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Walking the Ridge at Dusk

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Walking the Ridge at Dusk

Barely two hundred yards from our back gate,

maybe a hundred from the footbridge across the creek,

the land begins to rise.

Not much further on, the trail forks.

To the right, a lumber road climbs

slowly, steadily with few bends

to Mt. Orient,

hardly a mountain really

but a good reliable destination

to hike to with friends

thirty-five minutes

above the treetops.

But to the left

after a brief, steep scramble

another path meanders

along a narrow ridge of land

winding among the trees

(as my fingers long to wander

over your face).

I imagine it as my own personal path,

one that much fewer choose than the other one.

I love best to walk this way at dusk,

just as the day's light is failing.

The dogs run recklessly through the trees

as if to say "at last you've let us out

for one great burst of energy

before we become quiet

and peaceful through the evening

and night."

Sun's rays splash gold

across the treetops.

Clouds suddenly become fiery

over my left shoulder

back towards town,

and also over my right shoulder

towards Quabbin water and

countless abandoned farms

returned to trees.

The wilderness stretches on mile after mile to the north

all the way to Monadnock's rocky summit

treeless, burned off by those

who still farmed its slopes long ago -

to drive away the wolves.  

Emma pants, struggling to keep up

with Nikko, who hurtles silently

like a panther

dodging trunks, skimming over the earth,

showing off, passionate, exulting

in his freedom to run.

I walk in quiet.

Nikko's running makes my heart sing.

Even when I was young I did not

run so much, with my legs or loins,

even less now.

But I have run with my heart and mind,

creating sit-ins against war,

leading gatherings to celebrate and explore

God's secret voice,

writing a few fiery poems and essays.

Mainly, perhaps, I have stood and spoken

my voice shaking with love

while others sit silently about me

with heads bowed.

I know my way of living, my self-styled passions

have often caused you pain, my heart.

You experienced them as thoughtless, even cruel.

I have tried to learn decorum, patience, tact.

You have been a good tutor, I a poor pupil.

I will keep practicing

unobtrusiveness and subtlety,

continue to try and learn from you.

But I am not done running yet.

Nikko bounding leashless reminds me of that.

I walk slowly, joyfully,

feel a breeze on my cheek,

gaze up at the hem-stitched needles

spread out delicately overhead,

dark bark and rustling oak leaves beside me,

moss and roots underfoot.

And my heart sings on.

I call the dogs by name

and turn back.

Am I really only half a mile

from curbs and streetlamps?

Thank you, love, for gifting me

this simple wood-walk

that I dreamed about, imperfectly

for so very many years.

       - Peter Blood, Amherst, Christmas 2008

Thoughts on Eldering

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Thoughts on Eldering

by Danelle LaFlower

 

 (labels....)

 

Feeling god's pain--not necessarily in a negative sense

 

Willing to accept a constant state of grace.

The visible presence of god.

Willing to be lost, depressed, afraid and still act and still be faithful.

Continual remembering.  A channel, reflector, deflector, funnel.

 

My own humanness

Weakness, etc.

 

Makes compassion real.       Willing to feel.

 

Willing to not hold on to anything.  And willing to give everything available through you. 

Willing to fail, willing to continually try.

 

Understanding the human condition in the presence of pure love.....

 

Love is.

 

Willingness.

 

Centeredness again and again and again.

The continual exchange...diffusion....between existence and existence

 

It doesn't matter what I think, so much as......what I am

and what I am is not me, per se, but the light that travels through...

 

Willing to be blown away

To give up everything

Willing to understand

The implications

The difficulty

And also the knowledge that

I may not be faithful.

 

Willing to stop.

Willing to listen

To try

To fail

To be remorseful

To let go of remorse

To live

To love

To risk everything

 

 

Listening.

 

Danelle is a member of of Mt Toby Monthly Meeting in NEYM.

The Harvest

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The Harvest

I was a picker of fruit -
I and scores of Young Friends
gathered in orchards fall after fall,
Circled the trees joyfully,
lifted each apple
gently off its hanging home.
Breathed in the clear autumn air,
Looked out over treetop to rolling hills
and other treetops and blue skies.
Cooked hearty meals and sang and
prayed with aching bones
when the day's work was done.

The air was so clear you longed to breathe it forever.
The world raged with war
and dreams of justice.
And we dreamed of a way
to do no harm in our labors -
in community.

(I reached too far once:
The supporting bough broke,
my arm broke.
Helen tended me,
I healed,
The others picked on.)

Jesus said to Peter & Andrew
that he would make them "fishers of men",
And he did.
Now in this great dark hungry world,
Who will reach out and gather
disciples today
Who will dream & work together to gather
souls - ripe & ready for the harvest?

(And will young dreamers pick apples again?)

Written Dec. 26, 2000 after seeing the movie "Cider House Rules" & dreaming the next night about teaching schoolchildren to pick apples.
Published Aug. 2001 issue of Quaker Life.
© 2001 Peter Blood

The Harvest

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THE HARVEST

 

I was a picker of fruit - 

I and scores of Young Friends

  gathered in orchards fall after fall,

Circled the trees joyfully,

  lifted each apple

  gently off its hanging home.

Breathed in the clear autumn air,

Looked out over treetop to rolling hills

  and other treetops and blue skies.

Cooked hearty meals and sang and

  prayed with aching bones

  when the day's work was done.

 

The air was so clear you longed to breathe it forever.

The world raged with war

  and dreams of justice.

And we dreamed of a way

  to do no harm in our labors -

  in community.

 

 (I reached too far once:

The supporting bough broke,

  my arm broke.

Helen tended me,

  I healed,

The others picked on.)

 

Jesus said to Peter & Andrew

   that he would make them "fishers of men",

And he did.

Now in this great dark hungry world,

Who will reach out and gather

  disciples today

Who will dream & work together to gather

  souls - ripe & ready for the harvest?

 

 (And will young dreamers pick apples again?)


 Written Dec. 26, 2000, after watching the movie "Cider House Rules" and dreaming the following night about teaching school children to pick apples.  Published in the August 2001 issue of Quaker Life.  © 2001 Peer Blood

 Ve

WrV

Ode to Teapot Valley

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ODE TO TEAPOT VALLEY

 

O happy vale - you loved us well!

Your doctor welcomed us - smiling warmly

Wearing shorts, extending his hand

"I'm Tony - how can we help you?"

 

Your cafe brought us gourmet chicken salad and steaming cappuccino

(unheard of in our small farming towns)

Rusted machines dot the fields of your "Steam Museum"

Steep hills overlook your sunny valley.

 

Our son longed for a bike

Your bikeshop owner looked in the shed

"Well this just came in and I've

Not had time to fix it up

Take this - No: there'll be no charge

If you bring it back in good shape."

 

Vineyards line your slopes.

Cheerful vintners fill our glasses and

Confess their favorites.

Stones skip across the surface of your river.

We ride screaming down your "flying fox"

Ian conquers your confidence course

(Fashioned for much larger bodies)

A bevy of small Friends try hard to drown me - giggling.

 

Your dining room defeats us, so

A table is set - with flowers

Where we can dine quietly alone

And breathe - and heal.

Young girls bring a chain of flowers

To Annie's sickroom bedside.

 

May you always turn death boats from your shores

May you always lend your cars bravely to near strangers

From across the sea

May you welcome travelers and singers into your homes - and hearts

May you trust - and forgive

May you be a beacon of slower pace and

Easy-going spirit in a

Too busy cluttered world

May you teach the great nations the ways of

 

               PEACE.

 

-   Peter Blood-Patterson, Brightwater, New Zealand (13 January, 2000)

 

Written at the New Zealand/Aotearoa Yearly Meeting summer gathering held at Teapot Valley Christian Camp. We were invited by New Zeland Yearly Meeting to spend about five weeks traveling among Friends doing music ministry from December 1999 through the end of January 2000.  New Zealand had refused to allow U.S. warships with nuclear weapons dock at their ports not long before.

Are We Held

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          ARE WE HELD

 

Space-time in Einstein's universe

Bends like a roof above our head,

And underneath our restless feet

Curves like runners on a sled.

 

It seems we cannot wholly fall

Through sudden rents in outer space;

Space-time would toss us lightly back

To bounce into our destined place.

 

The heart has inner solitudes

As vast as telescopes can scan;

The world beyond the Milky Way

Are not more lonely than a man.

 

Yet through this inner universe

Move constant stars with names we know,

And many suns and smaller moons

Within its darkness gently glow;

 

And is this inner space-time curved

Like circling arms below, above,

And are we held, and cannot fall

Through holes within the web of love?

 

by Winifred Rawlins, from Dreaming Is Now, Golden Quill Press, 1963

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Quote that speaks to me

Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies

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They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.  
Death cannot kill what never dies.  
Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their friendship.
If absence be not death, neither is theirs.  
Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.  
For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent.
In this Divine Glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.
This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.
 - William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude, 1702.

Note: This passage was quoted by J.K.Rowling as the epigraph of her novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Braithwaite on Outreach

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Men & Women with a Message of Power

It is as a "religion of life" that Quakerism will be presented in the future and is being presented now.

Its distinguishing note will be its resolve to bring all this human life of ours under the transforming power of spiritual life.  It will stand out against all divisions and compartments that separate the sacred from the secular, the sanctuary from the outward world of nature, the sacrament from the days' common work, the clergy from the laity. 

It will tell of a Christian experience that makes all life sacred and all days holy, all nature a sanctuary, all work a sacrament, and gives to every man and woman in the body fit place and service.  Its concern will be to multiply men and women who will have a message of power because they are themselves the children of light.  It will claim the whole of man's life, and the whole of life, individual, social, national international, for the dominion of the will of God.

William C. Braithwaite and Henry T. Hodgkin, The Message and Mission of Quakerism (Philadelphia, Winston, 1912), 25-26.