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

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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.

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