Category: Wilderness

Trees, poetry, beauty, sitting

Aspen Trees, Matanuska Glacier

Feeling my way through these days, I’m grateful for trees, for wisdom, for beauty, for listening, for poetry.

Today, that wisdom comes from Wendell Berry.

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight./What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

May we find a way beyond fear. May we continue our labor for a just world where all are welcome. May we hear our song and sing it. May we take the time to go among trees and sit still.

And tomorrow I’ll return to the beautifully diverse hospital where I work. Where I’ll stand ready to listen, to companion and comfort the suffering. Where we’ll work together at healing, caring particularly for the poor and vulnerable. Where I’ll continue to speak justice and hope. And I’ll stay close to the trees, and find ways to be still.


I Was Here…

I was here.

I was here yesterday. I am here, in North Bend/Coos Bay, Oregon. My roots, my growing up, my innate sense of place, is here.

And as I walked the trail along the cliffs at Shore Acres State Park again I thought about the connections between the landscape and geography of my home, and the landscape of my spirit.

Ruggedness. Resilience. Windblown. Stormbeaten. Beauty. Tenacity.

I grew up in this coastal logging and fishing community in economic decline in the 70s and 80s. I was well loved, by family and church community.

I biked and played in the woods. I read so much I got kicked out of the library at recess in elementary school.

And I mostly didn’t feel like I fit in. Maybe because I was “the smart one.” Maybe because I didn’t yet understand about how drawn I was to women. Or maybe because I’m human, and which one of us always feels like we truly belong, like we’d truly be loved if we were really known?

And I love the trees, spruce and pine, still standing despite the strong winds and eroding cliffs, bending rather than breaking, storm-carved bonsai. They teach me about long, wide roots. Finding sustenance where you can, even when it isn’t obvious. Being willing to take risks, and surviving against the odds.

I was here. This place also reminds me of the cycles of life, of resurrection, of the way a fallen tree births new life and creates homes for critters, becomes a new thing.

And the beauty.

I woke up this morning having dreamt that a wise woman noted my persistence, that I wouldn’t let “no” stop me. And this morning I’ll run and walk the Prefontaine Memorial 10k, in honor of another runner who was persistent. That I could get to this place of calling myself a runner (yes, slow. yes, occasionally injured. yes, a runner), the girl who came in last in every swim meet and regularly got cut from the JV tennis team. The hills (Oh, the hills…) will remind me of how necessary persistence is in the face of challenge.

And tomorrow I’ll return to Alaska, the rugged, beautiful place that has been my home for 16 years. Seeking beauty. Loving. Helping others be resilient in the midst of challenge.

I am here.