Tag Archives: Relationships

Courage at Twilight: Be Still, My Soul

From my seat in the choir loft, I looked out upon a sea of 500 faces.  Panning slowly, I looked at the details of each face, especially the eyes.  And I could tell that all these people sitting in church on a Sunday morning were good people, wanting to do their duty to each other and to God and the Church.  Many couples sat beside each other, their children by their side, or alone where their children had grown.  A number of adults sat without partners.  Like mine, each face held a story of heartache and loss and grief, and joy.  I pondered how their stories are not part of mine, and how my story is not part of theirs.  We may cross paths from time to time, but we do not walk the same specific path together.  I experienced again the sensation that I would walk the remainder of my path alone.  The possibility remains that I might meet a compatible companion, who I now cannot imagine—it might happen.  But to flourish in this present moment I have to let go of that ephemeral possibility.  Several times I have worked hard to make a relationship happen, but these fabrications have always failed, painfully.  In this and other oceans of faces, good faces, I have found no face or soul to belong to.  And that is just as well.  I have written elsewhere about my setting out to find wildlife in nature, how the harder I search, the less I find.  I have learned that when I relax, and breathe, and labor faithfully without expectation, when I prepare myself and allow nature to arrive on her own terms, she and her creatures arrive, beavers and bullfrogs, muskrats and turtles, herons and kingfishers, wild iris and rose.  As with nature, so with natural relationships: I must relax, and breathe, and labor faithfully without expectation—I have to be prepared for the universe to arrive with her abundant blessings.  For the present, my job is to get used to being alone, to sacrifice and to love alone, to contribute alone, to maintain spiritual standards and practices alone, to be healthy and fit alone, to cook and eat gourmet meals alone, and to forego the pleasures and pains and joys of intimate companionship.  My opportunity is to learn the lessons of living from my particular life.  Your opportunity right now is to sing with the choir, I thought, emerging from my reverie.  To end the long church conference, the choir director led Mom and me and the choir in singing Be Still, My Soul, arranged by Mack Wilberg.  The women sang with one clear voice, to which the men added another, moving together into a pleasant perfect eight-part harmony.  A spirit of beauty washed over the ocean of faces.  After the benediction, Dad walked slowly beside me toward the exit, his arm heavily upon mine.  Stepping through the door, we saw that the snow had begun to fall, and remarked upon how beautiful it was, and how cold upon our bald heads.

(Pictured above, Utah’s Jordan River from my kayak.)

A Perfect Match

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“Such a cute couple!”  “They are so good together!”  I have heard these and other phrases so often about couples, young and old.  But what does it take to make a perfect match?  “Opposites attract,” says the cliche, though I’m not sure I believe it.  It is that we admire in our partners what we lack, or do we feel more comfortable with someone similar to us in personality and demeanor?  In this poem I explore two sides of a relationship that differ and yet complement.  I admit to tending more toward the second half of each couplet, though the poem is not (necessarily) autobiographical.  What are your opinions about what makes the perfect match?  Let me know by leaving your comment!

A PERFECT MATCH

impulsive
deliberate

spontaneous
self-conscious

hopeful
fearful

self-possessed
over-shoulder-watching

free-thinking
conforming

curious
contemplative

ebullient
restrained

giggling
steady now

disciplined
falling off the wagon

fun-loving
nose to the grindstone

inclined toward cheerfulness
tending to be sad

star-gazing
spot-scrubbing

bibber
tee-totaler

go to hell
I’m sorry

let’s go!
we’re late

bratwurst
sauerkraut

pedal to the floor
foot on the break

effusive
reserved:

beautifully broken

secretly afraid:

a perfect match

Fragility

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This poem, ostensibly about a dandelion flower gone to seed, is not about a dandelion flower at all.  Rather, the poem explores the fragility of life and relationships.  The slightest events can lead to enormous changes of circumstances.  So take care to avoid unnecessary upsets.  But when upsets inevitably appear, do your best to choose to go with the flow.  After all, the scattered seeds will birth new beauty.

FRAGILITY

This dandelion
head I carry cupped
in one hand’s lee
against a zephyr’s whimsy:
perfect symmetry of sphere,
nucleus sprouting spokes
sporting inverted umbrella wisps.
The slightest
stumble, or unfortunate exhalation
scatters dismemberment
and loss, gracefully,
a floating meditation,
without thought
of sadness or complaint.

I Waited for You

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Some of us wait silently to be loved, wait expectantly for our needs to be met.  Others of us demand to be loved with stomping feet and a sharp tongue.  The fortunate among us have learned to express their needs in ways that the listener understands, respects, and responds.  We are all different in how we approach life and love, yet we all want and deserve love.  My hope is that, rather than waiting for love or demanding love, we will learn to seek love in healthy, positive ways.  Beyond this, my prayer is that we will first offer love and kindness to others, thus inviting love and kindness to come back to us.

This poem personalizes one seemingly ill-fated approach to finding love.  What do you think the poem’s speaker could have done differently?  Should the speaker have done anything differently?  Was the speaker’s approach unreasonable?  Consider posting your answer in the comment section below.

I WAITED FOR YOU

I waited for you:
Waited for you to come to me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like the crimson clouds after the tired sun drops behind the mountains.
When you came to me at last,
I had faded and gone.

I waited for you:
Waited for you to touch me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like a dry, dusty leaf under a charcoal sky when the soothing rain won’t fall.
When you reached for me at last,
I had withered and gone.

I waited for you:
Waited for you to smile at me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like a famished infant yearning to suck from her mother’s ripe, fragrant breast.
When you smiled at me at last,
I had drifted and gone.

Chapter 41: Of Marriage, Lies, and Promises

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–Marriage is a long, clumsy dance, with frequent stepping on toes.–

I sat on the couch next to Angie while she held baby Hyrum over her shoulder.  Feeling romantic, I put my arm around her neck and shoulders.  My hand alighted upon a cold, wet spot of vomited breast-milk on the burp cloth draped over her shoulder.  She laughed at how “romantic” it was.  I joined in the chuckle after a momentary shiver of “ew.” Continue reading

Chapter 19: Porn

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–The Sego Lily is the most delicate and elegant of chalices, a veritable grail.–

The state highway traverses the valley three-quarters of a mile away, perpendicular to Church Road as I approach Rabbit Lane.  In the dark morning, a long line of white headlights travels north toward the Great Salt Lake, becoming red taillights as I pan from south to north.

Where do they all go? Continue reading