A Benediction for 2017

by susanna suchak

adapted from “A Blessing for the New Year” by Kayleen Asbo

(dedicated with gratitude to Mike Prepsky who always inspires)

goinginwardinvite_birchgrove

As the presence of light

begins to grow with each passing day

may the fearful places in your heart

unclench their grasp on your life;

may your courage blossom and bloom.

 
Let this be the year that you

silence the monkey’s chatter,

pick up the drawing tool,

the pen, the paintbrush, the rasp,

and compose together with

the chorus of creativity.

 

Let this be the year that you

break the invisible yardstick

of impossible expectations

and learn that, just as you are,

you are enough –

and so much more.

Let this be the year that you

embrace the messy wonder

that is your life

as it is;

hold it close 

and do the tango.

Let this be the year you

cherish your own humanity

be tickled by its

quirky charm.

Elope with the wonder

of your own true calling,

and invite the hungry world

to the wedding feast.

goinginwardinvite_birchbark

November’s post

Since it is a month of remembrance, I wanted to share a poem. Not everyone goes to war, but most of us have battles to fight day-by-day. Please read of a kind of battle that people like my grandmother may have had to live as they spent their lives grinding out a living as a servant.

Title

by Knud Sørensen

Danish domestic workers were required to maintain these books from 1832 to 1921. Issued at confirmation, the book held record of employment, conduct, and wages for the individual.

Every first of November

she took out her Record of Conduct book

and laid it on the table in front of the man

on the farm that she now would be leaving

and the man got out a pen and ink

and tried the pen on his fingertip

or on the corner of a piece of scrap paper

and then he remembers his glasses

and gets them and sets himself down

and writes slowly and carefully

and with the proper pressure on the downstrokes:

The girl Karen Jensdatter has served me

loyally and with good conduct from the first of November last year

to this date, and he

dates and signs and she

curtsies and says thank you, thank you for everything

and she walks out the door and she still holds open

the Record of Conduct book so the ink

has time to dry, and she thinks

that now begins a new year in a yet unknown place

with a yet unknown master and mistress and maybe

with some yet unknown luck, and sometimes she also

has to go to the churchwarden to report her move

from one parish to another

and every first of November she hopes

that it will be her last first of November of this kind

and the years pass and all the young farmhands that have property

get married and the years pass and not until she is

38 does Kresten inherit

his parents’ house with no land and she gets

her last entry in the book and her real life

begins,

as a sharecropper’s wife, mother

to a pair of girls who quickly

are too young for her

and full of insecurity

and go out into the world with new

authorized Record of Conduct books in their hands.

“Skudsmålsbogen” ©1980

Translated from the Danish by Michael Goldman

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015

__________

Knud Sørensen (b. 1928) was a certified land surveyor for 28 years, during which he became intimate with the changing Danish agricultural landscape. A book reviewer for fourteen years and board member of numerous community organizations and cultural institutions, he has written 37 books and won over 20 literary awards, including a lifelong grant from the Danish Arts Council, and the Great Prize from the Danish Academy in 2014. He lives in Northern Jutland. This is the first appearance of Sørensen’s writing in English.

Michael Goldman: “I taught myself Danish in the summer of 1985 to help win the hand of a Danish girl. We have been married now for 24 years. I have loved Danish literature from the beginning, and I am pleased to be introducing Danish writers to an English speaking readership.”

Questions:

What emotions rise in you as you read this poem?

What would you say to this woman as she watches her daughter leave?

Because…

Today Patti Digh called her blog Poetry Wednesdays and it gave me the idea for this.

We have had FOUR days of sunshine in Owen Sound and Juno came nowhere near. But my cousin, Dawn Walker lives in Saugus, Massachusets and they got whacked. I’ve shared this poem at Page to Stage and it seemed to resonate with the adjudicators so I’m putting my neck out and sharing it with you.

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day so I’m going to be brave and share how I deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which descends upon me here where winter seems to imprison me.

But we’ve had FOUR days of sunshine and this morning a winged fellow was singing his heart out and I know that Spring will come…will come…will come. Just because.

Because

Because Creator smiled;

Because the stars aligned;

Because our paths finally connected.

Because Gord forgot,

there was an R in his name;

Because failure crushed me.

Because your eyes sparkled;

Because I threw down a gauntlet;

Because I didn’t really think you would;

Because you did.

Because backing out was unthinkable;

Because I made a promise long ago.

Because we persist.

Because we are one.20140129-DSC00321

We shovel snow …

upon snow …

upon snow.

susanna suchak     January 10, 2015

Thirsty Thursday …

  Rain1 Today it rains. Il pleut.
Interestingly enough in French Il pleut can also mean “he cries” or is it “he is crying/weeping”? At any rate, I think the French have it right … for the rain often makes people a little rain2misty-eyed.

Strangely enough, not me, not today.

Perhaps it is because I have another poem to share with you. Not mine this time. Mine the other day was a very first draft … and we all know about first drafts, don’t we?

Today’s poem is by Antoinette Voûte Roeder
from her book, Still Breathing

Who isDSCF1227 God Now?

Rain.

The drops, the spaces between,

the times when it does not

rain.

Wind.

       When it blows, storms, rages,

       when it lies down in quiet pools.

Wind.

Body.

When it rises strong and free, entwines with another,DSCF1238

when it loses its luster and begins the  long descent.

Body.

Love.

In all its facets, birthing, growing, yearning,

breaking, losing.

Love.

Who is God now?

Far and near.

Here, not here.

Always, all ways.

God.

Although I no longer have a faith community that I meet with regularly … I find this comforting.

Let me know what feelings this poem evokes in you, if you like. Thanks for visiting.

listening_reflectionAll photos are my own, if you share or use them please link here. Thanks.

Poems to Ponder … a new feature

morning_Nov3

Every day blusters anew

more yellow, gold, red, brown leaves

dance down and down

delighted to joinEachLeaf_Nov3 copy

brothers and sisters

as they find their rest

on earthLeaves_Nov3

and in earth

as I

Chaos of leaves_Nov3

would do

and will doGoldLeaf_Nov3

sooner than

perhaps I

would prefer

 

Autumn’s Grace

susanna suchak

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Planting Seeds …

Today is Labour Day.

New_1_DSCF6503
Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak http://mythiclandscape.com

The group I spoke to last night paraded in Port Elgin this morning. They will partake of a well-deserved BBQ this afternoon.

I have been a member of CUPE, the OSSTF and grew up as the child of the CAW. I know that my life was the better for that.

So a deep bow of gratitude to all of you…and especially to UNIFOR who honours me by sharing their work with me. I offer this poem, one of my favourites, by Marge Piercy… I can think of no better way to honour them and the others who work to improve life’s quality through their participation and service in a trade union than to keep these hard won rights and privileges in front of people; vigilance is always our duty.

To be of use

by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who stand in the line and haul in their places, who are not parlor generals and field deserters but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. Greek amphoras for wine or oil, Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums but you know they were made to be used. The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.

DSCF9893

 

“To be of use” by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982. From Circles on the Water © 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Middlemarsh, Inc.

 

Choosings and Musings

Yesterday on Facebook someone posted part one in a series called,

Can we learn to be happier?”.

I thought that that was an unrealistic expectation and might even cause more suffering in this world. I believe that we focus too heavily on “the pursuit of happiness” instead of acceptance of what is.

I preferred that we instead focus on feeling content.

Lani thought they were perhaps the same thing.

I disagree. Here’s what Etymology Dictionary [DOT] com says about happiness

happy (adj.)

late 14c., “lucky, favored by fortune, prosperous;” of events, “turning out well,” from hap (n.) “chance, fortune” + -y (2). Sense of “very glad” first recorded late 14c. Ousted Old English eadig (from ead “wealth, riches”) and gesælig, which has become silly. Meaning “greatly pleased and content” is from 1520s. Old English bliðe “happy” survives as blithe. From Greek to Irish, a great majority of the European words for “happy” at first meant “lucky.” An exception is Welsh, where the word used first meant “wise.”

and about the word content …

content (adj.)

c.1400, from Old French content, “satisfied,” from Latin contentus “contained, satisfied,” past participle of continere (see contain).

content (v.)

early 15c., from Middle French contenter, from content (adj.) “satisfied,” from Latin contentus “contained, satisfied,” past participle of continere (see contain). Sense evolved through “contained,” “restrained,” to “satisfied,” as the contented person’s desires are bound by what he or she already has. Related: Contented; contentedly.

then I said I preferred equanimity which has its roots in …

equanimity (n.)

c.1600, “fairness, impartiality,” from French équanimité, from Latin aequanimitatem (nominative aequanimitas) “evenness of mind, calmness,” from aequus “even, level” (see equal (adj.)) + animus “mind, spirit” (see animus). Meaning “evenness of temper” in English is from 1610s.

Pausing,  I wondered if I was just being picky or just cranky.

That’s why I’ve gone into the etymology of each word. I grant you it’s not the Oxford English … but I don’t have a subscription right now. Perhaps that’s something I need to treat myself to. But for now… this will have to do.

I claimed yesterday that happiness was too dependent on events, circumstances, even other people and it would seem my memory served me right as it meant in the original sense something to what we would refer as “lucky”.

On second thought I think that’s what many want … to be lucky, wealthy (in the sense of $$$) and even silly giddy. Not that I would deny anyone those moments. Glory, I sure enjoy my “silly/giddy” moments. Just saying I wouldn’t want to be that way 24/7. Exhausting and often inappropriate.

Unless of course, you are Welsh and you want to be wise. Now that would be excellent. However, I don’t think I’ve ever heard even a person of Welsh decent actually express that wish. So I guess this meaning left us late in the 16th century.

What I’d like to offer is that we seek balance such as that denoted by the word equanimity.

I propose that we stop vilifying emotions by calling them good or bad. They are just feelings and we don’t have to act on them.

For a start we can just allow ourselves to feel melancholy when we do and notice how that feels in our bodies. Then go about what needs doing … or if nothing needs doing just go about feeling melancholy.

Certainly, we can warn people that that is how we are feeling, but we may also need to let them know that we don’t need fixing or advice or cheering up. I think that would make me happy on those occasions when I just need to sit with a feeling rather than fake a grin. Indeed, I think that all this duplicity is crazy making.

We rail about the weather, the state of the environment, the behaviour of others … but in the instant we really have no power over any of that. It is only setting ourselves up to believe that we are the centre of the universe. Let’s start realizing that we are all connected and that we can only be in one place in time. Working from that may not always make us “happy” but it’s a good place to start on “equanimity”.

My husband frequently quotes a poem by Li Po and I share this today in all its appropriateness.

In the landscape of spring

there is neither better or worse

the flowering branches

some grow long

some grow short

Image

Photo Credit Jeff Suchak

layering and textures from Kim Klassen

My Thursday blogging posts will examine an etymological / emotional theme for the rest of December and seeing that this is the last Thursday of 2013, we may need to extend it into January 2014.

I’d really appreciate your comments about how these posts make you feel. If you have a friend or colleague who might benefit from or even enjoy an exercise in pondering how to be authentic and balanced in this wacky world, please share a link. I’d love the company.