A Birthday with the Refugees

THE ART THERAPIST comes to class,
bringing felt squares and embroidery floss,
and my long-gone grandmother
whispers, “French knots for the flowers.”
Against a backdrop
of voices from around the world,
I thread a needle
and am carried off.

Later, during English,
when it comes out
it’s my birthday,
there’s a raising of eyebrows –
Congolese, Nepali, Iraqi and Cuban –
and singing
by those who know the words.

A Nepali woman
reaches into her bag and
pulls out an apple.
After the last note, she says
“Happy birthday, Mah-rah-leen”
and presents it to me
with great decorum.

Feeling certain
it’s her lunch
or part of it,
I want to refuse,
but know I don’t dare
or she’ll be hurt.

No amount of gushing thanks
will make up for
my not accepting it
and using it.

Posted in most excellent gifts, refugees, self-pity | 1 Comment

Walking River Road

tall grasses by river

to the river by which
I walked daily at one
a puppy, my first dog.

After 40 years of fear
I got one and trembled
at the holding of him,
a whopping 3 pounds.

Soon after he came
my older brother died,
suddenly and too young,
leaving behind
too much and too many,
and I needed to kennel the pup
to travel to NJ.

On return, I found
a star magnolia,
base wrapped in burlap,
sitting outside my garage
and a card from the ladies
in my Sunday School class.

We planted it
off the side of the driveway
on the right
where something always seemed missing,
and every Spring
on the anniversary of my brother’s passing
it blooms full.

When the weather warmed enough
and the puppy grew enough,
I started taking him
down to the river road,
same time each day.
We needed to learn to walk together.

There I processed
and wondered
and whispered into the breeze
and the roar of water
flowing over the dam,

Six months later,
I was no closer to answers,
but wouldn’t trade for anything
what I’d learned,
how to walk with it.


Posted in fear, grief, habit, perseverance | 2 Comments

Something Unsettling at Small Group


I took this post down for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on. It went to all my subscribers via email and for that I’m glad because they are my regular readers and their comments to me were very much appreciated. But I don’t think the story needs to remain in perpetuity.

Posted in community, intentional relating, letting go, relationship, roadblocks | Leave a comment