After working on the yard on the first day of the resurrection...

When Dianne and I moved here seven years ago, it was the start of an adventure.  We said upon leaving Tucson, "we won't do it if it isn't fun." But that hasn't been entirely true. We had to carefully and strategically challenge those forces and people in our congregation that opposed turning the abstract ideals and words of "renewal" into living realities. We had to endure harsh winters after 10 years of Tucson sunshine. And we had to bury individuals who had become part of our hearts and for whom we still grieve with sighs too deep for human words...
During these years, we buried Dianne's mother, my sister and our dog, Casey. I made the transition from being a cosmopolitan cat to someone who loves breaking my back with raking (and sometimes shoveling snow!) What's more, I have slowly but surely embraced both the slower pace of life that a small community affords and a worldview that cherishes the beauty of our little world. For decades I have intellectually affirmed E.F. Schumacher's axiom that "small is beautiful," but now I love it in my soul.
Moving here put us in close proximity to our children - whom I adore more than words allow - as both are within a short drive. In these years they have both married - one divorced and will soon remarry again - and the other has become a momma to our collective joy. We are also in the same time zone as most of our family (excepting Phil and Julie) and that has been a source of joy and comfort. Over the years, both of my daughters have spoken of the importance of "place" or "home." As a wandering pastor - and the son of a travelling salesperson - being grounded in one locale was never deeply important to me - but it is now. One of my girls turned me on to Wendell Berry and today I grasp the reason he wrote this poem: 

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
These days my back hurts more than ever before but my heart knows more and more peace.  I carry more weight on my bones than I would like but I feel lighter about my place in God's creation. In fact, I mostly worry less and less about the bullshit that so warped my soul for most of my days because I am learning to trust that God is in control so I don't have to be.  Some days, the best I can do is walk with the dog in the wetlands and pray. I love the way Mary Oliver puts it:

to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go

I have discovered a passion for Montreal and jazz - creative liturgy and winter - listening to the "peepers" as they mate in the wetlands and maple syrup. This Lent I made myself a set of prayer beads that brings a grounding peace that I would have never expected in my former days. What's more, I am learning to trust that it is God I feel when I weep over pain and loss and the sadness of life. Indeed, God is fully present within me and beyond me - and I am so very grateful. I just celebrated my seventh Easter in this sweet place and I have been blessed by all of it - the good and the hard, the joyful and the anguished - and on a day of working in the yard, I can say I know and cherish it all.

Tomorrow I will leave for two days of checking in with my sister and father in Maryland. The time has come for him to leave his home of more than 40 years. It is a sad but essential transition. And while there isn't anything I can do to make it better, I can be there for a short time. And love him - and share a meal with my baby sister (on her birthday no less!) I want to hold them all in my prayers, too. So, when the morning comes, I will hit the road... and if it should all work out, I'll be back home soon so that at week's end Di and I will be able to go hear Carrie Newcomer as she debuts her now CD at Club Passim in Cambridge.

Pictures by Dianne De Mott


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