A few years ago I began creating a "Book of Love," a psalter of the heart. I was watching my favorite TV show, Call the Midwife, and heard a quote that cracked me open: "God hugs you. You shine so finely it surpasses understanding. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God."
I knew I needed to see those words each day.
And so I began my book.
At the time, I was crumbled underneath a January depression that arises regularly with the seasons. When this fierce sadness arrives, I hang on tightly to each grace that comes my way. That day, it came through Hildegard of Bingen.
Over the years, I've filled my Book of Love with images, words, feathers, acorns and tears. Lately, I've been filling my book with my own poems, which I try to write each day, inspired by poet and gentle woman Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer's practice of writing a daily poem.
Today's poem for my Book of Love arose after walking my dogs last night.
It's such a powerful practice - to commit to writing something each day, even if it's one line. This practice has carried over to other areas of my life. Oh, how I have good intentions - and a dear mind that's easily scattered, and a sensitive nervous system that cares for a lot of anxiety.
Honoring my practices often looks like this for me: I yearn to spend time in the Silence each day. Some mornings, it's a full 20 or 30 minutes. Some mornings, I sleep through the first alarm and sit for 7 wee minutes.
I've learned that it's not about how long I sit each day, how much I write, or even how 'good' the writing is, but the consistent showing up for the ways Love longs to speak. My daily commitment to my yearnings moves me forward and carries me, no matter how much or how little I "do," and no matter how much sadness or fear I care for. Each day, I chop wood, carry water, and sing my soul alive.
This poem speaks a bit to that process, even as I struggled to put the feeling of it into words.
The photo is of my two dogs, Blue dog, our 13 year old sweet, going senile Aussie, and Bailey pups, our 5 year old half lab, part cocker spaniel, part Jack Russell terrier mix. My neighbor Cindy says Bailey is the 'doggiest dog' she's ever met, and it's a good description of her!
Because she grunts when she gets excited - especially when she's about to be fed - I call Bailey my little grunty pig. My son taught me how to call her this in Italian - el mio piccolo maiale grugnito - and so we now like to say Bailey is bilingual.
I regularly trip over Blue in the kitchen - which we had at one time trained her not to enter. But in her old age, she forgets - conveniently or not, we're not sure - and so I bump into this sweet dog all day long. How I will miss that bumping when she's gone.
After the work of the day
I lace up my shoes
and walk my dogs
to the woods near my house.
It is a path I have walked
nearly every day
these past twelve years.
There are oak trees whose
trunks speak of centuries
a pond where a blue heron
roosts in the trees.
There are tennis courts and a child
learning how to ride a bike –
baseball fields and
a teenage girl, posing for her picture.
I have walked this path shaking with rage.
I have walked this path underneath a
full moon, burdened with grief.
I have walked this path weighted
by worries, their heavy pall soaking me like
the sticky, spring humidity.
I have walked this path in early morning
at purple dusk
in the bright white heat of noon.
I have walked this path in the shock
of a winter snow shower
in fierce, baking heat
on an April day, warmed
slowly by a gentle sun.
The path doesn't mind.
It does not hold my moods
or the weather or the season against me.
Each day, it rises to greet me:
rain lilies, blooming after
last night's soaking
the fur of new green on the cedars
the white crane, arcing towards the sky.
Tomorrow I will walk the path again.