The way the slender tips
of the maple branches curve upward,
red in the early morning sun
of late February.
The pottery mug that fits
perfectly in my hands
and radiates the warmth of what it holds.
How the hands of another
brought forth that cup
out of shapeless, earthen clay
and created something
beautiful and useful.
How you can be walking
a forest path with beloved friends
and, as you look down,
in the center of a patch of bright, sunlit snow
the delicate and spotted feather
of a downy woodpecker can be found
and then carried with you.
The way these hearts
lean in toward one another
and occasionally shedding tears.
The laying of a hand on a shoulder
in such a way that the
gift of love radiates and heals.
(This poem was originally published in “The Wayfarer: 5th Anniversary Issue,” Autumn, 2017. https://homeboundpublications.square.site/product/print-issue-of-the-wayfarer-5th-anniversary-issue-autumn-2017/2?cs=true)
. . .
For many years, toward the end of February, I have gathered with a group of dear friends for a long weekend near Lake Michigan. We have become a winter sisterhood, staying each year in the gorgeous log home that belongs to one of us and was built from the trees she helped to harvest right there. All weekend we take turns cooking amazing and nourishing food, knit, walk the icy beach with dogs, drink good Irish whiskey, and sit by the fire and talk, talk, talk, and talk. We unpack our heads and hearts and listen with love to each other. Together, we uncover and grow wisdom.
By the end of each of these retreats, the log walls and roof beams of this home seem to be vibrating with all of the words shared and to radiate the love that has been expressed in the course of our days. We have come to view this time together as a sacred time of generosity, respite and healing. It is a time to rest and renew in communion with each other.
This year, for the first time in over a decade, we will not be together in this way because of the pandemic. This poem, “Communion”, was written in 2016 during and after one of these weekends. I share it now as a way of marking that which I will dearly miss.
We have talked about a summer gathering when we can be together in the open air, which will be lovely, but I will miss the womb-like feeling of sharing that warm space full of firelight and the smells of good cooking and wood smoke in the midst of winter and the immanent rebirth of the land.
I look forward to rekindling the flames of this winter tradition again as soon as we can. This is one of many things I am missing in this strange pandemic year. I know I am not alone in this yearning.