This morning I’m taking time out to write at my kitchen table, having showered, seen my daughter off to school on her bike with her dad, whose been biking cross town to meet her and help her learn the route, having done my seven minutes of meditation, my short attempt at journal writing, having read and responded to e-mail, having collected laundry from the bins upstairs, having attempted to paint the touch ups in the day care, only to find the cleaning crew already hard at work, having collected the day care files to work on in preparation for our surprise licensing visit which will happen any day. But here I am, again, writing in an attempt to sort out life, to connect with some inner voice, to find you in whatever place you live, to put myself in a place of greater ease, to figure out where I’m headed and where I’ve been and how those places may be connected, to make meaning, the lifelong task of everyone I know.

I’ve been watching the children do the same each day in day care, in their ways, the younger ones learning how to be and play together, one three learning how to use the toilet while at home the newborn triplets shake up life, his five year old sister redefining her life as the oldest of five, a gentle, reflective, physical soul. I’ve been watching the fives make sense of this new, more chaotic group of ones and twos and threes, and of their own growing up, one five learning math and thinking about big questions, one five telling me how happy she is she doesn’t have to do school work and homework, just the work of day care living, like cleaning up at clean up time, and how happy she is we have time to chat and that her mother and I enjoy chatting even more than she and I do. I’ve been watching the work with scissors, tape, paper, markers, crayons, pencils, for the youngest just learning how to make marks, often on herself for the one, for the twos the surprise of patterns emerging a they move the pens, surprise at how the scissors work, overwhelming surprise at tape. For the threes, emerging representations that look like the real world, and for the fives, the emergence of scenes of intention, rainbows with clouds at either end, houses with grass and flowers and trees, people moving the world with many modes of transportation, family portraits, sense making in a world that can easily overwhelm.

My own children are doing the same, at fifteen, nineteen, and twenty one, they are each trying new things, and I get to watch, and occasionally help: public high school for my daughter, with classes, subjects, homework, crew, and friends, college for my middle child, with papers, classes, reading, friends, living away from home, work and independent living for my oldest, making life in Manhattan with a shoe box apartment with a brand new, decent job. It’s fascinating to watch and to engage when we do, about all they are taking on.

Here on Garrison Avenue I’m learning again to live on my own, sans partner, and that is it’s own life stage, one ripe for making meaning, for writing, meditating, thinking on. My mothering and day care provider selves live on. At the same time, somewhat separate from all that parts of me are seeking solitude and partnership and friendship and connection to my extended family, as well as some sense of artistic and spiritual and physical life. Life at this moment is rich with opportunity, also with a certain amount of dis-ease.

I’ve been working on finding a voice in my writing. This past week I shared a piece in writing group about losing my dad when I was a small girl and how that has shaped my life and work. I’ve been writing a lot about midlife, about divorce and dating, about the struggles of a single mom. Often this feels whiny, though it is the stuff of my life. I’d love to write something that both acknowledges and transcends all that. How do we live in the world and stay connected to the larger meanings? How do we live through the hard places without losing hope? How do we write about our lives in all their gorey detail in ways that give us voice and connect with others?

For the moment, I’m just trying, following the inner voice as best I can. The meditation, yoga, and journaling help a lot. It’s been hard to keep those going with the shift to fall, but I’m still here, still trying.  I do feel this tremendous sense of opening in my life, even as I say good-bye to so many things and people I loved and thought I needed to be me. What abides? a writer in our group asked me the last time I shared writing in the spring, naming a theme he saw in my work. Great question for all of us, especially those of us going through great change. What gives us hope and meaning? What grounds us in ourselves? In our families? In our work and communities? In our faith? What do we believe? What keeps us on the earth and wishing to be here?

For the moment, it’s keeping my day care license! So, off I go to look through the childrens’ and teachers’ files and see what’s here and missing, off I go to wash my daughter’s clothes, off I go to yoga, after drinking the last of my tea and blowing out the candle, off I go to do an errand at CVS for my daughter, then to return home again for more of the licensing and home chores, followed by an afternoon in day care with the kids and my co-teacher Jen, then dinner for the two of us, followed by an Ann Patchett reading in Harvard Square (yeah!), then time to pick up my daughter at her dad’s near bedtime, to bring her home to me, the ride across town with her bike in the back of the van worth every minute and the exhaustion of making our life together as best I can. Full and rich day. Learning to shift my description of life from busy to full and rich, to remember I am fortunate, that I have been both blessed and worked hard, that the connections I have are two way, and that the effort I put in will come back in most cases, and in some cases not, that my heart is both a lonely hunter, as in the title of one of my favorite books, and a reliable companion, making the richness even richer, as I experience it with greater depth of feeling when my heart is working well.

I wake up this morning thinking about prisons, about charter schools, about people I’ve known, battles I’ve been involved in and invisible struggles I’ve yet to consider. My mind is being stirred in lots of ways..two weekends ago by the funeral of my uncle, who had served as a corrections office at the Attica prison during much of my childhood, along with several of my mother’s and father’s brothers, the last two weekends by college essays my son was writing on economic systems of oppression and how they contribute to and/or construct divisions of class and race and economic disparity, this week by an episode of On Being with Ruby Sales, a civil rights advocate who sings of love in her heart for everyone, last week by the men in our sharing circle who have experience of prison life as those who were formerly incarcerated and family members of those who are in prison, this week by a Facebook article talking about the benefits of charter schools in urban areas of Massachusetts where they are shown to better serve the needs of children of color, ELL kids, and I believe kids with special needs and kids of lower income and the arguments in response to the sharing of that article against the support of charter school by a group of people, mainly white and mainly middle class, many of whom have found options outside the district schools when their children needed them, who oppose charter schools and who opposed the Somerville Progressive Charter School I tried to help found.

My daughter has left Sudbury Valley for Cambridge Rindge and Latin, another way a white middle class family has found options, as her father lives in Cambridge, where my daughter worked out yesterday with the novice crew team in a workout space full of fancy workout equipment I’m sure no school in a poor district could afford. Again we take advantage of white privilege, as my daughter finds her way, and I am aware not all of us have this.

Meanwhile, my cat Frances has chosen to live in the basement and I think again about her situation, choosing solitary confinement down below versus the freedom of living outdoors, now I have given up trying to share my home with her and the habits that made my life too difficult to bear, regular poop and pee on furniture, tearing of the upholstery, cat hair everywhere every day. But why not go outside, I wonder? Why does she, why do any of us see confinement as solution?

All this is in my mind, bubbling around. This morning I found an article in The Atlantic with an interview about Attica and how the uprising/riot there set the tone for prison conditions ever since. My family’s farms were up the road and up the hill from Attica. Looking down from the farm where my mom grew up the view is over the walls of the prison, which my daughter or son once wondered about because it looks so much like a castle. I realized this morning, I never have had an image of the inside of those walls, never considered all the black and brown and white faces in captivity, not in any real detail. I had sympathy for my uncles. I knew they did not want to talk about their work, that they looked forward to retirement, that in the life we shared they were kind and loving men who had taken options available to them to support their families, to earn a living wage and to have benefits. I’m going to read the article. I may read a recent book published which looks closely at the Attica riot/rebellion with fresh eyes.

We all have pieces of our history we’d be better to explore than to deny. For some of us, we are called again and again to explore the themes that draw us. For me, I am thinking a lot about confinement and captivity, freedom and liberation, trying to notice how those themes have shaped my life, wondering what they are calling me to do.

Today I am awake again in the fours. The new school year has earnest, at WFDC, for my daughter in her new high school, for my son at college, for our old day care friends in kindergarten and in their new day cares, for Maeve, my new housemate, in her new classroom of english language learners. The house thrums with the energy of it. As I type this, the computer flashes new dates entered in the calendar by my daughter’s dad, crew practice, crew practice, crew practice, crew a frontier I hadn’t counted on, now entering my life the first week of my daughter’s public high school experience, my daughter another athlete in the family finding pieces of her stuff not identifiable as of me.

This weekend I had lots of love, as I visited my son in New York City, with his gal, my gal and her guy, as I visited our place in Western Mass, with surprise time with Richard and a hello to his daughter, neither of whom I’ve seen all summer, with a call from my guy at college, also in the form of an invitation to join Liana and a day care mom in writing an article together, and again in the invitation to this fall’s writing class.

This week the day care reopens with new children, who we are invited to love, and for these new little people, I feel gratitude that the love will come easy. We have a sweet one year old just learning how to walk with a voice like a tiger, a sweet almost two with words to tell us what he wants and parents to help, a wide-eyed three who tells me he was hoping to start yesterday, so much sincerity and feeling from a new acquaintance when he speaks I become wide-eyed, too. They remind me to be open to love, these little people. As the three leaves with his mother, he wonders if the little people are starting at his old school..and I wonder if the phrase little people, which has been my choice of late in referring to our smaller friends, is one he’s incorporated into his own vernacular in one short day of togetherness, or if it is one we just happen to share.

These loves come into our lives, and they leave, often unexpectedly. My own cat Frances has been a mystery in love all her life, cursing me with her bad habits, wooing me with her affection. Last night, after I had packed up her food and planned to offer it to the day care group, I returned home from a meeting to meet a friend here for tea on the porch, only to hear Frances crying in the yard, first time she’s returned in nearly a week, after a week outside and no seeming interest in returning to the house..a night before her vet appointment to be put down for incurable pooping and peeing on the couch..oh, dear..another life and death decision to make, another connection to sever or maintain..Just a cat some would say, but when I went down to see if she was there after my friend left, I found her sitting on the porch settee cushion, just where I knew she would like to sit if she returned, with her two wide eyes looking directly into mine as they always have, one soul to another, and the decision felt real indeed, life or death, life or death, life or death.

And my uncle died this week, my father’s closest surviving brother, one of the three out of ten siblings living as of last week now gone. So this weekend my sister and I will drive all day Saturday and Sunday to be at calling hours Saturday evening and the funeral and meal afterwards on Sunday, so I can finish work Friday at 5 and she can be back to work Monday bright and early, both of us teachers too committed to our students to take time off this time of year.

But this morning it’s money, too, which is its’ own form of love. Out of love for the house, for the day care, for my family, for myself, I’m taking all the money I’ve got and dumping it out this month, giving it to the carpenters and painters, to the teachers, to the IRS and Commonwealth of Mass, to Wells Fargo for the mortgage, to the GAP and Target and wherever else my children stock up for back to school, to Peapod and Whole Foods, to Taylor and Murphy who came to fill the oil tanks for winter in the end of summer heat, to EVERSOURCE for all the air conditioning and fans and lights and sound and gas, to the City of Somerville for real estate taxes, water and sewer..away it goes, all the money that comes in this month, and most of what I’ve saved, is going out, in chunks I need to coordinate. I must concentrate to make sure it comes out right.

And the house looks fine, as fine as it’s ever looked since I’ve lived here, on the outside at least. In the corner of the living room I’ve got two boxes of lights the electrician whose daughter once attended after school here will put up on the porch, piece de resistance, not spelled correctly, but you get it..a Moravian star for to replace the standard fixture that came with the house and a string of edison bulbs from Pottery Barn to replace the strands of Christmas lights that had been dying and came down after the paint job..Next comes day care relicensing, for which we will work to tidy and freshen the house as well as to get our routines and records in order..then comes inside, cleaning out, tidying, painting, finishing clearing out the housemates’ rooms of day care and Ben stuff..It’s a big job to love a house thoroughly enough just to live in it, forget about running a day care and inviting folks to share it..but it makes it worth it that way, all the money and time and energy would mean nothing if no one lived or played here anymore.

Time to get on that. Wish me luck with the Frances decision, the money wrangling and house chores. All in love, all in love, all in love..What would the heart say?


Day 7 in the woods i wake up not at four or five or nine or ten but eight, giving me time for a leisurely morning before we pack up a day early, the other campers in our group, and thus my gal, ready to go home. I am not eager, but I will. With lots to do at home, it makes sense. Plus, as I go through my morning camp routine, I gradually pack things up and realize that in two weeks I’ll be camping with the day care families at Nickerson. This won’t be my last night sleepimg out of doors.

As I putter I debate bringing home the wood that remains. While sittimg by the campfire in Maine, sometimes reading a Waldorf book describing a fall festival including fire and roasted potatoes, I’ve imagined fires in our Somerville yard, perhaps with the day care in celebration of the solstice or daylight savings time.

This morning, though, I want one last fire. I look around and see neighbors have started theirs. I’m not alone in my attraction to the flame.

I lay down three sticks of kindling over two crumpled sheets of paper, open the bundle of plastic covered wood, choose the smaller pieces, lay them atop the kindling, criss cross style, light the match, watch it take hold. As the fire burns I add larger pieces of wood, admire the flames in their power reaching towards the sun as the early morning rays of sun reached down through the trees capturing my attention as they were captured in the smoke.

At nearly fifty I’ve built a fine fire. hallelujiah. take back the night. in fire we shall rise. all that. now time to read and warm my feet before the work of breaking camp begins.


Yesterday I wondered what I was doing here alone in the woods. My son’s gone home. My daughter is off with her friends. I’m here at the campsite alone. 

Last night I built my first solo fire of the week and sat beside it all night long. This morning I woke up to the sounds of my neighbors and their six kids packing up their rv, to light rain, just in time to roll out of my hammock where I indeed slept many solid hours, and tidy up my site. As I pulled the hammocks from the trees, backed up the van so the tailgate lined up neatly with the shelter, tied down the fly of the tent, made my tea, I enjoyed doing all these things myself and on my own, as I’m enjoying sitting in the shelter on my camp chair facing out listening to rain on leaves and soft voices of the nana and grandchild on one side  and the mother and adult daughter across the way. No one else here seems to be alone. Again I’m the oddity. After awhile I can smile into it and the neighbors give me credit. Did you carry that heavy thing all the way up the hill? the older guy in cammo pants asked me last night near dinner time as I approached in my bathing suit carting a box of kindling and my towel. Yup, I’m pretty strong, I laughed, grateful for the first friendly interaction with a neighbor. 

As I read through my email and check facebook this morning I find a poem by David Whyte, whose words found me on my first Gilchrist retreat, when aloneness was more new and overwhelming. They strike again today, as I settle into the retreat phase of this summer. Wish me a happy day of aloneness in the woods. I’ve got my tent tied down, my electric kettle and plenty of tea, a bag of tea light candles, a votive and some matches, my writing homework with a conference call at noon, long johns presentable enough for neighbors to see, a cozy fleece, so far only light rain, many books and magazines, a yoga mat, drawing things, no end of things to do alone, if I choose to do other than rest or sit and stare. 

Here is David Whyte’s poem, The House of My Belonging. Enjoy:)

For eight days this end of August I’m making home in the woods. While the carpenters in Somerville rebuild the front steps, replace rotten sills, and paint the house here in the Maine woods I cook bacon and eggs on the stove top under our campsite shelter while my son builds a fire and makes toast. Tonight when I’m hungry I reacquaint myself with the art of roasting hot dogs, enjoying the scent and flavor of cedar burning in the fire. After dinner my daughter and I lay in hammocks fireside across from one another, reading and relaxing before she goes off to line dance with friends at the rec hall and I wash dishes and make tea. Now she’s dancing and I’m typing here. Tonight we will sleep in tents and my guess is we’ll sleep well, if Monday and Tuesday night’s nine hours are any indication. 

When we return home life will quickly change. Isabel will begin drivers Ed, day care will reopen, and Jonah will move into his Emerson dorm, all on Monday. For now we’re enjoying making home in the woods, luxuries like our own bath and outdoor kitchenette making it pretty easy, others like daily fires and time in the hammock easing our minds and bodies into a slower pace. Last night and this afternoon I swam out deep into the pond, today after paddling the perimeter in a canoe. Tomorrow I may do the same, Saturday, too. There aren’t any ponds or canoes in Somerville, so I’m enjoying them here while I can. Remind  me next year to end the summer out of doors. 

This morning I wake up and need to write. When I open my computer, I am shocked to find it says 9:22. Naomi Shahib Nye is speaking with Krista Tippet on my phone, in a podcast from On Being, the latest in a series of podcasts that have been playing since I started listening to one with Thich Nat Hanh in the middle of the night when I had been up an hour or more, having fallen asleep on my side on my yoga mat near one am, fallen asleep after a day in my house, where my younger son sat mending his jeans at the dining room table, my daughter slept til one, helped me clean out the kitchen pantry, then painted her room for the second day in a row, and I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets. Around 10, after I had finished the phone conversation with my mom which had been interrupted by my daughter needing help finding the right tool to take apart her childhood bed, an antique four poster down to three posts, my gal asked me to help her move the queen sized mattress from her older brother’s abandoned room on the second floor to her newly painted bedroom on the third. We pushed and shoved and strategized, got it stuck in the door to the third floor, could not make the thing go through the opening or turn the corner and up the stairs, in spite of all our pushing and pulling and cajoling or my removing the childhood photos from the staircase walls, tender moments of my children’s early childhood captured by their father with his camera, hung there on the stairway walls on tiny nails by him in matching 4 x 6 frames in the years before he left, a patchwork of memories of our early family life together. When we get stuck, I suggest my gal call her dad for help, something I don’t think I’ve done in the seven years since he’s been gone. She called. He was in bed. He agreed to come then or today. While my daughter was on the phone and the mattress was stuck in the doorway turning the corner up the stairs from second floor to first, I sat down and rested my head against it, feeling tired and noticing my back hurt, sweating and feeling strong, but not strong enough for this. As I told my daughter, I didn’t know how to do it and I didn’t think we were physically strong enough to do it. Her dad is strong. The delivery guys who brought my new mattress up the stairs when her dad moved out had moved it down to her brother’s room, had refused to deliver the new mattress I had ordered because to get it up the stairs would damage it, invalidating the warranty. They took that new mattress back to the store and I was forced to get one made of foam that could be delivered rolled up like a burrito, which they unfolded in my bedroom, where it sprang open and smelled bad like chemicals for weeks or months, but was more comfortable for my back than the old mattress they put in Ben’s room for him and his girlfriend, which replaced the twin, or the futon I had slept on for years before the mattress stuck on the stairs, bought when my babies were young, shoved up the stairs originally by movers or my daughter’s dad, I don’t know which.

In any case, when I wake up I remember my son on stage at Improv Boston and telling him before he left for D and D with friends last night how funny his sister and I find his comedy work. I remember him on stage at Open Air Circus in Comedia Del Arte year after year after year. I remember him reading all the funny comic books as a young reader, Calvin and Hobbes, Joke books, Foxtrot, which are lined up on the shelves over his head where he sleeps on a futon we bought for a housemate who didn’t stay, on a futon frame bought for the back room of the day care, maybe, or for his bedroom when it was the project room rather than the master bedroom, I don’t remember, except I know it was from LL Bean and it was sturdy, and heavy and somehow we moved it. I don’t remember how we moved the frame, but I do remember buying the futon mattress from a place that is no longer there in Inman Square, across the street of a day care family, around the corner from their dad’s house, and I remember doing that alone, and carrying the mattress home in the van when the van is what I drove, and somehow getting that mattress up the stairs and into the back room, in preparation for that housemate, and my son taking over the room when Eduardo the student who was supposed to stay here returned to Spain, denied permission at the airport, due to the incorrect visa, given permission for a few days of visits in our home, during which he slept on that futon, before he was sent back to his home and mother, when my son took over the room he left. We here on Garrison Avenue have pretty much always improvised our life.

Why so much focus on the moving of beds and mattresses? Who knows? They emerged in the writing. My family is moving this summer. My older son moved to New York City to a rent stabilized studio apartment the size of a shoe box, after moving into the van which he lived in all summer long, old futon in the back his bed, after moving back from his studio apartment where he lived his last year of college. My younger son is moving to Emerson College in ten days, where he will also live in a shoebox, a shared dorm room in a suite of four guys, two from Asia, one from LA. In the corner of his room are a pile of plastic bins from Target, packed as I hoped we’d pack the boxes my son his older brother would take to New York City and did not, as my older son preferred packing in the purple handled cloth Johnny’s bags his dad used to move himself and the kids to his first apartment, probably used to move them to their first house with his new wife, bags which we used to bring the piles of clothes from Jonah’s bedroom and hallway bin at his dad’s house on Tuesday so we could wash and fold and stack them on the dining room table here and so he could sort and organize them as he moves on to college, bins of shorts, pants, shirts, sweaters, socks and undies for the dorm room, Johnny’s bags of the same  for his dad’s house, plastic laundry basket of the same filed in his newly spacious dresser drawers at mine. There are more of those plastic bins in the corner of Ben’s room, in his closet, in the corner of the basement I’ve designated for his stuff.

Today those bins may reunite in the basement corner, making space for Miranda, who has come this week to play her cello in various rooms, in various times and tones, hoping to prove to all of us that things will work out. As my son mended his jeans and I cleaned the cupboards and my daughter painted her room and Maeve polished the day care floors, Miranda played. As Jonah said, it’s not a problem. I like it. It’s a gift, I kept thinking. It’s lovely. Still, Miranda seems unsure, and until she is sure, my son’s boxes stay where they are, in his room and closet, with loose possessions on the shelves and in the drawers of his desk, waiting to go into the remaining stack of empty bins.

At Quaker Meeting a few weeks ago a member approached me to talk. We talked about our summers. He told me briefly about his, with travels to a Quaker Conference and a Native American ritual of dance. My summer stories were about my children and their growing up. You must be very proud, he said. Yes, I am, I assured him. I have lovely children and they are growing into lovely adults, making their own decisions, which are interesting to witness. Your life is very rich, he reminded me. Yes, it is, I was reminded. You should be grateful. Yes, I am, I was assured. I am grateful. I have lovely children and a rich life, which has turned out to be the focus of my summer. The summer Richard left my life and all three of my children move into different phases of their lives, I have been the ground, making home while they move on. This week Richard is beginning a three week adventure through Maine, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, back through Maine. It’s a trip we planned or hoped to take together. I had worried if he took it without me I would miss him too much, would wish that I had gone. I had worried that if I took it with him I would miss this time with my children. Turns out being here is right. I’m happy to be the ground for my children, to take my daughter to the Cambridge Public Library on Tuesday to get her library card and her summer reading list, to help her paint her room, though she and her friend did the lion’s share of the work, to help my son organize his things for college, to clean the cupboards for our family and to make space for Miranda while Jonah patches his jeans using the sewing box given to me by my mother, fabric for patches from his childhood clothes worn out and a collection given to the day by Alice for the children. I am happy to be putting our house in order, even as two of my children move out. To witness and support their lives unfolding is the greatest gift. I’m a mom. That is what abides. The day care, yes, but that has been in support of my children as well as me. The kids will be here if all goes as planned and expected, as long as I live, in my life, if not in my home. If I make the house a place of love, they’ll return, my wise friend Macky assured me one day early this summer when she came for a conversation. When she returned this week for iced barley tea on the back porch and talk of our work together caring for young children, of her summer and mine, we talk about her children and mine my children, about the changes in our lives, and she assures me that I am doing fine.

As does my mother last night, when she wonders if my circadian rhythms are changing, as she reminds me of her brother and maybe a sister who don’t need much sleep. Perhaps I don’t either, she muses, as I’ve been getting up at four or five or six and working all day long, not so tired as I would expect. She warns me off lifting too much, also with family stories of damage to the bladder for her sisters who lifted too much. As I lay my head against the mattress, sweating, my daughter on the phone with her dad, I remember her words, tell my daughter I need to take a rest and do some yoga, that I can’t afford to lose the use of my back, not now, and she understands. While I take care of my back with yoga, my daughter moves the mattress back to her brother’s room. After I stretch, I find her crying on the phone with her boyfriend, sitting on the porch where my friend and I talked with our barley tea. I bring her a bowl of watermelon she cut up early in the week that I’ve been nibbling on between washing dishes and talking with my mom and helping her move the mattress, return with chocolate bark I made early in the week, rest a few minutes on the couch while she talks on the phone, make a tidy shopping and to do list so the next few days continue to be productive and maybe I can sleep, go upstairs where my daughter begs me to sleep, please sleep, and then when I do my meditation with the candle and the tiny lamp I’ve put beside the yoga mat, she comes up and settles her self on the single mattress on the floor of her newly painted room, shuts the door and turns on the ac. After I meditate, I convince her to let me take the painting stuff away, open windows and her door, put the window fan in the window, so she doesn’t get so many toxic fumes and another headache while she’s sleeping. I return to my room, do a calming yoga routine around one, find myself asleep there with the candle and lamp burning around two or three am, worry I’ll be up all night, move to the bed, read about menopause and yoga and circadian rhythms and people who claim to need little sleep, finally turn on the podcast, fall eventually to sleep, wake up, late, hot, listening to Naomi Shahib Nye telling me about her blessed life, her child, her father, her husband, her writing, and then the podcast starts over, the unedited version, and she reads Kindness, which I will share here, closing the circle, wishing my back continues to feel good, wishing I continue to get good sleep, wishing the loved ones moving out will continue to come home, that the ones moving in become loved ones over time, that the two who will stay, my gal and I, continue to love our home in all it’s many changes, that even my cat Frances, who we tried to give to a shelter this week but who’s been rejected, may settle in here in better behavior with more consistent love in the house, that Richard on his adventure will find what he is looking for on the road and in his life as “and old man in Northampton”, the place we had joked he would be when if life on Garrison Avenue ended, which it has. Here we are, all of us, doing the best we can.

Enjoy the poem. It’s been awhile since I shared one here. I’ve gotten it from the Spirituality and Health website. Here is what they attached to the poem by way of permissions:

The following poem, “Kindness,” is from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, copyright © 1995. Reprinted with the permission of Far Corner Books, Portland, Oregon. Click here to read an interview with the author, who tells the story about the making of this poem.


By Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.