Monday’s Meander: A Time of Flowers

In the midst of sad and alarming news of this world, and upcoming anniversary dates of many family members who have passed, I need to dote on flowers. It has been raining several days and will be for another week, greyness permeating sky and woods and reaching inside these walls. And I am still nursing the torn meniscus, so there are far fewer hearty walks. It seems I must wait to go in search of the living beauties. However, I’ve found other early March photos of common Portland neighborhoods’ spring flowers.

They gently tend my spirit; perhaps they will lift yours, too. Though sorrows often linger, nature’s sublime beauty and constancy help us become stronger. I plan to share more current spring garden walks. And I offer a small spontaneous poem at the end since I’ve not posted any the last two “Friday’s Poem” feature.

Oh bravest flower that startles the cold,

you keep your secrets from us

throughout narrowed wintered nights and days,

and from depth of quietude bring forth glory

of your alchemy: root to shoot to bloom.

How vital are your moving powers in

the midst of troubles. Holy amid unholiness.

I ressurect hopefulness as each leaf

and petal shine within rising or falling light–

defiance of Spring revealed in extravagance

of verve, ferocity, tenderness.

Your sweet sighs, heralding flower,

fill this unsettled mind and soul like love.

Wednesday’s Words/Poem: Such Times Can Be Made Anew

Photo by Hakan Erenler on

As you tumble from the thicket of this year to another

and contemplate grievous wrongdoings in this world,

and how your mind has felt folded with sorrow

or slowed to a stop by the bridle of fear,

and you ask if one should wonder, at all,

why not pause. Look further.

Remember when you held enough hope that you

turned your face toward sunrise as day swung open.

Remember how the taste of honey graces

the buttery warmth of biscuits on your tongue.

Remember when you threw your arms out and

ran through the meadow greeting grasses and flowers.

Remember how, when someone collapses weeping

upon your chest, you are strong enough for all of it.

Remember that when your wounds were harsh that

healing remade wholeness, a weave of lace and steel.

Remember how bees, beetles and birds keep

good company among a delirium of cherry blossoms.

Remember when you dove into green lakes to search

for anything and fish flashed through your legs, and

you got tangled in murk so broke surface for air.

Down you dove deeper despite worry of leeches, for treasure.

Remember the firelight, endless stars dancing above pines.

And then recall this moment here, now, is one more passing,

as our moon and sun grant us rhythm, power, radiance.

If you hold on, beauty missed today will show up tomorrow.

No one can bear up your life as you can, nor clear its hurdles.

No one else can inhabit your heartbeat, nor recreate your story.

So give it more tenderness, allow it the good rest it deserves.

Ignite your natural illumination so it pulses in this fog, that cave.

Your walking in this place of thorns and berries will bless the ground;

if you lose sight of things Light will gather to lead your feet.

It will bring you along with heart and soul, and you’ll think of angels.

Love remains everything you ever wanted to know.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone, and may you embrace your blessings. Find the small joys; may we each be generous with them. I will be back later next week.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Seeking Truth

Photo by Tim Mossholder on

If the truth can set us free let’s seek it,

turn upside down our boxes of heaviness

and bore into them with eyes of hawks, golden orbs

that clarify options and magnify treasure.

May we find the dense, throbbing heart of matters.

Leave the rest, let it float past birch and cedar.

It costs too much to gather little lies into a deep nest

and avoid questions that are thorns; they burrow in.

Don’t these times leave us breathless? Humans can disguise

even deception with more that cannot be well undone.

Who do we fool? Who among us offers a story

that does not sweat, embrace and bleed?

Even the mighty. And the meek, no denial.

These times have hurt forgotten ones, small ones.

Have torn from us choices to go this way or that,

when before we sailed through what we thought

the good life, simpler truths bright as doves about us.

Flight comes badly to those who close their eyes.

And who too often doubt: checking too far below

obscures the way.

Have we forgotten the value and costs of freedom?

We can fall in a blink, inelegant. Faint. Clumsy with fear.

But rise up, step forward do not slide, slither backward.

It is shouldering into the next storm that we often do

with our bundles of longing to lift up in prayer.

Harboring anger whiplashed on our tongues, we soon

blame others, forgetting what is built in us.

A deeper core. Rare human energy: impetus for growth.

Such courage can reveal us, inches closer to victory.

We can more than endure, even make anew.

Discover a potency of humility, that alchemy of soul

and mind that brings change with no dishonor, no disregard.

This life is near weightless.

Lived so short: a circuitous day and night.

We were born whole. We can meld riven parts into one.

Can we live like a steady flame, even in and out

of the maw of coming upheavals?

We have before; we can do so now. Tomorrow.

Look, here I am beside you; you, beside another;

he/she/they/we, yet another.

Purge mouths of hate, elicit no rancor.

May we speak from our lightness, and no burdensome lies.

Easier goes the journey with shining eye,

willing feet, wings spread. We will sail.

What is once sought in earnest is more than twice gained.

Above photos, Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Monday’s Meander: Where to Go with Sorrow? To Snow and Candles

My nephew, Reid, died the first week of December. It was several years ago but once more he appears in the middle of my mind. His living and dying: both were hard, both perhaps longer than he wanted. I will never know. In truth, I understood him less than I imagined though I felt his burdens’ weight as I talked with him. He took refuge in my house awhile after one hospital stay; I took him to 12 step meetings. He was carried along by and troubled by life –powerful emotions, a puzzle of thoughts, and demons of addiction–until he was in his forties. He had a passion for life–music, skateboarding, movies, reading. Much more, and so many things unknown to me. I loved him as I knew how; we all loved him, yes. But despair can outweigh all the rest. Reid plunged from a bridge into the swift Willamette River, into silent darkness of a rainy night that was moving toward pale morning.

Really, I wanted to share, as usual, outdoorsy rambles, attractive pictures. But I find I cannot. Instead, I have found a few winter pictures, quite unlike the views outside my windows right now–green, damp, sunny to partly sunny with more rain on the wind. But they feel right: snow is quintessential December in my dreams. I burrow in this month between outings. And candlelight, oh, the flames tinting the greyness orange and yellow. It is a gentled magic, steady but mutable, rich and clarifying.

There is something about snow and candles that move me in unique ways. Still me. Then rouse me.

December’s onset brings Reid back to me a little. (It also, conversely, brings to me my mother’s December birth date: juxtaposition of death and birth dates is like seeing two birds of different colors and flight patterns move across the sky.). I can recall his smile when he was convivial, happy, at times–for a time. His eyes bright and dancing. And then, the obdurate pit of sorrow. There is our enduring complexity of family ties and lovingness. And this being alive-ness, and remaining alive, too, when others leave.

We have had or heard of too much death this year, I know. But, seemingly irrelevant to this post, I still want to offer snow. But to consider its shapeshifting beauty, its softness, its welcoming spirit, its austerity and daunting challenges that can offer victory. Like when I ice skate and fall and start off once more. That long slide on the toboggan, uproarious with laughter, into glittering white fluff, or a crunch of iciness. Oh, I long for it sometimes. It doesn’t snow much where I live in Oregon–though Mt. Hood dazzles me in the distance all winter long on my walks. But I grew up in snow, heaps of it, five foot drifts of it in the Michigan country. I made small houses of snow. So when it snows here I return to the shimmer and drift of winter’s wild glory. It eases a knot in me.

It somehow brings Reid to mind, too, hands stuffed in his packets, a half-smile, solemn eyes. Maybe it is the blood we have shared: cold plains of northern Midwest, the mountain and valley greens of Oregon.

The candles here are for Reid. But I light many for others, as well. And want them lit just for darkened days and nights, so they may be ignited with simplest joy more often, and for a prayer for peace shared among those of us who remain. Sit with that flame and remember: we have such capacity for hope and courage.

This year has been so much more arduous than what we expected. Millions in the world suffer from depression and though 2020 has brought us all to moments of great uncertainty and worry, too many feel pushed to the very brink. Suicides have increased greatly during the pandemic. If you feel suicidal or know anyone who shares suicidal thoughts, or mentions even a vague, possible plan to die, please seek help now. If you know someone who needs even kindly support, offer a listening ear, a helpful hand. There is nothing better than the community of humankind when moved to support and aid one another. Let’s be present for each other as much as we can–no charity is too small a thing–and listen to our own hearts as much as possible.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Not Down Yet, My Friend

Thank God Great Spirit Mother Wit Sister Moon

you managed to stay alive again

despite all the wrong workings

of that body (well, and mind)

bold errors in judgment,

those sleepwalking elixirs,

the underhanded means of humans,

self-indulgences like ghost trackers

hunting in daylight or dark, into the

advent of happiness, inside bright hoops of love.

It can be a long howl toward peace.

But you just get up–if needed, one-legged–

shove off sick bed, shake lioness head

toss out a guttural laugh with eyes like horizons

What a mighty fine morning, I woke up again

what trouble are you up to? Need any help?

And we both know those days are over

so now there are little rescues, holding up the roof,

warming empty hands, not running for cover.

We made it this far, my friend,

and it’s better than we hoped

so there is sure–not today, not ever–no going back

as long as we can get through another door,

seek truth, care –as long as we can answer,

one to the other, on this mad earth, and–

let’s face it–if not.