Thursday, March 29, 2007

Listen for Life's Whispers

A week ago, the whispers of grievances cascaded around me, heaping both pain and joy. Walking through the week felt like the slush on a cold rainy March day: pleasurable only because my warm boots kept me dry. My co-workers were caught up in the drama, my boss pleased and reassuring. All in all, I'd rather it were June.

A man I have never met sits across from me at coffee, his eyes welling-up as he describes his back yard. He tore out buckthorn by the bushel, and replaced it with yellow ladies' slippers, native sedges of red and green, queen anne's lace and spring beauties. He and his ex-wife have struggled to keep that yard for their boys through the pain and economic strain of their divorce. In my head I see my parents' house of my childhood. A carpet of trillium spread between our garage and my grandparents' cottage: may apples, jacks in the pulpit, skunk cabbage, violets, false solomon's seal, anemones and mosses. We ran through this fiesta each day, our yard five acres of hardwood forest.

My father, overjoyed at his first walk from his new apartment to town, describes his sudden desire to learn to throw a pot, and wants to make a mug for each of his children in time for Christmas. "Ceramics are forever," he says, and his laughter turns to soft sobs. "This is a good place to spend my last . . . the end of my life," he says as he lays his head on the table.

I am trying to let go enough to let him hear his own whispers, trying not to drown out his voice with my own advice and reassurances

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