. They return and return, to shine brightly and sway and dance in the sun, and to sing together with others who sing the same song.

(Many thanks to Francesca Mason Boring for her images of Makua, the Shoshone word for soul.)

Michael Row Your Boat Ashore

your laugh brings me joy,
your honest bubbling laugh

the ribbon in your hair
the dress you’ve put on
your hunger for life
despite the broken heart beating in your chest

your words to the freshly-terrified
that it will get better

the Michael Row Your Boat Ashore
coming from your swollen little face

the smile in your eyes sometimes now,
even though your son is gone

the salmon steaks you made me for lunch
through your large-muscle spasms;
the gift of your Self
despite the thief that has moved in to stay

the fresh strawberries you served me,
with chocolate squares that melted before our eyes
in the noonday heat
of a September day
that sparkled

your eyes meeting mine
your beautiful essence

the tears of joy the music drew from you that night
under the sky
through the layers of your many years
and the oceans of loss
that sometimes bury your laugh

the grace you extend
over and over again
in the face of broken promises,
or those who forget you have trouble hearing,
or don’t understand your need for freedom,
or that chaos makes you crazy

the smile on your face with each milestone
as you chase your dreams

your whispered paintings
the confession that you still
after all these years
enjoy your wife

the eulogy you wrote
for your own funeral
which made us all laugh
with its naked honest humour

the tears you didn’t hold back when my heart broke
the dancing and laughter you inspire
with equal ease
in almost the same breath

your undying sense of adventure
dressing up for dinner
bringing gifts of homemade bread
your brilliantly shining courage
doing the hardest things
because you know you need them
to protect your essence, your joy

your feisty, defiant protection
of those knocked down, being passed by
your commitment to listening carefully, patiently
for the truth beneath the words

your willingness to learn new things
even now
or to say
I might have been wrong on this, or that

or to simply say
I like you very much

the hug that lasted
and lasted
because words were inadequate

my hardwood floors
freshly picked apples
whipped cream
a good night’s sleep
music under the stars
the thousands of songs on your playlist
the potato salad I made for later
your hands on my back at night

your slamming the door on fear
again, and again
jumping into the deep water
willing to read the depths
and see brilliant colour

all these are pure joy
all these I will honor
and hold
in the strong vessel of gratitude