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Okay, what is this particular poem doing in here? I was mulling over what it must be like to be soldiering in Afghanistan far from home, family and friends. As I sat on the front terrace looking up at the nighttime sky, I wondered what the soldiers were feeling this night? The commonality of their thoughts about being so far away at Christmas had some similarities to my thoughts being here in Mexico…far from family….

Afghan Christmas

Stars shine brightly overhead

On an otherwise cold, clear Afghan night –

Christmas Eve.

Far from home am I,

Christmas only in my dreams

As the song says.

Could this be how the shepherds felt?

Alone –

With only their memories,

Of family and friends, a warm fire,

Far away on that night,

Now more than two thousand years ago,

When He was born,

Before there even was a Christmas.

Memories of my family, my friends,

A warm fire in the fireplace,

Christmas carolers singing “Silent Night”

Christmas trees aglow with lights,

Snowflakes falling outside my window –

Gifts to me, this night,

This cold, clear Afghan night.

Home for the holidays?

Only in my dreams…

For I am a soldier,

And my mission, much like His,

Is to bring peace on earth.

Welcome to this week’s poems. This particular one was written in Chiapas while we  were travelling through the state in a small van, having gone from Palenque to Yaxchilan in 2005. As we traveled along the bumpy roads my thoughts turned to the lives of those in the van…and thus became…Rough Roads. I think all of us can identify with these feelings!

Rough Roads

For the most part

We travel through life

On paved roads.

Safe and secure in that

We will reach our destination

By way of the shortest, worry-free

Route.

Occasionally

We must travel the dirt roads,

Rough roads

Where our strength of purpose

And our sense of security

Is tested.

Potholes in life. Detours.

When none were anticipated.

No maps to guide us

We struggle to keep moving forward

To maintain our momentum.

Sometimes we must stop

Re-assess in what direction

We really want to go –

What is important about this particular journey?

Passengers with different perspectives

But with a singular purpose –

To travel the world together,

To learn

And love

All who we meet on the journey

For whom they are

Despite the road….

We are often asked the question  here in Mexico – “Where is home?” This poem was written in response to my reflecting on that concept. Is is where we were born? Is it where our children live? Is it just a mailing address in Canada or the US?

Truly Home

We never really know

Our true destination in life.

We set goals for ourselves

Based on societal expectations,

Often hiding our true desires,

Subverting them in the name of family

For the sake of careers.

The longer our journey

The more time Spirit gives us

To reflect on a destination.

Age changes us –

Changes where we want to go.

Yet Spirit never wavers

From the time we are born,

Spirit alone knows our destination.

Happy. At home. At peace. Loving.

No matter where we journey,

The destination is within us.

Not some far away place,

Not where we were born,

But in our hearts.

And in that home

There is peace and contentment,

Love and happiness.

Truly home…spiritual home.

Our final destination.

This poem was dedicated to a friend whose husband who had not yet joined her in the Yucatan. Using the allegory of a sea captain who spends long days at sea, I was offering her some hope that her time apart would soon end.

The Sea Captain’s Wife

The sea captain’s wife

Gazes longingly across the aqua sea

Eagerly awaiting a speck, a glimmer

Signaling his safe return

To the harbour

Of their lives.

He has gone to pursue his livelihood

Across the wide expanse.

Hoping to provide a better future

For his young family,

Who wait patiently on the shore.

In the days, the weeks, the months,

She is both mother and father –

Confidant.

Providing assurances to them and herself

Of his love.

Despair creeps in – a human condition.

But like the beacon, the lighthouse she is,

She radiates love and compassion,

And understanding, a strength of character.

Through the fog,

A light can be seen.

The ship on the horizon,

The distant horizon

Will sail back into their lives

And once again

They will be a family – securely on shore.

When we went North together, Larry visited his youngest son in Kitchener-Waterloo. The reason we went was for Larry to put his childhood piano into storage. This piano had been given to him by his parents years ago. Pulling out the old, yellowed sheet music from the bench, Larry played ‘Amazing Grace’. This was the last song he was ever to play on this piano as he sold it shortly afterward. A part of his childhood was forever gone. As he played, I wrote…

One Last Song

We play out our lives

Like the tunes on a piano,

High notes, low notes

Sometimes out of tune

With the times, the people

In our lives,

But always in the right key,

The key of our life.

As the sounds reverberate,

Through our minds, our hearts,

We cannot help but stop

And listen.

And in the quiet moments

When we feel most alone,

Those tunes, those rhythms

Echo in our hearts once again,

And take us back to places

And times of our youth

When the world was full

Of wonder,

The future bright,

No darkness, no night

No worries, no cares

Someday we would reach the stars

Possibilities unlimited.

And in that moment, that place

One last tune, one last song

Amazing Grace.

Another one of those poems written when I was alone and Larry was in the North, as I recall. Amazing what separation anxiety will bring forth…

The Path

How will you know

The love we feel is real

For you, for me?

Eternity?

In pensive thought,

Through this long day

An emptiness –

Incomplete

Without you by my side

Sharing

Waking moments.

Remembering

Our special moments

Coming to understand

The quiet love we share

In our quiet moments

Lifts me up

And holds me closer to you

And you to me

Silently embracing each other

Across the distance

Walking hand in hand

On this path we call

Life.

Absence does make the heart grow fonder, but in the moment when we are apart from the person that we love, the time seems an eternity. This poem was written the first time that Larry and I were apart after coming to Mexico. As I recall he had gone to BC to visit with the parents of one of his longtime friends who were getting along in years. Sitting at the beach one starry night I wrote this poem.

Absence

When we are apart

There are more than twenty-four hours

In a day.

I celebrate those times spent

Together.

Our journey has not been long,

Although we have both traveled miles

To get to where we are now,

Crossing borders, geographical

And philosophical,

Opening our spiritual doors,

Exploring possibilities,

Anticipating a future –

Partners?

Too soon we say

We need more time,

Neither ready to admit

What seems obvious,

But we continue to deny.

The New Year dawns –

Time to seriously rethink

The direction our Spirit leads us.

Confession. Admission.

No more denial.

Facing the future –

Honestly.

Another night sitting on the front terrace under the night stars of Mexico…pondering…

Ponderances

Behold the Mexican night

Its stillness broken only

By the incessant yapping of distant dogs

Overhead, the requisite blanket of stars.

Somewhere an automobile

Speeds along

A darkened highway to an unknown destination.

In meditation, I ponder my life.

In the yapping of the dogs

I hear my past – never easing up, constant echoes.

In the stars I see my future – full of awe and wonder.

In the sounds of the automobiles

I hear the present.

There are times when my road has been dark.

There have been times when I was unsure of my destination.

Nevertheless I traveled forward, not backwards

And in the momentum of my life

I will continue the journey

To the stars –

For I have come to learn

That out of the darkness comes light,

And in the light

There is always promise

Of another tomorrow

With you.