Music Against the Hard Edges





In all the woods that day I was
the only living thing
fretful, exhausted, or unsure.
Giant fir and spruce and cedar trees
that had stood their ground
three hundred years
stretched in sunlight calmly
unimpressed by whatever
it was that held me
hunched and tense above the stream,
biting my nails, calculating all
my impossibilities.
Nor did the water pause
to reflect or enter into
my considerations.
It found its way
over and around a crowd
of rocks in easy flourishes,
in laughing evasions and
shifts in direction.
Nothing could slow it down for long.
It even made a little song
out of all the things
that got in its way,
a music against the hard edges
of whatever might interrupt its going.
~John Brehm “Passage”




It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.
~Wendell Berry “The Real Work”




Who among us knows with certainty each morning
what we are meant to do that day
or where we are to go?
Or do we make our best guess by
putting one foot ahead of the other
until the day is done and it is time to rest.

For me, I wake baffled each day
that I am allowed
to eavesdrop on heartbeats,
touch tender bellies,
sew up broken skin,
listen to tearful stories
of those no longer wish to live
and those who never want to let go of life.

I wake humbled with commitment
to keep going even when too tired,
to offer care even when rejected.
to keep trying even if impeded.

It is only then I learn that
daily obstacles slow
but cannot stop
the offer of help,
the gift of caring,
the flow of time given freely
which overflows its banks with
uncertain certainty:
my real work and journey
through life.

May I wade in deep~
ready to raise my voice
for those who hurt
and sing along.



5 thoughts on “Music Against the Hard Edges

  1. A great post that calls to mind Kurt Vonnegut’s expression, “dancing lessons from God.”


  2. When we are impeded by roadblocks, negativity, pessimism, dissonance of any kind in our journey it helps to stop,
    take a few deep breaths and remember that we are not always in charge, nor are we alone on that journey – that such impediments may be there for a very good reason that only He knows. Perhaps this is His way of telling us, ‘Danger ahead, slow down, you might want to consider other options.’ And then He assures us: ‘I am with you always.’


  3. I was reminded of this yesterday while volunteering in the craft tent at our nearby Camp Reach for the Stars, a cancer camp for children and their familis. I asked a young cancer survivor to teach me how to make a laynard. We had such a fun interaction. I had been wondering if I was really being much help but God was telling me to just listen. I had noticed a mom painting a small treasure box at a nearby table. I went over to tell her what a delightfull daughter she had. It was amazing how this woman opened up to me of her lack of knowing God, of how she is learning of God’s love through her daughter’s brain cancer, how she reacts with anger. I know I shared about dear Eli’s passing, and how before we married I had a premanition and the fear of my being alone, og God telling me i would never be alone. This womsn’s hudbsnd passed of brain cancer before her daughter’s birth.
    With tears in her eyes, she thanked me for what I had shared as it gave her such comfort and validation about her daughter’s future. She told me she doesn’t usually sit still and God and her daughter told her to paint that little box. Now she knows why….she understood God was using the craft for us to visit so she could hear what she needs from me (through me).
    Thanks for letting share…I heading back over to camp now and thanking God for finding me worthy to use me.


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