I Didnae Bring a Rose

I didnae bring a rose. I wasn’t expecting to find you and so came empty-handed. I’d have left it on your stone. But maybe lilies of the valley tied in twine by my own hand would have been a better choice anyway. The tiny lilies were Mom’s favorite; maybe they were yours, too. Did you know about her? Did your wee Walter ever write you from America?

I didnae bring a rose but next time I’ll bring the lilies. We’ll sit and talk about the good times first. Your eyes will twinkle and tear when you laugh infectiously over an old forgotten story. I bet Mom got that laugh and joy from you. 

You’ll get up and put on another kettle as our words turn serious. I’ll reach my hand across the table, “I’m so glad I found you! What was it really like?”

Being “in service” was grueling work in itself. I imagine you’ll tell me how the long hours and shame of your birth led you to collapse when the day finally ended. Did you find any solace in those quiet hours as you drifted to sleep? I hope you didn’t let the attitudes of others make you look down on yourself.

I like to imagine that wee Walter— my grandfather — brought you joy. I hope his father was a wanted love and not just further shame. You’ll come close to telling me the story but you’ll change the subject. I didnae bring a rose, but whenever you’re ready I’ll bring lilies and listen. 

When you ask me about your grand bairn, my mom, I’ll tell you what an amazing woman she was! Not only a wonderful mother, she had a passion for those who were shamed and dismissed by our world. 

Even though she never knew you, I know she missed you. Her life started out hard. Your Walter turned to drink and ran off leaving Mom to nurse his dwindling wife. She died around the time Mom was coming of age. If not for the vicar and his wife, her life might’ve gone the way of heartache. I pray your vicar and his wife were kind to you, seeing God in your eyes, and at least offering grace in private. 

As the sun rises, I’ll have to say goodbye with so many questions yet unanswered. Thank you for reaching out to me, great grandmamó. I know it was you who lured me to the kirkyard. I wasn’t expecting to find you.

I didnae bring a rose. Next time I’ll bring lilies of the valley fresh from my garden. If I’m delayed I’ll press them in my Bible and bring them when the trees turn yellow.

Within One Flower

Life and Death WM

Those horrible shows,
loathsome portrayals,
at our worst.

The glory of ugliness,
violence, hate, death,
only self.

Others as objects,
to be groped or killed,
mostly both.

I sob.

 

Those horrible souls,
our human leaders,
real people.

Hurting others, self,
compassionless works,
for power.

“For me! For mine! Us!
But not for those ones,
they are evil!”

I ache.

 

Is this how it is?
Is this how we are?
Imperfect.

Fallible. Hateful.
Doomed in disregard.
Abhorrent!

Is this our essence?
Must we die hating?
Our nature?

I sigh.

 

Nature replies, “Look!”
Extravagantly,
life springs.

Glorious joy speaks,
we’re naturally,
beautiful.

Greens, purples, yellow!
Abundant red & blues!
Colors sing!

I hope.

 

But, death, pain, win-lose,
storms, quakes, heat, eaten.
Our Ecosystem.

Colors sing and fade,
joy comes, goes, returns,
life and death.

This is how it is.
Good, evil, hurt, joy.
Love and hope.

I see.

 

Within one flower,
budding, wounds, and death,
and rebirth!

In each life is love,
suffering, trauma,
and deep loss.

Grief, joy, grace each come,
brokenness wants Hate,
it will call.

I choose.

 

Just like the flower,
fiend and saint within,
Choice abounds!

Inside one human,
pain, healing, joy, love,
I can dance!

Within one flower,
both bud and wilt charm,
beautify.

I can, too.

___

Photo: Life & Death, 2017 © Tim Graves
Poem: Within One Flower, 2017 © Tim Graves

 

 

The Joyous Dance in the Now

Dancers WM

I want to be like the leafless trees.

No, not the post-fall autumn trees,
but the aging branch-challenged.

I want to lose my leaves,
become less virile and firm,
more twisted and pained,
and still dance as each season passes.

I want to rejoice at life as it is,
not as it was or will be but as it is.

___

Photo: Dancing, 2017 © Tim Graves
Poem: The Joyous Dance in the Now, 2017 © Tim Graves

 

The Colon Tiger

As Maggie drove me home following my procedure, I gulped water and munched on the snack of fruit I’d packed for this moment. Relief washed over me like baptismal waters. To be sure, the anesthesia contributed to my high but it was fueled by pure emotion.

Indischer_Maler_um_1650_(II)_001
By Deutsch: Indischer Maler um 1650 (II) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For weeks I’ve experienced just-beneath-the-surface anxiety about my second colonoscopy. My first, three years ago, resulted in the removal of my right colon three days later. I was physically healthy then, too. I anticipated a clean bill of health and ended up out of work and recovering for months.

And, so, my anxiety before my second colonoscopy was about more than the dread of the prep. What if my healthy-self was not so healthy again? Had I run my last run? Would I be pulled out of work — work I love — to tend to my health? Was my body silently betraying me as it had seemed to three years ago?

Rational analysis of the events of three years ago (no cancer, aggressive treatment, full recovery) might lead to the expectation that I’d be munching fruit en route to pizza following my second colonoscopy but…

We experience life through our emotions.

Though my self-talk had me convinced all would be well, my emotional interpretation lies in wait for a time of weakness. It was like a patient tiger stalking prey. I was first aware of the pouncing emotional tiger during my 24-hours of fasting prior to the procedure.

My growling emotions exploited my hunger.

I re-felt all those feelings of three years ago as my growling tum begged for solid food. The fears, the dependency, the drug-induced paranoia, the physical weakness, and a profound sense of mortality scratched and clawed at my rationality.

The tiger’s irrationality clawed at me during colon prep, too. I cried over stupid shows and yelled at the dog. The morning of the procedure I picked a fight with my wife over an inconsequential matter. In hindsight, I can even see the tiger of previous emotions impacting my reactions to unrelated matters weeks ahead of time.

Our past experiences influence how we feel in the here and now. I worried not because it was a productive emotion but because I am my past experiences and emotions. Though my awareness of my past emotions can help me prevent them from controlling my behavior, I will never be fully free of my past. The absence of a right colon is part of who I am.

I’m more empathetic. I can hear the fears of others facing medical concerns more deeply. I feel with them in ways that I might otherwise not. That stalking emotional tiger doesn’t just claw and scratch. Sometimes it’s more like A.A. Milne’s Tigger who pounces out of the shadows joyfully knocks me over and licks my face. Even in its power over me, my emotional tiger loves me and helps me to love others more fully.

I would never have chosen the events of three years ago but I do not regret them. I think I’ll keep my colon tiger.

Related Posts

God Hides God’s Face From Me! May 20, 2014
Unnatural, May 21, 2014
Out of Chaos, May 27, 2014
No Big Deal, May 29, 2014
Mortality, June 3, 2014
Wiped Memories, June 6, 2014
Perseverance, June 10, 2014
Scars, June 19, 2014
Embracing Emotions, July 2, 2014
An Unexpected Onion, January 14, 2015
One Year Ago Today, March 28, 2015
The Long & Short of It, March 29, 2016
The Colon Tiger, October 19, 2017

Wholeness

My wife had an outpatient procedure. The first time I accompanied her to one of these procedures, I was left in the curtained prep and recovery area when she went into the surgical unit. And I stayed. And I fretted. Alone, beneath fluorescent bulbs I cried. I worried. I played out the worst in my head. I barely resisted dumping my panicky feelings on my daughter via text.

This time, I wandered downstairs, bought an apple, and found the hospital’s Healing Garden. The warm summer sun warmed my spirit as I wandered the Healing Garden and chomped on my apple. As I admired the floral symphony, I wasn’t alone this time. The Holy Spirit touched my worries, acknowledged them but reminded me of the love that flowed through doctor’s fingers, nurse’s skills, and anesthesiologist’s watchfulness.

 

Tiny PerfectionWMSunburstWMJoy IncarnateWM

On a Summer Balcony

On a Summer Balcony

Breeze moves across bare legs,
knees remember long pants,
and toes yearn for socks.

The heat, so bright,
ignores the shadows,
on the northside.

Summer voices surf in on the breeze,
reminding the shadows that the sun,
will expose its secrets soon enough.

But for now the cool shadows,
are only pierced by rattling dishes below,
and memories within that do not forget.

 

Around the Bend

Around the BendWM

Yes,
as you say,
summertime often fills the water with voices.

But around the bend,
I reply,
that is where my eardrums cease to tingle.

And in the silence,
I am Gaia,
creator and creation.

Without tingling ears,
plastics or steel,
we are all one, interconnected.

The Myth of Human Separateness

The Spirit moves us together,
she dances around the edges.

An opening appears,
and she oozes into the space between us.

The Spirit fills the space with respect,
laughter, and comfort.

She dances joyfully,
overjoyed at our response to one another.

The Spirit smiles and nods,
bursting with joy.

“Aha!” she says, “I told you:
human separateness is a myth.”