the leaves believe such letting go is love such love is faith such faith is grace such grace is god i agree with the leaves ~Lucille Clifton “Lesson of the Falling Leaves” from Blessing the Boats
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up, as if orchards were dying high in space. Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.” And tonight the heavy earth is falling away from all other stars in the loneliness. We’re all falling. This hand here is falling. And look at the other one. It’s in them all. And yet there is Someone, whose hands infinitely calm, holding up all this falling. ~Rainer Maria Rilke “Autumn” translated by Robert Bly
Sometimes I wake from my sleep with a palpitating start: dreaming of falling, my body pitching and tumbling yet somehow I land, ~oh so softly~ in my bed, my fear quashed and cushioned by awaking safe.
I feel caught, held tightly, rescued amid the fall we all do someday, like leaves drifting down from heaven’s orchard, like seeds released like kisses into the air, the earth rises to meet me and Someone cradles me there.
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She rarely made us do it—we’d clear the table instead— so my sister and I teased that some day we’d train our children right and not end up like her, after every meal stuck with red knuckles, a bleached rag to wipe and wring. The one chore she spared us: gummy plates in water greasy and swirling with sloughed peas, globs of egg and gravy. Or did she guard her place at the window? Not wanting to give up the gloss of the magnolia, the school traffic humming. Sunset, finches at the feeder. First sightings of the mail truck at the curb, just after noon, delivering a note, a card, the least bit of news. ~Susan Meyers “Mother, Washing Dishes”
My thoughts went round and round and it occurred to me that if I ever wrote a novel it would be of the ‘stream of consciousness’ type and deal with an hour in the life of a woman at the sink.
….I had to admit that nobody had compelled me to wash these dishes or to tidy this kitchen. It was the fussy spinster in me, the Martha who could not comfortably sit and make conversation when she knew that yesterday’s unwashed dishes were still in the sink. ~Barbara Pym from Excellent Women
Even the mundane task of washing dishes by hand is an example of the small tasks and personal activities that once filled people’s daily lives with a sense of achievement. ~B.F. Skinner, behavioral psychologist
I trace the faltering American family to the invention of the automatic dishwasher.
What ever has happened to the human dishwasher with two hands full of wash cloth and scrubber, alongside a dish dryer armed with a towel?
Where is the list on the refrigerator of whose turn is next, and the accountability if a family member somehow shirks their washing/drying responsibility and leaves the dishes to the next day?
No longer do family members have to cooperate to scrub clean glasses, dishes and utensils, put them in the dish rack, dry them one by one and place them in the cupboard where they belong. If the washer isn’t doing a proper job, the dryer immediately takes note and recycles the dirty dish right back to the sink. Instant accountability. I always preferred to be the dryer. If I washed, and my sister dried, we’d never get done. She would keep recycling the dishes back for another going-over. My messy nature exposed.
The family conversations started over a meal often continue over the clean-up process while concentrating on whether a smudge is permanent or not. I learned some important facts of life while washing and drying dishes that I might not have learned otherwise. Sensitive topics tend to be easier to discuss when elbow deep in soap suds. Spelling and vocabulary and math fact drills are more effective when the penalty for a missed word is a snap on the butt with a dish towel.
Modern society is missing the best opportunity for three times a day family-together time. Forget family “game” night, or parental “date” night, or even vacations. Dish washing and drying at the sink takes care of all those times when families need to be communicating and cooperating.
It is time to treat the automatic dishwasher as simply another storage cupboard and instead pull out the brillo pads, the white cotton dishtowels and the plastic dishrack.
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52
It will be a joyous day of which we only dream in our current slumber. We will be changed, awakened from our stillness and sleep– not by a mere disguising cover of snow, but forever cleansed and purified.
Still, still, still, One can hear the falling snow. For all is hushed, The world is sleeping, Holy Star its vigil keeping. Still, still, still, One can hear the falling snow.
Sleep, sleep, sleep, ‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth. The night is peaceful all around you, Close your eyes, Let sleep surround you. Sleep, sleep, sleep, ‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.
Dream, dream, dream, Of the joyous day to come. While guardian angels without number, Watch you as you sweetly slumber. Dream, dream, dream, Of the joyous day to come. ~Austrian carol
An open heart is alive to wonder, to the sheer marvel of “isness.”
It is remarkable that the world is,
that we are here,
that we can experience it.
The world is not ordinary.
Indeed, what is remarkable is that
it could ever look ordinary to us.
An open heart knows “radical amazement.”
An open heart and gratitude go together.
We can feel this in our bodies.
In the moments in my life
when I have been most grateful,
I have felt a swelling,
almost a bursting in my chest.
~Marcus Borg from The Heart of Christianity
I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what C.S. Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.
~Clyde Kilby in “Amazed in the Ordinary”
Most of the time I’m sleep walking through each day, oblivious, as if in dense fog with unseeing wide-open eyes. There is a slow motion quality to time as it flows from one hour to the next to the next.
Am I continually asleep or shall I wake to the radical amazement of each moment?
To be amazed, everything becomes more vivid, as in a dream — the sounds of geese flying overhead, the smell of the farm, the layers of a foggy landscape, the taste of an autumn apple right from the tree, the string of fog-drop pearls on a spider web, the intensity of every breath, the reason for being.
I stumble through life asleep, the path indiscernible, my future uncertain, my purpose illusive.
So wake me to dream some more. I want to chew on it again and again, savoring.