Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Gratitude

Small gifts of grace

On my way to the garage
A small thin cup-like piece
Of bird shell cracked and broken
Rests on our driveway
Beneath the holly tree
Where resident catbirds set up
temporary nesting quarters

Hours later and bone weary
I turn off the engine and hear
The unmistakable notes of a
Lullaby sweet and calming
Borrowed tunes full of grace
Soft and gentle from a catbird
Keeping watch from a nearby tree

I want to be a catbird when I grow up
Simple beauty singing made-up songs
Of quiet sometimes raucous joy
For everyone and no one in particular
Offering small benedictions to
Broken hearts and weary travelers
On their way from here to there

God bless us every one on this weekend of Sabbath rest and remembrance.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2019
Photo of a SE Pennsylvania Catbird found at reddit.com

Saving the best for last

Saving the best for last
All creatures fall silent
Hushed save an occasional
Chirp of sweet birdsong
Spilling final notes
Into air gone quiet

Leaves release one last sigh
And wait for last light
To descend beneath earth’s
Horizon without fanfare
Or outbreaks of odes to joy

No, we didn’t walk in the Blue Ridge Mountains yesterday evening. Just around our neighborhood. Still, the poem reflects the grandeur of both locations. Not only because of green leafy trees and the relative silence of birds and human voices, but because of Spring’s early evening drama.

I always love a walk around our neighborhood. Even so, an evening walk after supper during this part of Spring is often magical. Just like yesterday evening.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 May 2019
Photo of Blue Ridge Mountains taken by Dana Foreman, found at pixels.com

Exiting the scene | A waking dream

Wandering from room to room
Looking for clues
Uncertain where I am or why I’m here
And why no one answers my questions
As they scurry here and there
Setting up tables with no chairs
And no food I can eat and now….
Look at this!
They’re closing off doorways!
No exit?

A tall black man with a kind face
Follows me from room to room
Watching me though I don’t know why
He’s here and why other people
Are in this now awkward space
Made less grand by tacky rugs and
Faded wall hangings from a dusty
wannabe palace weary
of being fussed over
and shown to strangers

I decide to leave and find a quiet space
Where I can rest and be alone with myself

Suddenly a tall white woman with fancy clothes
A loud mouth and curly gray hair turns
She blocks my way out
Her face radiates scorn and entitlement

She scolds me for my bad manners
and unkempt clothing
Then looks beyond me at someone else
and nods ever so slightly without smiling

I turn to see the tall man with the kind face
Smiling as he walks toward me saying
This is a surprise party for me….

Whirling back toward the tall woman
Words spew out of my mouth:
How dare you plan a party that offers
No food I can eat and nowhere to sit
And rest my weary body and feet
To say nothing of commandeering my house
To do something on your own behalf
Not on mine!

I wake up and exit the scene shocked at my outburst
And wondering what this is about

This was my waking dream this morning. I’ll be working on this one for a while. Feel free to comment if you notice anything that stands out or raises questions to think about.

Actually, I’m relieved and thrilled I had this dream. Not because of its content, but because my dreams are returning after months of virtual silence. Not just snatches here and there, but dreams with detail, color and substance. It means I’m sleeping better, and that my body–though fading into the sunset–still has the capacity to surprise and delight me.

Yesterday was all about my regularly scheduled checkup with Dr. K, my wonderful integrative doctor. As always, I came away with a few things to work on. Nonetheless, I’m encouraged by the progress I’ve made, especially in the last several months. Not just in dealing with health issues, but in practicing a small handful of things that bring me joy and calm my heart no matter what its pace.

Happy dreaming!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 April 2019
Harold Gilman’s “Edwardian Interior” c. 1907; found at Tate.org.uk

Sunday afternoon walk and my heart

Spring air hangs breathless and damp
Broken by chirping bird songs
And children’s muffled voices
Clouds roll in silent and gray
Saturated with sprinkles
Gathering for a shower

The gathering shower turned into a ferocious thunder and lightning storm–over 500 lightning strikes last night in Philly! I slept through every moment of it. Astonishing. Today the storm is over the Atlantic, and blustery wind has moved in. Temperatures drop by the hour.

Nonetheless, beautiful green leaves, colorful flowering trees and shrubs, and small wildflowers are taking over! No turning back the clock.

During the last month I rearranged my daily routines to support what my heart wants and needs. Sometimes it’s as simple as postponing grocery shopping. Other times, it’s not so easy. Like staying home from church two of the last four Sundays after waking up with an unsteady heartbeat and the weakness that comes with it.

On the other hand, during the same time frame I visited with two of my woman friends, talked with at least two others on the phone, had email correspondence with a few others, enjoyed tea and conversation with our next-door neighbors, walked regularly with D, talked with our son and daughter via phone, and played with Smudge.

I’ve also posted from time to time, enjoyed hearing from some of you, and saw others peeking out from your gravatars!

So here’s to a thoughtful Holy Week, listening to all nature sing on and off-key, and staying in touch with ourselves and with the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Much we need Thy tender care.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 April 2019
Photo of Center City, Philadelphia; taken by Bill Cannon; found at fineartamerica.com
Photo of Smudge playing hide and seek, taken by me!

I Love Philly!

I Love Philly –
Its raw in-your-face ways
Its fierce determination
NOT to be NYC or WDC
Or proud Boston Brown Bread
Heavy with the blood of patriots
and all that watered-down tea

Give us Philly Cheese-Steaks
Italian Ice and Mummer’s Day Madness!

Sports teams scramble to recover
Their fair share of glory and grace
Weekend night-lifers crawl through
Crowded streets of over-enthusiastic
Pedestrians while car-lovers fight
For space on pot-holed one-way streets
And raucous horns inch their way
Toward old-timey traffic lights destined to
Stop them cold mid-way through
The next intersection

I Love Philly –
That great planned city of love
and a bit of Northeast craziness on
Any fine day or night of the year

So where did this come from? I wish I knew! I’m never sure what’s going to pop into my mind. This one came floating in the window this morning after I got home from an early morning blood test (and 12 hours of fasting).

At any rate, I obeyed my inner voice and scribbled it down. I’d been thinking about how happy and grateful I am to live in this part of the USA, as crazy and raucous as it is from time to time. During the last 36 years it grew me up as a real, live adult woman.

Cheers and Happy Monday!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 April 2019
Photo of Philadelphia’s LOVE statue found at WHYY.org (Click on link for a brief history of the statue.)
Statue Artist: Robert Indiana

Spring madness?

Hope and despair
Layer themselves
Between beats of my heart

‘Retirement is like that’
I could but won’t say –
Determined to make
Peace with what is
Beyond and within
My control

If not This
Why not That?
My mind spins
Out of orbit as
Early Spring lures
Me beyond myself

Retirement was about more than leaving my job at the seminary. It was about my health and well-being. I desperately needed to make a clean break.

For several years I was fine. Not being there was more than good for me.

Now it isn’t so good. Don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to relive seminary politics, long-term planning or endless reports.

Nonetheless, I sometimes yearn to ‘be there.’ From 1983 until I retired in 2011, our seminary dished up a lively, sometimes contentious community of international and national students, mixed races and classes, and mixed church communities. I owe students and colleagues a huge debt of gratitude for helping grow me up into the woman I am today.

So why this yearning now? I love the church I attend. It can’t, however, give me the kind of community I experienced at the seminary, and still need.

Here’s the deal: I want to hang out at the seminary with anyone who shows up. Why? So I can practice being a stranger and welcoming strangers or near-strangers into my life. Even for a few fleeting minutes.

Maybe it’s nothing but Spring madness. Still, I like the idea and I’m already plotting ways to try this out.

Happy Monday!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 March 2019
Early Spring Photo found at Gardenia.net

Short Update on Life and Health

I can’t believe it was just above 70 degrees Fahrenheit today! Though it won’t stick around yet, it’s a sign that Spring is just around the corner. D and I enjoyed several outdoor walks in the last two weeks. The photo at the top shows crocus exploding out of the cold ground in our back yard.

As for my daily priorities, they’re simple: sleep, eat, exercise, write, play music, and read.

My heart seems to like this agenda, though it gets tired now and then. I just finished reading a memoir about living with atrial fibrillation. The author is in her early 80s, and has lived with AFib just about as long as I have. Her situation isn’t mine. Still, her straightforward approach to doctors emboldens me to ask more questions, and expect more evidence before consenting (or not) to go down this or that path.

As for my social life, it’s not number one on my list. Nonetheless, I now have several female friends I can visit with. No fixed agenda but talking, and going out for a walk as possible. Just what I was aching for. Also, with warmer weather I’m able to stay connected with a couple of my neighbors when I’m out walking.

Writing is easy, or it isn’t. No middle ground. The biggest challenge at this age is identifying in my behavior echoes of what I experienced when I was a child and teenager. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between what was done against my will, and what I do today. I’m grateful for regular phone conversations with a friend who has helped me for years. It’s hard work. A bit like filling in the gaps in my life, though I don’t always like it.

As for music, I’ve let my piano coach off the hook. He teaches at a local university, and ended up with more students and commitments than he could handle this spring. However, I’m going gung-ho on my own, practicing regularly and loving it! Right now I’m hooked on J.S. Bach’s piano compositions. I have three well-worn (from childhood) books of preludes and fugues, enough to keep me busy for rest of my life.

If you’re interested, here’s info on the book I mentioned above: In a Heartbeat: The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial FIB, by Rosalie Linver Ungar.

I hope this finds you content and grateful for the life you’ve been given. It all flies by quickly. Thanks for being part of my life, especially in these later years I’m calling The Last Chapter.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 March 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 14 March 2019

Yesterday and today

The beginning and the end
One day follows another

A hand reaches out
Eyes meet yet again

One true note after another
moves through time after time

A small bud bursts open
on trees swaying in the wind

The sun set in the west
and rose in the east
yesterday and today

Yesterday I accompanied D to a doctor’s appointment, and watched a procedure on his back. It wasn’t pretty or pain-free. It was, however, successful. We came home relieved and weary.

It got me thinking about times D has accompanied me in the last four years to appointments with a variety of doctors, including emergency room and surgical procedures. Some planned, some not planned.

I’ve always prided myself on being healthy. Looking back, however, I’d say I was fighting to hold it together as best I could, given the circumstances of my childhood, and my workplace. I didn’t expect retirement would surface so many health challenges.

Nonetheless, D was there for me. It felt wonderful to be there for him yesterday. A small way I could do for him what he has willingly and mostly gladly done for me, especially in the last several years.

This little poem came to mind while I was sitting at my kitchen window this morning. The minute it was on paper I knew it was for D. And for you, my friends and visitors who have your own lives, dreams, sorrows and joys.

Take care of someone you love today–or your pet. And don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 February 2019
Photo found at clicknmoms.com

giddy about the sun

I’m giddy about the sun
This strange and brilliant visitor
From another planet

Sitting at the kitchen table
My mind races through the house
Flinging windows and shades open

Shouts of happy recognition
Rise in gratitude for this visitor
Inviting me outside to play

I know warm weather will come—likely bringing unwelcome ultra-warm weather. But so what? Today I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and witness the first bits of spring breaking through slushy mud and still-frozen ground.

This morning’s mail brought a new volume of Mary Oliver’s poems. D is making a multi-bean soup in the slow cooker. Smudge is asleep on our bed, comforted by my pajamas. What more could I ask for?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 February 2019
Photo found at kinooze.com

Off-balance

Turned tables
Throw me off-balance
Disrupt my rhythm

Stumbling along
Through gray haze
The sun strains to shine

Overcast Winter
Sifts through misty air
Chilled to the bone
Searching for rhyme
If not reason

What would we do
Without daily routines
Holding us together
Like friendly glue
Warm to the touch
Made sweet with
Familiar music
And the sound of our cat
Purring across our laps

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 February 2019
“Foggy Mood” oil on canvas painted by Bekir Smolski, found at art.mine.com

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