All Shall Be Well

I am eerily reminded this week of my experience during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Hunkered down here in my little house without power for days, the whole world seemingly stalled and subdued. There was no work and no technology, the roads were strangely as quiet as the airwaves. And no one knew how long it would last or how bad it might get.

At first, there was the natural reaction to kick against what I could not control. Worry and fret. Freak out. But then a calm settled in, a different pace than the norm, a day guided by the rising and setting of the sun.

Looking back now, I remember those quiet, restful days as blessings.

So here we are — on the edge of a storm we’re watching overtake everything we know as normal. And we are freaking out.

But the Universe is sending messages, if you listen. She’s there in the poem “Pandemic,” that Lynn Unger was inspired to write this week.

She’s in our daily prayers, if you are inclined, like me, to whisper on occasion:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

She even showed up yesterday morning in my meditation reading:

“We must except we are there and settled enough so we can be carried by the deep. The willingness to do this is the genesis of faith, the giving over to currents larger than us. Even fallen leaves float in lakes, demonstrating how surrender can hold us up…. In life as in water, when we curl up or flail we sink. When we spread and go still, we are carried by the largest sea if all: the sea of grace that flows steadily beneath the turmoil of events.” — Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

So listen for those messages.

Pay attention.

Do the things you need to do to stay safe and healthy.

Get rest.

Breathe.

“Just as fish can’t see the ocean they live in,” writes Nepo, “We can’t quite see the spirit that sustains us.” But it’s there.

No Surprise in the Surprise of It

Yesterday I awoke with a start well before sunrise. I tossed this way and turned that way and tucked my head farther and farther under the covers until I’d had enough and turned on the light for the day. It was no surprise then, as I was taking my first sip of coffee, that a wispy spider crawled out of my hair and down my arm. I nodded my head in both greeting and agreement that this was, of course, what would happen next. Those wiggly thoughts incarnated with more than enough legs to step all over my remaining sanity.

Musings ©2019, Jen Payne. Image by Hinke Schreuders. For more visit: www.sudsandsoda.com.

The People

There was a certain simple order to The People. They had a system and a routine, and all of their expectations were so neatly contained within the walls of The House, The School, and The City that I never once wondered what happened behind the scenes or why The Lady never let her hair down. Seeing them all together again — The Lady, The Dog, The Grandma, the Boy with the Pot on His Head — evoked an odd combination of nostalgia and utter despair.

Photo + Musings ©2019, Jen Payne. People collection from Mound Museum, Mind of the Mound exhibit by Trenton Doyle Hancock, MASS MoCA, July 2019.

Upon Meeting My Dad at the Library

I want to be the one
who sharpens the tiny pencils
tucked neatly in the cubby
next to the Library’s
card catalog.

They are all that’s left
of the long wooden drawers,
their well-worn finger pulls,
the alphabet instructions:
how to get from here to there.

The tap-tap-tap machines
have replaced the tactile cards,
the rhythm of sorting,
the meditations of
this simple space where

The clocks tick
and pages turn
motes settle
on memories

and there at my fingertips
as close as those pencils
he appears, my age now
this young or this old
I do not recall…

except for the moment
he said I want to be the one
who punches the clock,
works from here to there
and nothing more

nothing more
after giving so much more
for so long

but it was too late
for anything else
or anything more
than that beautiful secret
said out loud

this young or this old
I do not recall…
his whisper of a wish
the change of heart
frozen in time as

The clocks tick
and pages turn
motes settle
on memories

and now I want to be the one
who punches the clock
or sharpens the tiny pencils
or something quiet and simple
so very simple
for whatever time I have left.

 

Reprinted in memory of my Dad, Henry C. Payne, who left this planet 24 years ago today.
Poem ©2018, Jen Payne