The extraordinary in the ordinary

I began today with an extraordinary poem - a brief meditation before going to church - and it warrants sharing:

The woman across the hall
is dying. She talks herself into death with a low rapid jumble.
A rich African voice is talking
over hers. It speaks of green,
as in pastures; still, as in waters.
A high clamor of geese falls
through the dusk, taking a flock south.
Geese are gone. And the woman.
Elsewhere, the wind
blows in from left field.


Josephine Jacobsen was from Ontario, Canada. When she "passed into the flawed dark" at age 94 she left behind this (and other undiscovered poems) which only came to light recently in addition to many other volumes of published poems and literary honors.

I visited two older church members later during the ordinary course of this day - they are 96 and 84 respectively (how do they stay so vibrant in New England?!) - and I thought of this poem. Especially as the 96 year old moves towards "his flawed darkness" with his own quiet charm and dignity. He had been a banker - a singer, too - who loved baseball and now he is slowly fading... The other is fading, too, but with more anxiety. She lived a life of service and beauty and now she is losing her sight and hearing. But she laughed with me - and made jokes about some of our wacky church community, too - which gave us both a moment of reprieve and maybe even hope.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

So often that rod and staff comes in the form of an ordinary person offering an ordinary hug - or a time of genuine listening - and comfort comes. Extraordinary. Which took me to U2 and "Love Rescue Me" - a call to showing up and sharing ordinary life with all its rough places with love - and more often than not... it rescues us - at least for a moment. (And can you beat the band AND BB King!?!) "God makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters... and revives my soul."

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