Thursday, November 21, 2013

coffee, tea, they and we

In a week and a half we trundled between four houses. We visited friends in Ohio one weekend, back home for the work week, then a weekend with our grandson in their apartment while his parents got away. We arrived home Sunday with a storm that took out power (and a mighty spruce), so we moved into our son’s house in town until power was restored two days later.

Personal rituals and routines lay dormant in our dark farmhouse, next to the broom and dustpan. Meditating or talking in the hot tub under our particular night sky rising from behind the barn. Reading, writing and correspondence with morning coffee in my hand-thrown mug and its chipped notch. The familiar dark, lit by a wood fire, alone while my husband sleeps. My little closet with clothes, shoes and necklaces in my mother’s baby blue jewelry box. Without home habits I felt like a leaf or branch skimming along the surface of the grass.

I didn’t feel ill at ease in anyone’s home. I slept well, the food was very good. I drank morning coffee in a mug chosen from a pretty array in each house. I bore the weight of having all our needs and preferences closely attended, of being conspicuously happy. We had clean sheets and towels, nightlights and conversation. It became humbling, really, to be the focus of comfort for three sets of hosts in such a short time. You must submit to the pose of receiving, and breathe.

Intimate things happen when staying overnight. The sound of feet passing on the wood floor outside our room. The dog’s nails stopping at the door, her nose reaching for me still in bed. Entering the kitchen shyly in freshly washed face, pajamas, taking coffee back to the chair chosen the night before as temporary territory. Being under the same roof for days on end, surrendering to the routines of others, playing at them as if they are your own.

At our son’s house each evening they offered us tea made in the Keureg machine. We rarely drink tea. But our son and his wife pulled out big white bowl-mugs they’d picked in their bridal registry last year, and read the list of teas, sounding irresistible. They chose sugar cookie the first night, cinnamon the second, so we took the same. I felt my soul reach for this tea, in this living room, with these our children. I was a genuine tea drinker for two days, joined in their ceremony that was just a vehicle for conversation.

Thanksgiving is next week, the start of holidays together with our children, their spouses and our grandson at the farm. I’ll experience the other side, as host, sharing our space and habits.

Rumi said that

When you are not with close friends,
you are not in the presence.

It is sad to leave the people you travel with.
How much moreso those who remind you of God.
Hurry back to the ones protecting you.

On every trip, have only one objective,
to meet those who are friends
inside the presence.

If you stay home, keep the same purpose,
to meet the innermost presence
as it lives in people.

Be a pilgrim to the kaaba inside a human being,
and Mecca will rise into view on its own.

Ultimately, we are all wayfaring strangers looking for home, the inner presence. Rilke said that even in very unfamiliar circumstances, our solitude can be a home and support.

This is where I want to be this holiday, inside the kaaba of human beings I love. And in my comfort, they will hopefully find their own.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the wind teaches

wind billowing
teaches me
what to do with rain:

hear it, feel it
(my face its pool)
carry it, puff all 
around it, ride it,
line it up, then

unframe the drops
as the ocean
unframes the shore

for Roger

Monday, November 4, 2013

Reuniting at a funeral

Pain in thumb pads as I type
out the seductive joy of sorrow.

We age, we die, or we remain
crowded and alive like grass

in the room around the casket,
swaying with memories,

leaning into a dimple or curl
I want to recognize, but can’t

seem to bring back your face.
But I know it is you, daughter

of the deceased, my childhood
friend, the one I lost 43 years

ago to a random move away
but who holds my arthritic hands

so firmly, this pain the place
from where we now live,

the tiny beads of sweat I loved
on your nose in summer, gone.