Godspeed

Taken 7:30 AM October 13, 2017

~~ Morning Prayer ~~
Thank you, God, for the beauty
Of the light upon the trees,
And though I see it every day,
Help me always see
The cloak upon the river
From the morning fog
And help me, Lord,
To always hear the mundane dialogue
Those simple common moments
That make up my day
To see,
To hear,
To taste,
Feel,
Smell —
To be present,
This I pray.
Amen


“You’re the Godspeed guy,” I said, when I finally recognized the man with whom I had been in conversation.

“That’s right,” he replied.

“That movie was life-changing for me,” I told him.

Godspeed, the movie.

Not the 2009 “intense, dramatic thriller set in the lingering light of the Alaskan midnight sun” (IMDB description).

No — I’m talking about the documentary subtitled “The Pace of Being Known.”

“Did it make you want to move to Scotland?” Matt Canlis asked, and he explained that that’s what some people got from it.

“Not at all,” I said. “It made me want to slow down.”

“Good,” he said.

Last year, after watching Matt’s film at Hutchmoot, I started taking long walks into town. My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 — to not use self-checkout at the grocery store — grew from the movie.

No, he didn’t talk about grocery stores in Godspeed. He talked about taking time to see people and the importance of community.

Then, there he was — in person.

Matt Canlis, the Godspeed guy, spoke at Hutchmoot this year. I wrote down more of his words than any other speaker.

Things like — “When God says, ‘Here I am,’ He’s always closer than you think, and in places you don’t expect Him.”

Or, “Our home is our greener grass.”

When I was at the grocery store yesterday, not using the self-checkout, waiting in line behind two other people, I marveled at the way the woman at the register knew not only me, because I go there every day, but the young man who refused the gas points — “Oh, that’s right. You walk everywhere.” — and the older man — “When are you retiring?” “The 28th.” “Of this month?!” After he nodded, she stopped counting out his change and turned to  grasp his hand in warm congratulations. “I’m so happy for you,” she said.

She was living at Godspeed, seeing the people who come through her line, and interacting with them. It’s so much better than a self-checkout.

I started a new job this week, lifeguarding for a couple of hours in the early morning before anyone at the house is awake. It was a way to help the new Aquatics Director. She was desperate for lifeguards, and I thought, I can do that.

“Lifeguarding is mind-numbing,” Philip said to me when I told him what he was doing.

He should know. I’m working a shift that he used to work as a teen. He did push-ups and walked laps around the pool to stay awake at 6AM, but that’s my time of day.

This morning, at the pool, one man struck up a conversation telling me about Native American artifacts he found in a field. After every dive, he would swim over to where I was standing to tell me a little more.

Another woman warned me that I may have to rescue her. “I haven’t swam in a while,” she said.

“That’s okay,” I told her. “I haven’t lifeguarded in a while.” We both laughed.

Lifeguarding is most definitely a Godspeed job.

My greener grass includes a pool. Not many people can say that.

Plus, the commute in the early morning is beautiful (check out the photograph at the top!).

And, I got to meet the Godspeed guy, which was one of the highlights of going to Hutchmoot.

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Fraud

The writing wasn’t brilliant for Hot Dogs and Marmalade;
The draft folder overflowed with posts that were half-made.
Then when another prompt went by, a photo challenge, too —
The proprietress of the sorry blog wondered what to do.

Another day, another fail, another fruitless quest;
Yet still she clung to hope which springs eternal in the breast;
She thought, if only I could find a quote that tickled at the heart –
I think that I could pull it off, if I but had a start.

But Pascal obfuscated, as did Saint Benedict,
(the former was an intellect, the latter just too strict)
So upon that foggy brain grim melancholy sat,
For she had found no resonance, only quotes that fell quite flat.

From a few subscribers there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled on the Macbook, it rattled in the Dell;
It knocked upon ol’ Facebook — well, that’s not really true.
It probably went unnoticed! It’s okay if I withdrew.

‘Cause life is very busy. I’ve got toilets to unclog,
Question-answering by the hour — and don’t forget the dog.
Grocery shopping, laundry washing and vacuuming to do;
Cook the dinner, wash the dishes. (Oh, yeah — the kids help too.)

Let me tell you there are days when I try to write some prose
But then my father needs some help, because he can’t get on his clothes.
And when my darling children ask for help with school,
I lose what patience I possess. Yes, I lose my cool.

Fraud!” cry the readers, and the echo answers fraud;
“You say you are a Christian. You say that you love God!
You say that you’re a writer. You think you’re super-Mom.
If you were any of those things, I think you’d keep your calm.”

pssst…. Please lean in closely. I’ve a secret I must tell:
Some days I feel quite zombie-ish when life’s not going well.
But feeling dead and being dead are two very different things
And I’ve a heart within which hope continually springs

Because, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere folks are laughing, men raise a glass and toast;
And there’s even joy on WordPress — I published a cheesy post.

At the Window

At a Window
by Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

(Public domain)



I’ve written and deleted so much blather about windows these past few days.

It’s hard to gather all the loose ends of my thoughts into something — anything, really — that makes sense.

I love this picture I took two summers ago when the milk house was being torn down. One window remained of the broken down building. It had the prettiest view over the valley.

Roger Bacon said,

Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God’s favor.

The world is so broken.

Yet somehow, in the midst of it, or over it all, a great benediction is being whispered — and it’s that little bit of love. That hand that reaches in to touch me in my dark room, breaking my loneliness.


Now I look through a dirty pane
Where cobwebs
and
The dust of the world
Blur my view

I rub at it
With my fingers
And though my hands
Come away dirty
The grime on the glass remains

If I but drop my eyes
No glass obscures my view

And to my right
A larger scene awaits

Overhead
The sun
(so bright I dassn’t look)
Shines
and
Brightens the whole world:
The valley
The river
The barn on the horizon

Yet I squint
At my dirty pane
Wishing I could see more

Haiku

Frederick Buechner, in his book, The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life, explained the haiku better than I have seen it explained before:

The whole genius of the haiku is that they don’t mean anything. People who try to figure out what a haiku means are beating up the wrong path… The haiku settles for doing, as I read it anyway, one very simple but very crucial thing — it tries to put a frame around the moment. It simply frames a moment.

Since I was a child, I can recall pausing and thinking, “If only I can remember everything about this moment forever.” My everythings ranged from listening to my mother cook in the kitchen, seeing the rainbow circles around the lights in the pool after swimming without goggles, the raucous cawing of crows for no apparent reason, the smell of freshly cut alfalfa, the toad in the garden that startled me when I was weeding, and so on. If I had known that the haiku served that purpose, I might have worked harder on my haiku-ing.

Today’s prompt, Planet, got me thinking about all the times I tried to see the planets as my brother pointed them out to me. He can read the night sky so well. (He even knows zombie and wolverine constellations that nobody else does.)

I would squint and try to follow his finger to the tiny red dot that he said was Mars. Sometimes I saw it, but often I didn’t.

How could I write a haiku about that time I didn’t see Mars?

Squinting in darkness
His finger pointing at stars
I couldn’t see Mars

Then I remembered his favorite marble, a small blue glass orb that resembled planet Earth.

When we played marbles, I could barely balance the shooter marble on my thumb in order to plink it into the ring. If his Earth marble was in play, though, that was the target. Winning that one meant winning everything.

Pretty glass marbles
Inside a corral of string
(flick) – plink – Earth is out

Glorious Country Life

I stopped at the Farmer’s Market
Early Saturday morn
Heard some vendor’s talking
(They both look tired and worn.)

“Went to the tractor pull,”
One guy said to his friend.
“Didn’t get home ’til 2 AM.
Helluva start to the weekend!”

“Damn rooster woke ME at 4 AM,”
His friend to him replied
And he passed him some maple syrup
To carry the jugs inside.

Oh, this glorious country life!
With tractors and roosters the only-est strife
Stars in the night, sun in the day
Cows in the field, newly mown hay
So thankful I live here every day
So thankful I live here every day

On Sunday at the Harvest Fest,
We visited the pig —
Half in wood shavings, half in mud
My goodness, the sow was big!

She had been the champion
At July’s livestock show
For this festival’s Parade of Champions
They wouldn’t let her go

So her owner brought a steer
To parade in her stead
While she wallowed – half sun, half shade
Mud on her snout and head

Oh, this glorious country life!
A parading steer lest the sow run rife
Stars in the night, sun in the day
Cows in the field, newly mown hay
So thankful I live here every day
So thankful I live here every day

For Ken

The weight of being youngest of thirteen
Like starting in the middle of a book
Unaware of what will be and what has been

This brotherhood — primarily of gene
Familiarity that never took
The weight off being youngest of thirteen

Age differences far outside the mean
Busy lives — too oft we overlook
Unaware of what will be and what has been

Roads diverge — picture, please, the scene
We traipse along and nary take a look
At the weight of being youngest of thirteen

Checking in — “Hey! How’ve you been?”
Connections never made and never took
Unaware of what will be and what has been

Substance solace sought when still a teen
Became a gap impossible to brook
The weight of being youngest of thirteen
Unaware of what will be and what has been


My husband’s youngest brother passed away last week, and I’ve really struggled to find words for my feelings.

When I met Ken he was two years old and running naked through the yard, laughing. Bud caught him, scooped him up, and in a move that amazed me at the time, still amazes me today, and told me that Bud would be a great dad someday,  put child and diaper back together in a fraction of a second.

Over the next few years, I played countless games of Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City with Ken and his sister, Jeannie. Like every 3 or 4 year old, he cheated to win, because he understood that the point of the game was to get to the Strawberry House, but he didn’t necessarily understand that there were rules involved.

Zaengle family walk — 1984 — Ken on a bike in front

Bud and I married, moved away, started our own family, came back again, and Ken was school age.

By the time he was a teen, our family had expanded and kept expanding. When Kenny made some poor choices, Bud tried to be involved with getting him on the right track — but a 23 year age difference doesn’t make for an ideal brotherly relationship. Lord knows, though, they tried.

And life goes on.

Every family has struggles. And splinters. Ours was no different.

We lost touch.

No, I’ll say it — I blocked him on Facebook because I couldn’t handle the weight of his struggles along with the weight of my own. Does that make me a terrible person? Probably.

But it doesn’t change the fact that we loved him — even though we didn’t know the right way to go about showing it.

I’m sad that Kenny’s gone.

And I’ll treasure the memory of that little boy laughing in the front yard — back when demons weren’t chasing him, only big brothers with diapers.

My sympathy goes to Sarah, Oden, Ellie, and Evan.