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Rose Roberts


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“...let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me...” I just heard that today is the International Day of Peace (also known as World Peace Day). The words are from a song I learned at some point but I can’t recall where or when. I know I’ll be singing that line for the rest of the day, but I don’t mind. They’re words worth repeating! Wishing you a day of peace.
Thursday’s poem: The Work of Happiness by May Sarton . I quoted the last few lines of this poem last week but I wanted to share it in its entirety. Just swipe to the next photo.(Excuse the underlining...and the heart...) .  So much of what I value blends together in this poem — silence, home, nature, inner work, the creative process. These are some of the things that tether me to this life. They are part of the fertile soil where I plant seeds of hope for greater clarity, acquiescence, understanding. They form the ground upon which I stand and from which I witness my own “growth in peace”. And so each time I read Sarton’s assertion, “For what is happiness but growth in peace,” I nod in recognition. For I have found this to be true. . This poem stirs up questions that I am too foggy today to articulate. Or perhaps they have not quite yet formulated, just leaves glittering to catch my attention. I can only say thank goodness for the ‘delete’ function. Better I wander about with these thoughts in the pages of my journal. . So I leave you with Sarton’s beautiful words which I interpret as the connection between and the alchemy within our external and internal world: “...where people have lived in inwardness/The air is charged with blessing and does bless;/ Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.” What does this poem stir in you? Hope you’ve been having a peaceful day. x
Waiting Room Reading: “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey . “Watching it {the snail}slide along was a welcome distraction and provided a sort of meditation; my often frantic and frustrated thoughts would gradually settle down to match its calm, smooth pace. With its mysterious, fluid movement, the snail was the quintessential tai chi master.” . While isolated and bedridden due to illness, Bailey receives an unexpected gift. When a friend brings her a potted wild violet she’s collected from her property, a wild snail hitchhikes its way into Bailey’s life. This slim volume is a record of their encounter. It is also a tribute to the significant gifts of small things. . In lyrical and clear prose, Bailey weaves together her astute observations of the snail’s behaviour with excerpts about snails from poetry, essays and science. But it’s her insights of the connection between restorative aspects of nature and the small world she’s been forced to inhabit that seem to be the heart of her story. “Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible;the invisible become forgotten. But the snail...the snail kept my spirit from evaporating. Between the two of us, we were a society all our own, and that kept isolation at bay.” . This book was a gift from a friend who knows I’m interested in stories about resilience, about where we find strength, what gives us hope. But in this case, do you know what I appreciated most? The simple reminder that support can appear in the most unlikely form. Sometimes it can appear as a humble snail.
Monday’s Reflection:: Receiving ... I’ve been thinking about the notion of letting go. I fully understand the importance of this practice. . But on a morning like this, so still, so perilously slow, I let go of ‘letting go’. On a morning like this, I want to reach toward something rather than leave something behind. . Just for this moment, before the day rushes in with the shoulds and needs of the world, I sit in stillness...breathe in love...breathe out gratitude...breathe in...hold the air in my lungs... Just for this moment, I cherish the practice of receiving. I lean in. I take in the light. I linger here for one more moment. . Happy Monday, my lovely friends! Thank you for all you give. x
Thursday’s poem: Waiting For My Life . “I waited for my life to start  for years, standing at bus stops looking into the curved distance thinking each bus was the wrong bus; or lost in books where I would travel  without luggage from one page to another; where the only breeze  was the rustle of pages turning,  and lives rose and set in the violent collars of suns. “Sometimes my life coughed and coughed: a stalled car about to catch, and I would hold someone in my arms, though it was always someone else I wanted. Or I would board any bus, jostled by thighs and elbows that knew where they were going; collecting scraps of talk, setting them down like birdsong in my notebook, where someday I would go prospecting for my life.” —Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening ... The other day, a friend said she was surprised I was reading Pastan’s poetry because it’s so ‘dark’. Well, I said, if you mean she looks straight in the eye of life’s struggles, then I suppose you could say that. ... But what do you call it when one of her poems shatters the illusion that you are the only one held captive by a sense that you’re stuck in a life too small,too confining? Or that no one can fathom the depth of your loss? To shatter your aloneness— is that not a gift of poetry? A gift of light? ... Pastan’s words and considerations help me dive deeper. She’s a relatively new poet to me, and I’m not sure what to call my experience of reading her poetry —confirmation, validation, consideration, reiteration...revelation. But so far, when reading her poems, I have allowed them to touch me as softly as a feather or as sharply as a needle. Usually, something softens. Something loosens. ... As for this specific poem, it had me at the title. I have stood at bus stops looking into that curved distance. I’ve waited. Until one day, I realized I didn’t want to reach the end of my days on this glorious earth, in this valiant body, with this curious mind and vibrant heart,
Monday’s reflection: “...where people have lived in inwardness the air is charged with blessing and does bless; Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.” Excerpt from ‘The Work of Happiness’ by May Sarton .... It’s been a quiet day, although this Peace Rose has had much to say. Its soliloquy can be summarized in a single word of blessing and encouragement: “Bloom!” I hope you’ve had a peaceful start to your week! (I may post the entire poem later in the week— but you know how it is, I tend to go with the flow😌)
Today’s poem...in the early morning hours. Before light. Before birdsong. I sit with Czeslaw Milosz. I am in good company. For it is not yet 5:00 a.m. and already the tone for the day is set by his poem “Gift”. ... “A day so happy. Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden. Hummingbirds we’re stopping over honeysuckle flowers. There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no one worth my envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.  In my body I felt no pain. When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.” .... What’s left to say? I’m off to the garden to watch for bees and butterflies and other winged things. Hope your day is bright with unexpected gifts. Happy Friday, lovely friends! 🌹
“...So many wounds that never healed. He hated the American way of thought that said all things could be repaired, all things could be surmounted by a trick of attitude.[...]Forgetting is the way to bliss. Ignorance is a badge of honor. [...] And yet, she’d said to him. Begged, honestly, because begging was what you did when you were powerless. Look what it gives them, Jake. What it gives us, if we choose to accept the gift. They’re always beginning. [...] It’s a country of phoenixes! It’s a country of dodos, he said. And look what happened to them. She got it. One was mythological, the other simply extinct. But she’d always come down on the side of the myths.” #lydiamillet #fightnomore ... I’ve just finished “Fight No  More”, a series of short stories set in L.A. and linked by recurring characters. .. In a conversational writing style, Millet takes us into the complicated, almost surreal, territory inhabited by these diverse characters. She dives into the minds of the young and old, poor and wealthy, deviants and innocents. Her exploration of human behaviour is insightful and candid. And she weaves her dark humour through the stories seamlessly, brilliantly. ... The book tackles a number of complex issues, but especially grief and death. At least those were what stood out for me. In the first story, Libertines, we meet Nina,a real estate broker whose encounters with clients verge on the bizarre — like the musician who attempts to drown himself in a pool during a showing. Nina is a unifying link as we follow her from house to house and meet the other players. It is also through Nina that another theme emerges: what it means to belong, to feel you have a home. ... This is not a light read. In fact, I chose to slow down and take some breathing space between stories. At times I was shocked, disgusted, saddened. But I also felt relief, joy, empathy. And underlying all that emotion was a sense of hope. Most of the characters revealed a tender
Monday’s reflection: The gifts of quiet noticing . I did something different this morning. I “read” Sidewalk Flowers, a picture book by Canadian poet Jon Arno Larson, with sensitively rendered illustrations by Sydney Smith. It is wordless. It is eloquent in its silence. It is sweet without being overly so. . The story begins with a little girl in a bright red hoodie and her distracted father (usually holding a cell phone to his ear). They’re making their way home through colourless city streets. The little girl notices wildflowers in the most unexpected places. She collects them and, just as quickly, gifts them to those along the way — a bird no longer of this world, a man sleeping on a bench, a dog, and once home, she quietly places them in her mother’s and siblings’ hair. . With each silent gift she leaves behind, the black and white world blooms with more and more colour. Her gifts are a result of noticing what populates her world, even as she herself goes unnoticed. .  The story ends with the little girl placing a flower behind her ear and turning her gaze to the sky where she sees birds in flight. In the endnote illustration, the flower still tucked securely behind her ear, she walks through a field of flowers and birds and, I believe, I notice a single butterfly. A simple story beautifully told.  Reminder to self: We have a choice of what we leave in our wake as we walk through this distracting but beautiful world. It doesn’t have to be big or bold or complicated. A moment of attention. A single flower. . Wishing you a wonderful start to the first week of September!🌹
Today’s poem: Love after Love by Derek Walcott . “ The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror,  and each will smile at the other’s welcome, . and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you . all your life, whom you ignored  for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, . the photographs, the desperate notes,  peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.” ... On this first day of September, I awaken before the birds. The morning is darker than it’s been, the breeze carries an autumn chill, and the atmosphere is filled with the scent of transformation. Autumn, with its golden leaves and mellow skies, is my favourite season. But it’s not quite here. So the certainty of change mingles with the restlessness of almost-but-not-yet. ... It’s now evening. So much of life can happen between sentences, can’t it? In the space between then and now , I’ve been thinking about this poem and a time years ago when I seemed to take up residence in the land of ‘almost-but-not-yet’. I’d been diagnosed with several chronic illnesses. Without notice, everything changed. Everything. I barely recognized my own reflection in the mirror. It was at this time that “Love after Love” found me. More than once, I called upon its life-affirming message as I made my way into a new life. ... Some say it’s a poem about heartache and lost love. No doubt, it is. But for me, it is/was about self-love, self-compassion. It’s about reconciling the past and present parts of ourselves. It’s about wholeness. It’s about our own essential goodness which we sometimes think has abandoned us. What I’ve discovered is this: it resides between the layers of everyday life. It only waits to be recognized, reclaimed, and reasserted as we move from
First came Outline, then Transit. With Kudos, Rachel Cusk completes this trilogy. Having read the first two books, I thought I knew what to expect. But despite the familiar form, same narrator, and exquisite writing, I wasn’t prepared for how deeply she digs into the human condition, into our suffering. . We meet the narrator, Faye, as she travels to a literary festival being held in an unspecified city in Southern Europe. The man sitting next to her on the plane strikes up a conversation. It will be the first of many she’ll have with a motley crew of characters who have a need to tell their stories and who do so without taking a breath. There are stories about marriage and separation; questions about gender in relation to success; disagreements about what shapes a life. As each story unfolds, there is one constant: Faye as listener, asking the occasional question, offering the occasional comment. But never telling her own story. . Only a few details about her surface: She’s a middle-aged, divorced writer with two children. I became frustrated with how little I knew about her. But I was more frustrated that the characters telling stories about feeling invisible in their own lives actually made Faye invisible, a mere receptacle for their burdens, by not asking about her life. I thought back to the title of the first book, Outline.  I wondered if that’s what Faye wanted — to remain a mere outline of herself. She would rather listen to others than tell her own story. There’s more to say about why that might be the case, but there’s a section at the end of the novel that captures what I’m trying to say. Faye is having a phone conversation with her son: “I feel so lonely, he said...people just act as if I’m not there...They ask me things, he said, but they don’t connect things up...there are just all these meaningless facts.  You can’t tell your story to everybody, I said. Maybe you can tell it to one person.” . From there, Cusk leads us to
Monday reflection: This morning’s sky is darker than usual. The forecast is filled with heat warnings and thunderstorms. Yet right now, as if in defiance and perhaps for only these few moments, a cool breeze floats through my open window like a whisper of words. These words: ... “May the nourishment of the earth be yours, May the clarity of light be yours, May the fluency of the ocean be yours. And so may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak  to mind your life.” ~~excerpt Beannacht(Blessing) by John O’Donohue ... Wishing you all this and more, my friends!
Just because... it’s Sunday...and because I couldn’t resist sharing this sweet moment (can you see the paw on the owner’s foot?)...and just because the sun was shining even though it felt like it was going to rain... and just because while it has nothing to do with my usual posts about books or flowers or poetry, sometimes it’s nice to share things...just because. Hope your Sunday is filled with sweet moments!
Thursday’s poem: Meditating, Sort of by Mary Oliver . “Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished if you entertain a strict posture. Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree. So why should I think I could ever be successful? . Some days I fall asleep, or land in that even better place —half-asleep— where the world, spring,summer,autumn,winter— flies through my mind in its  hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent. . So I just lie like that, while distance and time reveal their attitudes: they never  heard of me and never will, or ever need to. . Of course I wake up finally thinking, how wonderful to be who I am, made out of earth and water, my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —  all that glorious, temporary stuff.” ... Perhaps I too have entered that ‘better place — half-asleep’ for as I begin to write, my mind drifts back in time: I am four or five years old. I sit at the kitchen table while my mother, her back to me, is slowly stirring a large pot of something — I don’t remember what. What I do remember with vivid clarity is  a dangling gold earring, just one, the one catching the sunlight streaming in through the window, the one swaying in rhythm with her stirring and the occasional tilt of her head. I think how beautiful she is. How content I feel. And just when I think she is being swallowed up by this stirring motion, she glances over her shoulder and smiles at me. I smile back and she returns to her task. ... Tonight, I read this poem and can’t help but feel that in that moment, my mother embodied what “meditating, sort of” is about. She did so in a gentle, inside-out sort of way. Perhaps that was my introduction to the ‘being’ nature of meditating even as we are ‘doing’. She introduced me to a wordless understanding that enchanted me, shaped me. And I wonder if my mother, standing there, devoted to the moment, to stirring a pot of something,had fallen into that ‘half-asleep’ state. I wonder if she
New additions to our library... just because when he doesn’t bring home flowers, he brings home books! How fortunate am I? Happy Wednesday my lovely friends.
Monday’s reflection: the generous nature of joy ... “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.” #maryoliver  Don’t Hesitate ... That sums it up nicely! As we enter this new week, may we notice the ‘instant when love begins’. May we accept the moments of joy while acknowledging the struggle — our own or that of another’s. May we make space in our hearts for the generous nature of joy. Wishing you a joyful week!
Thursday’s poem on Friday: Look at what arrived in the mail! Linda Pastan’s ‘Carnival Evening, New and Selected Poems 1968-1998’. . If you saw the recent post (July 26) in which I shared Pastan’s poem “What We Want”, you’ll know that although I’ve borrowed her books from the library, I felt it was time I owned one so that I could take my time in getting to know her poems. You know, live with them. See what questions might stir in my heart, what streams of thought I might follow, what moments of astonishment I could then share with you. (I try to follow Mary Oliver’s “Instructions For Living A Life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”) Thank you @chezdanisse for this book recommendation! .  And so I begin here, with this excerpt from the back cover blurb by Liz Rosenberg (Boston Globe). I wouldn’t ordinarily do this, but her words are compelling. . “...Pastan is a poet of wholeness— a sane poet, who expresses a full range of the possibilities and potencies of the human, feminine voice. In the collection’s title poem— based on a painting by Henry Rousseau: ‘the two small figures at the bottom of this picture glow bravely in their carnival clothes, as if the whole darkening world  we’re dimming its lights for a party.’ Here in one image is the poet’s hopefulness, her anxiety, her palette and celebration. One may love and remember small moments, but the accomplishment of Carnival Evening is large, large. We can only be grateful for Pastan’s sharp eye, her tenderness.” . May your weekend be touched by tenderness my lovely friends!
I first read Dani Shapiro’s second memoir, Devotion, when it came out in 2010. Actually, I devoured it. Over the years, I’ve revisited specific sections. I took it with me to an appointment the other day with the intention of retracing a specific concept I’d been thinking about. As I waited...and waited... a different theme caught my eye: living inside the questions. . But first: Devotion is about one woman’s deep exploration of her own life and her desire to clarify where she stands amidst the whirling intensity and uncertainty of the life that dances around her. It is also about the universal quest for meaning. . Shapiro’s writing is beautiful and spare. Her voice is quiet and clear. I connected with it immediately. While there were sections I couldn’t relate to, her openness around very complicated issues kept me reading. But there were areas that resonated strongly and moved me deeply. On the most obvious level, like her, I’d been visiting energy workers, osteopaths, teachers from various traditions and feeling, as she describes it, “On the other side of logic. In a place that felt true, if not quite real.” . Her questions back then about life and death and uncertainty were my questions. And as I sat in the waiting room, reflecting on the questions that currently loom large in my life, I recalled how glad I’d been, all those years ago, that she hadn’t tried to offer answers in this book. I suppose now as then I’m of the mind that the spiritual search is a delicate, complex, and personal experience. Witnessing her explorations might be a wonderful support as we consider our own questions. Her story might even help us shift our view of certain questions. But I think the answers are born of our own fragility, vulnerability and courage.  And then I found these words which I’d underlined, starred, and written a big YES beside in the margin: “It wasn’t so much that I was in search of answers. In fact, I was so wary of the whole idea of